Kirkland SF, thoughts?

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Kirkland SF, thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:54 pm

I'm at a NY V50 in finance doing secured lending on the lender side. Considering accepting a position in CA working in PE representing sponsors and portfolio companies on the debt finance side. As for firm, think one of Latham, STB or Kirkland. What would the day to day life be like? Is it difficult switching from lender to borrower representation (heard borrower side is better)? What are the exit options like? How difficult is it retaking the CA bar after a few years working (firm would give me one month off to study). Sorry for the long list of questions, and thanks for any advice you may have!
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:35 am

I'm a senior PE debt finance person at one of the firms you mention and really enjoy it. It is a great time to be on the sponsor/borrower side - the liquidity in the market at the moment means there are loads of lenders chasing too few deals so all the bargaining power is with the sponsors. My firm (and the other one you mentioned that is a pure-borrower practice) are taking the opportunity to be creative and move the market to extremely borrower-friendly terms. Our clients are demanding but smart and happy with their lives, whereas arrangers are being beaten up on all the time by both borrowers and regulators and it's a rare lev fin banker who isn't looking for a move to the buyside.

One of the upshots of current market dynamics is that it's difficult for firms to act on BOTH SIDES, so if you want to do proper borrower work I wouldn't go somewhere like Latham with a sizeable lender practice - they simply can't beat up on the lenders like we do and still expect a flow of instructions. On the flip side, in such a partisan market you do burn your bridges with lender firms and in-house bank jobs by going borrower side - at least if you are senior enough to understand and participate in negotiation of the commercial points. If you are junior and doing collateral/ancillary docs they likely won't care where you got your experience.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:44 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a senior PE debt finance person at one of the firms you mention and really enjoy it. It is a great time to be on the sponsor/borrower side - the liquidity in the market at the moment means there are loads of lenders chasing too few deals so all the bargaining power is with the sponsors. My firm (and the other one you mentioned that is a pure-borrower practice) are taking the opportunity to be creative and move the market to extremely borrower-friendly terms. Our clients are demanding but smart and happy with their lives, whereas arrangers are being beaten up on all the time by both borrowers and regulators and it's a rare lev fin banker who isn't looking for a move to the buyside.

One of the upshots of current market dynamics is that it's difficult for firms to act on BOTH SIDES, so if you want to do proper borrower work I wouldn't go somewhere like Latham with a sizeable lender practice - they simply can't beat up on the lenders like we do and still expect a flow of instructions. On the flip side, in such a partisan market you do burn your bridges with lender firms and in-house bank jobs by going borrower side - at least if you are senior enough to understand and participate in negotiation of the commercial points. If you are junior and doing collateral/ancillary docs they likely won't care where you got your experience.


Thanks for the detailed reply. Very helpful. What are the typical exit options on the borrower side? I assume it is difficult to go in house at a PE client. Are you in SF/LA? If so, how different have you found working in CA to be vs NYC. Or does it really depends on the firm?

Nylon

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Nylon » Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:55 am

No, I'm not in CA. But our practice group staffs many deals cross-office so I've worked with all our CA guys - it doesn't make all that much difference where you are based. Maybe the East Coast partners get the bigger, more high profile deals but they will all use any associate they think is good regardless of office.

Most associate exits recently have been to other firms, some making partner a rung down the ladder, a couple making 'lifestyle' moves to much smaller practices. One very good senior associate who was definitely on partner track got a sweet in-house legal role with a big PE client, but those opportunities are rare.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:00 pm

Are the hours more predictable on the borrower side? Do you generally know when you will be busy such that you can take advantage of the slower times? I know quite a few on the lender lev fin side that often have commitment paper drills that hit on a Friday night, requiring a ton of weekend work, which honestly sounds terrible. What are the main things you dislike about borrower PE work? Appreciate all of the responses thus far.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Nylon » Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:22 pm

No. Hours on the borrower side are the same, in fact sometimes worse than lender side, as we are more involved in more aspects of the deal (lenders' counsel come in later on PE deals and don't have the same visibility on the business side). Because of competitive auctions PE is not predictable in terms of timings - sometimes you think your client has lost the first round bid for an acquisition and then suddenly it's all systems go and you are racing to get papers in. Deadlines are short and we have lots of rainmaker partners here and active clients so not many gaps between deals. We are the second busiest group in the firm. Sorry to disappoint but best to be realistic - this is not a lifestyle practice area, even in CA. I love it but that's because I enjoy the combination of law and practical problem-solving and like having smart clients and colleagues who keep me on my toes. If you didn't enjoy it, I imagine the hours would be unbearable.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:02 pm

around what point on the borrower side does it become difficult to exit into banks? 3rd year? and if exiting into banks is hard from borrower side, then is it possible to move from a borrower side practice to a lender practice like latham, milbank, etc. (with the goal of exiting into banks eventually)?

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Nylon » Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:42 pm

Hard to say - there's a big element of luck when those bank opportunities come along. There will be more at the 2/3 level but honestly I think they will be super-tedious. Reviewing NDAs, confis and opinions all day. There are some bank roles for lawyers on deal teams which are more interesting but they usually go to mid-level/senior associates who have been good secondees
From a lender-side firm.

You would definitely be able to lateral to a lender firm up to 3, 4 or even 5 years, provided the market stays as bouyant as it currently is. Everyone needs bodies at that level and above just to get the deals done.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:08 pm

Nylon wrote:Hard to say - there's a big element of luck when those bank opportunities come along. There will be more at the 2/3 level but honestly I think they will be super-tedious. Reviewing NDAs, confis and opinions all day. There are some bank roles for lawyers on deal teams which are more interesting but they usually go to mid-level/senior associates who have been good secondees
From a lender-side firm.

You would definitely be able to lateral to a lender firm up to 3, 4 or even 5 years, provided the market stays as bouyant as it currently is. Everyone needs bodies at that level and above just to get the deals done.


appreciate the response! compared to some of the other transactional groups are there any challenges that are unique to debt finance as a practice area? you mentioned secondments at banks... i assume this is much less likely from a borrower practice (STB/KE)? any tips on being able to swing this?

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:31 am

I don't think it is necessarily a given that you would be able to lateral. I saw a bank refuse to waive a conflict for a 4th year that tried to make that move.

To me, the ideal PE debt side work for exit options would be with a sponsor that focuses on one industry. It'll give you the best shot at getting to know an industry so that you can position yourself for a move to that industry.

Personally, I think debtor side work is more interesting in the sense that your clients need a lot more hand holding because they don't deal with debt financing as frequently as they deal with other legal issues. The flip side to that is that you don't build as good of relationships with the client because your contact is less frequent with the client. The PE firm might know you, but in my experience many PE firms take a more passive role when it comes to debt financing for their portfolio companies. The sponsor cares about certain key terms, but typically the sponsor will allow the portfolio company's management/legal team to run the negotiation.

On lender side, you build better relationships with clients because you interface with them more frequently through repetition, but bankers need less hand holding as the work is more familiar to them due to repetition.

Also worth noting that lender side does the heavy lifting on document drafting while borrower side comments and marks up most documents. Even if you end up focusing on one industry and deal with the same law firms over and over again, odds are you will not know the forms as well on the debtor side as you do on the lender side. Flip side is that you probably won't get all that good at opinion drafting unless you do debtor side work.

I would disregard the concerns about working at a firm that does both lender and debtor side work. As a young associate, you'll be better off getting exposed to BOTH SIDES (e.g., drafting the credit and security docs when doing lender side work and drafting opinions/certificates from borrower side).

Personally, I was at a firm that did 50/50 work. Eventually, I exclusively did lender side work and was able to exit straight into a business role with a bank, but my outcome was very atypical.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:48 am

Anonymous User wrote:Personally, I was at a firm that did 50/50 work. Eventually, I exclusively did lender side work and was able to exit straight into a business role with a bank, but my outcome was very atypical.


thanks for the super insightful post!

what are some of the firms that are 50/50 on lender/borrower side work? my understanding was that firms are generally one or the other. also, if your exit was atypical... then what were some of the typical exits that you've seen (from both lender and borrower sides, respectively)?

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 14, 2016 1:14 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:Personally, I was at a firm that did 50/50 work. Eventually, I exclusively did lender side work and was able to exit straight into a business role with a bank, but my outcome was very atypical.


thanks for the super insightful post!

what are some of the firms that are 50/50 on lender/borrower side work? my understanding was that firms are generally one or the other. also, if your exit was atypical... then what were some of the typical exits that you've seen (from both lender and borrower sides, respectively)?


Re: firms that do 50/50 work, ask your marketing group for the detailed league tables from THomson Reuters. Look for firms that aren't at the top of either the borrower or lender side charts but that show up on both charts. I haven't seen them for a few years, but usually you'll see Latham, a few of the Texas firms and a couple other firms that are in the top 20 for both charts.

Exits for lender side colleagues were to both industry and financial institutions, but there was always a plausible connection to their legal experience. Their new employers always wanted them because of their finance background. Debtor side friends and colleagues rarely ended up in jobs that were directly connected to their expertise and they took on more of generalist type positions when they went in house (if they didn't lateral to other firms). I know I'm not explaining it well, but it's hard to detail without outing myself or friends.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a senior PE debt finance person at one of the firms you mention and really enjoy it. It is a great time to be on the sponsor/borrower side - the liquidity in the market at the moment means there are loads of lenders chasing too few deals so all the bargaining power is with the sponsors. My firm (and the other one you mentioned that is a pure-borrower practice) are taking the opportunity to be creative and move the market to extremely borrower-friendly terms. Our clients are demanding but smart and happy with their lives, whereas arrangers are being beaten up on all the time by both borrowers and regulators and it's a rare lev fin banker who isn't looking for a move to the buyside.

One of the upshots of current market dynamics is that it's difficult for firms to act on BOTH SIDES, so if you want to do proper borrower work I wouldn't go somewhere like Latham with a sizeable lender practice - they simply can't beat up on the lenders like we do and still expect a flow of instructions. On the flip side, in such a partisan market you do burn your bridges with lender firms and in-house bank jobs by going borrower side - at least if you are senior enough to understand and participate in negotiation of the commercial points. If you are junior and doing collateral/ancillary docs they likely won't care where you got your experience.
This is really good advice. One caveat, though: Latham NY is very lender heavy but outside NY, we're very borrower heavy, and we sit across from Kirkland frequently at the lender's table. (STB less so, but they come up a bit).

I have no idea which direction each firm shakes out for their CA offices, but I get the sense at Latham that we focus the majority of its lender practice in NY and I wouldn't be surprised if Kirkland and STB did the same. Anywhere you go in those three is gonna be a good place with work at the top of the market.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:17 am

Anyone have any experience with Kirkland SF? Any thoughts on the work, culture, exit options etc?

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 14, 2016 3:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Anyone have any experience with Kirkland SF? Any thoughts on the work, culture, exit options etc?


^^ this. I'm curious to know as well - you read a lot about other K&E/Latham cities, but harder to find much color on SF.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:27 am

Bump.

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Re: PE debt finance - what's it like?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:03 pm

^^ if OP, you could rename thread

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Re: Kirkland SF, thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:04 pm

Any recent thoughts about Kirkland SF? Culture? Hours? Exit options?

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Re: Kirkland SF, thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:52 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Any recent thoughts about Kirkland SF? Culture? Hours? Exit options?

There was some discussion here somewhat recently: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=267734&start=25

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Re: Kirkland SF, thoughts?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Oct 28, 2016 1:52 pm

Any experience with K&E Palo Alto, as well?



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