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Bracewell & Giuliani To Add 14 Public Finance Partners

December 13, 2011

HOUSTON — Bracewell & Giuliani LLP announced today that 14 members of a public finance and related tax and municipal securities practice at Vinson & Elkins LLP will join the firm as partners in January 2012. It is anticipated that other lawyers will join them as counsel and associates. Ben A. Brooks III, W. Glenn Opel and Barron F. Wallace will lead Bracewell’s Texas- and Washington, D.C.-based public finance group.

The group, which will serve to further enhance Bracewell’s Chambers and Partners recognized finance practice, brings strengths in municipal securities, finance, project finance, and tax, all of which will enhance the firm’s existing platform. Since 2009, this group has completed more than 655 transactions, totaling $31.1 billion in issuances for major airport systems, public transit, universities, health care systems, municipalities, school districts, toll roads, infrastructure projects, and water authorities. They have also represented many national and regional securities firms in regulatory, enforcement and conflict dispute matters related to tax-exempt securities.

The attorneys will join Bracewell in its Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Washington, D.C. offices.

“We are excited to be adding this group to Bracewell,” said Bracewell Managing Partner, Mark C. Evans. "I personally have a tremendous amount of respect for them. They have long-standing relationships with many of our current Bracewell attorneys and we share a number of common clients. They will be outstanding additions to the firm," added Evans.

The partners include:

Houston – Charles L. Almond, Cristy C. Edwards, Jonathan Kelly Frels, Steven H. Gerdes, R. Todd Greenwalt, and Barron F. Wallace

Austin – Elizabeth Rippy Bowes, W. Glenn Opel (with a dual office in San Antonio) and Victoria N. Ozimek

Dallas – Ben A. Brooks III, Robert R. Collins, III, Jonathan C. Leatherberry, and George G. Rodriguez

Washington, D.C. – Paul S. Maco

The group is expected to join the firm in mid-January, 2012, pending existing client obligations.

“We view this as a tremendous opportunity to align the strengths Bracewell already has in its government relations practice with our group  of public finance lawyers," said Ben A. Brooks III. “This combination will enable us to provide a broad range of legal services and experience to our governmental clients and the investment banking community,” added Brooks.

“This is a strong line-up that will be a tremendous asset to the firm,” said Name Partner Rudolph W. Giuliani. “They have a strong connection to the northeast through their work with the securities industry and will mesh well with our Texas- and New York-based finance practices,” added Giuliani.

The public finance group serves as bond counsel for issuers in Texas and the southwest and represents underwriters, trustees, third-party credit providers, and borrowers in conduit financings. In addition, they are well-known participants in the legislative and regulatory process as it impacts public finance issues in both Austin and Washington, D.C.

Partner bios

Charles L. Almond focuses on federal taxation, including tax controversy work and transactional planning. He has particular experience in the Federal tax treatment of state and local government bonds of all types. He also has experience in federal income and excise tax matters in a variety of contexts including transactional planning, general federal tax advice and tax-controversy matters affecting business organizations, non-profit organizations, cooperative organizations, and state and local governments.

Elizabeth Rippy Bowes represents issuers and underwriters in public offerings of tax-exempt bonds. She represents both state and local issuers in conduit financings with an emphasis in single and multi-family housing.

Ben A. Brooks III has served as bond counsel for cities, counties, school districts, special law districts, higher education authorities, and other political subdivisions throughout Texas and elsewhere. He has been involved in the financing and development of airports, public transit, sports facilities, single- and multi-family housing, student loans, industrial development, health care, public power, and regional water and sewer systems both as bond counsel and underwriters' counsel. He has experience drafting legislation impacting public entity financing.

Robert R. Collins, III focuses on public law and public finance, with an emphasis on tax-exempt financings. He regularly serves as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, and disclosure counsel in public finance transactions for cities, counties, school districts, economic development corporations, water districts, and special districts whose purpose is providing water and sewer services.

Cristy C. Edwards practices in the area of public and tax-exempt finance, with a primary focus on transactions involving hospitals and other health care facilities, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, industrial development, waste disposal facilities, airports, and state agencies. She serves as bond counsel, borrower’s counsel, disclosure counsel, trustee’s counsel, and underwriters counsel in such financings. Cristy is also experienced as trustee’s counsel in default and workout situations.

Jonathan Kelly Frels serves as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, and disclosure counsel in public finance transactions for cities, counties, school districts, economic development corporations, water districts, and water authorities. He also represents clients with respect to numerous public law issues and has experience with state legislative matters. He is a former Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel at the Texas Office of the Attorney General and a former Chief of the Office of the Attorney General’s Public Finance Division.

Steven H. Gerdes’ practice is focused on the tax aspects of state and local government obligations. He has experience with governmental new money, commercial paper and working capital financings, and current and advance refundings, as well as exempt facility bond financing, professional sports facility and development district financings.

R. Todd Greenwalt focuses on tax-exempt organizations, resolving tax-exempt status issues and advising with regard to tax-exempt financings and other business transactions. His clients include governmental entities, hospitals, other health care organizations, colleges and universities, charter schools, museums, arts organizations, community and economic development organizations, private foundations, advocacy groups, and other charities.

Jonathan C. Leatherberry’s practice focuses on public debt offerings and other business transactions, particularly those in the health care industry. He has served as bond counsel in the issuance of more than $5 billion in public bonds to finance hospitals and other health care facilities. He also represents borrowers and underwriters in connection with public offerings of tax-exempt bonds.

Paul S. Maco focuses on federal securities and commodities law, corporate governance and public finance. He is a former Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Municipal Securities and a former attorney in the SEC's Division of Enforcement and the SEC's Office of General Counsel. He represents clients before federal regulators on issues of enforcement, regulation and compliance. In addition to domestic markets, Paul advises the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority Board and counsels securities and commodities exchanges in the UAE on regulatory and transactional matters.

W. Glenn Opel’s principal area of practice is financial institutions and finance law. He has served as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel and letter of credit bank counsel in municipal finance transactions involving cities, counties, school districts, universities, municipal utility districts, river and port authorities, regional mobility authorities, and state agencies.

Victoria N. Ozimek assists issuers with the tax aspects of the issuance of tax-exempt and tax credit obligations. She focuses her practice on advising state and local governmental issuers in connection with new money and refunding obligations, but has also worked with multiple issuers in connection with conduit financings. Victoria has also worked with issuers on an ongoing basis to assist them with post-issuance compliance matters.

George G. Rodriguez focuses on public debt offerings and business transactions, involving the health care industry, single- and multi-family housing, school districts, and a Texas state agency. He has served as bond counsel and underwriters' counsel in connection with public offerings of tax-exempt bonds in conduit financings for the benefit of nonprofit hospitals and financings by school districts, housing finance corporations, and a Texas state agency. He has also advised clients on federal income tax matters with respect to tax-exempt bonds, corporate and securities laws, interest rate swaps, and fiduciary obligations of indenture trustees.

Barron F. Wallace focuses on public finance, urban infrastructure and transportation development, state legislative matters, and public/private partnerships. He has experience in traditional municipal finance, tax increment financing, urban infrastructure and redevelopment, and structuring public/private joint ventures. He has served as bond counsel for cities, counties, state agencies, and special districts, including local government corporations. In addition to bond counsel engagements, he also represents investment banking firms as underwriters counsel in bond and interest rate swap transactions.