Though technically independent entities, the alliance of Ernst & Young and McKee Nelson is developing into a legal & accounting structured finance powerhouse.

Last week, Ernst sealed the deal with about 30 former structured finance Arthur Andersen accountants, just weeks after McKee launched its New York-based practice as part of a major staffing ramp-up, poaching high-ranking securitization attorneys from Strook Strook & Lavan and Sidley Austin Brown & Wood.

Ernst brought into its New York office several top-notch transaction-oriented accountants, according to the firm's group head Steve Campo. Standouts include Skip Curth and Neal Finkelman, both well known in securitization accounting. Ernst's securitization practice has been headed by Campo for the last several years, and prior to that, Campo headed up the structured finance group at MBIA.

"With the Anderson practice becoming available, we just felt that it was an incredible opportunity to add to the platform that we'd already built," Campo said.

As mentioned above, McKee Nelson initiated a hiring spree in late May, adding to its group (which has been based in Washington since 1999) Reed Auerbach, as the New York office managing partner, and Robert Wiperman, both from Strook.

"We really believe that with what [McKee] has done in building a powerhouse structured finance team, combined with what we have done at Ernst & Young in building a world class group of talent, we can bring something very special to the market,"Campo said.

Though part of a broader group at Ernst, former Andersen accountant David Thrope had joined the firm several weeks ago (separate from last week's massive migration).

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