Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for this thread--it's very helpful.
I'm considering lateraling from NY and have a few questions for LA associates: What are your thoughts on the chambers' band rankings for CA? It seems like they differ a little from what has been discussed here. In terms of M&A, chambers ranked MTO in band 2 and GDC in band 1 (and there is a lot of MTO love here). Is MTO dinged in M&A because of their smaller size? Or do they primarily work on berkshire deals (or focus on lit/other practices) leading to a narrower M&A practice? I'm curious how often you see MTO on non-berkshire deals (whether as an MTO associate or across the table) and whether the prestige from TLS is due to recruiting practices/selectiveness or complexity of work/industry reputation.
Somewhat relatedly, has anyone heard of any other LA band 1 M&A firms not have enough corp work for associates? I was surprised that GDC nudged corp associates to regulatory/lit work. Has anyone heard of this happening at other band 1 pe firms (k&e/stb) or other top pe firms in ca?
Happy to help. All very good questions.
1. As a first matter--and as I have extolled on this thread and on these forums--I think if you're going to do corporate work in one of the major markets, you cannot beat LA. You still get access to the sexy deals but with the benefit that most firms here don't grind you like in Bay/NY/Chi.
2. I think the Chamber rankings are more useful than the Vault rankings, but they still hide some nuances. If you look at their methodology for ranking, it's just as much as blackbox as anything else--reputation and an analysis of the deals they've done. But what about those deals--is it pure consideration, complexity, volume? Very unclear. I think it depends on what kind of work you want to do. If you want to do pure M&A, think of someplace like Kirkland, which does a shit ton of middle market M&A both buy side and sell side for their PE clients, or Sheppard Mullin, which also does a shit ton of pure sell side M&A. The rankings tel you that GDC is band 1 and Sheppard is band 4, but aside from prestige, what makes those differences isn't clear. If I wanted to do pure M&A work and a lot of it, I probably wouldn't eye someplace like GDC.
Other places in town do M&A, but associates will do a blend of capital markets or finance to balance out their time. S&C LA has done awesome M&A for Amazon (including the whole foods deal), Skadden has M&A work (the Dermalogica deal), Milbank does some too (lots of gaming deals, including the UFC deal), but I don't know any associates at any of those firms that do only M&A, whereas I know associates at Kirkland and Sheppard who did only
3. I'm not sure the slate of deals that MTO handles, but it certainly is a lot of Berkshire stuff. You could also look at Law360, Pitchbook or the league tables to see what else they do. I think the prestige comes from Berkshire as their client, but also from how they manage the firm. They staff their deals lean, but as I have said before, every firm proclaims that they staff their deals lean. I have either worked for or worked against teams from OMM LA, Pillsbury LA, PH LA, Kirkland LA, Sheppard LA, Milbank LA, Latham LA, S&C LA and countless other non-LA firms and the only firm I saw throw needless bodies at a deal was Kirkland Chicago and New York (it was obnoxious how many people they had on this middle market deal and I told them as much).
4. Aside from hearing first hand about it at GDC (and aside from having first years do a basket of stuff, which I feel like is normal), I haven't heard of it elsewhere. That also might have been a product of the slowdown post 2008.
These are just my thoughts based on deals I have done and firms I have worked for or against. I tend to think most of the rankings are shit, as they belie important nuances, so my opinions above will probably be greeted with welcome criticism. But I've been in this business in this town long enough to have a valid opinion.
Feel free to PM me and we can talk on the phone about it more if you'd like.