Mayer Brown



Pro Bono Rank Firm
(Am Law 200 Rank)
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Mayer Brown (8)


For Mayer Brown structured finance partner Chris Gavin, it was one of the toughest cross-border deals that he's ever handled. At first the job seemed fairly straightforward—arrange a syndicated credit facility for the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC). The nonprofit microfinance and development organization, based in Bangladesh, was interested in expanding its operations into Africa. As part of a growing track record in the microfinance sector, Mayer Brown The Am Law Pro Bono 100had advised on the creation of BRAC's U.S. arm. It was a logical step to reach out again to the firm to organize the new credit facility.

Gavin, who is based in Chicago, and his team of Mayer Brown attorneys started by organizing conference calls across Bangladesh, Africa, Europe and the United States. That was when things got tought—one of the lawyers, who was based in Juba, southern Sudan, only had electricity for two hours a day.

Last October the successful completion of the deal was announced, with more than $62 million committed to the new credit facility. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is the anchor investor.

Gavin, who admits that as a mortgage securitization expert he's seen busier times, estimates that the firm's work on arranging the facility is worth about $1 to $1.5 million in fees. As he points out, a transactional lawyer's pro bono options are pretty limited beyond pretending they're a litigator. "There are not a lot of opportunities for young corporate and finance lawyers to do pro bono work" that is similar to the kind of work they do for profit, he says.

As a result Mayer Brown is increasingly seeking out pro bono opportunities in microfinance. Corporate partner David Carpenter is particularly active. In 2006 he formed part of a team that helped India-based SKS Microfinance raise capital. "We're making a big effort to get deals," says Gavin, who points to a reorganization of BRAC's legal structure as a possible future project. Next time he'll be ready for the time zones.

—Richard Lloyd | July 1, 2009

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