Becoming a Partner in the Pandemic Era: V&E Attorneys Rise to the Challenge
It was a moment that many had been anticipating for years, yet the latest crop of V&E partners didn’t fete their promotions with parties and champagne. Instead they fielded congratulatory phone calls, took part in virtual coffee breaks and held small celebrations at home with their families. But pandemic-related complications notwithstanding, the new partners — who hail from a variety of offices and practices — are excited to begin the next chapters of their careers, drawing on their experience, problem-solving skills and subject matter knowledge to empower clients to meet their objectives.
“We are pleased to recognize the excellent client service these lawyers provide on complex transactions and disputes,” said V&E Chairman Mark Kelly. “They have shown adaptability and creativity through challenging times and we appreciate their dedication to the firm’s success.”
Below, learn more about the five attorneys the firm has welcomed into the partnership fold:
Practice: Energy Transactions and Projects
The opportunity to work on sophisticated energy M&A transactions drew Matt Falcone to V&E as a young associate. He quickly found that opportunity became a reality at the firm as he built his practice over the years, working on complex billion-dollar energy M&A deals in the traditional oil and gas infrastructure and renewable energy spaces. Though executing such transactions can be challenging, he has found that approaching them strategically and collaboratively is “the best way to achieve a successful client outcome,” Falcone said.
Lately, in addition to renewable energy and midstream M&A transactions, much of Falcone’s work has centered on joint ventures and preferred equity investments, which have become more attractive as companies seek alternatives to raising debt or equity in the capital markets during uncertain times. “Most of these investments are really more similar to financings, but structured in a way to receive equity treatment — they’re creative ways to solve the capital needs of the issuer,” he said. “More and more financial sponsors have become willing to make such investments, and I guide them and issuers in structuring those investments in a way that meets everyone’s needs.”
Practice: Mergers & Acquisitions and Capital Markets
As a law student, Katherine Frank spent two summers at V&E before returning as an associate after graduation. She kept coming back, she said, because the firm “was doing some of the best work in town.”
“I work with some really talented, smart and friendly lawyers, and I’ve been really lucky to be trained by them,” Frank added.
Frank said she focused her practice on corporate finance and securities law because of the collaborative, project-driven nature of the work. The transactions she’s tackled over the years include public and private offerings in an array of industries, including pharmaceuticals, air travel, retail and energy. Most recently, she has advised the firm’s clients as they raised capital through debt and equity offerings and has carefully guided public companies on sensitive disclosures related to the COVID-19 crisis. In the coming year, she’ll help clients achieve their long-term goals as they adapt to a post-COVID world. “I work with some great companies,” she said, “and I’m excited to continue those relationships.”
Practice: Restructuring & Reorganization
Office: New York
Jessica Peet takes maximizing value seriously. That’s why she’s devoted her practice to restructuring and reorganization, working on an array of matters, including out-of-court restructurings, chapter 11 bankruptcy cases and distressed acquisitions.
Restructuring “is a process that offers a lot of opportunity to maximize value for any player,” she explained, “whether it’s a management team looking to save jobs or creditors seeking to either invest opportunistically or mitigate losses in a downturn.”
Peet works to build consensus and think creatively to deliver the most value to her clients, especially in times of distress. V&E, she added, has a unique platform to effectively and efficiently assist a range of clients, including private equity funds, alternative investors and creditors. Her experience and that of her colleagues in representing parties on both sides of R&R transactions helps them anticipate issues and deliver solutions. “We’re really well set up to service clients in a variety of roles, in a variety of industries and with a pretty lean team that is knowledgeable and effective at what they do,” she said. “It’s fun to be a part of, and I look forward to leading such efforts in years to come.”
Practice: Commercial & Business Litigation
Quentin Smith’s V&E roots run deep. As a college undergraduate, he worked as a summer intern at V&E’s human resources department and quickly became enamored with the firm’s culture. During law school, he returned as a summer associate and went on to work at the firm after graduating. After his first year at V&E, Smith left the firm to clerk for Circuit Judge Lavenski R. Smith on the Eighth Court of Appeals and returned after his clerkship. V&E, he said, “has the best kind of balance between very sophisticated work and a collegial working environment.”
As a litigator representing clients in complex business and energy disputes, Smith takes special care to dive deeply into his clients’ businesses. His nuanced understanding of their work helps him tell persuasive stories to the judges, juries and arbitrators deciding their cases. As a partner, he looks forward to “continuing to deliver excellent service to his clients while mentoring young attorneys.” Since the pandemic began, Smith has stayed busy, filing lawsuits, engaging in virtual depositions, and prevailing at hearings.
Smith is active in legal diversity initiatives both inside and outside the firm. He is a fellow of both the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and the Texas Minority Counsel Program and serves as V&E’s Houston office lead on the firm’s diversity council. Smith is also active in his community, serving as General Counsel for Theatre Under the Stars and as a Trustee for the Houston Symphony.
For Emilie Stewart, little compares to the satisfaction of successfully closing a deal.
Stewart, who advises clients on a wide variety of bespoke cross-border financing transactions, said she thrives on the challenge of balancing legal considerations with clients’ commercial goals. From her two secondments at private equity funds, Stewart has a unique perspective on the latter. “Working side by side with a range of teams in these businesses, I learned first-hand what clients value from their lawyers and they taught me the real-life practical skills of presenting legal information in an efficient and client friendly way,” she said. Employing creative thinking to provide a practical outcome for clients is central to Stewart’s approach.
Today, much of Stewart’s practice revolves around special situations and clients investing in distressed opportunities, an especially active area during the pandemic’s economic upheaval. Stewart’s transactions are highly bespoke and invariably include an equity element, requiring close collaboration with V&E’s M&A and energy teams. As a partner, she looks forward to developing the junior members of her team and continuing to build on her close relationships with existing and prospective clients.
This information is provided by Vinson & Elkins LLP for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.