A futures and derivatives law practice requires a multi-disciplinary approach to the financial markets, reflecting the wide variety of participants and products in this market. Clients include broker-dealers, banks, insurance companies, investment advisers, commodity advisers, hedge funds and private equity funds, securities and futures exchanges, clearing corporations and pension plans, as well as any commercial enterprise that is the “end user” of these products. Products may be used to hedge, manage, or speculate on a countless array of risks, such as interest rates, equities, agricultural, energy, credit, currency, and weather risks to name a few. The products are often custom-designed to meet the particular needs of the end user. All of these products and all of these participants are potentially subject to multiple federal, state, and foreign laws based upon the nature of the enterprise (e.g., banking, insurance, etc), the nature of the product (e.g., equities, commodities, etc.) and the nature of the transaction (e.g., sales, trading, etc.)
A sophisticated law practice in this area will address both the transactional and regulatory aspects of the market. The transactional aspects require experience in the design, documentation, and negotiation of the product to achieve the desired commercial objectives while at the same time optimizing the applicable regulatory treatment. The regulatory practice will focus on everything from the securities and commodities laws, to tax, ERISA, and bankruptcy treatment. The regulatory landscape is expected to experience rapid and extensive changes as a result of the enactment in 2010 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Finally, depending upon the context in which the matter arises, expertise also may be required in the underlying business (e.g., energy, insurance, municipal finance, etc.) or in litigation, business fraud, securitization, and corporate mergers & acquisitions.