Sidley Austin, the third-ranked bond counsel of 2010, expanded its San Francisco public finance practice by hiring a veteran lawyer who boasts 15 years of experience at that very office.

Gisele Rainer originally joined Sidley in 1988. She worked there until 2003, where she developed broad expertise working with municipal issuers, underwriters, and conduit borrowers of municipal debt in tax-exempt and taxable transactions.

“I came to this office right out of law school,” she said. “I’m coming back to a group that I worked with for many years. I really feel like it’s a family.”

Rainer left the firm in 2003 for a job at Nixon Peabody, where she spent five years before moving on to Chapman & Cutler. “I felt like I needed to move away from the nest to develop my own book of business, away from the safety net the firm had provided me since I graduated from law school,” said Rainer, who rejoined the firm on March 18.

“I was able to build that practice over the past eight years and now I’m looking forward to bringing it back to Sidley and to continue to grow my practice with the help of my colleagues I’m coming back to.”

Rainer will focus on transaction structuring and document preparation as bond counsel, underwriter’s counsel, issuer’s counsel, and borrower’s counsel in all areas of public finance, according to a company news release. She works primarily on the West Coast as well as Hawaii.

“She is an exceptional complement to our public finance practice group and will further deepen our public finance presence in California,” said Eric Tashman, head of Sidley’s West Coast public finance practice.

Rainer said 2011 is gearing up to be an interesting year for lawyers as positives for the business, like more regulation, mix with negatives, like the slimmest volume in a full decade.

“There’s definitely going to be more competition for fewer deals,” she said, “but I think firms like ours bring more creative, sophisticated ideas to the table, so we’ll probably come out ahead.”

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