After nine month of 2012, counsel rankings continue to show big shifts from last year.

Three of the top 10 bond counsel firms were not among the top 10 of the first nine months of 2011.

Nixon Peabody LLP rose to seventh by par amount counseled in the first nine months of this year from 13th in the first nine months of 2011. Its market share in the bond counsel industry climbed to 2.7% from 1.8%, according to Thomson Reuters figures. Among underwriters counsel firms, Nixon Peabody rose to third in the first nine months of this year from sixth in the first nine months of 2011.

Responding to the news, Michael Vaccari, group leader for public finance at Nixon Peabody, said, “That’s great; it’s very exciting.” Nixon Peabody has been aggressively responding to requests for proposals and attempting to increase market share all year, he said.

Nixon does many large deals. Many entities in the firms’ specialty states of New York, Massachusetts, California and Puerto Rico have had large deals this year, Vaccari said. 

Foster Pepper PLLC rose to eighth from 12th in the first three quarters of last year in the bond counsel rankings. Its market share improved to 2.5% from 1.8%.

Seattle and Washington State have had many municipal issues this year and Foster Pepper has worked on them, said Hugh Spitzer of Foster Pepper. The firm has also picked up a great deal of work for public power in the Pacific Northwest.

Greenberg Traurig LLP jumped to 10th from 16th. Its market share improved to 2.1% from 1.5%.

“GT has been fortunate to have increased bond counsel volume both from refundings and also two major transactions during this period,” wrote Warren S. Bloom, co-chair of the firm’s national public finance practice group in an email.  “One financing involved the $2.3 billion sale of municipal bonds by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico…. Another large transaction the firm handled was a $431 million multi-state bond issuance for Aeroterm US Inc. to refinance, in a cross-collateralized pool, 27 airport cargo and related facilities at 21 airports across 14 states.”

If some firms rose in the bond counsel rankings, others must have fallen. Kutak Rock LLP, Edwards, Wildman, Palmer LLP and Ballard Spahr LLP all had substantially lower rankings and market shares so far this year compared to the first nine months of 2011.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP retained its status as the number one bond and disclosure counsel firm. It rose to be the second largest underwriter’s counsel firm from being the fourth in the first nine months of last year.

Hawkins, Delafield & Wood LLP improved its market share in both the bond counsel and disclosure counsel professions. It skipped up to second with a 6.7% share this year from third with a 4.6% share last year in the bond counsel industry.

To explain the firm’s success on the bond counsel tables, Hawkins partner Howard Zucker said that the firm has many long-time clients that were doing large issues this year. The firm also opened an office in Portland, Ore.

Hawkins has a group of attorneys emphasizing disclosure counsel led by partner John McNally, Zucker said. McNally was the project coordinator on the third edition of an important book about the disclosure counsel profession.

A comparison of the first nine months of 2011 and this year shows that several underwriters counsel firms also jumped up. Sidley Austin LLP jumped to 6th from 10th, Squire Sanders LLP jumped to 7th from 19th, and Bracewell & Guiliani LLP made a leap to 10th from 37th.

Thomson Reuters released other rankings Friday. Through the first three quarters the Bank of New York Mellon remained the largest municipal bond trustee by par value and the Texas Permanent School Fund remained by far the largest guarantor of munis.

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