PAUL TOSETTI, 56

FIRM: Latham & Watkins LLP

LAW SCHOOL: Harvard

CLIENTS: Allergan, Beckman Coulter, Oracle.

Remember Ted Turner’s acquisition of MGM for $1.5 billion in 1986? How about the $25 billion buyout of RJR/Nabisco by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts in 1988? Or Oracle’s purchase of BEA Systems for $8.5 billion in 2008?

You heard about them in the news. Paul Tosetti lived them.

Tosetti is a partner in the L.A. office of Latham & Watkins and served 10 years as chairman of the firm’s mergers and acquisitions group. In the 1980s, the firm handled much of the local legal work for Drexel Burnham Lambert. Although a young attorney at that time, Tosetti recalls working every week on headline-making deals.

“I worked as an associate on a number of transactions that had a lot of zeroes in the transaction value,” he said.

The turning point of his career came in 1990 when Drexel Burnham declared bankruptcy. But in an ironic twist, the demise of the company gave him a wider client base for the future.

“I followed the bankers with whom we’d worked at Drexel to their new homes at Apollo, Ares, Bear Stearns, Canyon, Goldman Sachs, Leonard Green, Jefferies and other platforms,” he said. “I’ve never forgotten that lemonade-out-of-lemons time in my career.”

This summer he helped with the sale of California Pizza Kitchen to private-equity firm Golden Gate Capital for $470 million. A month later, he was involved in the sale of medical equipment manufacturer Beckman Coulter to Danaher Corp. for $6.8 billion.

In 1994 he represented the American committee that organized soccer’s World Cup, the first time the event was hosted in the United States. He later helped organize Major League Soccer.

The son of a jazz pianist, Tosetti worked in high school and college as a keyboard player for rock bands, or playing solo for private parties, bar mitzvahs and wedding receptions.

Tosetti still plays a half-hour or so every week to keep his fingers nimble – and as a hedge in case the M&A market ever dries up.

“If the day job doesn’t work out, I’ll dust off the Cole Porter songbooks,” he said.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.