Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is an international white shoe law firm headquartered in New York. Cleary is one of most well-rounded firms in the US, with strong debt capital markets, equity capital markets, derivatives, financial services regulatory, M&A, private equity and private equity funds practices.
Herbert Smith Freehills has long been regarded as one of London’s leading litigation firms – and ferocious litigators at that. However, in the 1990s it made efforts to be seen as more than that, electing a series of senior partners from its corporate practice including Edward Walker-Arnott, a City grandee well known for transactional work, and then Richard Bond. On the corporate side the firm handled a lot of the big demutualisations of huge building societies and worked on the Time Warner deal alongside Cravath, with which it had a referral relationship.
The litigators remain at the top of the tree today, however. Herbert Smith has a big practice acting for banks and has been very evident on the Libor cases and general financial crisis litigation.
The firm had a number of prominent female partners in the 1990s, notably corporate rainmaker Marian Pell and Margaret Mountford of Apprentice fame; however, that hasn’t really translated into a female partnership pipeline.
Herbert Smith launched in Hong Kong early but was very late to the table in Europe, apart from a small Paris office. An alliance with Germany’s Gleiss Lutz and Belgium’s Stibbe began in 2001 and for a long time they tried to brand the firms together – the business cards showed them together and the firms also persuaded the M&A tables to count all their deals together, but it was never close to a verein structure. The alliance came to an end in 2011 after the continental firms rejected Herbert Smith offer of a full merger. After that Herbert Smith pushed on in Europe with a series of raids on firms including Gleiss.
Clifford Chance is a powerhouse across the financial and corporate sphere with highly rated partners and a deep bench in almost all areas. One of the world’s pre-eminent law firms, the firm has a significant depth and range of resources across five continents.
Corporate & Transactional: The firm’s seasoned lawyers represent the full spectrum of corporate interests around the world, from global corporations to family-owned businesses to privately held companies. The firm’s lawyers thrive on solving the most complex business problems facing their clients today and mapping out strategies to drive clients’ success tomorrow. Broad capabilities include seamless transactional services, such as negotiating cross-border acquisitions or outsourcing deals, representing issuers in public offerings, securing preferred financial credit arrangements for borrowers or navigating a business restructuring.
Private Equity: The firm’s private equity team delivers strategic advice on private equity transactions at all stages of the investment life cycle, including control, non-control and minority investments, public-to-private transactions, buyouts and recapitalisations, mergers and acquisitions, growth capital investments and buy-and-build strategies, acquisition finance/refinance, and on all manner of exit strategies. The firm represent clients across a wide range of different industries and jurisdictions, providing market leading international deal structuring advice.
Finance: The firm’s finance practice offers top-level banking, finance and securities advice including in acquisition finance; corporate and fund finance; high yield; Islamic finance; projects and project finance; real estate finance and business restructuring. The team also covers all aspects of capital markets and securities issuance, with extensive experience in advising on a variety of complex transactional and regulatory matters.
Restructuring and Insolvency: The firm’s restructuring practice offers leading expertise in complex bankruptcy, insolvency and restructuring issues, advising on the market’s most high-profile, high-stakes, legally pioneering and financially significant matters. The practice maintains a variety of insolvency-related engagements, which provides the firm with a unique insight into how the other side is thinking, giving it a competitive advantage. The firm is best-known for its collaborative, deal-oriented approach to insolvency transactions and litigation.