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Sidley Austin Adds Davis Polk Lawyer in Private Equity Binge (1)

July 22, 2019, 6:38 PM; Updated: July 22, 2019, 9:43 PM

Sidley Austin continues to build on its private equity ambitions with the announcement it has picked up Davis Polk & Wardwell counsel Oren Gertner in New York.

Chicago-founded Sidley over the past 12 months has invested heavily in its private equity practice, luring lawyers from firms including Cooley, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, and Milbank.

The firm has added about 20 private equity lawyers in the past 12 months and 10 since the start of the year, a firm spokeswoman said.

Sidley, a 2,000-lawyer firm last year brought in $2.2 billion in revenue and had profits per equity partner of $2.55 million, according to the AmLaw rankings.

Gertner’s practice is focused on forming, structuring and offerings of domestic and international private equity funds, hedge funds and other funds. His lateral to Sidley follows in the footsteps of former Davis Polk partner John H. Butler, who made the same move in January.

“Over the past two years, Sidley has prioritized the growth and development of our private equity funds and other illiquid private funds capabilities, particularly within international money centers like New York,” William Kerr, global leader of Sidley’s investment funds practice, said in a statement. “The arrival of Oren, who is an exemplary talent in private fund formation, reinforces that Sidley is recognized as a destination to grow a thriving practice.”

Over the last year, Sidley has brought on private equity rainmakers including Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s Adam Weinstein and Tony Feuerstein. It also added Milbank’s Kenneth Baronsky in Century City and has hired a number of lawyers from Cooley, including Mehdi Khodadad.

The growth of the private equity industry has led to a financial surge for some law firms, including Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins. The practice area has been one of the most competitive for lateral hiring activity in recent years.

Before joining Davis Polk in 2016, Gertner was an attorney at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shrvier & Jacobson in New York.

“I’m joining Sidley given the fact that it is a growing private equity platform, but at the same time plugging into a very established investment fund practice,” Gertner said. “And we are facing a very interesting time for private equity that requires more and more advice from counsel.”

Gertner explained that as investors, or limited partners, allocate more money to the private equity class, their agreements with funds are becoming longer and requiring more time and work from lawyers. Private equity firms also have appetites for larger deals, which require more counseling, he said.

-With assistance from Meghan Tribe

(Adds detail on lawyer additions in paragraph 3; adds paragraphs 10 and 11 with detail from Gertner interview.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com

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