Kelley M. Bender
Chapman and Cutler LLP
Corporate law
40 Under Class – 2015

Kelley Bender has earned her reputation as one of the most skilled private equity and hedge fund specialists in Chicago’s legal community.

It’s why the attorney with Chicago’s Chapman and Cutler has earned such loyal clients during her relatively short legal career.

One fellow attorney, who formerly worked with a $32 billion public pension, said that Bender routinely worked on some of the most complicated investments in the pension’s portfolio. From 2008 on, this attorney said, Bender saved the pension and its public employee beneficiaries more than $100 million in unfair fees with her work in the area of deferred payment of hedge fund managers’ performance fees alone.

“It is difficult to overstate the significance of Kelley’s work in this area and its impact not just to our retirement fund but to the broader private fund industry,” said the attorney.

Others who have worked with Bender have been equally impressed with her ability to understand the most complex of investments and – this is key – the relationship between investment documents and business objectives.

“Any lawyer can read a document, and any lawyer can listen to business objectives,” said one nominator. “But only a great lawyer can understand the relationship between investment documents and the business objectives and find creative ways to ensure that the business objectives of all parties are achieved and satisfactorily reflected in the documents.”

This attorney worked closely with Bender while he served as an in-house lawyer with a state investment board. During this time, Bender played a key role in the development and implementation of the legal due diligence process for the investment board’s $2 billion hedge fund portfolio.

“As an in-house lawyer, I have had the opportunity to work with many lawyers over the years, and I can say with great conviction that she is one of the finest,” the nominator said. “Kelley possesses a rare combination of legal expertise, business acumen and judgment.”

Another nominator said that Bender always provides the best possible business advice for her company.

“In addition to Kelley’s unique abilities to translate the complexities of private equity legal documentation, we also value her insights into the market,” said another nominator. “She knows what is ‘market’ and what is not, and keeps our private equity legal and business team apprised of new developments. These insights have enabled our business team to make better-informed decisions.The entire investment team trusts her counsel, judgment and insights.”

Bender is active in firm management, serving on Chapman’s Employment Committee and as the partner coordinator for Chapman’s Finance Law Development Program. She is also generous with volunteering her time both professionally and personally. She is a past chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Federal Taxation Committee, speaks frequently at meetings of the ABA’s Business Law Section, has published several articles on taxation and transaction topics in law-related journals, and is one of her firm’s most active attorneys when it comes to providing pro bono services. She is a past winner of Chapman and Cutler’s internal pro bono award.