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Kleinberg Kaplan marks 50th anniversary as private investment funds law firm

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Boutique law firm Kleinberg Kaplan, described as “Wall Street’s best-kept secret”, is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a 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-recognised 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,” says 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,” says Andrew Chonoles, who has served as managing partner since 2006 and 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.

“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.” 

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