WOMEN IN SECURED FINANCE 2020
J JAIME RACHEL KOFF Riemer & Braunstein LLP
aime is a senior partner in Riemer & Braunstein LLP’s commercial finance department. Her practice has a particular emphasis on asset-based and cash flow transactions. She represents commercial banks and other financial institutions in domestic and cross-border single-lender and syndicated transactions across numerous areas, including manufacturing, technology, retail and lender finance. Her experience extends to all aspects of a transaction, including preparing and negotiating documentation in the loan origination stage, handling forbearance and loan modifications in restructuring transactions, and working on debtor-in-possession loan facilities. She has spoken at industry events on current trends in financing, including with respect to intellectual property. Her recent transactions include representation of the agent in (i) a $1 billion multi-lender revolving credit facility to finance the working capital needs of a major oil and gas distributor, (ii) a $200 million multi-lender revolving credit facility to provide working capital funding to a major national retailer, (iii) a $54 million multi-lender revolving credit and term loan facility to provide financing for the acquisition and working capital needs of a manufacturer of multilayer printed circuit boards, and (iv) a pre-petition $50 million multi-lender revolving credit and term loan facility in connection with consent to use of cash collateral for a national retailer in bankruptcy.
What advice would you offer to women just starting out in the industry? Starting out in any field can be overwhelming, particularly where the numbers of senior women have not historically been high. It can be hard not to self-edit or self-regulate in an effort to fit in or go with the flow. However, it is important to take an active role and not be afraid to speak up. Take advantage of time and opportunities offered by senior colleagues, from attending a happy hour to getting involved more broadly and observing more sophisticated aspects of a transaction, even if much of the terminology seems foreign at first. Offer to help others in whatever ways you can, including by “taking one for the team” when co-workers are overwhelmed or need assistance. Do not wait to be asked to pitch in. In turn, take advantage of down time when you can. Be a participant in the industry beyond just in emails – pick up the phone and spend time with clients and colleagues outside of the office as true partnerships and friendships cannot be formed through a computer alone. Do not be afraid to ask questions that you think may be too basic; it is better to ask than to pretend you know something you do not. To that end, it is critical to seek out multiple mentors who can provide feedback throughout the first few years and beyond, and who have willingness and patience to help you scale the learning curve. Studies have shown women are reluctant to tout their accomplishments in the workplace. What advice would you give to help women be more comfortable with speaking up? It is unfortunate that this question is still relevant in today’s world. However, you need to be your own best advocate. If you do not
champion your successes, you may find that other people do not either. It is tricky to find the “sweet spot” between appropriate and shameless self-promotion, but when you have accomplished an achievement, make sure to note it and keep a running list of those events when it comes time for your performance reviews. Remember that everyone else is doing the same thing and there is nothing wrong with accepting credit or acknowledgment for your hard work. All you are doing is recognizing the fruits of your efforts. What do you know now that you wish you knew in the beginning of your career? Life as a junior associate can have its challenges, from getting used to the industry jargon to adjusting to long working hours. While the early days may be filled with uncertainty, commitment and a strong work ethic will pay off down the road. Colleagues may be more willing to think outside the box and help you address issues that may arise if they know you are dedicated and willing to go the extra mile in return. Separately, while finding a sustainable work/life balance can be difficult, work and family are both important parts of life and you will find pride in showing the next generation that being a good parent and successful in your career are both valuable.
THE SECURED LENDER APRIL 2020