Winston & Strawn is adding leveraged finance partner Rachel Gray to its roster in New York from Kirkland & Ellis, the firm’s latest move in a busy few months for Big Law lateral attorney recruitment.
Gray, who starts at Winston & Strawn Monday, will help the firm expand its lender designation practice working with both mid- and large-cap clients. She joins the roughly 35 lawyers on the firm’s leveraged finance team, including 13 partners in the U.S., part of a larger finance group that features 110 attorneys.
Gray practiced Kirkland & Ellis for about five years, including as a partner. She represented private equity firms and portfolio companies on transactions including leveraged buyouts, take-private deals, dividend recapitalizations, and out-of-court restructurings and refinancings.
She is originally from Dublin, Ireland, and began her U.S. legal career in 2012 as an associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel after working as a solicitor at A&L Goodbody in the Irish capital.
With her move to Winston & Strawn, Gray said in an interview she’s ready to work closely with lenders as the global economy emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and the M&A market heats up.
“I’m very excited to join the Winston team, they have a great reputation already in their finance practice and so I’m looking forward to helping them fill their bench and grow that and hopefully we’ll do great things,” she said.
Gray said she hadn’t worked much on the other side of the table from Winston, but she considered making the move after meeting the firm’s finance practice co-chair Mats Carlston. The lateral recruitment process was largely virtual, due to the pandemic. Though Gray will go to Winston’s New York office for her first day of work, she said she expects the office set up to be “somewhat of a hybrid for the foreseeable future.”
Carlston and Michael Mullins, the firm’s other finance practice co-chair, welcomed Gray to Winston & Strawn in a Monday statement.
“Rachel has a well-earned reputation as an effective, insightful attorney and has strong connections with a number of private equity sponsors covered by Winston’s investment banking and loan investor clients,” they said.
Winston & Strawn was No. 45 in AmLaw’s newly released rankings of the largest firms by gross revenue in 2020. Like many large firms, it weathered the coronavirus pandemic better than initially projected, with only a slight revenue drop last year and a jump in profits per partner by about 4.6% to $2.42 million.
The Chicago-founded firm has been an active player in a Big Law lateral lawyer market that’s rebounded significantly in 2021.
Gray’s hire follows another leveraged finance pickup earlier this year, as the firm added Andy Hutchinson in Chicago.
In Washington, the firm recently hired corporate and M&A partner Kathleen Blaszak, as well as Tyler McGaughey, a former U.S. Treasury official who’s building a practice to help Winston & Strawn clients with Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) matters.
The firm in February announced it had acquired a Los Angeles white-collar and litigation boutique, Scheper Kim & Harris. Along with a three-lawyer real estate restructuring pickup from Sidley Austin, this boosted the firm’s presence on the West Coast. Winston & Strawn said last week it added another partner in Los Angeles, IP transactions attorney Stephen T. Kong.
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