Akerman is continuing to grow its middle-market M&A and private equity practice with the hire of former Vedder Price shareholder Michael O’Brien.
O’Brien is the third New York partner to join Florida-based Akerman’s M&A and PE practice in the last four months. He arrives following a 14-month pit stop at Vedder, after four years at Sidley Austin.
He focuses his practice on the representation of companies in the private equity, life sciences and financial technology sectors, and he said Akerman’s strength in these areas drew him to the firm.
“My focus is bringing a business-like approach to representing clients in those transactions,” O’Brien said.
He also highlighted the firm’s “client-driven business approach” and its “collaborative culture.”
The lengthiest entry on O’Brien’s resume is his 10 years as a partner at private equity boutique O’Sullivan Graev & Karabell, before its acquisition by O’Melveny & Myers in 2002. He subsequently also held partnerships at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and King & Spalding. He started his career as an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
“Michael is a superb corporate lawyer, respected by clients and peers for his valuable experience as a skilled negotiator and sophisticated business partner across a variety of transactions,” Carl Roston, co-chairman of Akerman’s Corporate Practice Group, said in a statement.
The move comes during a busy period for lawyers in the private equity arena.
“The trends are such that the activity level is increasing and we’re enthusiastic,” O’Brien said.
In April, the firm landed Ted Rosen, the former co-chairman of Fox Rothschild’s private equity practice group, as a partner in New York. That followed its March hire of former Kirkland & Ellis partner Robert Stein as co-chairman of its corporate finance and lending practice. Over 100 attorneys at 700-lawyer Akerman work on private equity matters.
Akerman has also added corporate partners in Austin and Chicago in recent months.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher had its own announcement of the hire of a midmarket PE dealmaker in New York last week, bringing back former associate Matthew Rizzo also from Sidley Austin.