The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Trey Muldrow is a partner in Weil’s Private Equity practice. Trey advises corporations, sovereign wealth groups, and private equity sponsors around the world on market-leading transactions, including cross-border merger, buyout, SPAC, spinout, carve-out, and divestiture transactions. Trey also has a well-recognized practice in asset manager mergers and acquisitions and complex secondaries transactions. Trey is Chair of the Corporation Law Committee of the New York City Bar, whose mission is to promote the development of New York laws and jurisprudence governing business entities to make the city an attractive jurisdiction for the formation of new businesses.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
Weil has been one of the pioneers of private equity law and is recognized by the industry as one of only a small number of elite, market leaders in this field. We represent many of the highest-profile private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds, and pension funds, as well as family offices and other equity financial investors. We have deep experience across all of the major private equity asset classes, including buyouts, growth equity, real assets, asset management, secondaries, credit, and special situations. We advise our clients on the full life cycle of investments—from formation through exit. We are regularly involved in some of the largest, most complex private equity acquisitions and related financings.
We are a truly global platform with private equity lawyers across the United States, Europe, and Asia who work together to provide a seamless service to market-leading players of all sizes and across all industry sectors.
What types of clients do you represent?
Weil advises more than 300 private equity clients worldwide, including 8 out of the 10 largest global private equity funds as ranked by PEI 300 2021. My clients include Apollo, Durational Capital Management, ICG Strategic Equity, Northleaf Capital, and Warburg Pincus, among many others.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
I have a diverse transactional and corporate counseling practice with emphasis on leveraged buyouts, mergers and acquisitions, and secondaries transactions in the United States and abroad.
How did you choose this practice area?
I was attracted to the private equity industry for two reasons. First, I enjoy the opportunity help build businesses, and the private equity practice is incredibly diverse. Private equity firms engage in a wide range of transactions—leveraged buyouts, minority investments, joint ventures, take-privates, PIPEs, SPACs, secondaries, divestitures, exit transactions, IPOs, and more – and in a wide range of industries. I also like that private equity is relationship based. It involves helping clients over the life cycle of investments and developing relationships with deal team members and portfolio company management teams who you work with over many years. I have sincerely enjoyed the personal relationships that grow out of working with clients over an extended period of time.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
Since we have so many private equity clients around the world, we can expect that almost every week will bring new projects involving sponsor clients and their portfolio companies. As a result, there is an element of unpredictability, because it’s not always possible to know which industries those projects will come from on a particular day or week. That keeps us very sharp, ready at all times for any eventuality and type of investment anywhere in the world. We spring into action to make sure that our clients’ deals close with speed, efficiency, and the best solution possible, and we are in constant contact with them as the process unfolds. Private Equity is a relationship-driven business, and I spend a significant amount of time building and nurturing my client relationships—making my clients know and trust the other team members and making sure the Weil team stays ahead of the curve and keeps our clients up to date on market developments.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
I look for lawyers who have excellent instincts and judgment and who like to work collaboratively as part of teams. There is no particular set of classes or experience required to become a part of our team. Above all, we value good judgment, hard work, innovation, and the ability to think on your feet and outside the box. You will learn by participating in transactions led by partners who find great satisfaction in grooming lawyers for a career in private equity. We have developed our own in-depth training program—Weil’s Private Equity Institute (PEI)—that all of our associates and counsel participate in throughout their careers. We also train our associates by giving them substantive and significant work at a very early stage of their career and by mentoring and coaching them. Naturally, any training or skills you have in business and the corporate world will be very useful because when we advise clients, we pride ourselves on doing it through the prism of deep knowledge not only of private equity but also of the target company’s business.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area?
One of the largest misconceptions about my practice area is that “all deals are largely the same.” This statement is incredibly inaccurate. There are so many different elements in each transaction, including the parties and their specific aims for undertaking the transaction, the underlying business and its financial performance, potential liabilities that may be embedded within the business, timing for closing, the source of the purchase price (equity, cash and/or a mix), regulatory oversight of the business, etc. No deal is the same, and that is what makes each so interesting. However, each time a transaction is completed, you can use that learning for the next transaction, thereby you can anticipate issues even earlier in the process.
What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?
During any summer program, there is a desire to offer real world experience to complement the academic exposure provided by law school. Accordingly, summer associates are afforded the opportunity to attend negotiation sessions and meetings with clients, engage in high level due diligence, and assist with document preparation. In some cases, summer associates can see a deal from the beginning to its consummation, which is always exciting.
What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?
I am one of the few members of my law school class who pursued private equity work and continue that work within BigLaw. So many of my peers have pursued fantastic opportunities as in-house lawyers for private equity firms and their portfolio companies. Other classmates joined financial advisors, while others have started their own businesses. The transactional platform has afforded people career optionality and the ability to thrive professionally. Of course, if all else fails, you can also become a partner in a law firm.
In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice? How have you adjusted to lawyering in the wake of COVID-19?
COVID-19 had an unexpected impact on my practice. I, like many, assumed there would be depressed levels of deal activity for an extended period. However, many investors continued with their deployment cadence and identified investment opportunities during this challenging period. Surprisingly, there has been an exceptional period of private equity transactional volume. In light of this volume, our firm sought to be even more attentive to the needs of our colleagues who were facing extraordinary work pressure. I am hopeful that some of the positive workplace changes that arose during this period will continue for years to come.