Joel A. Wattenbarger




  • JD, Harvard Law School, 1999; Executive Editor, Harvard Law Review
  • BA, with Honors, Yale University, 1993


  • New York, 2012
  • Massachusetts, 1999
  • French
  • Legal 500 (2013-2014, 2018-2019)

Joel A. Wattenbarger


Joel Wattenbarger is a partner in the asset management group. Joel represents investment management clients, focusing primarily on hedge funds, funds of funds, private equity funds and fund managers. He advises clients on the establishment of funds and fund management companies, trading and other operational issues, and compliance issues faced by registered investment advisers. Most recently, Joel has devoted substantial time to advising hedge fund and other private fund clients on the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act and the proposed rules and final rules issued by the SEC under the Act. Joel also has considerable experience representing institutional investors in private investment funds.

Joel has represented a number of private funds and fund managers in connection with the establishment of fund management companies and the organization of hedge funds, private equity funds and funds of funds. Joel’s advice to fund managers has covered the drafting of fund agreements and offering documents, facilitating strategic investments by seed investors in newly established funds, negotiating with prime brokers, administrators and other service providers to funds, trading issues, investor relations, fund restructurings, and wind-downs.

Joel has also advised fund managers and their principals with respect to economic and governance issues at fund management companies. He has advised U.S. and foreign investment managers regarding the U.S. investment adviser regulatory regime and has assisted numerous advisers with registering as an adviser and adopting and administering compliance policies and procedures.

Joel also has extensive experience representing institutional investors, including pension plans, endowments, insurance companies and funds-of-funds, in making investments in private investment funds and other structured investment vehicles. These investments have included both traditional hedge fund and fund of fund investments as well as specialized vehicles established to pursue highly customized investment strategies.


  • Advised the U.S. investment office of a large European pension fund with respect to the spin-out of the client’s internal hedge fund management team, with responsibility for approximately $10 billion in assets under management. This matter required detailed understanding of the client’s business goals and applicable U.S. and foreign legal, tax and accounting issues, as well as sensitivity to the personal relationships between our client and the newly-independent management team. The spin out was a success and our client is now planning to expand its relationship with the external management company.
  • Advised an established private fund manager in connection with the establishment of a joint venture and the organization and offering of a credit opportunities hedge fund to be managed under the joint venture. The joint venture and fund offering required careful structuring to address commercial and regulatory issues raised by our client’s separate management interests.
  • Advised multiple hedge fund clients with respect to legal issues arising from the credit crisis and associated market turmoil, including the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the adoption by the SEC and other regulatory agencies of emergency short sale rules. These matters demanded the ability to absorb and process developments and advise clients in real time, based on applicable law and market developments, as well as the investment strategies, brokerage arrangements, and fund terms of each client.



  • Panelist, “2017 In Review: The Hedge Funds Industry,” Ropes & Gray Webinar (January 10, 2018)
  • Panelist, “Trends in Enforcement and Compliance for the Private Fund Industry,” Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy and UCLA School of Law Private Fund Conference (May 18, 2017)
  • Moderator, “Implementing a robust process to mitigate and resolve conflicts of interest,” Private Fund Compliance Forum 2017 (May 9, 2017)
  • Panelist, “Ethics,” Managed Funds Association’s 2017 Legal & Compliance Conference (May 9, 2017)
  • Panelist, “Conflicts Associated with End Of Life Funds,” ACA Compliance Conference (May 3, 2017)
  • Panelist, “A View from the Front: Practical Lessons Learned from Private Funds SEC Examinations,” Major, Lindsey & Africa General Counsel Luncheon (June 7, 2016)
  • Moderator, “Effecting SEC compliant marketing and advertising standards,” Private Fund Compliance Forum 2016 (May 11, 2016)
  • Panelist, “SEC and NFA Exams: What To Expect,” MFA Compliance 2016 (May 10, 2016)
  • Speaker “SEC Oversight of the Alternative Investment Market and How the Industry is Adapting: Emerging Trends, Areas of Focus, and Examination Considerations,” Operations for Alternatives 2016 Conference (February 1, 2016)
  • Panelist, “Investment Advisor Custody Rule,” SIFMA’s Asset Managers Forum Workshop on Alternative Investment Operations (October 2015)
  • Speaker, “Fees and expenses: how you should be looking at your policies going forward,” Private Equity International’s Private Fund Compliance Forum 2015 (May 14, 2015)
  • Speaker, "Addressing The Regulatory Challenges That Are On The Horizon," Private Fund Compliance Forum (May 7, 2014)
  • Speaker, “The role of directors and advisory board members in the governance of private equity and hedge funds,” IBA’s 13th Annual International Conference on Private Investment Funds (March 2012)
  • JD, Harvard Law School, 1999; Executive Editor, Harvard Law Review
  • BA, with Honors, Yale University, 1993
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