NY firm has grown organically beyond first-generation to build strong platform spanning private investment funds, real estate, corporate, litigation, tax, and trusts and estates
NEW YORK (NOVEMBER 2, 2021) – Boutique law firm Kleinberg Kaplan, described as “Wall Street’s best-kept secret,” is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a leading legal adviser to investment funds and entrepreneurs, including many pioneers in the funds industry.
Founded by Fred Kleinberg, Myron Kaplan and Norris Wolff in November 1971, with Jim Cohen joining a few months later, Kleinberg Kaplan has grown into a multi-disciplinary firm with more than 100 lawyers and staff. With an international practice, the firm serves the global interests of its clients from an office in New York City, the financial capital of the world.
Since its inception, Kleinberg Kaplan has maintained a primary mission to thoughtfully and effectively represent private investors and funds through their most challenging matters as well as provide day-to-day legal counsel. The firm’s clients, many of whom have been with the firm for decades, include not only major investment funds and emerging managers, but also private companies at all stages of their life cycles, real estate investors, family offices and high-net-worth individuals.
The firm’s practices and lawyers are regularly ranked in Chambers, Legal 500 and IFLR1000 alongside well-recognized Am Law 100 practitioners – indeed, Kleinberg Kaplan’s founders all hailed from major Wall Street firms and many of its current partners have similar pedigrees.
“When Fred, Norris, Jim and I started the firm a half-century ago, we were intent on providing the best legal advice and representation. We did not necessarily have a plan for growth, but we grew alongside our clients, to ensure we continued to provide them with the highest level of service,” said Myron Kaplan. “It is gratifying to see that our early focus on helping private investors remains a cornerstone of Kleinberg Kaplan’s mission 50 years later and the next generation of partners maintains that emphasis on service, while broadening the firm’s capabilities.”
Part of the recipe for Kleinberg Kaplan’s success has been how it cultivates its lawyers. It has never hired associates directly out of law school. Instead, the firm attracts experienced lawyers from larger, institutional law firms who want to take up the entrepreneurial mantle that the four founders created and today’s partners have continued to nourish. The firm consistently staffs engagements with senior lawyers and seasoned associates, so clients know they are not paying for junior lawyers to be trained “on the job” and they are receiving sophisticated advice from lawyers deeply familiar not only with their legal needs but also their business interests.
“It is a testament to the vision of our four founders that Kleinberg Kaplan has become a leading legal adviser to established fund managers, emerging managers and everyone in between,” said Andrew Chonoles, who has served as managing partner since 2006. Chonoles is only the second managing partner in the firm’s 50-year history, after Fred Kleinberg. “In the five decades since our founding, many law firms have disappeared or been absorbed into larger firms. We remain one of the longest-lived multi-disciplinary firms of our size in New York City. As a firm, we have striven to maintain sophisticated, technical knowledge of our practice, to think creatively, and to avoid the bureaucracy endemic in many large firms. This, along with our entrepreneurial spirit, has allowed us to evolve and grow with our clients and the marketplace.” Chonoles added, “We feel closely aligned with the accomplishments of our clients over the past five decades and we are proud to be a part of their success.”
Notable firm highlights over the past 50 years include:
- Going back to the first days of its existence, Kleinberg Kaplan has represented some of the titans of the hedge fund industry, including Elliott Investment Management L.P. and Paulson & Co. Inc.
- The firm was counsel to Jim Henson Enterprises, including in its proposed merger with Disney.
- Kleinberg Kaplan boasts an active practice representing Israeli clients and was a founding member of the Israel Hedge Fund Association.
- The firm is consistently ranked as a top pure-play shareholder activist advisor, representing high-profile investor activists, according to league tables by Bloomberg and Refinitiv.
- Most recently, the firm has been representing the State of Washington, the State of Oregon and the District of Columbia in their highly publicized legal battle against Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, a painkiller that allegedly contributed to the national opioid crisis.
Community engagement has remained at the core of the Kleinberg Kaplan’s mission. As one example, the firm has acted as outside pro bono general counsel for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan for decades, and has assisted the museum on an array of legal matters. The firm also counts among its valued partnerships The Brotherhood Sister Sol and Women in Funds. Additionally, the firm recently rebranded its successful Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) program as IDEAL – Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity, Allyship, and Learning. These values are vital components of Kleinberg Kaplan’s culture, continued development, future growth and success as a community and law firm.
“We care deeply about our employees and their training and development, as well as their personal satisfaction,” said Chonoles. “We believe our focus on the community and on creating a more inclusive and supportive workplace have been key ingredients in our success and ensures that our firm continues to thrive.”
In response to recent growth and its commitment to clients and calling New York City home, Kleinberg Kaplan took new office space early last year at 500 Fifth Avenue. The firm now occupies several floors in the Art Deco building. At the same time, Kleinberg Kaplan relaunched its website, debuting a new firm logo along with a fully updated visual design and platform showcasing the firm’s six core practice areas – Private Funds & Investment Management, Real Estate, Corporate Transactional & Finance, Litigation & Risk Management, Tax, and Trusts & Estates.
“The past 20 months have obviously created multiple challenges for our lawyers and staff, not the least of which is being unable to come together to fully enjoy our new Midtown office,” Chonoles said. The firm recently announced an official return to office date of January 3, 2022, and has developed a hybrid remote work policy unique among law firms, in which lawyers and staff will work in-office three days a week for most of the year. However, in-office attendance will be reduced to two days per week in the month of June and will be fully optional in the months of July and August.
“Despite the recent challenges, our teams were able to adapt in so many ways to continue serving our clients, such that we’ve performed at peak levels and turned in some of our best performances in the history of the firm,” Chonoles added. “As New York continues to move forward we’re excited about our place in the city’s legal market and look forward to what the next 50 years brings.”
About Kleinberg Kaplan
Described as “Wall Street’s best-kept secret” (The Legal 500: United States), Kleinberg Kaplan is a premier boutique law firm that provides practical, business-minded legal counsel to investors, entrepreneurs and other industry leaders. With a national and international reputation for representation of private funds, the firm serves an impressive roster of clients, including investment funds and companies at all stages of their life cycles, as well as a wide variety of real estate investors, family offices and high-net-worth individuals. Kleinberg Kaplan provides a full-service platform that combines extensive Big Law experience with the personalized attention of a boutique firm, true teamwork and an entrepreneurial culture attuned to investments, building businesses and transforming ideas into successful companies. To learn more please visit www.kkwc.com.