Moreover, A&O also claimed two of the underlying categories. The firm was recognised separately as CMBS Law Firm of the Year and RMBS Law Firm of the Year, with another particularly powerful showing (47%) in the last of these. Its near-monopoly was broken only in the ABS law firm and CLO law firm categories (where Clifford Chance and Cadwalader were the respective winners).
This performance bears out the firm’s claim to be “an acknowledged market leader in navigating the regulatory landscape imposed in the EU and the US on securitization transactions.” It emphasises “providing clients with commercially viable structures in the increasingly regulated international markets.”
These claims are reflected in market participants’ assessments of A&O. The authority and commerciality of its advice draw warm praise. “Their knowledge and support was excellent during 2018,” judges one issuer. “Their technical guidance was flawless and from partner to associate they are easy to deal with,” adds another.
“They’ve been our primary law firm from the establishment of the programme years ago. They are very helpful and responsive to our needs. There’s a feeling of appreciation here for a generally good job with the practicalities of our structure,” adds a third. “Our transaction last year went well.”
The firm also distinguishes itself in challenging environments and even crises, some participants report. “They are the best saviours in complex situations,” believes one issuer.
Bankers are equally enthusiastic. “They were Involved in the most complex structures and very involved in new market developments,” says one senior ABS banker, while a peer concludes that “A&O's team was outstanding in all respects”.
“I’ve used them a lot over the years. They have the widest experience in terms of asset types and countries — overall, you get a very good experience,” comments another securitization banker. “I would always go to them. They are one of our ‘go-to’ firms.”
This banker also emphasises access to A&O partners, which he judges the best of leading securitization law firms. “You’re basically guaranteed a good level of service.”
The firm’s International Capital Markets (ICM) practice has more than 75 partners and some 385 lawyers overall. This makes it among the largest of any law firm.
The second banker cites A&O’s UK, French and Dutch teams specifically. Another is enthusiastic about the recent establishment of a Barcelona office, while an issuer into the US hails the New York operation. “It was the first time we had dealt with A&O’s US team. They brought their experience to bear in getting comfortable that something new could be done and establishing what documentation would be needed and how long the window would be open. I was quite impressed.”