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The first-ever IPO of a private-equity fund was a high-pressure obstacle course of legal precedent, client coordination and global marketing.

For four months starting in early 2006, Julie Spellman Sweet stuck to a routine: Arrive early in the office — no later than eight; plunge into marathon conference calls; take bathroom breaks to throw up. “I was nauseous and queasy every day,” says Sweet, 39, a corporate partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore. “Sometimes I barely made it. But I learned to manage.”

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