Welcome to the Q1 issue of The Dealmaker, in which we perform a dual mission: Explore what’s happening in what we call the Mighty Middle—that is, in dealmaking involving middle-market companies, whose market capitalization or liabilities are worth about $500 million or less–and identify and profile the legal profession’s Rising Stars of deals, i.e., the brightest newcomers to the ranks of M&A partners at major law firms.

It’s no secret that the middle market tends to go its own way regardless of the fate of mega-dealmaking, as opportunities arise there that may not exist among their large-cap counterparts. We’re not content to generalize, however, and so instead dive into discrete corners of this world, from Chris Nolter’s look at how the telecom infrastructure REIT Uniti is using M&A to insulate itself from the financial woes of Windstream, its largest customer, Stephanie Gleason’s report on Kirkland’s successful effort to venue shop Wisconsin retailer Shopko, and Steve Gelsi’s insightful interviews with PE bigs about their interest in the middle-market space, to Ron Orol’s analysis of what makes it increasingly attractive to insurgent investors.

As for our Stars, their accomplishments if not their ultimate fates are laid out in these pages and together paint a picture of what constitutes burgeoning success in the world of M&A advice. These 21 attorneys are clearly set upon a rapidly rising career path and destined to do great things in our world. Hats off to them and to us for collecting them here for your perusal. We’re eager to see what they’re capable of next. And we hope you’re just as eager to see what we are as well next quarter.

By // Ron Fink, Deputy Managing Editor

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