When she’s not advising clients on complex derivatives and structured finance transactions, Ellen Pesch, co-head of the OTC Derivatives cross-practice area team, might be found at the captain’s helm.
Ellen and her family have spent years sailing off the East Coast, and in 2010 she became active with Sail Martha’s Vineyard, a community access program that provides sailing training and maritime education to children who live on the island. In order to support the organization’s fundraising efforts, Ellen committed to undertaking the long and rigorous process of earning her captain’s license from the US Coast Guard.
After three months of classes, a four hour US Coast Guard exam and over 720 hours on the water, Ellen is now licensed to captain boats weighing up to 50 gross tons — meaning she’d even be qualified to captain the water taxis making their way up the river just blocks from her New York office.
Much of Ellen’s qualifying time on the water was spent chasing her two children – Meghan (now 25) and Ryan (now 24) around as they honed their skills racing sailboats around the U.S. and competing on their own sailboat with her husband, Dan.
Ellen has spent the past 18 years of her practice concentrating in the derivatives space. Since the adoption of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) her practice has changed dramatically as her clients must now navigate a much more complex international regulatory scheme. With her expert navigational skills, Ellen is able to bring her detailed understanding of the derivatives market and the new regulations to bear when assisting Sidley clients chart their course in the derivatives market. Ellen’s experience in this evolving area allows her to help Sidley clients maintain compliance with the continuously developing regulatory scheme while still efficiently achieving their economic objectives.
As a member of the Insurance and Financial Services team at Sidley, Ellen is also one of the few experienced practitioners on the intersection of the insurance and derivatives laws. In the aftermath of the financial crisis Ellen and her colleagues successfully represented the International Swaps and Derivatives Association ("ISDA") in convincing then New York Governor Paterson and New York State Insurance Department Superintendent Dinallo not to regulate the Credit Default Swap market as insurance. More recently she has represented the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association ("SIFMA") in seeking relief from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission ("CFTC") with respect to the newly expanded Commodity Pool Operator requirements as they relate to insurance linked securities (ILS) transactions such as catastrophe (cat) bonds.
Ellen is a respected voice and frequent speaker on swaps and derivatives matters and in 2011 she was invited to present as part of the prestigious legal panel at the ISDA Annual General Meeting in Prague, where she presented a high-level overview of the post-financial crisis litigation trends in the industry. Ellen was recently appointed as an Advisor to the ALI CLE Securities Law Advisory Panel and has been recognized as a “Leading Lawyer” nationally in the field of capital markets: structured products by Chambers USA (2010-2013) and Chambers Global (2011-2014) and in the field of capital markets: derivatives by Chambers USA (2014), recommended for structured finance in The Legal 500 U.S. (2011-2013) and selected as one of the International Who’s Who of Insurance & Reinsurance Lawyers (2014) by Who’s Who Legal.