Above and beyond our industry understanding, we recognize that practice style is critical to the success of our clients in the food and agribusiness sector. We have a long track record of providing creative advice without “overlawyering” and of obtaining buy-in from clients and their customers in a cooperative, low-key manner. We set out below some of the key areas in which we can be of assistance to clients in this sector.
With more than 200 finance lawyers, Mayer Brown has one of the largest banking and finance practices in the world. We represent most of the world’s largest banks, both domestic and international. The majority of the firm’s 100 largest clients include leading commercial and investment banks, insurance companies, leasing companies and asset-based lenders.
Our financing experience covers the full range of agribusiness activities, including input supply, processing, value-added manufacturing, wholesale distribution and retail. We have also worked on financings involving the full range of agricultural commodities, including grain, sugar, coffee, dairy, chicken, beef, pork, seafood, soybeans, fruits and vegetables, as well as cotton, oilseeds and forest products. This experience includes working with borrowers operating on both a cooperative and noncooperative basis.
Our lending experience with agricultural companies includes cash flow loans, asset-based loans (ABL) and “borrowing base” loans with limited ABL dominion and control concepts. Our ABL and borrowing base deal experience includes establishing eligibility criteria for those assets forming a part of the borrowing base (both domestic and pre-export finance) and standards for imposing appropriate reserves for such matters as PACA liens, non-performance, landlord liens and the like.
Many of our deals involve detailed lock-box and cash concentration mechanics that provide lenders control over cash receipts. We have substantial experience with the management of security interests in a variety of commodities. This includes detailed knowledge as to taking security interests with respect to in-transit agricultural products, whether being shipped by train, truck, barge or international oceangoing vessel. Work in this area has included the treatment of tangible bills of lading and warehouse receipts, both negotiable and non-negotiable, as well as electronic bills of lading and warehouse receipts, which are increasingly the norm in grain, cotton and other commodities. In the last few years, our real estate attorneys have filed hundreds of mortgages in connection with our agrifinance deals and have extensive knowledge of the unique issues arising from securing rural real estate and processing facilities.
Our Agrifinance practice is global in scope, having closed transactions in the United States and countries throughout Europe, Asia, and Central and South America. We are one of the leading law firms in the world for cross-border lending and have substantial experience in structuring cross-border financings.
Whether a matter involves equity and index derivatives, derivatives-linked securities, fund-linked derivatives, commodity-linked derivatives, structured products or other exotic derivatives, our lawyers have experience across all the credit, equity and commodity asset classes. Our team understands the hedging strategies commonly employed for agricultural commodities and how they can be managed as part of larger capital markets financing. Our team has experience across all of the major documentation platforms, including ISDA, FOA, EFET and specific commodity trading documentation, such as for the Zeebrugge Hub and Forward Freight Association.
Corporate and Capital Markets
Mayer Brown represents many of the largest food and agricultural companies in the world. We regularly represent issuers, underwriters, placement agents and selling shareholders in a wide variety of equity capital markets transactions, including public offerings and private placements, stock exchange listings, rights offerings, open offers, offerings of depositary receipts, private investments in public equities, spinoffs, exchange offers, capital reorganizations, share buy-backs and de-mergers. In addition, we regularly advise corporate issuers in connection with debt regulation B issuances that are listed on the major UK, other European, Asian and US exchanges.
Mergers & Acquisitions and Antitrust
Our M&A practice regularly advises food industry and agriculture clients around the world on M&A transactions, including investments, joint ventures, divestitures, management and other buyouts, and reorganizations. We routinely handle transactions ranging in size and complexity from multibillion dollar, cross-border transactions to mid-sized and smaller transactions within a single national or regional market.
We have substantial experience advising food and agricultural companies in antitrust and competition issues around the world. Our antitrust and competition lawyers are a critical component of our ability to provide a full range of services to
our M&A clients, and they enable us to provide “one-stop” advice in connection with complex, multi-jurisdictional M&A matters.
Government and Global Trade
With long-standing relationships with policymakers in capitals around the world, attorneys in our government and global trade group assist multinational companies in identifying promising foreign markets and developing entry strategies that overcome market obstacles. We work closely with bilateral, regional and multilateral institutions, including the World Trade Organization, the World Customs Organization, the European Union, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, to address unfair or illegal trade barriers, build international business coalitions and promote business-friendly trade practices.
Among the internationally recognized attorneys on our team are a former United States Secretary of Commerce, two former United States Trade Representatives, a former European Union Ambassador to the United States and a former Member of the United States Congress, as well as former senior United States trade negotiators and senior trade officials. Such credentials give us the kind of credibility with senior government officials that can help clients open markets, comply with trade laws and resolve trade disputes.
Food Industry False Advertising
The food and beverage industry is currently facing a tidal wave of class actions lawsuits attacking food labeling and advertising. Our nationally recognized false advertising practice is at the forefront in this area and has a successful track record in defending against such claims. We accomplish this by creating a unified strategy to handle copycat class actions
or private claims piggybacking on a government investigation. We also regularly advise our clients on how to minimize exposure to future false advertising claims.
Our litigation and dispute resolution teams have substantial experience in handling complex-high-stakes litigation matters for agribusiness client around the world. We also advise on systems and controls to combat corporate corruption and comply with the relevant legislation, including the US FCPA and the UK Bribery Act, and conduct internal investigations into allegations of corruption for our clients.
Restructuring, Bankruptcy & Insolvency
The global reach of our restructuring, bankruptcy and insolvency team, together with our extensive knowledge regarding PACA lien and other lien perfection and priority issues, enable us to efficiently represent clients in financially distressed agricultural-related situations. We have extensive bankruptcy experience with respect to cash collateral and adequate protection motions, debtor-in-possession financings, exit financings, adversary proceedings and contested plan confirmation hearings, should a consensual resolution not prove practicable. We have also represented successful purchasers of food and agribusiness assets via Section 363 sales in bankruptcy.
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Paul would be my first choice in a merger or corporate acquisition transaction. Read more
Paul would be my first choice in a merger or corporate acquisition transaction.
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Bob is an excellent tax attorney, with many years of experience in the field. He is committed to his clients and provides excellent service. Read more
Bob is an excellent tax attorney, with many years of experience in the field. He is committed to his clients and provides excellent service.
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SHE IS GREAT. SHE HAS BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY FOR OVER 20 YEARS. SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE'S TALKING ABOUT. Read more
SHE IS GREAT. SHE HAS BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY FOR OVER 20 YEARS. SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE'S TALKING ABOUT.
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Mayer Brown is committed to diversity because it is the right thing to do and because it makes sound business sense. Diversity broadens our knowledge and skills, heightens our awareness of and sensitivity to cultural issues and equips us to respond to the challenges of serving a clientele that spans the globe. Diversity is a hallmark of Mayer Brown heritage and will be a key driver of our future success.
|At Mayer Brown, we view the attainment of diversity at all levels of our organization as crucial to, and a natural result of, building a cohesive, successful law firm. We recruit, develop and promote the highest caliber lawyers and are committed to providing our lawyers with opportunities to realize their potential regardless of race, religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.|
Inclusion begins with opportunity. We continue to seek innovative and effective ways to increase the number of diverse students interested in law school and to recruit diverse law students and lateral candidates. By engaging law schools and colleges directly, Mayer Brown builds programs for students at all levels of higher education to increase the pool of lawyers from diverse backgrounds. We also ensure that all our associates are provided challenging work experiences and the guidance necessary for success. We strive to keep all of our lawyers active, engaged and on the road to partnership in the firm and encourage them to make a meaningful contribution to the profession. By investing in the skills and abilities of all our lawyers, we create a wide variety of role models for the generations to follow.
Mayer Brown handles many of the most important cases and transactions for the largest companies in the world, and we consider our diversity efforts critical to the level of service we provide to our clients. Clients recognize diversity and inclusion as business imperatives critical for success in our multicultural world. To remain a world-class law practice, we must continue our push forward in these vital areas.
Our commitment to the professional development and advancement of our diverse attorneys is central to our diversity and inclusion programs. We strive to create a culture in which all our attorneys can thrive and advance. The Firm sponsors attendance at numerous external networking and educational conferences, such as:
The retreats have provided our lawyers from all of our U.S. offices with the opportunity to interact over the course of a weekend. The retreats have been a great success. The lawyers networked with one another while gaining valuable career advice from minority partners and senior associates. The retreats also give our associates the opportunity to meet with the leaders of the Firm, as well as allowing each to give suggestions and guidance as to how the Firm's recruitment, retention and promotion of diverse lawyers could be improved. The Firm uses the wealth of knowledge and insight gathered and shared at the retreats to inform our diversity efforts.
Members of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion host, in each office, periodic sessions with lawyers to share information about our diversity efforts and solicit ideas and comments regarding ongoing events and future initiatives. In addition, minority lawyers meet informally to provide ongoing opportunities for building relationships within the firm.
Women's Symposiums are hosted every other year for all female lawyers. These include workshops, panel discussions, networking receptions and presentations led by our female partners and leaders from the legal and business community. We are actively focused on opportunities to raise the visibility of our female lawyers, supporting their development through leadership conference participation, skill development programs and mentoring. We provide business development programs focused on issues unique to women attorneys and have held numerous networking events for our female attorneys and clients. In the past year, for example, our women attorneys have hosted women clients at a luncheon and private museum tour, a chamber music concert performed by female musicians (who discussed the career challenges they faced as women in their field), wine tastings and theater performances. We have partnered with the women’s groups of several clients for networking events and educational workshops. These programs have facilitated building relationships between our women lawyers and our clients, providing focused opportunities for our women lawyers not only to learn about our clients’ needs, but also to showcase their own talents. Each office hosts programs focusing on women’s professional development issues and periodic informal lunches for female lawyers to cultivate and strengthen relationships.
Family-friendly programs offered to Mayer Brown’s US lawyers include: part-time work opportunities; back-up child care service; paid leave of absences for new and adoptive parents, including up to 18 weeks for new mothers, and a coaching program to provide support to new parents returning to work from leave. The firm also offers up to 6 weeks paid leave for lawyers who need time to serve as a primary caregiver for elderly family members. In addition, Mayer Brown is a founding member and sponsor of the Project for Attorney Retention, which works to stem lawyer attrition at large firms by promoting work/life balance and the advancement of women in the legal profession.
Mayer Brown is committed to providing a thriving workplace for LGBT lawyers. We have provisions for same gender relationships in our domestic partner benefits program. We provide pro bono legal service for a number of LGBT-focused organizations as well as support for their organizational events. We participate annually in the Lavender Law Career Fair in order to increase the number of LGBT law student applicants to our summer associate program. The Committee on Diversity and Inclusion includes LGBT partners who monitor and push for progress in this important area.
Highlights and Achievements regarding LGBT rights issues at Mayer Brown include:
Mayer Brown is an equal opportunity employer and partnership. It is our policy to hire, train and promote lawyers without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, disability, national origin, or veteran's status. The Firm seeks to hire, develop and advance lawyers on the basis of their professional ability and strives to build a team of lawyers that reflects the diversity of our world.
Mayer Brown is signatory to several statements of goals for increasing the recruitment and retention of minority lawyers and women, including The Association of the Bar of the City of New York's "Statement of Goals of New York Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments for the Retention and Promotion of Women" and its "Statement of Diversity Principles," The Chicago Bar Association’s “Call to Action”, the Houston Bar Association's "Gender Initiative Commitment Statement" and the New York County Lawyers' Association "Statement In Support of Diversity In The Legal Profession.” By proudly signing these statements, Mayer Brown publicly affirms its commitment to a culture of inclusion.
Our London office is a signatory to the UK Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Charter and supports the legal sectors PRIME initiative which provides quality work experience to young people from socially deprived and under privileged backgrounds.
Building for the Future
Diversity and inclusion are important keys to securing the future success of the Firm. Legal cultures that welcome and accept differences are the most successful in creating an environment where diverse attorneys thrive. The Firm's inclusion initiatives not only appeal to partners and the clients they interact with, they also attract bright young associates and college and high school-level interns who are encouraged by the dynamic, welcoming environment we provide. Through our various workshops, panel discussions, conferences, and events, and partnership with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), as well as through our diversity-related sponsorships and giving, we are building a bridge to an exciting, diverse future.
Law Schools, Colleges & High Schools
Through conferences, job fairs, panel discussions, and workshops, we make the legal profession less abstract and more familiar and accessible to students of all backgrounds. Providing the "nuts-and-bolts" of what lawyering is about helps students make informed career decisions and puts them on the path to professional success.
The scope and range of events that we are involved with demonstrate our desire to build diversity in as many ways as possible. Participating in special events that target specific groups is an effective way to build interest in our firm and to expand our culture of inclusion.
Through the sponsorship of law-related groups and events, we provide vital support to those who have made diversifying the legal world their central goal. These partnerships enable us to build lasting relationships with minority and female students and student groups while also sharing our own expertise during sponsored events and discussions.
Some examples of the organizations and events to which the Firm has donated are as follows:
Our outreach program is not restricted to young lawyers and students interested in the law. We are directly involved in the communities where our offices are located. We use our resources to strengthen educational and cultural institutions and to assist groups, associations and agencies that are already working for the good of our local communities.
Chicago Government & Global Trade partner Mary Richardson-Lowry has been named one of 50 “Women of Excellence” by the Chicago Defender, the leading daily newspaper serving Chicago’s African-American community. The award acknowledges and celebrates African-American women who personify the exemplary qualities of respect, responsibility, passion, sisterhood and leadership. Mary also was named president of the Chicago Board of Education earlier this year.
Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Mary Richardson-Lowry as a member of the Chicago Board of Education and recommended to the Board that she be named President, which she was. See http://www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/01_28_2010_PR1.aspx
LAW360 described Britt Miller as someone “With a reputation as a creative and thoughtful strategist” in designating her one of LAW360’s Ten Competition Lawyers under 40. See http://competition.law360.com/articles/157892
Steve Sanders, a Supreme Court & Appellate associate in the Chicago office, argued his first case before the Supreme Court this week. In Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, Sanders went up against former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who has argued in front of the Court 51 times. Sanders represented Pottawattamie County and two of its former prosecutors who were sued for falsifying evidence after two men were deemed wrongly convicted in the murder of a retired Iowa police officer. In his argument, Sanders claimed the Constitution only guarantees the plaintiffs the right to a fair trial, not a fair investigation, and that the prosecutors are immune from any suit claiming they knowingly introduced false testimony in trial. To read news coverage about the case and Sanders’ first argument, click here.
Donna Morgan was named to the Top 10 Women List of Leading Women Consumer Lawyers in Illinois by Leading Lawyers Network. Additional lawyers listed in either the Top 100 Women of Leading Lawyers and/or the Top 100 Business Lawyers in Illinois by the Leading Lawyers Network are Fern Bomchill, Debora de Hoyos, Rebecca Eisner, Sheila Finnegan, Michele Odorizzi and Mary Richardson-Lowry.
Mayer Brown LLP, a leading global law firm, announced today that 123 of its attorneys are ranked in the 2009 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, including 32 who achieved top-band ranking or higher in 26 national and/or state categories.
The 2009 edition of the Chamber USA ranks 14 women partners from Mayer Brown. The partners, their areas and band ranking are:
Washington, DC partner Marcia Madsen has been named one of the “Attorneys Who Matter” in the field of corporate compliance by The Ethisphere Institute, an international think-tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability. Honorees were chosen for their work in advancing the cause of ethics and corporate compliance.
Chicago partner Mary Richardson-Lowry, chairman of Mayer Brown's Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, will be a speaker on the opening panel at the 2009 conference for The Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys in Law & Business on March 4th in Atlanta. The panel will discuss the value of understanding the intricacies and politics of a law office, navigating diversity issues, the power of networking and the importance of law firm economics. The two-day event helps women of color attorneys develop critical skills necessary to become leaders in their field and provides networking and mentoring opportunities with other successful professionals.