With the hire of industry veteran Laura DeFelice as co-head and partner, Latham & Watkins, a full-service business law firm, is looking to add new structures to its asset-backed product line in the near future, said sources at the company.

Laura DeFelice was brought on to work in the firm's New York structured finance group.

Jolene Overbeck, Latham's national marketing director, speculates that the firm will be branching off into securitizing international projects and dealing with high-yield portfolios. The firm will also continue its restructuring of receivable finances, stadiums, arenas and more recently, film securitizations - all areas that DeFelice will contribute to substantially.

"Laura is joining a group of about thirty lawyers firm-wide in an area where we hope to see real growth because the structures are very complex and need very high-level wiring," said Overbeck.

Overbeck also expects to see extensive growth in the firm's collateralized bond obligation and bank-owned operations.

Coming from the New York office of Mayer, Brown & Platt, where she headed the asset securitization group, DeFelice acquired an extensive client list that included big-name companies such as Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Lehman Brothers Inc.

Described as "a first rate asset-backed securitization lawyer" by Philip Coviello, managing partner of Latham and Watkins' New York office, DeFelice feels that her hire will be beneficial to the firm.

"I think that this solidifies and rounds out the firm's capabilities and the structured finance area," said DeFelice. "The firm becomes a diversified full-service provider in the financial services area, including all types of structured finance from various asset-backed structures, mortgage-backed structures and conduit structures."

DeFelice is currently working on new structures in the private arena and hopes that her addition to the firm will help it to become a stronger player in the asset-backed market.

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