financial services

Mutual Funds

A Track Record of Innovation

For more than 40 years, Dechert has been a leader and innovator in the mutual fund arena, building one of the legal industry’s largest and most respected practices. We advise over 60 mutual fund groups, which encompass thousands of separate mutual funds and client assets exceeding US$5.5 trillion. Dechert’s clients include funds, their advisers and other service providers, fund boards of directors/trustees and audit committees.

Our lawyers assist funds and their advisers in connection with fund organization and registration, and the development and implementation of compliance and supervisory oversight procedures. We advise on the full breadth of federal and state laws, rules and interpretative positions that may impact funds and their investment advisers. This advice spans financial and regulatory compliance and reporting, disclosure obligations, trading and brokerage practices, error correction, soft-dollar compliance, valuation matters, anti-money laundering, Regulation S-P (privacy policies), proxy voting, books and records requirements, distribution practices, solicitation and advertising limitations, website compliance, and relevant tax and ERISA matters.

“This team is simply superb. The team is one of the best in the industry. Dechert is as good as one can find in the mutual fund area of financial services,” said an interviewee in the 2017 edition of Chambers USA, which has ranked us Tier 1 for registered funds since the publication’s inception. Dechert earned the 2017 and 2015 Law Firm of the Year Award for Mutual Funds Law from US News Best Law Firms. The Legal 500 US consistently ranks us Band 1 for Mutual/Registered Funds and awarded us its 2014 Law Firm Award for Mutual/Registered Funds. IFLR1000 ranked us Tier 1 for Investment Funds: Registered Funds in 2017.

Leadership spanning the industry and the world

Many of Dechert’s lawyers have years of experience as in-house counsel and regulators. They have held key posts at global and regional asset management and brokerage firms, as well as at a range of U.S. regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. In the UK, our lawyers have served at the Financial Services Authority and Personal Investment Authority.

Among Dechert’s alumni are many distinguished industry leaders who hold or have held prominent positions at the Investment Company Institute (ICI), Mutual Fund Directors Forum, and Managed Funds Association (all based in the U.S.) and The Alternative Investment Management Association in the UK.

Dechert "Firsts" and Innovations

Dechert’s financial services group has an extensive track record of trail-blazing and innovation. Our lawyers:

  • Obtained the first SEC exemption to permit a fund to charge a contingent deferred sales charge and Rule 12b-1 distribution fee in place of a front-end sales charge, the prototype for all “B” shares offered today by mutual funds.
  • Organized the first U.S.-registered closed-end investment company to invest in an “emerging market,” and the first U.S.-registered closed-end fund to invest exclusively in non-U.S. debt obligations.
  • Obtained SEC exemptive relief to create the first operating “open-end interval fund,” a fund that issues redeemable securities that are redeemed less frequently than daily.
  • Obtained “no-action” or interpretive relief from the SEC addressing a number of novel issues, several of which represent the “state-of-the-law” in particular areas. (One such letter established the procedures used by all U.S.-registered funds investing in Russia to ensure the safekeeping of their Russian securities.)
  • Pioneered development of the registered “fund of hedge funds.”
  • Organized the first unit investment trusts to invest in equity securities.
  • Effected the first conversion of a unit investment trust to a management investment company form of operation.
  • Organized the first successful operational “fund of funds.” Represented the independent trustees of the first U.S. “master/feeder” funds and later organized one of the first “master/feeder” funds. Successfully submitted a rulemaking petition to the SEC to exempt from SEC registration certain Canadian mutual funds.
  • Served as the founding organizers of the first conference on the responsibilities of independent directors/trustees of mutual funds (for The American Law Institute/American Bar Association Committee on Professional Education).