Private funds lawyer Ira Kustin has left Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where he practiced law for 13 years, to join the partnership of Paul Hastings in New York.
Kustin advises hedge fund and private equity fund managers on the structuring, launch and operation of private funds, with a particular focus on complex credit funds and innovative hybrid products uniting aspects of different fund classes.
“We are addressing the stay-awake issues our investment management clients are facing and are committed to helping them navigate growing regulation, seek new capital sources and form new strategic partnerships,” Paul Hastings chair Seth Zachary said in a statement. “Ira is well-positioned to help our clients with new risks and opportunities and is highly respected by his clients and peers.”
Kustin said fund clients are increasingly seeking out external counsel with diversified expertise and global reach. “Hedge fund managers that used to have just long/short plain vanilla equity investment strategies are venturing into uncharted territory and looking longer-term investments and investments in private companies,” he said.
While the convergence of some of the traditional features of hedge funds and private equity funds is not in itself a brand new phenomenon, the implementation of these structures is increasingly taking novel forms, from the introduction of new classes within existing funds to the formation of co-investment vehicles and sidecar vehicles to operate in tandem with those funds, Kustin said. Longtime hedge fund managers are increasingly unable to resist the lure of forming private equity-style vehicles.
While many law firms may have lawyers in siloed practice areas who understand one or another piece of the hybrid puzzle, that’s just not what clients want these days, Kustin said.
“If I’m the client, I want to be able to call one person, the expert within the firm, who understands how these complex funds work, and knows about regulations in the U.K. or the E.U. or Asian jurisdictions,” he said.
Given the far-flung nature of the investments in question, a firm that can deploy legal resources not just in New York but in the U.K., Europe and Asia has an obvious competitive advantage.
“A healthy percentage of my client base is actively investing in Europe, and Paul Hastings also has a very robust Asian platform, which was certainly attractive,” Kustin said.
Kustin’s hiring comes on the heels of Paul Hastings’ hire of funds lawyers Kfir Abutbul in Houston and Anu Balasubramanian in London.
When asked about Kustin’s departure, an Akin Gump spokesman said, “We wish Ira all of the best in his future endeavors.”