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Rita-Anne O'Neill

Partner, Los Angeles

Mergers & Acquisitions

A partner in the Los Angeles office, Rita splits her general practice work between mergers and acquisitions and securities representations. In her M&A work, Rita spends a large part of her time working with private equity clients on the acquisition side. Because much of this work involves unsuccessful bids in an auction setting, many of the transactions for which she is most proud remain nonpublic.

“There's one deal that I was particularly proud of—a matter where I felt like everything just came together for me professionally,” she says. “I oversaw a massive due-diligence project, played a key role in negotiating the documentation and was the go-to person for the client. But our client was not as fortunate, and the seller selected a different buyer.”

Spending a lot of time with one type of client also has its advantages: “S&C trains you to be a great generalist lawyer,” she maintains. “And in Los Angeles in particular, all of the General Practice lawyers do pretty much everything. Because the office is relatively small, our work depends on the market and what's busy. But at the same time, there are opportunities to work in a particular market space. For me, private equity is that space. And I enjoy the balance of working on a wide variety of transactions while having one area of particular focus.”

She's also proud of her pro bono work for Dollies Making A Difference, an organization that sews dolls and sends them to children in areas affected by disaster, and Valor Academy—a charter school in the greater Los Angeles area. “We've done loans for Valor, we've done litigation for them, and we worked on their merger with a charter management organization that closed right at the end of the school year,” she says. “My work for both organizations has been very rewarding, and I've been fortunate through the years to be involved in pro bono work that makes a difference.”

Rita decided to pursue a law career after spending time working in commercial real estate. Within a few years of finishing her undergraduate studies, she had risen to become Director of Operations for a resort management company with properties in East Hampton, Amagansett and Montauk, New York. But Rita always entertained the idea of becoming a lawyer, relishing high school mock trials and writing and research assignments.

While at Boston College Law School, S&C stood out in Rita's 2L interview experience. “It was the people who made the difference,” she remembers. “I felt like the Firm had a certain academic seriousness and a real commitment to collaboration. That's what I was looking for and, in hindsight, I think it is a real testament to S&C that I was able to pick up on that culture during the interview process. Needless to say, I'm happy about my decision!”

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