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Sean Kearney
Sean Kearney, Fredrikson & Byron

The POWER 30: Sean Kearney

“Sean [Kearney] is a New York dealmaker in the heart of Minnnesota,” according to his Chambers review.

Kearney is the co-chair of the private equity group at Fredrikson & Byron and as such is overseeing the explosive growth in the last few years of the firm’s private equity and mergers and acquisitions practice.

The private equity group closed 240 deals in 2021 for 31 different private equity funds, he said.

Additionally, Fredrikson has added 35 lawyers in the last two years, Kearney said, mostly if not entirely to handle the “robust national practice” the firm has been building in M&A and private equity, which are very significant at the firm, Kearney said. Private equity funds have been growing and thus driving an increasing share of the market, he said, and  more deals are financed by private equity than traditional lending routes, he added.

The practice is growing from its own mass, like a snowball rolling downhill, Kearney said.

Fredrikson works in the middle market and its clientele includes Audax Group, a major investor  in middle market companies that also manages, private equity, mezzanine, and private senior debt businesses in the U.S. The middle market is companies valued at $100 million to $1 billion.

Although it is true that 2021 was a big M&A year for many, it’s also true that Fredrikson & Byron is ranked among the most active law firms advising on merger and acquisition, private equity and venture capital deals in PitchBook’s 2021 Annual Global League Tables. Across the law firm categories, Fredrikson ranked within the Top 20 for U.S. completed deal activity.

The firm is still looking for more to add to its team. Kearney said. “That’s a big issue for us.”

Kearney says the group operates as a pack, in that it has a group-oriented model.

“We’re looking to grow in a team environment. We’re 100% different from other firms,” Kearney said. He added that he’s being told that by all of the laterals who have joined the firm in recent years.