Michael Vaccari, deputy practice group leader at Nixon Peabody, has been promoted to practice group leader, replacing Arthur McMahon, the New York law firm said.

McMahon, who has led the public finance department for 15 years, will remain with the firm.

Vaccari, who has specialized in public finance for more than 30 years and formerly served as general counsel for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York, also leads Nixon Peabody’s infrastructure finance team.

Nixon ranks among the top 10 bond and underwriter counsels nationally in dollar value of bonds issued.

Thomson Reuters ranked Nixon Peabody as the number one underwriters’ counsel and the sixth most-active bond counsel in the United States in 2010.

“Under Art’s terrific leadership over the past decade and a half, we have grown from a small bond counsel practice to one of the largest, most highly regarded and successful public finance practices in the nation,” Vaccari said.

Vaccari has specialized in financing transportation, housing and derivatives.

His accomplishments include representing the U.S. Department of Transportation on its TIFIA credit-assistance program and advising on the drafting and structuring of its template-loan documentation published in 2008.

Vaccari also represented the department as a subordinate lender on the country’s first transportation public-private partnership project and the first private-activity bonds for transportation.

He worked on a $1.3 billion toll road privatization in Texas, the Triangle Expressway in North Carolina and other major projects.

Vaccari represented New York’s MTA on the largest debt restructuring in history with $14.5 billion of bonds in 18 transactions over a seven-month ­period.

Vaccari also teaches public finance law at Fordham University Law School, where he is an adjunct associate ­professor.

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