Koley Jessen Named Law Firm of Year 12/29/17 12/28/17 11:56:27 AM
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From left, shareholders Mike Hupp, Alex Wolf and Eric Oxley were happy to show off the renovation of their firm’s offices, which created a sleek, cutting-edge environment. – Photo by Lorraine Boyd
Koley Jessen Named Law Firm of Year
By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record
For those unfamiliar, M&A is shorthand for Mergers and Acquisition, but most readers of this publication know that.
What they may not know is that Koley Jessen was named Law Firm of the Year at the 16th Annual M&A Advisor Awards last month in New York City.
Mike Hupp, president of Koley Jessen and chair of the firm’s mergers and acquisitions practice said he was grateful to the clients including families, strategic companies and private equity firms who have given Koley Jessen an opportunity to work on sophisticated transactions locally and across the country.
He indicated that the award is a testament to the growth and development of the firm’s full service offering. “In order to be able to buy or sell a company, a law firm has to have expertise in all the areas of law faced by businesses and their owners and executives every day. We have consciously worked to gain that and have succeeded as evidenced by this award,” Hupp said.
Over 280 nominees who represented more than 650 companies were awards finalists. In addition to Koley Jessen, Law Firm of the Year finalists included Vinson & Elkins, Shearman & Sterling LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, Davis Polk Wardell LLP and Ropes and Gray LLP. Alex Wolf, executive vice president of Koley Jessen, said he was thrilled for the firm to be recognized, especially considering the competition.
“It’s really reflective of our service offering and how we do it,” Wolf said. “We are organized and thoughtful in our approach and involvement of our lawyers.” Wolf, an estate and succession planning lawyer, becomes involved on the front end of sell side deals to help owners place the sales proceeds among family members and charities to achieve optimal tax results.
It also means the probability of continued growth.
“The award enhances our credibility to those we haven’t worked with before,” Hupp stated. “It’s helped us move forward relationships that were in process.”
The team at Koley Jessen has closed more than 350 deals in nearly 40 states and nine countries during the last five years.
The M&A Advisor previously recognized two members of the Koley Jessen team, Eric Oxley and Anshu Pasricha, as emerging leaders in the field.
Oxley, vice chair of the M&A practice group, counsels business owners, corporate and private equity clients in domestic and international mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, as well as corporate and general business matters, with more than 100 finalized deals under his belt.
“I think that what we like most about the award is it’s really recognition of our clients,” Oxley said. “It’s a product of their success and their trust in our firm.”
One local success story comes from Koley Jessen’s work with Schuyler-based QC Supply. It started as a small business selling livestock products to local producers and has grown into an international distributor to farms and businesses worldwide.
“Four years ago we helped their founder through a sale process,” Oxley said. “That process included pre-transaction estate planning and the sale of a portion of the company to a private equity firm.”
The private equity fund, with the founder, greatly expanded the business, which now has eight distribution centers and more than 20 retail outlets stretching from the Midwest to the Carolinas and Georgia.
“We were part of that growth, acting as general counsel and helping them close deals as they continue to grow” Oxley said.
Koley Jessen now works on unrelated transactions with the investor in other parts of the country.
“They liked our style when we did the deal,” Oxley said. “We’re working for that private equity fund on new deals.”
For Wolf, the secret to their M&A success is no secret.
“We’re full service,” he stated. “Our subject matter experts all contribute to successfully complete transactions. Whether it is environmental, real estate, IP, health law, employment, bank financing or even wealth transfer planning, we cover all the bases.”
Oxley agreed: “This is a total firm award. … The total team is what I call it.”
The firm uses its subject matter experts in other areas to assemble its winning deals, and they’re continually looking to grow their talent base.
“We primarily grow from the ground up,” Wolf said.
“We look for energy … and brains,” Oxley said.
While Koley Jessen may be developing a reputation as an M&A firm, they recognize this is “the hottest M&A market in years,” Hupp stressed the firm’s bread and butter is Nebraska and Iowa businesses.
“We’re really focused on continuing to grow in the local market and region,” Wolf said. “There are a lot of tremendous businesses in Nebraska and Iowa and we are excited by the prospect of continuing to grow our client base.”
Locally and regionally we are “networking,” he emphasized. “All of our practice areas are growing and we don’t see that changing.”
Hupp, for one, agrees and says they have what they need for the future.
“It’s our experience across the board. It’s our service … we try to out-service the other side.”
The future looks bright for Koley Jessen, as the firm is about to celebrate its 30 year anniversary and has 73 lawyers and 132 total employees.
Just don’t expect them to take short cuts or slowdown in their desire to work for clients.
“We try to add value,” Oxley said. “We use our experience and our business acumen to help our clients achieve success.”
That seems to be working extremely well.