James O'Donnell

Partner
About

    James O'Donnell is the co-chair of DLA’s international funds practice and a leading funds lawyer advising investors in, and sponsors of, private, international and closed ended funds.

    He has extensive experience of fund related transactions, including primary, secondary, secondary direct and co-investment deals, the establishment and operation of funds and carried interest vehicles, management spin-outs, managed accounts and joint ventures. His clients include funds of funds, sovereign wealth funds, banks, development finance institutions, pension plans, insurance companies and fund managers.

    He is an acknowledged market leader and is ranked as a Band One leading lawyer for investor representation in Chambers & Partners 2022. He is regularly invited to speak on, and provide training in respect of, fund-related matters, including being a lead contributor to the training and documentary programme of the Institution Limited Partners’ Association (ILPA).

Areas of FocusCorporateReal Estate
Professional QualificationsSolicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales

EXPERIENCE

James’ experience includes:

  • He has advised in respect of numerous fund-related transactions for some of the most active and sophisticated market participants in the world, with investment sizes ranging to over US$1 billion.
  • James is particularly recognised as a leading practitioner in relation to investor-led fund restructurings and regularly represents both investors and GPs in that regard.  He has recently played a central role representing investors in relation to the widely reported $13 billion Abraaj collapse, acted for the replacement manager in relation to the contentious and highly publicised removal of a GP from a $1 billion international private equity fund, advised investors in their termination of an emerging markets fund, and advised the LPACs of a number of funds in various jurisdiction in relation to replacing the managers of those funds.  He regularly provides training and advise to some of the most sophisticated and prolific fund investors in relation to this specialist area.
  • His experience includes fund formation, managed accounts, primary and secondary transactions, stapled secondaries, secondary directs and "GP for hire" arrangements.
  • James has advised in respect of some of the largest fund-related transactions of their type, including one of the biggest non-syndicated secondary deals (transferring over US$1 billion of commitments in over 40 different funds, managed by 17 leading asset managers) in European history. He has also advised on various separate account arrangements, including a number of large (US$250 million to US$800 million) separate accounts with some of the most renowned fund management firms in the world.
  • James has acted for a number of sponsors of closed ended investment funds, ranging from leading, established sponsors with fund commitments in excess of US$1 billion, to start-up funds with commitments of US$10 million.
  • He has a particular passion for impact and developmental investment and, in this regard, for over fifteen years has regularly represented leading members of the international impact and DFI community (both individually and as syndicates) in respect of their investment activities, as well as developing their best practice procedures and model forms
  • His experience is truly global, including established markets such as North America and Europe, through to the Middle East, emerging markets including Africa and India and frontier markets including Somalia, Myanmar and Afghanistan.
Education
  • University of Durham, BA Hons History

Prior Experience

James trained at a "magic circle" law firm before practicing in the London office of a leading New York based private equity funds practice. He joined DLA Piper as a partner in 2013.

Memberships And Affiliations

  • Emerging Markets Private Equity Association ("EMPEA")
  • African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association ("AVCA")

Connect