Global 2015: Issue 1 | White & Case Alumni

Global 2015: Issue 1

This White & Case Alumni Newsletter includes a Paris alumni event, the knighthood of alum Thomas Winsor, a profile of Melissa Rassas, Timothy Pfeiffer in memoriam and White & Case partner promotions, among others.

Recent Alumni Event | Alumni News | Upcoming Events | Alumni Spotlight | Firm Facts | Partner Connection | Deal Highlights | Pro Bono Corner | In Memoriam | Global Rankings | Global Innovation | New Lateral Partners | Partner Promotion 


Recent Alumni Event

Paris Alumni Event

Approximately 50 alumni attended the Paris Alumni Event, which took place September 25th. We look forward to seeing you again at this year's event! 


Alumni News

Former White & Case partner Thomas Winsor awarded a UK knighthood

Former partner Thomas Winsor's knighthood was awarded partly to recognize his work as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and partly for his service as Rail Regulator. Tom was a member of our Energy, Infrastructure, Project and Asset Finance practice in our London office from 2004 to 2012. While at White & Case, he focused on railway and other transport and infrastructure matters, and advised government, public authority and private sector clients on transport and energy ventures in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He resigned as a White & Case partner in 2012 to serve as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

According to the UK government's "New Year Honours List 2015," as Chief Inspector of Constabulary since 2012, Tom established "more intensively evidence-based inspections and a greater focus on the police's service to the public" and, as "Rail Regulator from 1999 to 2004,  he substantially reformed the industry leading to major improvements in railway performance, network integrity, industry development and passenger satisfaction."


Upcoming Events


For more information on any of these events, please contact:

Graziella Reis-Trani at [email protected]

New York Young Alumni Reception
26 March 2015
6:00 p.m.
Marlin Bar

Germany Alumni Event
7 May 2015
7:00 p.m.

This year's Spring Seminar Series will take place in Frankfurt, Hamburg and Paris from 25 March to 27 May 2015.


Alumni Spotlight

Working on entertaining the world

Melissa RassasMelissa Rassas was an associate in our New York office from 2008 to 2012. In 2012 she became Associate General Counsel at SFX Entertainment, a leading producer of live events, media and entertainment content, focused exclusively on electronic music culture.
What are your responsibilities at SFX Entertainment?
I am fortunate to have a diverse practice. While my main focus is leading the live events group here at SFX, supervising and working on all legal aspects of our festivals and shows, I also work on corporate and securities matters and manage litigation.

How did you make the transition from a law firm to an in-house position?
I knew that I wanted to have a diverse practice and so as soon as I started at the Firm, I started to seek out work from a variety of different practice groups. I had quickly learned that in-house attorneys are often called upon to handle a variety of issues, so having experience in as many fields as possible would enhance my marketability. Once I decided I was ready to transition out of a traditional law firm practice, I started to go to a lot of networking events to learn about the types of opportunities that might be available to me. I wanted to be somewhere fast-paced, entrepreneurial, and creative—and SFX is just that.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
It's always a struggle to balance the need to put out fires with the need to focus on long-term strategic plans. Both are important and both are critical tasks. There's never enough time in the day.

What is the most fulfilling project you've worked on in your career?
Working at SFX has been a fulfilling project in itself. When I first started here two years ago, we were a private company with less than a dozen employees. Because we were so small, I got to work closely with our management team, many of whom have worked with the top talent —KISS, The Rolling Stones, The Band—and brought many companies public. In just these few short years, they made music history again and I got to be a part of the process: buying companies around the world, cultivating relationships with them, and evolving our internal procedures to integrate them. A few months after I started we filed our first S-1. Now we are a Nasdaq-listed company with a global presence.

Outside the office, how do you spend your time?
Usually, I'm at the office or working on the couch next to my husband! He started his own real estate company, so we are both working hard to establish ourselves. He's interested in my work and I'm interested in his as well. It's great to be able to share that passion for what you do.

As someone who works for a producer of live events, what is the best show or concert you've ever seen? And who would you most like to see live that you haven't?
My favorite festival that I've been to is Mysteryland, held on the historic Woodstock site. It's so rewarding to be there and reflect on the fact that I had even a small part in bring that festival to life. Between the production, the music, the art, the crowd and the food, it was an unforgettable and unique experience. At some point, I hope to attend Rock in Rio Festival, which brings together the best music acts from around the world and all genres.

Any words of advice for someone wanting to enter the legal area of the entertainment industry?
First, make sure you actually want to be in the industry. Going to live events is one thing, but working on them is quite another. You have to be able to work with the most conservative and risk-adverse clients and clients that prefer to shake hands rather than hammering out those "pesky" details in a signed agreement. You have to work with a diverse group of people and you have to be ready to check your ego at the door. Once you're sold on the industry, just like any other industry, you have to start to get out there and start meeting people. Reach out and set up informational interviews. Start reading industry publications.  Soon enough, there will be an opening and you'll be prepared to grab it.


Firm Facts

White & Case was born on May 1, 1901

Our founding partners, J. DuPratt White and George Case, rented an office at 31 Nassau Street, a few blocks north of the New York Stock Exchange and immediately west of today's Chase Manhattan Plaza.
The partners each contributed US$250 to their new firm’s capital and agreed to divide all expenses and profits equally. They never had to contribute another penny. At the end of the first year, they had earned US$2,028.97 a piece, and, from that successful start, the Firm grew rapidly.
First office location:
Wall Street District
First client:
American Exchange National Bank
Initial dress code:
Heavy woolen suits (year-round)


Partner Connection

60 seconds with Prabhu Narasimhan

Prabhu Narasimhan is a partner in the Firm's global Tax practice in London. He advises high-value clients on a broad range of transactional and advisory matters including corporate mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, investment and hedge funds, banking and finance, asset finance and real estate (including data centers).
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Chennai (then known as Madras), India and was raised in Kashmir.
What was your first job?
Writing the terms and conditions for an adware, which apparently was downloaded voluntarily by willing users when they downloaded a peer-to-peer file sharing software program. The T&Cs had been so impenetrable and obscurely written that users could not possibly make an informed choice. Needless to say, that experience led me to become a tax lawyer.

What first brought you to White & Case?
Peita Menon would like me to say that it was his stellar reputation and semi-presentable personality which led me here. But in truth, it was really the international work and entrepreneurial nature of the Firm which drew me to White & Case. The opportunities as I saw it then (and see now) are endless in a firm of this nature.

Describe your role at White & Case
I am a partner in the global Tax practice in London. I work closely with our private equity, financial restructuring and insolvency, banking and finance, real estate and M&A teams on tax aspects of their transactions. In addition, I have a tax advisory practice, the clients of which range from multinational corporations to governmental bodies.

Tell us three things about yourself
(1) I am an avid cricket fan, and the only way I could ever play competitive cricket was to enroll myself into a twisted deviation called ice cricket—you play cricket on ice rinks without skates on!
(2) I am vegetarian but hate most vegetables.
(3) I am a tax lawyer so finding anything (never mind three things) to say about myself is incredibly difficult.

What's your favorite thing to do in London?
Sporting events in London – from top-quality tennis to cricket to football, there is always something to watch live!


Deal Highlight

Shifting US natural gas market leads to largest fully nonrecourse project financing in history

White & Case client Freeport LNG had developed one of the world's largest natural gas liquefaction and regasification import facilities on the Gulf Coast of Texas. But since 2008, when the facilities entered commercial operations, the rapid development of horizontal shale drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology has resulted in a momentous shift in the US natural gas market, making LNG exports from the United States very attractive. To take advantage of this market shift, Freeport LNG pivoted 180 degrees to develop one of the world's largest natural gas liquefaction and LNG export facilities alongside its existing import facility.

We represented Freeport LNG and its subsidiaries in equity and debt financing of the first two liquefaction trains of the liquefaction project (we are also representing it in the third liquefaction train, which is expected to close in 2015). This landmark transaction brought together a wide range of equity and debt investors, including Japan's Osaka Gas and Chubu Electric, with a total commitment of approximately US$11 billion, making it the largest financing of any project on any basis in 2014. Moreover, with each of the debt facilities for Train 1 and Train 2 of the facility structured without completion support from the sponsors, the combined debt financing was the largest fully nonrecourse construction project financing in history.

According to Jason Webber, the Firm's lead partner on the transaction, White & Case developed many first-in-kind contractual arrangements across the various work streams. These included joint funding arrangements to fully mitigate project-on-project risk and the first deal-contingent interest rate swap in any major project finance transaction, which locked in interest rates for the Train 2 debt many months prior to closing with no recourse to Freeport LNG or Industry Finance Management, which provided US$1.3 billion in cash equity for Train 2.

When completed, the project will have a huge impact: Freeport LNG estimates that exports from the facility will improve the US trade deficit by a full one percent and result in total economic benefits to the US economy of between US$5.1 and US$7.4 billion annually.


Pro Bono Corner

A global database on children's rights

Child Rights International Network (CRIN) promotes and protects children's rights around the world by drawing the attention of governments to their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). To do so effectively, CRIN needs to understand the interplay of local legal regimes with the provisions of the CRC and identify ways to enforce them wherever possible.

In our largest pro bono project to date, 285 White & Case lawyers and legal staff in 32 offices researched the jurisprudence of 172 countries to build a comprehensive database that provides critical legal resources for children, their families and legal service organizations to challenge violations of children's rights. Each country profile includes information on whether the CRC can be enforced directly in that system's courts, explanations of children's access to courts and complaints mechanisms, legal aid, representatives, evidence, appeals and more.

The database represents the first time that this kind and volume of information has been gathered in one place. It will have significant practical application in advancing children's rights. For example, the database will provide tools and templates that governments and NGOs can use to bring more countries into alignment with CRC principles or that individuals can draw on to initiate an action to enforce children's rights. The project will create customizable model legislation and guidance on the best legal practices that would underlie a "perfect state" with regard to protecting children's access to justice.

White & Case's country reports are already yielding dividends. For example, the East African country reports were used to inform CRIN's recent legal advocacy workshop in the region, where experts addressed persistent violations of children's rights there, examined options for challenging violations, identified legal blockages and created an advocacy plan. In 2014, when the UN Human Rights Council dedicated its Annual Day on the Rights of the Child to the theme of access to justice, CRIN used our reports as the basis for its presentations, advocacy and comments on the resolutions debated during the session.   


In memoriam

Timothy Pfeifer, who worked at the Firm from 2000 to 2009 (after summering in 1999), died suddenly in mid-February. Timothy graduated as a Merit Scholar from the University of Wisconsin-Madison—his hometown, and then from Howard University School of Law, where he was the Senior Publications Editor of the Howard Law Journal. In 2009 he joined Baker & Hostetler, where he made partner and served as the Co-Chair of Baker & Hostetler's Mentoring Program in New York.

Timothy worked on complex commercial litigation and white collar matters. While at White & Case, he worked on a number of major cases including for TNK-BP and Deutsche Bank, and FCPA investigations for Magyar Telecom and Johnson & Johnson. He was an excellent lawyer, a wonderful mentor to many associates, and a great friend to many of us and the Firm. He will be sorely missed.

There will be a memorial service in New York on Friday, March 27 at The Rubin Museum of Art, 150 W.17th Street (visitation beginning at 12:30 p.m., service at 1:00 p.m.). Another memorial will be held in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, April 25 at the Madison Christian Community, 7118 Old Sauk Road, Madison, WI (visitation beginning at 1:00 p.m., service at 2:00 p.m.).

The Pfeifer family welcomes anyone holding memorabilia or artifacts from Timothy to bring them to either memorial so that they can be displayed for all to enjoy. In lieu of flowers, the Pfeifer family has asked that memorial donations be made to Young New Yorkers, on whose board Timothy served:



Global Rankings

A new leader in international arbitration

White & Case has been ranked the top international arbitration practice in the world by Global Arbitration Review's GAR 30 ranking of the world's leading international arbitration practices. The survey highlighted the Firm's 160-plus arbitration practitioners and its large case load of 303 arbitrations valued at US$88 billion, including 39 pending international treaty cases.

Global Arbitration Review hailed White & Case as being "at the top of its game," noting that it "has big name individuals, lots of offices and history as a pioneer in this area." According to the Review, the Firm's number one ranking reflected "the remarkable growth in White & Case's practice, which saw its number of bet-the-company and large hearings almost double compared with last year." The methodology used to determine the GAR 30 is based principally on the number and value of cases and hearings over a two-year period.


Ranked first by Law360

White & Case was ranked first among top global law firms by legal publication Law360 in its annual "Global 20" list of law firms with the greatest global reach and expertise. The Firm has been ranked in the top five for the last four years, having been ranked second in 2013 and first in 2012.

According to Law360’s profile, "With a focus on offering consistent service to international companies across the globe, White & Case LLP recently helped Toshiba Corp. fend off price-fixing claims in the US and guided Saudi Aramco in a joint venture with Dow Chemical Co. to build a US$20 billion chemical complex, landing the firm at the top of Law360's Global 20." 


Global Innovation

Recognition for global innovation

In 2014, White & Case was one of only two law firms to achieve a top 10 ranking in all regions covered by the Financial Times in its prestigious "Innovative Lawyers" awards.

For the second year in a row, the FT recognized White & Case as one of the five most innovative law firms in its FT North America Innovative Lawyers 2014 report. The report also named us as a top innovator on six North American matters. In the FT's inaugural FT Asia-Pacific Innovative Lawyers 2014 special report, White & Case was ranked among the top ten most innovative internationally headquartered law firms. The FT report also highlighted three of our matters in Asia. The FT Europe Innovative Lawyers 2014 report ranked us among the top ten most innovative law firms in Europe and commended five of our matters in Europe.

In addition, this was the fourth year in which we sponsored the FT's research about in-house legal teams in connection with these awards. As part of our sponsorship, we have co-hosted webinars and other forums with the FT to convene and engage general counsels. Most recently, we co-hosted The Corporate Counsel Innovation Summit at our New York office on December 3, 2014 with attendees that included GCs and Deputy GCs from financial institutions, technology and media organizations, pharmaceutical companies and other industries.


New Lateral Partners

Paul Clews
Partner, Capital Markets

Daniel Fridman
Partner, White Collar

Michael Garcia
Partner, White Collar

Matthew Griffin
Partner, Mergers & Acquisitions

Michael Lebovitz
Partner, Tax
Los Angeles

Gernot Wagner
Partner, Capital Markets

Stephen Weerts
Partner, Tax
Los Angeles


Partner Promotions

White & Case promotes 38 lawyers to partner

White & Case promoted 38 lawyers worldwide to its partnership. The promotions span 12 of the Firm's global practices and 17 countries. Here are the 38 lawyers, listed by the regions in which they are based:


Matthew C. Brown
Financial Restructuring and Insolvency

Eileen M. Cole
Washington, DC

Enrique Espejel
Commercial Litigation
Mexico City

Raúl Fernández-Briseño
Mergers & Acquisitions
Mexico City

Bryan Gant
New York

John Guzman
Capital Markets
São Paulo

Alison Hanstead
Intellectual Property
New York

Petr Polášek
International Arbitration
Washington, DC

David Ridley
New York

Clark A. Wohlferd
Project Finance
New York


Europe, Middle East & Africa

Yalin Akmenek
Commercial Litigation

Tim Arndt
Mergers & Acquisitions

Samir Berlat

Marcus Booth
Mergers & Acquisitions

Nicolas Bouchardie
International Arbitration

Iacopo Canino

Çagdas Evrim Ergün
Project Finance

Daniel Garton
International Arbitration

Philipp Hackländer
Financial Restructuring and Insolvency

Tobias A. Heinrich
Mergers & Acquisitions

Jan-Philipp Hoos
Financial Restructuring and Insolvency

Ivo Janda

Maxim Kobzev
Project Finance

Assimakis Komninos

Janko Lindros
Mergers & Acquisitions

Prabhu Narasimhan

Tomasz Ostrowski

Jean-Pierre Picca
White Collar

Richard Pogrel
Capital Markets

Joshua Siaw

Philip Trillmich
Intellectual Property

Alison Weal
Asset Finance

Markus Wischemeyer
Financial Restructuring and Insolvency

Holger Wolf
Mergers & Acquisitions

Matthew D. Wood
Project Finance
Abu Dhabi



Eugene Man
Hong Kong

Micah Sadoyama
Project Finance

Anthony Vasey
Mergers & Acquisitions
Hong Kong


Click here to download Alumni Newsletter, Spring 2015.



Stay in touch

We want to hear from you about your new jobs, promotions, life events, personal milestones, publications, recognitions and updates to your contact information. Connect with your fellow alumni via the White & Case groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.


Let's talk

Can you think of ways we could improve our alumni program? Do you want to share thoughts on your alumni experience so far? Why not give us a call or join us in person for a chat?

John Vetterli, Global Alumni Program Leader
Graziella Reis-Trani, Alumni Program Manager



This publication is provided for your convenience and does not constitute legal advice. This publication is protected by copyright.
© 2015 White & Case LLP