Simpson Thacher & Bartlett just had the kind of summer that private equity lawyers dream about. The New York firm’s two top private equity clients, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and The Blackstone Group, were on a dealmaking binge, and Simpson was at the center of the action.

The deal that caught everyone’s attention was the $33 billion leveraged buyout of hospital operator HCA Inc., announced at the end of July. It would finally break the record of RJR Nabisco Inc.’s $31 billion buyout in 1989. And Simpson, which advised KKR on RJR 17 years before, had the coveted role of representing the private equity consortium.

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