Joel Wattenbarger is a partner in the asset management group and co-head of the firm’s private funds regulatory practice. 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.

Areas of Practice