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Introducing our Capital Markets practice

Taisa Markus is a partner in the Capital Markets practice in New York. Her practice focuses on cross-border securities offerings; cross-border bank finance; and M&A, restructurings and general securities law matters. 

"I work across two practice areas—Capital Markets and Bank Finance. On the Capital Markets side, I represent both issuers and underwriters, and on the Bank Finance side, I represent both borrowers and lenders. In Capital Markets, I work on
registered and 144A IPOs and other equity offerings, bond offerings and liability management transactions. On the Bank Finance side, I work on unsecured, secured and structured financings." 

Taisa expands on some of characteristics of her practice: "This is a very broad-based practice compared to a Domestic Finance practice. All of the matters are cross-border, so I work with large teams across many jurisdictions." She adds that, "In emerging markets, a challenge is that often the deals are "first-ever" deals where there is no precedent or market practice. For me, this is a great opportunity to lead or participate in a team working to come up with novel solutions and setting market practice."

An honorary Latin American

So how did she choose this practice area? "After working and spending time in Argentina, I knew I wanted to work in the region. The deals that were done in the early 1990s, when the market first opened up, were capital markets deals and bank finance deals. I had banking experience and broadened that experience to capital markets. There were very few lawyers at firms at the time with my language skills and substantive experience, so this was a great opportunity for me in terms of having a significant role in deal execution and leading a team."

Today she feels strongly connected to the region: "I like to think of myself as an honorary Latin American. It has been very exciting to witness all the changes in the region, which, on a net basis, have been positive. These markets can be volatile, but they are tremendously promising for those who have patience. I will also say that over the years, while I may have worked very hard and faced difficult and frustrating situations, I have never, ever been bored."

“Listen, and be self-aware. Ask questions. Learn about a country and learn the language.”

Taisa talks us through a typical day: "I try to have a brief organizational meeting with the deal teams every morning. Deals can be very fast-moving, and things can change rapidly, so it is important for everyone to be coordinated so we are working efficiently and not at cross-purposes. I am on the phone in Spanish a large part of the day. Some of the calls are with clients to discuss open issues and set strategy. Others are with opposing counsel to negotiate agreements or with larger working groups to review status." 

She continues: "I also spend a significant amount of time every day reviewing agreements and disclosures, and making sure that key issues are identified and prioritized appropriately. I try to be available for questions and to provide guidance to the younger lawyers on the team too."

Life as a junior lawyer

What kind of work could a junior lawyer expect to do in this area? According to Taisa: "They would be significantly involved in drafting and reviewing the relevant disclosure documents—the offering memorandum or prospectus specifically. This requires learning a lot about the issuer's business and then learning how to describe that business in a securities law document, which is intended to both protect against securities law liabilities and to serve certain marketing purposes." 

She expands on the tasks that a junior might work on: "A junior associate would also draft and negotiate the various deal documents, working their way up from simple closing certificates to high-yield bond covenants. On the Bank Finance side, they would participate in negotiations led by a senior associate or partner and assist with revisions or written comments to the documents. Most aspects of a closing would be run by junior associates, which presents a great opportunity to take ownership of documents and of the process."

Focus on conflicts of law training

What training or skills development would she recommend for a junior lawyer interested in her area? "I would recommend that anyone interested in cross-border work take a course in conflicts of law. Understanding how to navigate conflicts and which law governs which aspect of a matter is fundamental to structuring a deal, executing it and advising a client. It is the course that has proven most valuable to me in my career. It does not matter how much you do or do not know about any particular area if you can't figure out what law governs. At times, this analysis is what will drive whether a particular structure or deal can or cannot be done." 

The importance of languages

Taisa adds that language skills are important too. "Working in this region also gives associates significant opportunity to use and improve their language skills. We are always seeking people who are conversant in Spanish and Portuguese. Listen, and be self-aware. Ask questions. Learn about a country and learn the language."

She talks about White & Case's strength in the market. "We have the most extensive practice in Latin America of any law firm. We have more than 250 lawyers working in the region, all of whom speak Spanish or Portuguese or both. The Firm places a high value on collaboration and in particular, cross-practice collaboration, and this approach has resulted in our working on some of the highest-profile and interesting matters in the region."

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