While no one would confuse the level of corporate work in 2010 for the heyday of 2007, last year’s slow economic recovery was reflected in our latest Corporate Scorecard rankings. Equities work, spurred mostly by large Chinese and Brazilian offerings, rebounded late in the year, and M&A and private equity work picked up too.

Debt offerings rose, especially in the high-yield sector, due to the continuation of record low interest rates and the refinancing of corporate debt that had been scheduled to mature in 2013. Even asset- and mortgage-backed securities work showed healthy increases over 2009 levels. And municipal bond lawyers racked up a record year, thanks to issuances of Build America Bonds under the federal stimulus act.

Only bankruptcy–the most countercyclical of the specialties covered here–showed a decrease in activity, as the size of top emergences dwarfed that of top filings.

Methodology: The American Lawyer’s Corporate Scorecard tracks the transactional practices of leading firms. Corporate Finance is a collection of subspecialties, and our Scorecard ranks firms within those areas. Unless otherwise noted, data includes only public, registered, underwritten offerings or deals transacted in 2010, including firmly underwritten rule 144a transactions, but not pure private placements or the filing of shelf registrations. Values are as of February 2011, unless otherwise noted. Data is from Thomson Reuters except for: Bankruptcy data, provided by BankruptcyData.com; project finance data, provided by Dealogic; and private equity and M&A data, provided by mergermarket. Click here for more about our methodology.


Equities: Back in the Running
One sector of the American economy came close to a “great recovery” in 2010: equity markets.

Mergers and Acquisitions: Signs of Spring
The aggregate value of American M&A deals in 2010 hit $722.9 billion–a 4 percent increase from 2009.

Private Equity: Bigger Is Better
Private equity-backed M&A in North America totaled $103 billion in 2010, more than double the dollar sum in 2009.

Corporate Debt: A Very Good Year
Capital markets lawyers expected a modest surge in high-yield debt last year, but what they got was an absolute bonanza.

Municipal Bonds: Thank You, Uncle Obama
Build America Bonds helped make 2010 a record year in public finance.

Securitizations: On the Mend
The market for asset- and mortgage-backed securities rebounded in 2010.

Project Finance: If You Finance It, They Will Come
Project finance bounced back in 2010 to hit a new record of $354.6 billion.

REITs: The Rising
The real estate investment trust sector saw a 44 percent spike in market capitalization in 2010.

Bankruptcy: End of an Era
The number of corporate filings dropped by half last year.