DLA Piper has added a trio of partners from Winston & Strawn as the global firm looks to build out its private equity firepower in New York and internationally.
James Kelly, Ilya Bubel, and Peter Alfano have joined DLA Piper in New York. Kelly and Bubel will be partners in the firm’s corporate practice while Alfano will be a partner in its finance practice.
Kelly, who will serve as head of the firm’s New York private equity practice, joined Winston & Strawn in 2015 from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman along with Alfano. Bubel joined Winston & Strawn as an associate in 2014 from Seyfarth before becoming partner in 2018.
“Ultimately I wanted to leverage the increased breadth and depth of DLA’s platform globally and domestically to deliver what I think will be a superior and all-encompassing client service experience, deliver value, and ultimately win in the middle market private equity space,” Kelly told Bloomberg Law.
Kelly works with private equity funds on all aspects of their investments, financings, and related exit transactions. He also regularly represents public and private operating companies across a wide array of industries, including the portfolio companies of his private equity fund clients.
He has represented the likes of New York-based private equity firm The Wicks Group of Companies and Sidereal Capital Group, which both focus on lower middle-market companies, in numerous transactions.
The trio’s move to DLA Piper was brokered by Vijay Luthra and Sabina Lippman from global legal recruitment firm Lippman Jungers.
“Private equity is a strategic focus of the firm and has been for some time,” said Joe Alexander, global co-chair of DLA Piper’s corporate and private equity practice, in an email to Bloomberg Law.
“New York is one of the top, if not the top, private equity market in the world [and] James, Ilya and Peter are top notch private equity practitioners in one of the top private equity markets, so these hires exemplify our strategy,” he said, noting that the firm will continue to add to its private equity bench.
“This is the beginning not the end for us,” Alexander said.
In his new role, Kelly said his primary goal will be to help strengthen DLA Piper’s brand by building the private equity practice in New York, buttressing the firm’s global platform and enhancing its capabilities in New York.
Bubel represents private equity funds and other investors in transactional matters across all stages of investment cycles, including leveraged buyouts, co-investments, and other minority investments. Alfano works with private equity sponsors, corporations, and lenders in domestic and cross-border finance transactions, including leveraged acquisitions, corporate financings, dividend recapitalizations, restructurings, and asset-based lending transactions.
The private equity space has been an exceptionally lucrative and competitive market for law firms as many seek to build out their practices.
“There are two primary differentiating factors that distinguish DLA Piper from most of our competition: our geographic and sector breadth and depth,” Alexander said.
He noted that the firm has 80 offices around the world allowing it to represent PE clients buying targets virtually anywhere without the client having to hire a second firm. DLA Piper, he said, has lawyers focused on healthcare, energy, technology, and several other areas important to private equity clients.
“I think DLA has a very broad and deep offering in all sorts of different sectors, industries and practice capabilities, which is what personally I’m looking for to be able to better serve my clients and ultimately win in the legal market,” Kelly said.
DLA Piper consistently ranks among the world’s largest law firms, with offices in more than 40 countries around the world. The firm had gross revenue of around 2.8 billion in 2018, according to the latest available AmLaw data.