There’s at least one law office that still has more transactional work than it can handle.
Since October, lawyers at the Treasury Department’s Office of General Counsel have completed $306 billion worth of deal work stemming from the Troubled Assets Relief Program. In a few short months, they’ve closed 418 separate transactions with financial institutions receiving funding under TARP’s capital purchase program.
The work marks an unprecedented transformation for the office, which traditionally focuses on supplying policy advice and interpreting law for Treasury’s other divisions. Now, its lawyers say their responsibilities more closely resemble those of a corporate transactional law shop.
“We work easily 12-hour days and pretty much every weekend,” says Laurie Schaffer, the department’s assistant general counsel for banking and finance.
Robert Hoyt, who stepped down as Treasury’s general counsel last month, says his former office is “cranking out a higher deal volume than, I would guess, any institution in the entire world.” (Bernard Knight is now acting general counsel.)
In order to manage the deal flow, Treasury has been looking to recruit lawyers with transactional expertise. Duane Morse, a retired Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr bankruptcy and corporate finance partner, filled the new position of interim chief counsel of the TARP in November. Treasury has also contracted with a number of private law firms to assist with the work, but the deal flow is being tightly managed from within the general counsel’s office.