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Overview

Attorneys working in private equity generally focus on one of two areas: M&A or investment management, though some do both. Private Equity M&A attorneys represent investment funds in acquiring and disposing of “portfolio” companies or minority ownership interests in such companies. Investment management attorneys assist in the formation of private investment funds and advise funds on complying with applicable regulations. The day-to-day work of funds attorneys includes preparing offering materials, negotiating with prospective investors, preparing partnership and LLC agreements, advising on and documenting management and compensation arrangements, and closing fund formation transactions.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Private Equity from real lawyers in the practice area.
Maxwell Yim, Partner • Alison McCormick, Partner—M&A and Private Equity
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Alison: My practice largely consists of private equity and public company M&A transactions. I represent private equity firms and public companies in acquisitions and divestitures, minority investments, carveout transactions, joint ventures, and other corporate matters.

Max: My practice covers the same scope as Alison’s, with private equity M&A transactions (both buy-side and sell-side) making up a significant portion of my “deal sheet.” 

What types of clients do you represent?

Max: I represent private equity firms in acquisitions and divestitures of portfolio companies, portfolio company add-on acquisitions, and recapitalizations. Most of my recent work in private equity M&A has been for AEA and Cranemere.

Alison: The private equity clients I have represented as part of the Fried Frank team in recent years include Permira, RedBird Capital Partners, and several of their respective portfolio companies. The public company clients I have represented include Humana, Becton Dickinson, Catalent, and special committees of disinterested directors of various others.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Max: My practice involves working on a variety of private equity M&A transactions, including acquisitions, divestitures, carveouts, minority investments, restructurings, and continuation fund transactions, while sitting opposite to counterparties, including publicly listed companies, private equity firms, consortiums, and owners and founders.

Alison: Much of my work has evolved into buyout transactions for both private equity and public company clients. For private equity, my work falls into three categories: i) leading M&A deals for their flagship funds, ii) venture-style investments for the various growth funds, and iii) general corporate work or add-on acquisitions or dispositions for the portfolio companies owned by various vintages of the private equity firms’ funds. 

How did you choose this practice area?

Max: I went to law school with the intention of becoming a corporate attorney, and when I started my career at Fried Frank, corporate attorneys were not assigned to specific practice groups within the Corporate Department for their first two years. During this time, I found myself drawn to the M&A and Private Equity Practice, finding that the problems presented in the practice demanded a certain level of practical solution-oriented creativity. And while there are aspects of the practice that involve rote processing, the core tasks—diligence, negotiation, documentation, execution—all present challenges that provide opportunities for creativity and innovation to design the best solution for the client.   

Alison: I briefly started my legal career as a litigator because that is what law school teaches you. Both summers of law school, I worked for the Justice Department, and despite working on the most interesting substantive legal work you could find, I was miserable. I needed work that was more dynamic and creative, and that’s transactional work—it’s deal work. I’d like to say I chose it, but I found my way into it when I realized I wasn’t cut out to be a litigator. If it weren’t for our M&A and Private Equity Practice, I wouldn’t be a lawyer.  

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Alison: I begin most days with a workout before heading to the office, which helps to clear my head and prepare for the workday. My workday is largely spent in front of my computer answering emails, drafting merger agreements, reviewing ancillary documents, and joining calls with colleagues and clients to strategize about various transactions. It is hardly as indulgent as what is portrayed on the show “Suits,” but it is just as fast-paced, and a job that can be fun at times and often very rewarding.

Max: As a partner, I can’t say there is a typical day given the service-oriented, client-facing nature of the job. The shape of the day is dictated by both the expected demands based on the status of my active deals, and the unexpected email from a client asking about an issue or new development. However, some more common tasks include doing a “page flip” of a transaction agreement with opposing counsel, going over an issues list with a client, and consulting with a specialist to determine how to best address a particular issue in a transaction.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Max: M&A practitioners act as the “project managers” on transactions. I’ve found that standout practitioners have superb project management skills. They are organized, efficient, effective communicators, strategic in approaching and prioritizing tasks, proactive, and able to anticipate problems and design pragmatic solutions that push the project forward. Getting management experience—whether through a class, internship, or other “work” setting, or extracurricular activities—to hone such skills would be tremendously beneficial for someone looking to enter this practice area.

Alison: Because of where and how I started, I learned everything on the job. So, it can be done. That said, if you know what you want to do in law school, take corporate classes, including corporate tax; take securities laws if you want to do public company work; and take negotiations if you want to practice critical thinking and speaking before doing it on the job. If you can take finance or accounting classes offered at the business school on campus, even better. The most important qualities you can bring to this job when you first start aren’t anything you will have learned in law school—it’s being enthusiastic and willing to work hard.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Max: Our M&A and Private Equity team takes the lead on documenting and implementing each transaction. As such, we serve as the conduit between the client and the client’s advisors, and between the client and opposing counsel or counterparty. There is an art to identifying issues and presenting advice and potential solutions to a client that considers the client’s business needs, the nature of the transaction, and the relative negotiating power of the relevant parties; and then, at the appropriate time, conveying the client’s proposed resolution to a counterparty, in a manner that achieves the client’s desired outcome. Getting the messaging right is the aspect of the practice that I concentrate on the most and which I find the most challenging.

Alison: Balancing your personal and professional life can be challenging. M&A isn’t a 9-5 job, and there are days when it can be grueling, but you will also have slow days. The point is, it isn’t necessarily the overall hours that you work but rather when those hours are demanded of you. As you become more senior, you are better equipped to handle the work, delegate, and manage your time. No one should sacrifice everything for their job, but it’s important to understand that some sacrifice is required.   

What do you like best about your practice area?

Max: The job is demanding and clients have high expectations, but getting a complex transaction to closing is extremely rewarding. Each transaction presents a unique set of circumstances, challenges, and problems. There is immense satisfaction that comes from effectively navigating the issues that arise in a transaction to achieve a desired result for the client. I also enjoy the collaborative nature of M&A. The hours can be long and the work challenging, but you're not going it alone—it's a team effort. Collaboration is truly central to our practice’s business-oriented approach. Working closely with colleagues and clients to problem solve is part of the fun.  

Alison: Acting as a business advisor to my clients. M&A lawyers are not effective if they are merely providing legal advice in a vacuum. You have to understand your client’s business and what’s important to them. My clients are incredibly sophisticated, but it takes real care and skill to understand how they think and figure out the best way to convey sound, commercially-minded legal advice to them so that they can make significant and economically impactful decisions. 

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Max: We take formal training seriously, but nothing beats real-world experience. We keep deals leanly staffed and try to be intentional about giving junior attorneys proper on-the-job instruction and real responsibility early on in their careers, with the expectation that they can run with discreet aspects of the transaction.  

Alison: Junior lawyers are intimately involved in every stage of a deal. At times we will ask them to research certain things such as reverse termination fees for similar deals, to draft a confidentiality agreement or various ancillary agreements, to run a diligence process, and to help manage the rest of the deal team, including all of the specialists.   

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Alison: Depending on the type and size of the transaction, private equity M&A deals generally have a range of tasks that involve multiple workstreams. We integrate everyone at all levels when we can, including our summer associates, no matter what stage of the transaction. They will have the opportunity to learn one-on-one with associates or partners, work from start to finish on a transaction, and listen in real-time on calls with clients, colleagues, and other advisors.

Max: In addition to the work, the summer program is designed to provide summer associates with opportunities to meet their future colleagues and to get a feel for the culture of the firm and its different practices. My experience as a summer associate at Fried Frank left an indelible impression on me in this regard. As much as I enjoy my practice, it's the people I have the privilege of working with every day that defined my experience, then and now.

Maxwell Yim is a partner in Fried Frank's Mergers and Acquisitions and Private Equity Practice in the firm’s New York office. He joined the firm in 2008 and became partner in 2018. Max's practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions where he represents public and private companies, including private equity firms, in a variety of transactions. He also advises clients in connection with securities laws compliance, corporate governance issues, and other general corporate matters. Maxwell has been recognized by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business in Corporate/M&A.

Alison McCormick, an partner in Fried Frank’s M&A and Private Equity Practice in New York, represents private equity firms and public and private companies in mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions. Alison has significant experience counseling clients in domestic and cross-border transactions and advisory situations, including leveraged buyouts, stock and asset acquisitions and divestitures, carve-out transactions, and joint ventures, as well as corporate governance issues and other general corporate matters.

Amy Keller, Partner • Jennifer Necas, Counsel—Business Law Department
Goodwin

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Amy: My practice includes representing private equity investors and growth equity investors in a variety of corporate transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations, minority and growth equity investments, and divestitures. I also represent private companies in acquisitions of other private companies, recapitalizations, and divestitures, as well as provide day-to-day corporate counseling.

Jen: I represent primarily sponsors and corporate borrowers in connection with debt financing transactions. Specifically, I represent private equity sponsors in leveraged buyouts and public companies in corporate facilities. 

What types of clients do you represent?

Amy: I represent private equity investors, growth equity investors, and private companies. 

Jen: I represent healthcare- and technology-focused private equity sponsors, public companies, and private borrowers. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Amy: I represent clients in a variety of corporate transactions, including in mergers and acquisitions and other buyout and exit transactions in which the client is acquiring or selling a private company. Such transactions can take the form of a merger, a stock purchase/sale, or a purchase/sale of all or substantially all of a company’s assets. I also represent clients in minority and growth equity investments in which the investor acquires a non-controlling equity interest in a private company.

Jen: I work on credit facilities for sponsors and corporate borrowers in connection with debt financing transactions.

How did you choose this practice area?

Amy: I was drawn to M&A and other corporate transactional work as it marries the law and business. I really enjoy partnering with investors and companies to achieve their business goals.

Jen: It’s an incredibly collaborative practice area, from within my group and outside. We are all working toward a common goal. Also, substantively it’s a very interesting practice area—I am always learning something new and enjoy continuing to gain expertise. 

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Amy: No two days are alike. One day I may be negotiating a merger agreement in a billion-dollar sale of a private company and providing another corporate client with advice on equity incentives for their employees. The next day, I may be reviewing investment documents on behalf of a private equity client for an investment in a growth-stage tech company. My practice offers a lot of variety, which keeps it fresh and interesting.

Jen: My day primarily includes drafting loan documents and calls about business or legal issues on the loan documents. It’s the perfect mix of drafting and live negotiation. 

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Amy: I recommend taking business law-oriented classes, such as Corporations, Secured Transactions, Corporate Taxation, and if offered, a course on how to read and understand corporate financial statements. That said, Goodwin offers a lot of formal and informal training for associates, and we anticipate that new associates will be learning a lot on the job.

Jen: Most of the learning is just on-the-job experience—you really learn debt finance by doing. You could take a Secured Transactions class in law school, which would help with the bar as well, but it’s not a prerequisite to joining the group. 

What do you like best about your practice area?

Jen: Debt finance is an incredibly collaborative practice, within the firm and outside of it. The practice touches many specialties within the firm, including M&A and tax. And with the counterparty, you are both working towards the same goal of closing the deal. There are still tough negotiations, but it’s not as adversarial as other practice areas. The clients are always great—they really rely on your expertise, and you work together to get them the best deal. 

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Amy: I think the biggest misconception among law students is that a business degree is needed to be a corporate transactional lawyer. A business degree or background is not needed to succeed. Associates learn a lot on the job both through Goodwin’s formal training programs, such as our “M&A University” program, and informal training from the associates’ more senior deal team members.

Jen: Most law students just don’t know what corporate finance is! Law school primarily teaches to litigation, and what you do learn with respect to a career in corporate law is focused on general corporate law or M&A. Debt finance is a really exciting practice area where you become an expert in an area of law, so you continue to grow throughout your career and have job security!

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area? 

Amy: It depends on the size and speed of the transaction, but typically the junior associate will work with a mid-level associate, a senior associate, and a partner on a transaction, and will be tasked with assisting with corporate due diligence on the target company (i.e., reviewing the target’s corporate documents, equity arrangements and commercial contracts) and preparing a due diligence report of the findings, drafting certain transaction documents, listening in on and taking notes during negotiations, and coordinating review and input by specialist attorneys (tax, IP, privacy and other specialists).

Jen: As a junior, you immediately start drafting documents and have client-facing interactions. Debt finance is very diligence-light—so you get to jump right into the fun stuff. 

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Jen: Debt finance lawyers will always be needed. We have a technical practice, and the world of credit facilities continues to evolve, so debt finance lawyers will always be needed to stay up to market and decode these agreements for our clients. 

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Amy: Summer associates have the opportunity to be staffed as a member of a deal team, which enables them to get a good glimpse of what a transaction entails. Summer associates shadow and assist junior associates with their tasks, and are welcome to sit in on team calls and negotiations.

Amy Keller is a partner in the firm’s Business Law department and a member of its Private Equity group. Ms. Keller focuses her practice on advising private equity sponsors, their portfolio companies, and other private companies in a variety of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations, minority and growth equity investments, and divestitures, as well as general corporate matters. She has represented clients in transactions across a range of industries, including technology, healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, and education, and also regularly represents investors in impact and ESG investments. Ms. Keller also serves on the hiring committee for the firm’s San Francisco office. 

Jen Necas is a counsel in Goodwin’s Business Law department and a member of its Private Equity and Debt Finance groups. Her practice focuses primarily on advising corporate borrowers, private equity sponsors, portfolio companies, and direct lenders in connection with a variety of financing transactions.

Jeff Marell, Global Co-Head of M&A • Neel Sachdev, Global Co-Chair of Finance and Capital Markets
Paul, Weiss

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Jeff: Our private equity lawyers work alongside some of the most sophisticated firms in New York and globally to solve complex problems and find solutions to their biggest business challenges. I’m often helping clients navigate their most business-critical acquisitions, investments, and carve-out transactions. The work is fast paced, high stakes, and exciting.

Neel: Our practice is at the forefront of innovation, leading the market on complex financing structures and transactions. I’m one of 30-plus financing partners globally advising top-tier private equity clients on transactions across Europe, the U.S., and Asia. We focus almost exclusively on representing high-velocity private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies.

What types of clients do you represent? Please feel free to list actual clients.

Neel: We represent industry-leading financial sponsors on the financing of international leveraged buyouts and other complex financing transactions. This includes top-tier clients, such as Bain Capital, BC Partners, Francisco Partners, Investindustrial, Hg Capital, and Warburg Pincus, among others.

Jeff: Our clients are the biggest names in private equity, including Apollo, General Atlantic, Roark, KPS, and Kohlberg, among dozens of others, and they often come to us with their most complex problems. In the last three years, we’ve advised on 400-plus deals valued at over $270 billion. This means our associates have numerous opportunities to work on front-page, high-profile deals that involve constant learning and problem solving.

What types of deals do you work on? Please feel free to share actual deals.

Jeff: I represent Roark Capital on all its major transactions, including its pending acquisition of Subway, one of the largest private equity buyouts of 2023. I also advise on strategic transactions, including MGM’s sale to Amazon and Kraft Heinz’s sale of its cheese businesses.

Though we usually work on large deals, our work isn’t dominated by one type or size of deal. My colleagues and I have witnessed Roark grow from a small shop to a multibillion-dollar powerhouse, working alongside them on larger and larger transactions over many years. It’s never a one-and-done deal. This long-term approach to client work gives associates the opportunity to develop deep client relationships.

Neel: I advise on multi-jurisdictional financing transactions for the most elite firms in the global private equity industry. In 2023 alone, Paul, Weiss led $100 billion-plus in financing transactions. Recently, I advised Bain Capital on the €3 billion acquisition and financing for Fedrigoni, as well as Investindustrial on their acquisition and refinancing of Guala Closures; TA and Warburg Pincus on their joint acquisition of Epassi Group; and The Access Group, Hg Capital, and TA Associates on Europe’s largest-ever unitranche financing on record.

How did you choose this practice area?

Neel: I was attracted to private equity early because I was seeking a practice that was transactional and advisory, while also being vibrant and fast-paced. Private equity work is dynamic, the clients are high-energy and ambitious, and the industry is always blazing a trail. Paul, Weiss has an incredible platform for private equity lawyers, and associates at all levels have ample opportunities to work with the firm’s marquee clients—some of the biggest and most sophisticated in the world—as well as up-and-coming firms across the spectrum of investment strategies.

Jeff: Private equity has been a foundation of Paul, Weiss’s corporate practice in New York for decades, and it’s been one of the highlights of my career to see it flourish into a global leader. As a junior associate, I had the opportunity to work on a wide range of corporate transactions, including IPOs, M&A, financings, and more, giving me insight into the different challenges of each area. Ultimately, I enjoyed quarterbacking deals the most, specifically private equity M&A deals.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Jeff: In one meeting, I might be working with a large U.S. company to spin off a portion of its business, and in the next, I might be advising a private equity giant on its multibillion-dollar acquisition of a new portfolio company. On any given day, I’m leading client meetings and discussing strategy with my colleagues—senior partners and associates alike. My focus is providing the absolute best client service, so I spend significant time each day connecting with clients and potential clients to discuss their concerns, interests, and ambitions.

While I might work on over a dozen deals concurrently, junior lawyers at Paul, Weiss typically focus on two or three, allowing them time and support to master the details and build expertise. Associate training is a big priority here, and I dedicate time each day to mentoring associates.

Neel: Private equity is a client-facing industry, and relationships are the most valuable currency, so a good portion of my day is spent advising clients on deals, new opportunities, and market conditions. Clients value innovative solutions to their financings, and our team has for many years been at the forefront of market trends and documentation.

Beyond client work, my biggest priority at the moment is strategically building out Paul, Weiss’s London office. In a short period of time, we have attracted more than 100 of the most talented lawyers in the market, including top-tier partners and a growing pool of outstanding counsel and associates—the most exceptional team I’ve had the privilege to work with. As we continue to grow, associates will have numerous opportunities to work alongside market-shaping lawyers on cutting-edge transactions.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Jeff: Do even the most mundane tasks exceedingly well. When you’re just starting out, it’s all about building trust—with clients, partners, and fellow associates. Junior lawyers have to first demonstrate that they have the drive, ability, and talent to perform basic assignments well before partners trust them to do more complicated assignments.

Paul, Weiss teaches you how to apply the problem-solving skills you learned in law school to real-world transactions by giving you direct exposure to sophisticated work and plenty of networking opportunities. It’s truly fantastic to be a summer or junior associate here because you learn by doing, not by watching.

Neel: I agree. At Paul, Weiss, training and mentorship are tailored to the individual and focused on building each attorney’s strengths. Of course, there is a focus on the technical, core skills—drafting documents, structuring deals, and handling process and implementation—but you also develop softer skill sets that are key to success as a private equity lawyer, including networking, public speaking, and pitching clients. You’re surrounded by lawyers who want to mentor junior talent at the firm to become the partners of the future—lawyers who happen to be the best in the business, with the biggest clients in the industry.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Neel: Clients and talent. It’s thrilling to build something new and transformational, and be surrounded by such remarkably talented teams. We are creating a legacy platform for Paul, Weiss in London to attract market-leading lawyers and clients for many years to come.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Jeff: The goal is to get to the “yes” for your client, but that doesn’t mean you have to be combative. The best way to get to the “yes” is to forge connections with the people you see again and again across the deal table. As you grow, you realize that it’s more valuable to build mutual respect with other lawyers in the industry and nurture life-long connections that transcend any one transaction.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Neel: Private equity is a truly global product, and the industry will keep growing on a global scale. Almost all deals now have a cross-border element, including how the team is organized or which legal issues arise, and clients want lawyers who are plugged into key capital markets. As Paul, Weiss’s international platform expands, there will be many opportunities for enthusiastic associates to work alongside Paul, Weiss’s leading private equity and finance partners across both London and New York for global clients—some of the highest-profile private equity firms in the world.

Jeff: Interpersonal skills and up-to-the-minute market knowledge will continue to be highly important. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to foster your relationships, including frequent meetings and touchpoints with clients to build confidence and trust. And staying constantly tuned into the current market trends and developments is more essential than ever before—especially to your clients. As we move into the future, especially with AI, it will no longer be enough to be smart and efficient; you need to have that combination of IQ and EQ to be successful.

How important is it to understand your client’s business, and how can junior attorneys gain this insight?

Jeff: It’s important to be familiar with the business, and it’s even more important to be well versed in the client’s business goals. If a client is acquiring a beverage company, you should educate yourself on the beverage industry’s key legal terms, issues likely to arise, and general business structure. At the same time, focus on understanding the client’s objective, which will help you learn how to prioritize certain issues over others. Some terms are non-negotiable and some are “nice to have”—and often, this knowledge comes with immersing yourself in deal work.

Neel: We want all of our lawyers to be client-facing advisors. It’s never too early in your career to spend time with clients. At Paul, Weiss, private equity associates are immersed in clients’ businesses and develop personal bonds with clients, setting them up for success. The advice I give associates is: get to know private equity by spending time on deals, business development, and relationships; you’ll better understand what matters to clients, you’ll be a better advisor, and you’ll make lifelong friends.

Jeff Marell is Global Co-Head of Paul, Weiss’s Mergers & Acquisitions practice and a senior member of the Private Equity Group in New York. He represents strategic and private equity clients in public and private mergers and acquisitions, investments, divestitures, joint ventures, and carve-out transactions. One of the nation’s most prolific and esteemed private equity lawyers, Jeff was named a “Dealmaker of The Year” by The American Lawyer and a “Top Negotiator Behind Mega Deals” by Variety’s Dealmakers Impact Report, among other recognitions.

Neel Sachdev is Global Co-Chair of Paul, Weiss’s Finance and Capital Markets practice and Co-Head of the London office. As one of London’s most influential corporate lawyers, Neel advises financial sponsors and their portfolio companies on complex financing transactions in connection with leveraged buyouts, acquisitions, recapitalizations, and other transactions. He has been ranked in Chambers Band 1 for Banking and Finance for nearly two decades and was named “Finance Individual of the Year” at The Legal 500 UK Awards, among other recognitions.

Elizabeth Gallucci, Partner—Private Equity
Ropes & Gray

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

As a private equity lawyer, I help clients structure and negotiate deals, including leveraged buyouts and public and private mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. These range from middle-market transactions to multibillion-dollar megadeals! I help clients navigate the many complexities of a private equity transaction, focusing them on the key business points and helping them achieve a structure and terms that will provide sufficient flexibility to achieve their future goals for each business.  

What types of clients do you represent? 

The clients I work with are primarily private equity firms that buy, sell, and invest in companies. One of the things I love about working with private equity firms is the breadth of industries in which they deal. The clients I work with are interested in so many different sectors, including healthcare, life sciences, food and beverage, industrial, and consumer, which keeps things fresh and interesting. To offer just a sampling, clients I represent include Altamont Capital, Genstar Capital, TSG Consumer Partners, Bain Tech Ops, and TPG Growth. 

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I tend to focus my practice on acquisitions and divestitures. I’m really proud of my recent work helping clients expand and condense their portfolios in line with their strategic goals and priorities. For example, I recently helped Altamont Capital Partners acquire Nutrition 101 and make an investment in Mini Melts USA, Bain Capital Tech Ops invest in both Ren and Blackpoint, and Tekni-Plex (a portfolio company of Genstar Captial) acquire Seisa Medical. Each of these deals was unique, and I had to draw on different knowledge areas to get clients to the finish line.  

How did you choose this practice area?

Private equity deals can be fast paced and unpredictable, with lots of unexpected challenges and twists and turns. I knew I wanted a practice that would keep me on my toes and challenge me to be nimble and creative, and it has not disappointed! My work is constantly energizing and interesting.  It’s also very rewarding to work on deals that require true collaboration to get them over the finish line. 

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

A typical day has me working on a wide variety of matters, interacting with clients and colleagues, and managing the unexpected. This includes group calls, in-person meetings, reviewing documents, and addressing client concerns in real time.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

When it comes to deal work, on-the-job training is the best training. Any opportunity to brainstorm, create client-facing solutions, lead calls and conversations, collaborate with colleagues, and practice communication is highly beneficial. Learning by doing will help you get in the rhythm of the deal life cycle and sharpen your ability to exercise good judgment when working with clients.  

I would also advise lawyers early in their career to find a mentor and prioritize collaboration. I was fortunate to benefit from exceptional mentorship at Ropes, and by collaborating with attorneys across practice groups at all levels, I was able to ask hard questions and gain valuable insight. 

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

The greatest challenge is immersing myself in the weeds and details of a deal while simultaneously focusing broadly on the bigger picture. Another challenge is rising to the excellent standards our clients expect. When you practice at a firm like Ropes & Gray, clients expect top-notch service and the best legal advice and outcome from every interaction. It is exhausting—but very rewarding—to always make sure that I am operating at the top of my game.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Many people characterize deal lawyers as emotionless, tough people, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Deal lawyers are extremely diverse. We have a wide variety of educational and cultural backgrounds, take varied approaches to our work, and some of us even have colorful personalities!

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?  

For the past 24 months, we have faced a market downturn (following one of the busiest periods in private equity industry’s history). Our clients in the private equity industry are continuing to look for new and creative ways to put capital to work, including via minority investments and rescue financing. As a private equity lawyer, it is important to stay on top of industry trends, explore insights, and bring that in-depth knowledge to the table.  

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Summer associates at Ropes get significant exposure to associates and partners across practice areas who are working on a broad range of cutting-edge and high-profile private equity deals. They receive meaningful and substantive work assignments, shadowing opportunities, and hands-on training, which is the best in the business. They take part in mock negotiations and sit in on important client calls. They get involved in project management, legal due diligence, and drafting and documentation of transaction and ancillary documents. We encourage our summers to bring their whole selves to the firm and to absolutely soak up the experience.

Ropes & Gray partner Elizabeth “Liz” Gallucci practices in the firm’s private equity group. Based in San Francisco, Liz represents private equity funds in the structuring and negotiation of leveraged buyouts, public and private mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, and other general corporate matters. A practical and thoughtful deal lawyer who represents clients in both control and minority investments across industries, Liz focuses on her clients’ specific goals and brings a deep understanding of market practice in private equity transactions, particularly in the middle market. She has experience across a variety of deal structures and, as needed to support her clients, leverages the capabilities of the full firm to execute and close deals efficiently and seamlessly. Her private equity clients regard her as a sophisticated and trusted counselor. Liz has been listed as one of The Deal’s “Top Rising Stars.” 

Karan Dinamani, Partner—Private Equity
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

As a partner in S&C’s Private Equity Group, my practice involves advising private equity firms and other financial sponsors to help them deploy their capital by buying assets, supporting both them and their portfolio companies during their ownership and through to the exit of the financial investor. The needs of the clients are varied and so is the work—alongside the staples of helping the clients undertake M&A, capital structuring, IPOs, etc., we are involved in crisis management, restructuring, and anything else that is strategically important to either the sponsor or the portfolio company. Our Private Equity Group is distinguished by its exceptional depth, its hallmark multidisciplinary approach, and its broad geographic reach. I draw upon the integrated resources and efforts of S&C offices around the world, taking advantage of the firm’s preeminent global capabilities, including in antitrust, finance, IP, and tax, to advise our clients in their most important and complex transactions.

What types of clients do you represent?

As mentioned, my main focus is acting for financial sponsors, and that represents over 90% of my practice. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have been trusted to advise a wide range of leading private equity houses such as Apax Partners, Ardian, Blackstone, Bridgepoint, EQT, PAI Partners, and others. Word of mouth is often a good source of introductions, so I will occasionally also be recommended by a client to act for a large family-owned business or anyone else where an instinctive appreciation of how personal the matter is for the client is a unique selling point. I have also advised a number of major corporations on strategic transactions over the years, as the same skill set and personal approach are valued by certain in-house legal teams.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Our service is relationship led, and each client often has a different focus, which means the transactions on which I have advised are in a range of sectors and markets—one day, we may be looking to buy a bank, the next, we will be looking to acquire a pan-European medical distribution business, and then may get instructed by another client to help them with the carve-out of a large consumer business from a listed company. Each deal has to be approached with fresh eyes from a legal perspective, which keeps every transaction interesting.

How did you choose this practice area?

I spent my first few years as an associate doing work for a range of clients, including private equity clients but also large banks and corporations, large pension funds (who were just starting to directly invest in assets), and family offices. By the time I was a fourth year, I felt capable of advising effectively on most types of transactions. The beauty of acting for private equity clients is I never had to give that up—they are constant users of external legal services because if they’re not doing an M&A deal, they’re doing an IPO, or a restructuring or growing the business with M&A, or having to deal with a major adverse event, which requires specialist advice but also a big picture view. On top of that, private equity professionals are very personally tied to the success of their investments. I am by nature very committed to my clients and find it natural to go above and beyond for them, which I understand is something they have always appreciated. You have direct access to clients early on in private equity, so you see all of this firsthand. It was an obvious choice for me.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

My day is very client- and team-centered. Building strong relationships and trust are critical in our job, and I cannot think of a day where I am not engaging with a client, whether it be over a meal or in a meeting. Given the level of service we aim to provide our clients, I am deeply involved in all of our deals and actively leading teams. I also spend time every day interacting with the associates and ensuring they are enfranchised and growing. Our deals are usually on very tight timetables, so it is a full life! As the years have passed, I have also come to appreciate the frequent outreach from clients to help with a judgment call that may or may not be directly related to law or work, which is when you know you are a trusted advisor.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

The capital structures are complex, and lawyers are very involved, so make sure you are not scared of spreadsheets! Being proficient with numbers is a real advantage as these transactions are very financially driven (although I would say that all lawyers should strive to be comfortable around numbers).

Stepping back more broadly, it’s critical to understand your client’s business so that you can provide the best possible service. You could be working on a refinancing or public takeover or advising on preliminary steps for a future listing of the company. Being open-minded in the first years of your career and trying to understand as much as you can about all aspects of the law is important as it means you are more likely to be useful and relevant to the client as you get more senior.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I enjoy that it’s dynamic in almost every sense. The transactions are complex, interesting, and fast-paced. If you’re privileged to be viewed by clients as useful, you will get rewarded by being constantly busy and doing more and more interesting transactions for them. If you are committed and do an exceptional job, the feedback is instantaneous because the client will tell you they will be using you again—and they do!

Linked again to the relationship and quality point, I take immense pleasure and satisfaction in helping my associates grow. They get direct access to clients at a very early stage, and I think that makes the job more rewarding for associates. Advising on these matters is a team sport, so I am also constantly learning—I cannot count the number of times one of my associates has thought about an issue or angle differently from me.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

If you take all I have said above, I think Sullivan & Cromwell is uniquely suited to servicing private equity and financial sponsor clients. Our General Practice associates are encouraged to experience a range of transactions. We have an unremitting focus on quality. Across all of our practices, our partners are always hands on, which is good for the client and also good for the associates. There’s been a growing tendency of segmentation and specialization in the legal industry, which has its place in some instances, but because private equity clients are best served by counsel who have the ability to instantly understand and anticipate their needs, we are effective in a range of industries and types of transactions.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

While it has existed for much longer, private equity in its current incarnation has been a growing practice area for the last 20 years, and is now a mature business. It’s a type of business where growth-minded associates can often find a space for themselves because new players constantly emerge, and it lends itself well to relationship-oriented people, who are often naturally inclined toward helping to create and generate business.

One of the great things about private equity is that you are very quickly given a lot of trust from a client who is deploying a significant amount of capital. This allows you to have direct access to, and understanding of, the decision-making process and puts you in a very good position to do two things in particular: get to the heart of creating new relationships between the firm and develop a critical skill set, which is the ability to translate risk into value. Many of our clients don’t have in-house counsel to make that translation, so private equity lawyers often gain that experience by default.

How important is it to understand your client’s business, and how can junior attorneys gain this insight?

As large as private equity and the broader private capital industry is, the business is still intensely personal in nature. The outcomes for private equity professionals are intrinsically linked to the manner in which they close a deal, the manner in which they realize investments, etc. The vast majority of private equity professionals come from banking, consultancy, and accounting backgrounds, but very few are from legal backgrounds. It is fundamental to understand how they think about risk and give advice that is tailored to their thinking. What I always say to junior associates is—do you understand the issue? If you understand the issue, do you understand the consequence(s)? Sounds simple but can be trickier in practice!

Karan Dinamani is a partner in S&C’s Private Equity Group and has extensive experience supporting private equity clients across a range of markets, industries, and sectors, including financial services, fintech, consumer, healthcare, and technology. He has been trusted to advise on some of the most complex cross-border financial sponsor-led transactions in Europe, and acts for private equity firms and other financial sponsors in relation to all strategic investment matters, including all forms of M&A, co-investment, restructurings, and supporting their portfolio companies through their life cycle with the sponsor.

Karan is described by clients as “an exceptional partner, with an enormous dedication to his profession and his clients [and] a unique ability to understand and distill very complex problems into pragmatic and actionable advice” and having “an incredible ability to adapt to a deal in any sector and in any geography almost immediately.

Mei Dan, Partner—Corporate
Weil

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

My practice is made up of deals, deals, deals. As part of Weil’s Private Equity and M&A practice, I represent corporate clients in acquisitions, divestitures, asset sales and carve-outs, joint ventures, and investments. Our team advises clients as they investigate possible targets for acquisition, undergo the diligence process, and until the transaction closes. When clients look to Weil, they’re entrusting our firm to handle their most significant, complex M&A deals and strategic investments. When it’s critical to get a deal done not only correctly but effectively, that’s when our clients turn to us. 

What types of clients do you represent?

I think that my role at Weil is exciting because I closely advise both private equity funds and large multinational corporations. Weil works with some of the largest private equity funds in the world, and I’ve specifically represented Genstar, TPG Inc., and Sumeru Equity Partners, to name a few. In terms of large companies, Weil’s clients are often household names engaging in massive M&A deals. I’ve recently worked with companies like Getty Images, Chevron, and Giant Eagle, among others.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

The types of deals I work on are varied, but all interesting and nuanced in unique ways. I represent private equity clients in leveraged buyout transactions, for instance, where they acquire companies using a mix of equity and debt. I’ve also represented Getty Images in their de-SPAC transaction. And recently, I worked on a transaction in which Weil represented a consortium of investors navigating management changes in their existing investments. The complexity of each deal means that I’m always learning about novel aspects of my clients’ businesses. Even now as a partner, each day brings something new. 

How did you choose this practice area?

I spent four years working in Weil’s Banking practice group before ultimately deciding to practice within private equity and M&A. The experience I gained there was fundamental, and the switch was a big decision at the time. I really enjoy what I’m doing now because, as a private equity and M&A attorney, I can dive deep into diligence regarding new companies and technologies on the cutting edge. We dig in to learn about how a business functions and what the key components are. For someone who is naturally curious, it’s an enjoyable puzzle. You slowly begin to piece together the different parts of a company and figure out how it fits into a transaction. I find the problem-solving element of my work very fulfilling.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Every day is genuinely different. One morning, we may start with our team on a call with opposing counsel to negotiate a purchase agreement. Then, my focus may shift to working with Weil colleagues through the complicated cross-border tax issues of a potential transaction, for instance. As part of Weil’s corporate team, you must be keyed into a transaction's moving parts. That holistic view is vital to ensuring success for our clients. I particularly like that Weil attorneys are so well integrated with each other and seek out opportunities for collaboration. We all agree that is the best way to support clients in each aspect of their deal throughout a transaction’s lifecycle.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

In any profession—especially in law—it’s essential to learn how to take ownership of your work, be proactive, and be willing to jump into any new project. Weil provides associates with several professional development opportunities, but no class can teach someone how to come to work prepared to contribute to their team. At Weil, we encourage our young associates to cultivate that desire by expecting them to engage with challenging assignments and ask questions. At the same time, we also understand that it’s our job to provide them with appropriate coaching and supervision. That mentorship model is irreplaceable. A lot of development takes place on the job, so it’s crucial to choose a firm like Weil that prioritizes the training and mentoring of its associates.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I enjoy that private equity and M&A is a team sport. In any transaction, clients need the advice of tax, intellectual property, employment, regulatory, antitrust, real estate, and finance attorneys, among others. I appreciate that Weil intentionally cultivates such a deep bench of knowledgeable subject matter experts who are eager to collaborate across the board. We also aim to be our clients' strategic business partners and intentionally cultivate that relationship. Both internally and externally, we all make each other’s work better. At the end of the day, that sense of teamwork allows us to deliver the best possible outcome and makes the job much more fulfilling.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Associates in Weil’s corporate practice actually get a significant amount of face time with our clients. The ability to communicate with them effectively is vital. If an associate can identify what the client needs to know and determine how best to convey that information promptly and clearly, that will enable them to succeed in this area. Especially when presented with large amounts of complex information—and frequently related to unfamiliar sectors or technologies—learning how to distill details down to the most salient points is a large part of an associate’s day-to-day work.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

I was a 2009 Weil summer associate and had an excellent experience. Weil’s summer program strikes what I think is a uniquely strong balance between ensuring that summer associates gain substantive work opportunities to illuminate what a Weil career looks like and also providing the social and networking opportunities that are the hallmarks of the summer experience. Particularly in Silicon Valley, the size of Weil’s office allows young associates to interact directly with senior associates and partners. Learning happens on the job, so the informal mentoring opportunities or observational experiences that summer associates gain here are irreplaceable.

How important is it to understand your client’s business, and how can junior attorneys gain this insight?

At Weil, we aim to understand every aspect of a client’s business. Internalizing that mentality and being well prepared to jump in is vital. Especially as a corporate attorney, you learn by doing. Ensuring that you’re intentional in paying attention, engaging in conversations, and asking appropriate questions is critical as a young associate. Working on your piece of a transaction, listening in on client phone calls, reading relevant industry publications, and being intellectually curious will put you on the right path and, over time, the big picture will come into focus.

Mei Dan is a partner in Weil's Corporate Department based in the firm’s Silicon Valley office. Mei represents financial and strategic clients in various acquisition transactions, including public and private mergers and acquisitions, venture capital investments, and cross-border matters. She also advises on general corporate and transactional matters, including financings. Mei earned her J.D. from New York University School of Law in 2009. 

Shiva Sandill, Partner—Mergers & Acquisitions
White & Case

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Broadly speaking, I represent strategic and private equity investors, asset managers, management teams, and portfolio companies of sponsors in acquisitions, majority and minority stake investments, sales, dispositions, carve-out transactions, leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations, joint ventures, and other business combinations. Our team ranks among the market-leading legal advisors, representing sophisticated investors across nearly all industries and sectors. Clients rely on us to advise in a commercial manner on strategic transactions, complex issues, and market trends.

What types of clients do you represent?

I have clients with varying investment strategies and who invest across industries and jurisdictions. Our Private Equity practice works on a broad range of transactions for private equity firms, venture capital firms, sovereign wealth funds, and their portfolio companies. The firm’s client list is impressive, as our representation is expansive and not limited to institutions or firms of any given size or maturity, which provides us with deep expertise and experience to draw upon. We advise clients on structuring and presenting bids, negotiating, and drafting acquisition agreements and financing documents, offering guidance and insight even after the completion of a transaction.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

White & Case has a full-service Private Equity practice, handling a wide range of services to our clients engaged in investment and exit transactions of all kinds. When the stakes are high and time is short, private equity leaders turn to us to develop creative strategies to help win auctions, mitigate risks, and close deals quickly and efficiently. From groundbreaking, monumental acquisitions to smaller strategic add-ons, our private equity teams have implemented transactions with precision and care for established institutions, entrepreneurs, and emerging visionaries alike.

How did you choose this practice area?

I chose this practice area because being a private equity lawyer means that you are always learning, as the industry and market are continuously changing. The fast-paced nature of the practice keeps me on my toes, and the strategic and business-minded nature of the practice works well with my personality. I was drawn to the Private Equity practice at White & Case because it is a market leader in this space, and as a result, we support some of the most sophisticated clients across the globe. Not only do I get to learn about different industries and businesses, but I also learn about different legal topics, such as employment law, intellectual property law, tax law, environmental law, etc.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

There is no typical day. That said, the day-to-day work of private equity lawyers often includes being an extension of our clients’ business team, strategizing with our clients and their stakeholders, negotiating, and discussing our clients’ economic and operational goals, as well as being a thoughtful and surgical technician, preparing partnership agreements, advising on and documenting management and compensation arrangements, as well as advising and documenting the sale or purchase of a company. Often much of our day can be spent liaising with any number of our many subject matter specialists to ensure we are providing our clients with a comprehensive, thoughtful, and intentional approach.

What training, classes, experience or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

While much of what you learn as a private equity lawyer is on the job, I recommend taking accounting and finance courses or other business-related classes in law school. Having a strong foundation in these subjects will provide invaluable knowledge on issues important to clients. You will also be able to communicate with clients and understand their objectives with this background. When advising our clients, not only do we need to understand a target’s business, but we also need to understand our client’s business and objectives. Being able to communicate and understand business terminology allows you to add even more value as a private equity lawyer.

As a private equity lawyer, you are usually project managing the transaction from a legal perspective, which can involve the coordination of specialists across different offices (and jurisdictions) as well as acting as the first point of contact for the client. This means you need to be organized, have strong communication and personal skills, and be a leader. A genuine interest in understanding how businesses operate is also key. We are in the client service business; as such, you must have a strong willingness to contribute to serving your client’s needs.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Private equity deals can be unpredictable and present a variety of unexpected challenges. Having solid technical legal skills is just the starting point. Practicing at White & Case, clients expect us to understand the market, remain commercially savvy, and provide high-quality practical (and often creative) solutions at a quick pace.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

White & Case’s Private Equity practice is unique because our model allows our lawyers to gain valuable experience across a variety of areas within private equity. Given our sophisticated roster of clients and commitment to growing the practice group and being cutting-edge in our goal-oriented services, the firm is deeply invested in supporting private equity clients across multiple countries, so I am required to bring my “A game” to work every day.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Historically, the common career path for lawyers was to make partner at a law firm. Now, given the versatile skill set of M&A and private equity attorneys, the exit opportunities are endless. You often see private practice attorneys go in-house to clients, private companies, or public companies. I have also noticed attorneys transitioning into business roles or taking on hybrid business-legal roles.

How important is it to understand your client’s business, and how can junior attorneys gain this insight?

Paramount and expected. This is key to being a trusted advisor and value-add to your clients. During deals, ask questions and track what other investments your clients are making. Your advice should be grounded in your understanding of the clients’ strategies and considerations for undertaking the transaction you are supporting. Further, given our understanding of the market and the breadth and depth of private experience at White & Case, we are often able to anticipate our clients’ questions and concerns before they even pose the question. Also, always follow the news—in particular, reading The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. You will learn so much about industries and businesses, which will help you communicate with your clients and make you invaluable to a deal team.

Junior attorneys can further achieve this by rolling up their sleeves, owning portions and tasks of a deal, investing time in learning about the client (its rationale for a transaction), and asking questions. White & Case provides an environment for junior attorneys to get a lot of exposure to the deal process and push themselves to take on the responsibility of more senior attorneys. Mentors are also essential to a successful legal career, which is why White & Case pairs all junior associates with a mentor when they start at the firm.

Shiva Sandill focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, corporate finance and securities, and capital markets transactions. He has extensive experience with advising private and public companies, private equity funds, and venture capital funds in connection with mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, portfolio company investments, buyouts, and recapitalizations. Additionally, Shiva represents emerging and middle-market companies at all stages of maturity, including formation, initial funding, expansion, and exit.

Andrea Gede-Lange, Partner • Thomas Lee, Partner—M&A and Private Equity
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Andrea: Private equity M&A transactions make up a significant portion of my work. I represent private equity firms in acquisitions and divestitures of portfolio companies, minority investments, portfolio company add-on acquisitions, IPOs, and recapitalizations.

Tom: My focus is on GP stakes transactions, which are a category of M&A deal in which an investor is buying a minority interest in the investment management business of a private equity or hedge fund (similar to how you can buy a share of Blackstone, KKR, or Carlyle Group on the NYSE, which are publicly traded, GP stakes deals are transactions where other private equity firms are selling a piece of their business, but in the private markets). Fried Frank is a market leader in this innovative and highly complex category of deals. I have been fortunate to work with some leading partners on numerous multibillion-dollar deals.

What types of clients do you represent?

Tom: I represent many leading investors participating in GP stakes investments, including Dyal Capital Partners, Wafra, Goldman Sachs’ Petershill unit, Bonaccord Capital Partners, Investcorp, Almanac, and Hunter Point Capital. I have also represented numerous private equity firm founders on the sell side.

Andrea: The private equity clients I have represented in recent years include CVC Capital Partners, Fortress Investment Group, Goldman Sachs, KKR, New Mountain Capital, and Permira, and various of their respective portfolio companies.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Tom: A few examples of GP stakes deals I have recently worked on include Dyal Capital and Wafra’s joint acquisition of a minority interest in NEA; Bonaccord Capital Partners’ acquisition of a minority interest in Shamrock Capital, VMG Associates, Trivest Partners, and Park Square Capital; and Wafra’s acquisition of a minority stake in Post Road Group, Siris Capital, and Digital Colony. These were all GP stake transactions where Fried Frank represented the investor acquiring a piece of a private equity asset management business.

Andrea: I recently represented New Mountain Capital and Blackstone in the sale of Blue Yonder (formerly JDA) to Panasonic. First, Panasonic bought a 20% equity interest in July 2020 in a deal valuing Blue Yonder at $5.5 billion. Then Panasonic purchased the remaining 80% from the other shareholders in September 2021 in a deal valuing Blue Yonder at $8.5 billion.

Last winter, I advised Permira in its acquisition of a majority stake in Boats Group, which operates a leading online classifieds marketplace for the recreational marine industry. The following summer, I acted for Permira and Boats Group in their significant investment in Click&Boat, a popular European boat rental platform. In each of these private equity M&A transactions, I had the opportunity to work with counsel and counterparties worldwide to structure the transactions and negotiate deal terms and governance arrangements.

How did you choose this practice area?

Tom: GP stakes transactions is a new and rapidly developing area, and I was fortunate enough to be in the right place (a mid-level associate at Fried Frank) at the right time (when this practice started growing explosively a few years ago). But like many things in life, luck is when preparation meets opportunity. With many of the leading partners in the space, Fried Frank was a natural choice for investors who were interested in investing in this new asset class or PE firms who wanted to explore a sale process, and with my broad experience at Fried Frank in M&A transactions of all types, pivoting to GP stakes deals was an exciting and smooth shift. I love working with clients in this space because they rely on my market knowledge and familiarity with their businesses to provide personalized advice.

Andrea: I graduated from a joint JD/MBA program knowing I was interested in pursuing a career in transactional legal work. I enjoy how M&A work never gets dull: I must stay on my toes with case law and market practice developments, and I also must continuously identify and solve in “real time” new issues that present themselves during transactions.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Tom: The cliché is that there’s no typical day, but because M&A is deal-based work, I have typical “slow” days and “busy” days.

On a slow day (I only have one active deal or all my deals are not going full speed ahead), I might start my day in the office around 10 a.m. I’ll spend 30 minutes catching up on emails, followed by an internal status conference or call with my team. This might be followed by a couple of hours of reviewing documents sent to me by a junior associate. After lunch, I will have a couple more calls with the specialists on our diligence team. The rest of my day will include more time reviewing and working on documents (e.g., preparing an initial draft of a merger agreement).

I would probably start working on a busy day around 8 a.m. (sometimes after having burned the midnight oil the night before, since I’m a night owl). I typically start the day with calls with clients from 8 to 10 a.m. Afterward, I might start revising an agreement based on the client’s feedback. After a couple hours, I will pivot to preparing for another call, such as a negotiation on another deal. I’ll review my notes on the agreements that are being negotiated and send discussion points to the opposing counsel and my client in advance. Following the negotiation call, I’ll find a few minutes to grab lunch and coffee. Then, I will prepare notes and summary emails or revise the agreements based on the preceding call. During the afternoon, I’ll periodically answer emails and calls from clients, opposing counsel, junior associates, specialists, and/or partners on deal-related points or action items. I will also delegate tasks to keep everything moving. At around 6 p.m., I will commute home (if I am working in the office), go to the gym, and have dinner with my family. I will finish the evening in my home office, completing my remaining tasks for the day.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Tom: All of the necessary training for an M&A lawyer will happen on the job, and the most critical skills or qualifications for a new associate to bring to the table are energy, enthusiasm, good work habits, and a willingness to contribute to serving the client’s needs in any way that they can.


Andrea: I regularly advise law students to take accounting and finance classes, ideally at the business school affiliated with their law school. These courses offer invaluable knowledge in understanding the financial terms of M&A deals and how our private equity clients think about them. Transactional attorneys learn these skills over time, but getting a head start while still in school and before starting to practice law full time is very helpful!
What do you like best about your practice area?

Andrea: Private equity M&A is a fascinating area. As an M&A lawyer, you learn about the risks and opportunities of conducting business in different industries. Each transaction presents a new opportunity to learn, whether that’s addressing the issues identified in due diligence, strategizing for a critical regulatory approval needed for the parties to close the transaction, or balancing the parties’ competing interests to find a negotiated solution. M&A practitioners act as the “project managers” on transactions. They lead client relations and prepare definitive documentation to effect the sale. They also supervise a team of attorneys specializing in other areas critical to any transaction, including tax, intellectual property, antitrust, data privacy, and executive compensation.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Tom: M&A deals usually involve a daunting number of tasks, workstreams, and people. Fortunately, junior and summer associates form part of an integrated team, which gives them exposure to the full life cycle and process of an M&A deal—from due diligence to negotiating and drafting agreements, preparing corporate formation documents, and preparing for closing. Examples of tasks that a summer associate might handle include:

  • Preparing an initial draft of corporate formation documents or a non-disclosure agreement,
  • Reviewing the target company’s contracts as part of legal due diligence,
  • Emailing the Fried Frank specialists to keep them apprised of the transaction’s status, and 
  • Actively participating in negotiations by taking notes and synthesizing information for the senior associates and partners. 

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Tom: Among the various disciplines for corporate lawyers, the M&A skill set is in high demand. There is always the traditional partner track, but many mid-level and senior associates and partners leave to join our clients, often for a legal role (e.g., associate general counsel) or a hybrid business-legal role.

How important is it to understand your client’s business, and how can junior attorneys gain this insight?

Andrea: As transaction advisors, our role is to assist our clients in making and then effectuating an investment decision, whether to acquire or to sell. It behooves us to understand the client’s key considerations or concerns for the transaction so that we appreciate how our advice fits into the overall picture and can effectively address the client’s needs. It’s even better to anticipate what the client will ask before they have a chance to pose the question. Junior attorneys can gain this insight by paying attention to what the client relays about their rationale for doing a deal—the potential risks and opportunities it poses—and, of course, asking questions!

Andrea Gede-Lange represents diverse clients in private equity transactions and mergers and acquisitions. Clients benefit from Andrea’s significant experience representing private equity firms, investors, and public and private companies in domestic and cross-border transactions, including leveraged buyouts, stock and asset acquisitions and divestitures, carve-out transactions, joint ventures, and recapitalizations. Clients also seek Andrea’s counsel regarding corporate governance issues, securities laws compliance, and general corporate matters. In recent years, The Legal 500 has consistently named Andrea to its list of “Next Generation Lawyers” in recognition of her private equity experience. In 2020, Andrea was named to the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll with Honors, which recognizes attorneys who contributed at least 50 hours of pro bono service in the calendar year.

Thomas Lee is a partner who represents private equity sponsors and investors in minority investments in asset management firms, control transactions, and other liquidity events and strategic transactions. Tom has led the representations of numerous transactions on both the sell side and the buy side in the rapidly evolving GP stakes market, including on some of the largest deals completed to date. Tom’s clients include Bonaccord Capital Partners, Investcorp, Almanac Investment Manager Solutions, Goldman Sachs’ Petershill strategy, and Dyal Capital Partners.

Matthew W. Abbott, Partner • Megan Ward Spelman, Partner—Corporate
Paul, Weiss

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Matt: I represent strategic and private equity investors in public and private acquisitions and investments, divestitures, joint ventures, and carve-out transactions. I’m a senior member of a dynamic and incredibly prolific private equity practice here; clients turn to me and my team to advise on their most important and complex transactions and investment strategies, as well as the latest innovations and market trends.

Megan: I am an M&A lawyer, and my clients are primarily private equity funds. I advise on a range of corporate transactions, including acquisitions, divestitures, investments, joint ventures, financings, restructurings, and other corporate matters across the full life cycle of our clients’ investments, which is a hallmark of the Paul, Weiss private equity practice.

What types of clients do you represent?

Matt: My clients include sophisticated growth equity firms like General Atlantic and some of the world’s largest alternative asset managers, including Blackstone, Brookfield, Clearlake Capital, Global Infrastructure Partners, and SoftBank.

Megan: I primarily advise private equity funds, which invest and manage capital that investors commit to provide to that fund over the life of the fund. Some of my clients are investing out of their first fund, while others may have dozens of different funds they manage. My clients have varying investment strategies and invest in a range of industries, including healthcare, technology, manufacturing, retail, consumer services, and others.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Matt: The transactions I work on are wide ranging, large, and complex, and many are cross-border. For more than two decades, I have advised General Atlantic, by now on more than 100 deals, including its recent $1.4 billion investment in Sierra Space—the second-largest private capital raise globally in the aerospace and defense sector. I recently led a team advising Clearlake Capital in an exceptionally intricate consortium deal—a deal involving two or more investors working together—to acquire Chelsea Football Club for $5.3 billion, one of 2022’s most closely followed sports transactions. I also represented Global Infrastructure Partners, alongside KKR, in its $15 billion acquisition of CyrusOne, the largest M&A deal in the data center industry to date. No two transactions are the same.

Megan: The most common type of transaction I advise clients on are leveraged buyouts, transactions where a private equity fund will use both equity—the committed capital they raised from their investors—and debt to acquire a company. There’s always something unique about each transaction, whether the client has a creative idea they would like us to help implement or an issue raised in diligence that needs to be addressed. One of the best parts of being an M&A lawyer is that it’s a team sport; I have the opportunity to work closely with my colleagues at Paul, Weiss across practice areas like antitrust, executive compensation, intellectual property, litigation, and tax, who are among the best at what they do.

How did you choose this practice area?

Matt: I was attracted to the private equity practice at Paul, Weiss because of the caliber of the clients here; we work with some of the most sophisticated investors in the world. I was also interested in private equity because it exposes you to a broad array of industries, portfolio companies, and management teams, which keeps the work interesting. We represent both sophisticated investors and entrepreneurial growth companies, providing a wide spectrum of experiences and opportunities.

Megan: I was initially drawn to corporate practice because I enjoyed working with others towards a common goal. Private equity was particularly attractive because of the variety of work and the opportunity to work with the same clients on multiple transactions over many years. What I love about Paul, Weiss’s private equity practice is our exceptional roster of existing private equity clients, coupled with our dedication to continuing to grow and expand in this area. It’s an incredible platform for any private equity attorney, and given the many opportunities to work with both established and newer private equity funds, it’s truly a fantastic place for junior attorneys.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Matt: My days are very busy, which is great, and the work tends to be busy throughout all economic cycles because our team handles the full range of issues a corporate lawyer deals with: buying, selling, working on IPOs, refinancing, dealing with litigation involving portfolio companies, handling personnel issues—and the list goes on. At my level of seniority, I am often involved in back-to-back calls, overseeing close to a dozen matters a day. Junior lawyers, by contrast, tend to focus on two to three deals, which allows them to hone their skills and dig deeply into the nuts and bolts of the transaction, including drafting documents.

Megan: One of the things I like about private equity is I don’t have a typical day. On any given day, I could be discussing the strategy for putting in a bid in an auction process with a client, reviewing and providing an associate with comments on a draft of a sell-side purchase agreement, working with my colleagues in executive compensation to onboard a new executive at a portfolio company, and having a Zoom meeting with a client and their accountants about a post-closing purchase price adjustment. The next day, I might be working with my tax colleagues on understanding the potential tax implications of a transaction, negotiating a purchase agreement with opposing counsel, meeting with associates to discuss what documents are needed for a client to invest additional money into an existing portfolio company, and discussing a potential indemnification claim.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Matt: Financial fluency is an important skill in this area, as private equity clients tend to be very commercially oriented and expect their lawyers to be so as well. Successful private equity lawyers understand their clients’ businesses and financial models. Law students should seek out courses that will provide a foundation on financial models and accounting. It’s also helpful to have a basic understanding of corporate law and contracts, and I recommend students take classes in securities law.

Megan: Much of your development as a private equity lawyer takes place on the job, so it is important to find a firm that prioritizes training and mentoring. This is an area where Paul, Weiss shines. Junior lawyers at the firm are immersed in a robust curriculum focused on developing both substantive knowledge and practical skills, including through negotiation workshops, practice management sessions, and informal Q&As with partners, for example.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Megan: Private equity is dynamic. Our clients are very sophisticated and are always thinking of new investment ideas and different ways to approach a deal. The practice has given me the opportunity to grow with my clients, many of whom I have worked with for years on multiple investments, allowing me to form strong bonds with them and gain a deep understanding of how they approach issues. I also really like working with colleagues across Paul, Weiss—it’s such a pleasure to learn about other practice areas from top experts when issues pop up.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Matt: We’re rigorous but we’re commercial. Paul, Weiss has done a good job of achieving a balance between being legally rigorous—understanding all the risks, reviewing all the case law, reading all the documents carefully, understanding all the ways a contract can be interpreted or an issue can be spun—but also knowing when to take financial risks and be commercial. I think it comes from our roots; 20 to 30 years ago, the firm represented a lot of entrepreneurs, which required creative lawyering. As our client base has changed, and we have grown to represent the leading and best-known private equity firms and institutional asset managers in the marketplace, our roots as creative problem solvers have stayed intact.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Matt: The industry is growing, consolidating, and maturing. Many firms today have billions—and sometimes even hundreds of billions—to invest, and multiple products and strategies; it’s been incredible to watch the growth. There is going to continue to be demand for lawyers to handle this work, and having a broad and diverse background will be a tremendous asset.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Matt: After doing the best job I can for my clients, my second-most important job is growing the talent within Paul, Weiss and making sure we are raising the next generation of talented lawyers to safeguard the firm. I think it’s really important that junior associates have exposure to clients, and we try to create those opportunities during the summer program. Lawyers tend to be intellectual, and they’re not always keenly focused on the client and the client’s objectives; it’s important for junior associates to remember that you are representing an actual client. Including summer associates and junior lawyers in client meetings gives them opportunities to develop as lawyers.

Megan: One of the most interesting things that summer associates get to do here on private equity matters is shadow, from calls with clients to negotiations, as well as sit in on our team debriefs after those calls or negotiations, where they can ask questions about what something meant or why we approach things a certain way. Also, complex M&A transactions have numerous ancillary documents that need to be drafted, so, time permitting, summer associates may get drafting experience.

Matthew Abbott is a partner in Paul, Weiss’s Corporate Department, global co-chair of the firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions Group, and a senior member of the Private Equity Group. He regularly represents strategic and private equity investors in public and private acquisitions and investments, divestitures, joint ventures, and carve-out transactions. One of the most prolific and accomplished private equity advisors in the nation, Matthew was recognized as a Law360 MVP in Private Equity in both 2022 and 2020 and as a finalist for The American Lawyer’s “Corporate Lawyer of the Year” in 2020. He earned his B.A., with first class honors, from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, and his J.D. from the University of Toronto.

Megan Spelman is a partner in Paul, Weiss’s Corporate Department and a member of the Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity Groups. She advises private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies in all types of transactions, including acquisitions, divestitures, investments, joint ventures, financings, restructurings, and other corporate matters. Megan earned her B.A., cum laude, in Communication Studies and Film, Television and Digital Media from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her J.D., cum laude, from New York University School of Law.

Grace Jamgochian, Partner—M&A and Private Equity
Sidley Austin LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Sidley’s M&A and Private Equity practice is engaged in the full spectrum of public and private mergers and acquisitions and private equity transactions across a variety of industries. Our clients include large and small companies, private equity funds and other financial sponsors, boards of directors, special committees, financial advisors, and other participants in corporate transactions. At the core, our M&A and private equity lawyers are dealmakers and business strategists who help clients buy or sell parts or all of a business. We work closely with our clients to find value and assess risks in transactions while documenting an agreement to formalize terms.

What types of clients do you represent? 

I represent clients who need dedicated, efficient, and innovative counsel to create value for their businesses—this includes market-leading companies of all sizes, as well as large and middle-market private equity firms and up-and-coming corporates. In a normal day, I can advise on a leveraged buyout or take-private for a private equity sponsor, then turn to a joint venture or a private company purchase and sale for another client. I enjoy having a mix of clients, both private equity firms and corporates, as they all have different perspectives and bespoke transactions.

What types of cases/deals do you work on? 

As a general corporate lawyer, I view myself as an extension of my client. If a client wants to buy or sell a business, make an investment, spin out a business, or take on investors, I advise and partner with them and other thought leaders at Sidley in support of the transaction. I have helped clients buy and sell TV networks, life sciences and biotech businesses, renewable energy platforms, construction companies, financial services firms, tech and telecom businesses, cartoon franchises, garbage disposal centers, fried chicken restaurants, and chemicals businesses. 

How did you choose this practice area?

While I was at Georgetown for undergrad, I had an internship in the legal department at BET Networks, supporting their corporate legal work. I enjoyed the critical thinking and precision needed for drafting agreements and knew before law school that I wanted to be a transactional lawyer. During my 1L summer at Cornell Law, I was a legal intern at GE Capital in their aviation financing business, which confirmed that the corporate path was a clear fit for me. After I rotated through M&A for my 2L summer, I spent more than a year in-house at Thomson Reuters as an M&A/securities lawyer before returning to private practice. It was there that I felt strongly that M&A was where I wanted to be. The intensity, complexity, and business-minded nature of M&A work fits with my personality, and a huge plus is that you get to work with so many different legal professionals, making M&A a very social group. Over the years, private equity has become increasingly important to the M&A market, so my practice has deeply expanded into having private equity clients who want to engage in M&A.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Today’s M&A and private equity market is dynamic and constantly evolving. I always tell law students that I live my day putting out a million fires. Learning how to prioritize, be organized, and think quickly—yet produce the best work product—are so important to what we do. My day generally consists of brainstorming solutions with clients, negotiating key terms with counterparties, drafting transaction agreements, managing my team, liaising with specialists, and ensuring that day-to-day operations are running smoothly and efficiently on all of my transactions. I also make time to focus on business development, recruiting, mentoring, and diversity efforts. 

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

I encourage law students to get as much contracts experience as they can, whether that is through classes, clinics, mock workshops, or legal internships. Business organizations, tax, IP, and securities regulation classes are helpful. Of course, if your law school offers negotiation or M&A-specific workshops, consider taking those as well. Having finance or accounting exposure is a plus, but not a prerequisite. If analyzing words all day, understanding the slight nuances between “would” and “could,” and synthesizing complicated issues in a few bullets are interesting tasks to you, then you may have a calling in M&A or private equity.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I love that my work results in a transformative impact on the world and economy. My clients are critically analyzing how to create value for their businesses, and it is really exciting that I am helping them make important strategic decisions. The combination of business and law makes M&A and private equity a unique and ever-evolving area of practice. Being an M&A and private equity lawyer allows you to collaborate with a diverse group of colleagues across multiple practice areas, including regulatory, employment law, IP, privacy, cybersecurity, real estate, tax, finance, and litigation. You will need to leverage this depth of experience to determine the full business scope of a target company. And this means you always have a friendly face around to chat with. 

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

There are a few misconceptions about the M&A and private equity practice: (1) that you shouldn’t even try this area of law unless you have an extensive financial/business background before law school; and (2) private equity firms are still the barbarians at the gate. On (1), corporate lawyers should have a basic understanding of finance and accounting principles, but this is something you can learn while taking “accounting for lawyers” or MBA classes. Do not be intimidated by topics because you did not understand them as law students; you will learn everything you need to know as you gain experience. The most important characteristics of a strong junior associate are quick comprehension, responsiveness, and attention to detail. On (2), I view private equity firms as creative value engineers; their focus is to build and to improve businesses and help them grow. This area is dynamic and fast paced, but that’s what makes it exciting and extremely satisfying when deals sign and close. 

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area? 

Sidley’s M&A and private equity lawyers lead the specialist teams on transactions, and every level of seniority in my group takes ownership to manage deals at all angles. From first years to senior partners, every deal you are on is “your” deal and the buck stops with you. Junior M&A and private equity lawyers will generally be involved in the due diligence process to vet target companies and assess legal risks, and they will have the opportunity to draft agreements, often the ancillary agreements to a transaction. They will be the coordinators to liaise with junior counterparts in other groups, getting essential management experience early on. Often, the junior associates’ “time to shine” is from the signing to the closing of the transaction, making sure that the technical aspects of a deal are covered so that the closing can occur smoothly. 

How important is it to understand your client’s business, and how can junior attorneys gain this insight?

I cannot stress enough how important it is to know your client and provide advice specific to their pressure points and to matters that they deem important. No client is the same—they all operate differently. Our work has a lot of gray areas. There is often no clear answer, so you need to understand the client’s business and goals to provide effective advocacy. At the minimum, you should do background reading on your client before a deal starts and familiarize yourself with their business, leadership, past deals, and recent news. If you have a new client, set up an email alert for their public mentions/press releases. If your client is a public company, pay attention to their SEC filings. Clients have many choices for law firms, and it takes everyone on the team, including junior lawyers and staff, to maintain a client relationship.

Grace Jamgochian is a partner at Sidley Austin LLP in the M&A and Private Equity practice. Grace represents U.S. and multinational corporations and private equity firms in a wide variety of M&A transactions across all industries, including tech, media and telecom (TMT), life sciences, healthcare, infrastructure, and retail. Her broad experience includes public company mergers and leveraged buyouts; private acquisitions and sales; strategic and minority investments; and joint ventures for private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and other sponsors and asset managers, as well as public and private companies. Grace also provides counsel on corporate governance matters. Her representative transactions range from multibillion dollar tech and life sciences mergers and complex Reverse Morris Trust chemical transactions to one-off transactions relating to a wind farm or a local music festival. Grace obtained her J.D. from Cornell Law School and B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University, Walsh School of Foreign Service.  

Ramona Nee, Co-Head, U.S. Private Equity & Managing Partner (Boston Office)
Weil

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Weil’s Private Equity practice works with financial sponsors and their portfolio companies across the life cycle of their investments. That begins with doing due diligence on potential acquisition targets, helping clients assess a target’s value, and assisting in the composition and negotiation of an offer to buy a target. We also assist clients in optimizing their investments, handling executive compensation issues, governance arrangements, and shareholder liquidity matters.

What types of clients do you represent?

Weil represents many of the world’s marquee private equity funds—including seven of the 10 largest—across many different verticals. Some of our clients are traditional leveraged buyout clients doing big deals, some are middle-market clients in the growth equity space, and others are traditional private equity funds exploring different types of assets, like secondary transactions, debt funds, and minority investments.  

Weil’s private equity clients include EQT Core International Equity Fund, Providence Equity Partners LLC, Genstar, Advent International, Blackstone Inc., TPG Inc., and Brookfield Asset Management Inc., among others.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

The core of my practice is working with our clients on highly complex and transformational matters. We work on M&A transactions for a variety of private clients, like financial sponsors, private equity funds, and growth equity funds, and help them buy, sell, and manage companies through the life cycle of their investment. That includes buying a target company—which then becomes a portfolio company—through which they can add on acquisitions to grow their business organically. And to complete the investment cycle, we help our clients sell their portfolio companies to realize their investment after a (hopefully!) successful hold period. 

How did you choose this practice area?

In many ways, my private equity practice chose me rather than the other way around. I knew I was not best suited to litigation, so I was drawn to a corporate practice. The partner mentors that I was assigned happened to be private equity lawyers, so those were my first deals, and I really enjoyed it from the very beginning. 

Some law students know what they want to do and guide their career trajectory towards a particular practice area. My path to private equity was instead based more on process of elimination, but I feel very lucky to have been exposed to PE so early in my practice.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

When working with a client that is exploring a target company, a firmwide Weil deal team collaborates to ensure that the client understands the risks and nuances of the target and its industry. We collaborate with the client and its other advisors (including those in accounting, insurance, environmental, and tax) to provide holistic support to the client in assessing a potential acquisition target.  

On many days, we are reading purchase agreements to distill the most critical points. Associates are essential to this workstream—they are in the weeds, reading contracts and documents to put together a detailed report and negotiate specific points in the purchase agreement. After they have pored through everything, we all talk to the client about issues that arose in diligence and how those issues could impact value or the purchase agreement. Our associates have a deep knowledge of many of the issues that matter most to the client.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

There are no specific classes that are “must takes” and no single career trajectory that should be followed in order to be a successful corporate attorney. A tax class will help you learn the working vocabulary of M&A and an M&A class will help you learn the relevant concepts, but diving into our practice as a summer or junior associate is really the most impactful way to learn. 

Weil’s Private Equity practice very much follows an apprenticeship model. The best way to become a strong deal lawyer is to surround yourself with mentors, jump feet first into a deal, and try to understand why your little part matters within the big, collaborative effort that goes into handling a transaction.

What do you like best about your practice area?

The best things about Weil’s Private Equity group are the things that make the job enjoyable on a daily basis. Funnily enough, none of these things are what I expected to enjoy most about being a lawyer way back at the start of my career. 

The ability to grow up with your clients on a personal level, and also develop institutional relationships, makes the job much more rewarding than working for clients with whom you don’t feel connected. Private equity clients are often repeat customers. Weil’s Private Equity practice provides high-caliber, more bespoke service when we know our clients well. By developing long-term relationships, you become a better advocate and a better practitioner. And it’s more fun! You feel invested in your client’s success and your clients are invested in yours—institutional relationships are very much a two-way street. I have worked with some clients for almost 20 years, which is fantastic.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area? 

I think one of the most critical tasks for a junior Weil associate working in our Private Equity practice is the ability to dig into contracts and distill documents into the most salient points. At first, it will seem like every sentence is important, but you quickly develop a rhythm, learn to spot more quickly how documents and contracts differ from each other, and understand how to determine what is relevant.  

Private equity is a very client-facing practice. Junior associates spend a significant amount of time explaining things directly to clients and walking them through various aspects of an issue as they make a value assessment or assess the risk profile of a company. 

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain at this practice area at your firm?

Weil’s Private Equity practice is very hands-on—we learn by doing deals. We frequently hear that our second- and third-year associates in the Private Equity group are operating more like fifth- or sixth-year associates at other firms. I think that is because we focus on providing exposure to the full spectrum of a deal from the moment a summer or junior associate arrives.   

We staff associates intentionally and consistently on deals across the New York, Boston, Silicon Valley, and Dallas offices. It makes the department feel much more cohesive because everyone gets to know each other, works with different clients, and becomes invested in the larger team. 

In Boston, it is our goal that by the end of the summer you have worked on a deal with nearly everyone in the office and had coffee or lunch with every attorney. Our attorneys look forward to these meetings, and the summer as a whole, because it is an opportunity for everyone to get to know each other personally. Culture is very important in Weil’s private equity practice, and we value that over almost any other quality when hiring summer associates.

How important is it to understand your client’s business, and how can junior attorneys gain this insight?

At Weil, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality service tailored to a particular client. To do that, we have to understand the business. By drawing repeat institutional clients, we have the ability to know what certain clients do or do not care about as compared to their peers. It’s critical that our junior attorneys dive into that understanding from the very beginning by listening in on conference calls, reading industry publications, asking questions, and generally showing intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm to learn.

Ramona Nee is Co-Head of Weil’s U.S. Private Equity practice and Managing Partner of the Boston office. Her practice focuses on corporate transactions, including leveraged buyouts, minority investments, and mergers and acquisitions. Ramona represents various private equity firms and growth equity funds, as well as their portfolio companies. She also counsels clients with respect to general corporate matters, including numerous joint ventures, strategic matters, and corporate governance.

Ramona is actively involved in recruiting, training, and mentoring programs at Weil. She is a member of TOWER, the firm’s Taskforce on Women’s Engagement & Retention, and the Taskforce on the Advancement of Women Leaders. In addition, she is on the Steering Committee for the Weil Legal Innovators program, which engages law school students in addressing pressing social and legal challenges. She is also a director of (and plays violin with) the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, a pro bono client of the firm.

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