When private equity giants Blackstone Group LP and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. decided to hire a general counsel, they looked to their regular outside lawyers. (Robert Friedman of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and David Sorkin, also of Simpson, respectively.) But TPG Capital has taken a different approach. It has hired as its GC Ron Cami, a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP who worked on a range of corporate specialties but did not focus on buyouts.
Cami, 43, graduated from Harvard College and Rutgers School of Law-Newark. He clerked for Kevin Thomas Duffy while the federal district court judge presided over the case involving the 1993 attempted bombing of the World Trade Center. Cami joined Cravath in 1994 and made partner in 2001. His practice included M&A, leveraged transactions and public offerings, though neither he nor Cravath has worked for TPG, which typically uses Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Ropes & Gray LLP, among others.
TPG considered numerous candidates before offering Cami the GC job in April. TPG co-founders David Bonderman and James Coulter were both involved in the search, which Catherine Nathan and Kimberly Fullerton of Spencer Stuart ran for TPG.
Cami, who is relocating to San Francisco, takes over from Clive Bode, a former Vinson & Elkins LLP partner who went to work for the Bass family of Texas around the same time as TPG's Bonderman.
Michael Ryan, a Cleary partner and longtime adviser to TPG who talked to Cami about the move, says that it reflects the evolution of private equity. "Most of the large shops have GCs, and, I would say, strong GCs, which is a change from the way it used to be," says Ryan. He notes that in addition to Cami, TPG hired Jerome Vascellaro as chief administrative officer in 2006 and Adam Levine, an assistant press secretary in the George W. Bush White House, as a managing director for public affairs last year.
"It used to be that buyout shops were reluctant to build overhead," Ryan says, "but as they've evolved from defining themselves as pure deal shops to realizing that they're businesses of significant magnitude, they're bringing in the kind of infrastructure that businesses of significant magnitude have."