“The firm cooperated with me for a long time [and] they were actually very supportive in assisting me,” Draper said. “It’s a happy departure.”
Draper joined Ropes & Gray, one of Boston’s oldest and largest firms, in 1980 following a clerkship with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He made partner at the firm nine years later and served as head of Ropes & Gray’s finance group for close to 15 years.
During his time as head of the firm’s finance practice, Draper worked to expand the group from a 10-lawyer team based in Boston to nearly 100 lawyers across Ropes & Gray’s offices in Boston, Hong Kong, London and New York.
As the date of his retirement approached, Draper said he spent several months looking at opportunities at other firms and in-house positions, but he eventually felt that Foley Hoag would be his best landing place, since it is similar in many ways to his life at Ropes & Gray.
The 240-lawyer firm was founded in 1943 in Boston by former Ropes & Gray lawyers Garrett Hoag and Henry Foley. (Two years later, with the addition of former U.S. Rep. Thomas Eliot, it became Foley, Hoag & Eliot, until 2000, when the firm adopted its current name.)
“They kept a lot of the same culture,” Draper said of his new firm.
Over the years, Draper has advised a variety of companies and private equity sponsors on an array of acquisition finance deals, including asset-based credits and large syndicated term loans. He has also worked with borrowers on a variety of debt transactions, from bank credit facilities to high yield bonds.
As the new co-chair of the debt finance group at Foley Hoag, Draper said he’s looking to expand that practice to complement the M&A work the firm has been increasingly involved in for its private equity and investment fund clients.
“They’ve had such growth [in the area] and need to develop debt finance to catch up,” Draper said. “We would like to get the debt practice moved up so Foley Hoag can have a complete offering [to clients].”
Draper is the second longtime Ropes & Gray partner to find a new home at another Am Law 200 firm this year. In January, after roughly 40 years at Ropes & Gray, commercial litigator Harvey Wolkoff retired from the firm’s partnership to start a Boston office for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Wolkoff and former Ropes & Gray associate Brian Shaughnessy, now of counsel at Quinn Emanuel, have helped that new outpost get off the ground.
“At Ropes & Gray, partners hitting mandatory retirement have been increasingly looking for full-time work,” Draper said.
Boston, in particular, has been a busy battleground for lateral hiring in Big Law this year, as noted in a recent feature story by The American Lawyer. In recent weeks, firms such as Choate Hall & Stewart, Proskauer Rose and Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr have made key hires in the city.