Best ABS Law Firm and Best RMBS Law Firm — Mayer Brown LLP
Mayer Brown’s strategy is to have genuine strength, depth and expertise across all securitization asset classes. The firm employs over 100 lawyers specializing in structured finance, works on well over 250 deals a year and regularly tops the league tables. This ability to combine comprehensive breadth with deep-seated expertise earned it not one but two awards from the market in 2020: best ABS Law Firm and best RMBS Law Firm.
“Securitization has been a flagship practice for several years,’’ says Mayer Brown’s chairman Jon Van Gorp, who was formerly head of structured finance. “It’s a real source of pride for us.”
Mayer Brown saw work pick up considerably during the pandemic, and specifically in structured finance. During the dark days of March 2020 when whole economic sectors were shutting down, companies were eager for providers to help them navigate the best way forward.
“There was a flight to quality where clients sought out law firms they had confidence in,” Van Gorp says. “We saw this as yet another opportunity to step-up and perform amid an adverse set of circumstances. Mayer Brown has continued to build market share and we’re confident the group will continue to thrive and succeed.”
Within the securitization market the firm is perhaps best known for its work in consumer asset classes: from autos and credit cards to solar and cellular contracts. But it’s work in mortgage securitization has also been one of the successful parts of the structured finance practice. “We’re thrilled to have wins in the two categories this year, which recognizes the strength in both products,” says Julie Gillespie, co-head of structured finance.
The sheer volume of deals Mayer Brown works on in a given year makes picking standouts difficult. Still, ABS highlights for 2020 included representing banks providing warehousing for the acquisition of Wells Fargo’s entire $10 billion student loan portfolio. Mayer Brown also represented Barclays in its provision of a $400 million facility to Donlen Corporation in connection with the Hertz bankruptcy. In the mortgage securitization market, the firm leads the field in representing issuers of a number of specialist products in addition to standard RMBS.
“Mayer Brown has probably helped more non-qualifying mortgage securitization issuers than any other,” says Paul Jorissen, global practice leader for banking and finance. “We represent most of the big reverse mortgage issuers. We’re clearly the dominant firm in fix-and-flip securitization. We represent one of the most prolific issuers of single family rental products and have another few in the pipeline.”
The firm is also working on several home equity loan securitizations, with a host of other players keenly watching to see how these early transactions fare. Looking further ahead, Jorissen anticipates innovative new deals from clients using AI, big data and the reach of retail platforms.
“The firm is at the cutting-edge of developments and there’s a big regulatory component to a lot of these deals, which really plays to our strengths,” he says.
Some 40 financial sector regulatory attorneys joined Mayer Brown from K&L Gates in 2016. That transfer took place against an increasing emphasis on regulation at the state and federal level. The result is that Mayer Brown now combines a first-class deal team with the strongest regulatory team in the country – a key factor in differentiating the practice from its competitors. Together with partners in other areas, such as tax, bankruptcy and ERISA, Mayer Brown stands ready to help clients address any issue in a securitization.
The firm stands out from the competition in a host of other ways. Ger O’Donnell, co-head of structured finance, points to the firm’s comprehensive expertise – not just across multiple different asset classes, but across clients on either side of a given type of transaction.
“We hit every single asset class, but also represent issuers and underwriters, borrowers and lenders, purchasers and sellers,” he says. “Our client base runs from the world’s largest banks and biggest issuers to smaller cutting-edge hedge funds and start-ups taking their first step into securitization.”
This broad scope is replicated in the firm’s work on industry advocacy, where it works with clients and regulators on a huge range of issues that affect securitization including bank capital and accounting. Tying all this together is a focus on teamwork and cooperation.
“What brings it all together for Mayer Brown is the collaborative culture,” says O’Donnell. “This teamwork allows us to share all this knowledge and expertise. When clients hire us they are benefitting from decades of collective experience in the market.” GC