Kenneth Baronsky has left Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in Century City, Los Angeles, where he served as Los Angeles managing partner and corporate practice group head for more than 10 years, to join rival firm Sidley Austin.
Baronsky advises corporate clients on transactions with a strong focus on M&A, equity and debt investments and restructurings. In moving to Sidley, Baronsky rejoins his former Milbank colleague, Peter Benudiz, who now heads Sidley’s real estate practice in Century City. Baronsky was the partner who hired Benudiz to work at Milbank.
“Ken’s arrival reaffirms Sidley’s position in Los Angeles as the destination corporate practice for Wall Street lawyers,” said Daniel Clivner, co-head of Sidley’s private equity practice and managing partner of the firm’s offices in both Century City and downtown LA.
Though based in Century City, Baronsky described his practice as national in scope and cited SIdley’s presence in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, and Palo Alto as factors influencing his move.
“My practice is not really West Coast-based,” Baronsky said. “There might be some connection if a fund is based on the West Coast, but in most of the deals I’m working on, the companies could be based almost anywhere.”
Nor is the global character of Baronsky’s practice unusual in the context of Southern California. “I think there’s always been a place in LA for ‘Wall Street lawyers.’ I’ve always viewed it as a place where there are some lawyers who could just as easily be practicing in New York,” he said.
Baronsky said there is likely to be plenty of work to keep him busy in the coming months.
“My sense is that the economy has been strong for quite a while. A lot of the work that I’ve been doing is fund harvesting, investing and selling, and there’s been quite a lot of M&A activity, and in a lot of ways it feels like top-of-the-market deals,” he said. “I also think people are expecting a contraction, and there might soon be more distressed activity, which is another thing I’ve done a lot of over the years.”
While private funds in LA are preparing for a possible market contraction, deal flow related to the convergence of entertainment and media technologies is strong, Baronsky said.
He also noted that another sweet spot for transactional lawyers lies in sports betting. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in May 2018 striking down a federal statute banning commercial sports betting in most states, Baronsky has observed what he termed a “gold rush,” with casinos racing to acquire licenses and partnering with online sports betting companies—many based in Europe.