The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Jared Fishman, Partner—Financial Services and Capital Markets
Jared Fishman is a partner in the Firm’s Financial Services and Capital Markets groups. His practice is primarily focused on advising banks, broker-dealers, insurance companies and other financial services companies in mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, capital raisings and similar transactions. He also regularly advises clients on a wide range of corporate governance, disclosure and general corporate matters, as well as bank regulatory matters.
Jared was recently recognized in the inaugural class of “Next Generation Lawyers” in the Financial Services Regulation practice area in Legal 500 US 2017,as a “Rising Star” in IFLR1000 2018 and as a ìRising Starî by New York Super Lawyers (2015-2016). He graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.B.A. and received his J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Please provide an overview of what, substantively, your practice area entails.
Financial Services at S&C is a client-based practice. That’s rare in the space, and means that we do all sorts of work but for the same types of client. We do M&A, we do capital markets, we do regulatory, we do corporate governance, we do SEC reporting, we do litigation and enforcement, but all for financial services clients.
What types of clients do you represent?
It runs the gamut. A lot of our work is for the large banks because those are the most heavily regulated entities, but that’s far from the only type of client we have. Our clients span the full spectrum of banks, from the very small to the very large, including U.S. and non-U.S. banks. A lot of our clients are non-U.S. banks with operations in the United States. We also work with other regulated entities, like insurance companies, asset management companies and broker-dealers. We do a lot of work with investors who are looking to get into the financial services space, so clients in that area range from high-net-worth individuals to sovereign wealth funds to private equity funds. These are people who want to put money to work in the banking system.
As financial technology has moved towards being developed outside of banks and into startups, we now have a roster of startup clients. When those companies get near the regulatory space, they need counsel who really understands the issues. It’s a different set of clients than the usual S&C clients and being in the startup environment is a fun change. We really do have a diverse set of clients, but the common denominator is that they deal in some way with the regulated financial world.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
We do whatever our banking clients need to do; it’s not limited to one practice area or type of work. The work I do tends to be transactional, so I do a lot of M&A, a lot of capital markets. When your practice is made up of longstanding relationships with clients, you become a trusted advisor and as regulations and the market changes, the advice you give and the work you do has to adapt to that.
For example, I started working with a client named Regions Bank as a first year associate. I’ve done public M&A for them, I’ve done private M&A, I’ve done capital markets work, I advise on board matters and strategic issues and help them with their corporate governance program, SEC reporting and bank regulatory matters. The point is that we really do whatever comes up for our clients.
How did you decide to practice in your area?
The great thing about S&C is that you get to try different practice areas. You’re working on cutting-edge and very important issues for your client, so you get to be creative and you’re relied on to be a problem solver, so you’re not limited to any one practice area. As a summer associate, I actually started with an interest in litigation. S&C allows summer associates to try as many practice areas as they think might interest them, which was beneficial to me as I didn’t even try corporate work until the last weeks of my summer. As an associate, I got into banking first by working on M&A transactions that happened to be for banking clients. Through these transactions, I developed relationships with banking clients. To be an effective banking M&A lawyer, you need to have an understanding of bank regulation and what it means to be regulated. As I was developing relationships with banking clients through transactions, I also began learning about the regulatory structure. So I grew into the practice, but it means I have clients who I’ve worked with for over a decade. In many cases, we’re very close and, for example, I’m invited to their children’s weddings. My father was a sole practitioner and he had that in his career too. That’s not something you necessarily think of when you think of a big law practice.
What is a typical day or week like in your practice area?
It really varies. I spend a lot of time on the phone. Both of my children think my job is speaking on the phone! I’m dealing with things as they come up. Any time I try to plan a day it fails miserably. What I end up working on in a given day is often things I wouldn’t have known were issues when I woke up that morning. So it’s thinking fast, it’s helping people respond quickly and thoughtfully, and, by having a practice that has a lot of regular clients, it’s a lot of day-to-day interaction. Sometimes, for example, I’m working on a giant transaction and other days I’m giving compliance advice. If I’m working on an M&A transaction, it involves the same type of M&A work as any M&A transaction. The difference for me is that the transaction will include regulatory aspects. It’s the same for a capital markets transaction. Again, it’s a lot of the same type of work as you do for non-banks but with tweaks because the client is a regulated financial institution and everything for those clients has to be viewed through that lens.
What is the best thing about your practice area?
It’s incredibly collaborative. Given the need to keep pace with regulatory changes and the views of regulators, the lawyers in the group are speaking to each other all the time. S&C has a culture of consultationótime spent discussing challenging legal issues amongst ourselves. It’s something we do constantly in my practice. We have so many group or sub-group meetings that we have run out of namesówe call our regular Tuesday morning meeting the Super Happy Terrific Banking Hour.
What is the most challenging aspect of your practice area?
Keeping up with developments in regulation is challenging. It’s always changing. There is a lot of regulation for banks that comes in a lot of different areas. The financial crisis in 2008 multiplied the number of areas it comes from. You have to know not only what’s going on now but where it is going. That’s why we talk with our clients so often. New and changing regulation means there’s never only one path. You are always thinking about multiple dimensions to any transaction and it’s a challenge to make sure you’re thinking about it not only from a deal perspective but also a regulatory perspective.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
I recommend reading The Wall Street Journal and other financial news. Many people who work in this practice had no background in banking, including me. You learn as you go. So much of what we do involves judgment and assessing situations that it’s critical to keep up on current events and the financial system with respect to regulation and how people are thinking about financial products and financial services. As I mentioned, regulations are always changing so that creates great opportunities for young lawyers to become experts in new areas.
What misconceptions exist about your practice area? What do you wish you had known before joining your practice area?
That banking isn’t exciting. It’s very exciting! It’s always changing and that challenges you. There can be an idea that you’ll be drowning in regulation. At S&C, we take the time to understand regulation to provide the type of legal advice our clients expect, but we’re not only regulatory lawyers. At our firm, we have great regulatory lawyers who are also great transactional lawyers.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm, and how has it evolved since you have been at the firm?
Our banking practice at S&C is unique in the space in that it is an all-in-one practice. For example, if we’re doing an M&A deal for a bank and there is a complicated regulatory question, our lawyers handle both aspects. Our group includes lawyers recognized as preeminent regulatory lawyers and the same lawyers are also preeminent transactional attorneys, and that’s unique. Everyone in our group pivots quickly. Sometimes the usual M&A playbook won’t work in a regulated world, and it might not even be permissible. Practitioners at S&C avoid those pratfalls. And it’s a great learning experience for new lawyers, because no one will ever tell you that your experience is too varied.
What activities do you enjoy when you are not in the office, and how do you make time for them?
I have two kids and what I do in my free time is largely what they’re doing. So my interests now are T-ball, soccer, ballet and Ninjago. It’s important to me to spend time with them and I’m proud to work for a firm that makes sure that our lawyers are able to do that. It’s a busy job but you make time for what’s important to you when you’re not working.