Bankruptcy/Restructuring: New York
THE FIRM Davis Polk's practice focuses primarily on creditor side representations and has a leading reputation in representing financial institutions, hedge funds and acquirers of distressed assets. The team has provided debtor-in-possession (DIP) and exit financings during some of the year's major bankruptcies, acting for clients such as JPMorgan Chase, Citi and Bank of America. Recent highlights include acting for Citi as administrative agent and lead arranger in connection with a $950 million DIP credit facility for Kodak during its bankruptcy proceedings. The group also currently represents Sterling Equities, the owners of the New York Mets, in connection with litigation arising from the Madoff liquidation, and the former board of directors of MF Global during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Sources say: "Great approach and innovative thinkers." "I think their performance has been remarkably good. Results help but their process to get to the result has been impressive."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Donald Bernstein is co-head of the restructuring and insolvency department. He mirrors the group's major focuses and is almost universally admired among commentators for his "years of experience and wonderful overall perspective."
The "diligent, creative and client-focused" Marshall Huebner heads up the department alongside Bernstein. He recently advised JPMorgan in connection with DIP credit facilities for both Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea and NewPage during their respective bankruptcies. Huebner is also praised for litigation expertise and his "brilliant legal mind."
As one of the group's younger partners, Damian Schaible has strengthened his reputation as a formidable bankruptcy attorney. An "up-and-coming star in the field," he is held in high regard for his intelligent and result-oriented advice. He recently advised Bank of America, which was agent for the senior secured lenders in MediaNews Group's prepackaged Chapter 11 proceedings.
Brian Resnick enters the rankings this year on the back of his superb reputation for merging technical knowledge with commercial reality. He currently represents Citi, alongside Huebner, as administrative agent and lead arranger in connection with a DIP credit facility in the Kodak bankruptcy.
THE FIRM Kirkland & Ellis’s restructuring practice group maintains its stellar reputation as one of the nation’s best. Boasting one of the largest teams in the sector, the group is well equipped to advise on leading company-side mandates. The group recently completed the out-of-court restructurings of YRC Worldwide, Horizon Lines and Keystone Automotive Operations. Recent Chapter 11 highlights include acting for debtors Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea, Local Insight Media Holdings and MSR Resort Golf Course in each of their respective bankruptcy proceedings.
Sources say: "Smart, aggressive and very business-savvy." "They get what we do and they get how they can help us."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "excellent and very professional" Richard Cieri is one of the restructuring practice group's most senior and well-respected attorneys. He is noted among sources for his exemplary strategy and case management capabilities in large-scale cases on behalf of distressed companies and their directors. Cieri leads the firm's representation of yellow pages publisher Local Insight Media Holdings and foreign affiliate Caribe Media in their Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
James Sprayregen is one of the most prominent bankruptcy attorneys in the country, and splits his time between Kirkland's New York and Chicago offices. He plays a lead role in the Chapter 11 representations of Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea, MSR Resort Golf Course and Corus Bankshares. He also led in the successful out-of-court restructurings of YRC Worldwide and Horizon Lines. Market sources are especially impressed by his ability to "bring a mastery of the law to practical application."
Paul Basta worked alongside Sprayregen in the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea and MSR Resort Golf Course Chapter 11 proceedings. He continues to build on an outstanding reputation, with all sources impressed, "not just by the technical expertise and sophistication that he has demonstrated, but even more so by the dedication he exhibits toward his client."
The "young but very effective" Jonathan Henes recently led in a number of high-value out-of-court restructurings for companies such as Keystone Automotive Operations and Network Communications. Clients are particularly impressed by Henes' awareness of their needs: "One of the best things about him is that he is very collaborative. He will work with you and is not doing his own thing. He supports you, you support him; collaborative and collegial."
Marc Kieselstein has solidified his reputation after moving from Chicago to New York, leading some respondents to describe him as a "star player" in the area. He recently represented Nebraska Book Company, a college bookstore chain and textbook wholesaler, in one of its prearranged restructurings.
A new addition to the rankings, Joshua Sussberg recently played a major role in the out-of-court restructurings of Horizon Lines. Commentators praise his "great courtroom presence" and enjoy engaging him due to his "smart, prepared and extremely capable" approach.
Talented up-and-comer Edward Sassower has provided able assistance on many of the firm's major representations. Sources describe him as "really talented and very savvy. He really knows how to command a board of directors."
THE FIRM The bankruptcy and corporate reorganization department at Paul Weiss has maintained its marked rise in the sector to become known as one of the country's leading teams in the representation of bondholder and creditor groups. Recent highlights include acting for ad hoc committees of bondholders in the bankruptcies of Dynegy and Horizon Lines. Distressed M&A is also an area of activity for the group, which recently represented Ericsson as a leading member of the consortium that purchased Nortel Networks' patent portfolio for $4.5 billion in a Section 363 auction. A number of high-profile company-side representations have also cemented the group's reputation as one of the most diverse bankruptcy practices in the country. Highlights in this vein include acting for restaurant franchisor Quiznos in its debt restructuring.
Sources say: "High level of trust and confidence in the firm and restructuring team. They've been together for a long time and have a high level of integrity." "They figure out what is practical for business and frame issues in a commercially practical way."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Alan Kornberg chairs the bankruptcy and corporate reorganization group. Sources say that he "exceeds the caliber of most" and describe him as a "very meticulous, well-prepared and balanced adviser. His clients value his advice and perspective." His highlights include advising Quiznos in its recent debt restructuring.
Andrew Rosenberg comes recommended as a leading expert in bondholder representations, particularly in out-of-court restructurings. He is currently advising ad hoc committees of bondholders in both the Dynegy and Horizon Lines bankruptcies. Rosenberg is described as "very efficient, pragmatic and deal-oriented" by his clients.
The "cerebral and thoughtful" Stephen Shimshak is renowned for his expertise in bankruptcy litigation and is a first choice for a number of the firm's bank clients. He represented Ericsson as a part of the consortium that purchased Nortel Networks' patent portfolio and continues to act for Citibank in connection with prosecuting claims against the ongoing Lehman Brothers megabankruptcy. Clients describe him as "thoughtful and strategic, levelheaded and his advice is very sound."
Jeffrey Saferstein is a highly lauded bankruptcy expert who acts across the spectrum of restructuring matters. Market sources recommend him for having a "broad range of knowledge and a practical approach to legal issues."
The "rock-solid" Kelley Cornish continues to garner acclaim for her work in the firm's representation of AbitibiBowater. Interviewees highlight her as "incredibly effective, no-nonsense, tough and everything you need in a bankruptcy."
Brian Hermann continues to gain traction as one of the up-and-coming stars in the industry. He comes highly recommended due to his superb level of insight and "incredibly responsive" approach.
THE FIRM Skadden benefits from globally preeminent corporate and M&A practice groups that enable it to take over and assist distressed companies before their problems spiral into bankruptcy situations. It is considered a go-to team for prepackaged and pre-negotiation financial restructuring plans, and is a leader in corporate reorganizations and bankruptcies. While retaining its capability to undertake major debtor-side Chapter 11 representations, the group is equally as capable in the creditor space. Such highlights include its role as adviser to the unsecured creditors’ committee of AMR Corporation, American Airlines' parent company, in its Chapter 11 proceedings.
Sources say: "With their team they are creative in thinking outside of the box." "Their service is excellent, they offer creative solutions and an efficient manner."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Newly appointed global head of the corporate restructuring practice Jay Goffman is described as a "truly excellent lawyer, one of the most commercial guys I know in the business. He's brilliant." He is recognized as a pioneer in the development of prepackaged bankruptcies. He is leading for the unsecured creditors’ committee in the AMR bankruptcy.
Kenneth Ziman assists Goffman as deputy head of the practice. He won significant acclaim for leading the firm's initial involvement in MF Global's Chapter 11 case. Commentators have praised Ziman's well-rounded approach: "He brings the whole package together."
Eric Ivester mirrors the practice's broad-ranging experience, with expertise in manufacturing and retail sector bankruptcies. "He has significant expertise and the right temperament to assist in the myriad of areas a bankruptcy presents," say sources.
The tremendously experienced Gregory Milmoe is noted for his exemplary authority and knowledge. Clients are especially appreciative of his ability to bring this experience and influence to bear on their behalf, and his dedication to their best interests.
THE FIRM Representing large corporations in megarestructurings on a global scale is the bread and butter of this internationally renowned business finance and restructuring group. The unrivaled size and experience within the group has seen it acting as debtors' counsel in a significant majority of the largest bankruptcy filings in US history. The team can easily integrate the firm’s complementary litigation and M&A practices into its bankruptcy efforts. The group continues to work on massive undertakings, such as Lehman Brothers, but has added a number of other prominent recent filings. Weil is acting as debtors' counsel to AMR Corporation, the parent company of American Airlines. It also assists the firm's London team in acting for the UK arm of MF Global, following the Chapter 11 filing of MF Global Holdings.
Sources say: "The most client service-oriented firm I have dealt with, very commercial and pragmatic." "A phenomenal practice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Harvey Miller is Weil's practice group founder and is widely lauded as one of the most prominent bankruptcy attorneys in the world; a "godfather of the business."
Marcia Goldstein is head of the business finance and restructuring practice. She demonstrates "terrific judgment" and is "very good at being collaborative and getting people on board, but when there are differences, she is firm and extremely effective." She plays a lead role in the aforementioned MF Global matter.
Stephen Karotkin is increasingly lauded as a preeminent expert in company-side representations, as evidenced by his recent role on behalf of AMR Corporation during its high-profile Chapter 11 filing. Market sources are especially impressed by his ability to "identify problems and then come up with a creative solution; he is just terrific, he stands out."
The "terrific" Joseph Smolinsky has broad-ranging expertise and acts on behalf of both debtors and creditors. Since arriving at Weil in 2009, he has quickly garnered praise for bolstering the group's lender-side practice. He recently took a leading role acting as debtors' counsel in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of AES Eastern Energy.
Lori Fife continues to be pivotal in the firm's representation of Lehman Brothers during its ongoing bankruptcy. She draws praise among commentators as an "extremely seasoned, dedicated professional that partners up with her client."
Gary Holtzer is admired for his strategic vision and commanding presence in negotiations. Clients point out that "he is smart, creative, experienced and also very articulate."
Jacqueline Marcus receives tremendous acclaim for her leading role in the group's representation of Extended Stay Hotels. She is recommended as a "highly intelligent, efficient and very impressive" bankruptcy attorney.
THE FIRM This firm's financial restructuring practice has built a preeminent reputation representing creditors and creditors' committees in many of the country's largest bankruptcy filings. A prime example is the group's representation of the official committee of unsecured creditors in the $9.9 billion bankruptcy of Dynegy. The group also undertook committee engagements in the Nortel Networks, Washington Mutual and St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers bankruptcies, and is also representing an ad hoc committee of second-lien noteholders in the recently filed Kodak case. Akin is also known for its burgeoning debtor-side practice, evidenced in the Chapter 11 filing of TerreStar.
Sources say: "Very smart and very knowledgeable, with a breadth of talent on any issue."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Fred Hodara leads the firm's financial restructuring practice group. He is known for his well-rounded approach and for being "wonderful at building consensus and advocating for the right solution to a problem." He leads on the Nortel Networks and Washington Mutual bankruptcies, in which the firm is advising the creditors’ committees.
Daniel Golden is considered a superb expert in creditor-side and creditors' committee engagements. He is advising on the Tribune bankruptcy, where Akin Gump represents the largest senior noteholder, Aurelius Capital Management. His leadership was acknowledged by one source, who described him as an "excellent advocate for ensuring the correct Akin resources are always available."
Michael Stamer comes recommended by commentators for his outstanding demeanor. "He's got a good middle ground between aggression and negotiation," say sources; "a good strategist who excels at putting things together." He recently acted for an ad hoc group of first-lien lenders in the out-of-court restructuring of YRC Worldwide.
Ira Dizengoff is praised for being "unbelievably skillful." According to interviewees, "he brings a very practical approach; is not hyper-technical and brings a business-oriented approach." Dizengoff represented an ad hoc committee of second-lien lenders in the NewPage bankruptcy and also acts in debtor-side work, including TerreStar.
Lisa Beckerman has expertise in bankruptcies occurring in a number of industries, including manufacturing, airlines, retail and healthcare. She played a key role in Akin's representation of an ad hoc group of first-lien lenders in the out-of-court restructuring of YRC Worldwide.
David Botter recently acted for the official committees of unsecured creditors of both St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers and Nortel Networks. Market sources describe him as a "hands-on" attorney who is "very smart and very personable; he does a good job of relationship building."
THE FIRM The Cleary Gottlieb group comprises eight core bankruptcy and restructuring partners. The group has developed a tremendous reputation for its capabilities in cross-border and international bankruptcies. Drawing upon the firm's internationally recognized banking and financial services expertise and resources, it is well positioned to undertake all manner of bankruptcy-related engagements. Cleary is US debtors' counsel to Nortel Networks, whose proceedings have lately involved a Section 363 bankruptcy sale of Nortel's US and foreign patent assets. It also continues to advise clients like HSBC, The Bank of New York Mellon and Citi, in bankruptcy litigation arising from the Madoff Ponzi scheme international Madoff fraud.
Sources say: "Superb, spectacular, creative and hard-working; they are real value-adders."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Global practice head James Bromley has garnered praise from all corners for his lead in the firm's ongoing representation of Nortel Networks. Clients are impressed with his efficient and practical approach: "He knows how to get a deal done."
The "creative, smart and dedicated" Lisa Schweitzer played a major role in the group's recent Section 363 bankruptcy sale of Nortel's US and foreign patent assets. She also assisted in acting for Fintech Investments, the largest creditor of Mexican glass maker Vitro, in contested Chapter 11 and Chapter 15 proceedings. Respondents admire the fact that "she instills confidence, she knows what she is doing and she always asks the right questions."
Up-and-comer Sean O'Neal enters into the rankings on the back of overwhelming praise from market sources. He is particularly admired for his work in the firm's representation of directories company Truvo during its complicated cross-border Chapter 11 restructuring. He also played a significant role in acting for Goldman Sachs during negotiations to resolve various disputes concerning Lehman Brothers’ Chapter 11 plan. Participants recall that he was "amazingly good at driving us to the point and not getting bogged down, which gave us amazing confidence."
THE FIRM This nationally acclaimed business restructuring and reorganization group operates across the spectrum of bankruptcy and insolvency legal representations, acting on behalf of all manner of creditor and debtor-related entities. Jones Day represents Hostess Brands, the manufacturer of Twinkie cakes, in its recently filed Chapter 11 proceedings. The group's recent highlights also include acting for luxury gift company Harry & David and Cayman Islands investment entity Zais Investment Grade VII in their respective bankruptcy cases.
Sources say: "Absolutely stellar performance." "In a huge undertaking they were stable, steady and thoughtful."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "very prominent" Corinne Ball cochairs the practice group in New York and also, in a more recent appointment, is head of the firm's restructuring and distressed M&A practice in Europe. She is well known for distressed M&A and debtor-side engagements. Her recent highlights include representing Hostess Brands in its Chapter 11 proceedings.
Paul Leake led the group's representation of Bowater (now AbiBow US) as conflicts counsel, in its Chapter 11 case. "He has been incredibly impressive" say sources; "good and effective in court, a clear mind and an effective speaker and litigator."
Heather Lennox enters the New York rankings following her transition from the firm's Cleveland office. She is lead attorney in the bankruptcy case of Cayman Islands investment entity Zais Investment Grade VII. She gains acclaim from commentators due to her ability "to grasp issues really quickly and apply her knowledge of the Bankruptcy Code."
THE FIRM Kramer Levin is especially well known for its work advising creditors on the full range of counselling and litigation needs. The team recently represented the official committee of unsecured creditors of Hostess Brands in its recently filed Chapter 11 case. It also acts for major financial institutions as creditors on various in and out-of-court restructurings.
Sources say: "The Kramer team is diverse in skill base, approach and personalities." "They have skills in the group to be a bulldog and tenacious, but on other hand senior partners that are good at finesse and building bridges to come up with the best solution."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The corporate restructuring and bankruptcy group is headed up by Thomas Moers Mayer and Kenneth Eckstein, who are praised for their exemplary leadership, influence and well-rounded approach. Mayer is described as "spectacularly smart; you can explain something to him once and he immediately understands it and knows where to go with it." Eckstein, meanwhile, is equally vaunted for his "strategy and execution, with a scholarly approach to looking at issues."
Adam Rogoff has garnered acclaim for his work representing St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers and related entities, as debtors-in-possession in their Chapter 11 cases. Market sources have cited his creative approach and presence in court: "He is phenomenal in the courtroom; he is into details and day-to-day issues."
THE FIRM This firm's financial restructuring group is famed as a powerhouse in representing bondholders and creditor committees in some of the most prominent bankruptcies in the country. In addition to its ongoing role acting for the official committee of unsecured creditors in Lehman Brothers, the group also represents the official committee of unsecured creditors in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea. The team is also active in the NewPage bankruptcy proceedings, in which it is advising an ad hoc committee of senior lenders. Milbank's expertise also extends to company-side engagements, with highlights including its representation of Mexican glass manufacturer Vitro during its high-profile bankruptcy proceedings.
Sources say: "The attorneys at Milbank understand the commercial and practical implications of the legal strategies they are recommending."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The tremendously experienced Dennis Dunne is the group’s cochair. He is universally considered a leading expert in a broad range of debtor, committee and bondholder matters. Market commentators praise him as "one of the go-to people in the city; he represents in the biggest deals and can be trusted with anything."
Matthew Barr is noted for his ability to "effectively communicate with the clients during a highly complex process." He plays a significant role in many of the group's largest matters, with particular expertise in distressed M&A. Sources admire the fact that he is "commercial" and "really good and confident."
Abhilash Raval continues to develop his stellar reputation among the group's next generation of bankruptcy attorneys. According to respondents, "by having various types of clients ranging from hedge funds to banks, Abhilash is particularly adept at thinking multiple steps forward in anticipating his opponents' next move."
Since publication, Gerard Uzzi has joined the team from White & Case. Uzzi is praised for his negotiation skills, where he brings drive, efficiency and focus to the table. He is recommended in particular for his creditor-side representations, an area for which sources believe he is one of the "best strategic attorneys" out there.
THE FIRM This highly lauded bankruptcy group makes its name representing senior lenders in high-value bankruptcies and restructurings, primarily as creditors. The team counts JPMorgan Chase, Barclays Capital, Blackstone and Deutsche Bank as clients. It is regularly singled out among peers for the exemplary quality of its work product. Highlights include its representation of JPMorgan, as agent for a $1.2 billion unsecured credit facility and $300 million secured credit facility for MF Global during its Chapter 11 proceedings.
Sources say: "They add value to a transaction, not only understanding the law but also giving practical and commercial advice." "The firm is quick on its feet, very practical and gets work done in a timely manner."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "phenomenal" Peter Pantaleo is chair of the bankruptcy group. He regularly acts for JPMorgan Chase in some of the most high-profile bankruptcies in the country and currently leads the representation of JPMorgan in the MF Global bankruptcy. He comes highly recommended as "very thoughtful, creative, with a good handle on the issues." Impressed sources go on to praise him as "a businessperson's attorney; he thinks through legal issues but is also very commercial."
Steven Fuhrman has a superb practice representing major bank and financial institutions. He is currently representing JPMorgan as the largest creditor in the out-of-court restructuring of $3.2 billion of debt for Jefferson County in Alabama.
THE FIRM The compact but tremendously well-respected restructuring and finance group at Wachtell draws upon a prominent corporate practice to forge a reputation as one of the premier creditor-side bankruptcy groups in the country. Representations for major financial institutions, hedge funds and private equity clients form the backbone of the group's workload, with JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America being notable examples. In addition to the transactional nature of many of the group's engagements, it has developed significant capabilities in litigation when it becomes necessary. Recent highlights include representing JPMorgan Chase as secured creditor in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy proceedings.
Sources say: "Supersmart, effective lawyers." "We bring them in on the particularly difficult stuff."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Chair of the restructuring and finance practice group Harold Novikoff has more than 30 years' experience as one of the most recognized creditor-side bankruptcy attorneys in this sector. He is strongly admired for his intelligence. "There is no one like him for what he does," say sources. Novikoff features prominently on the list of names advising on the department's marquee engagements.
His partner Scott Charles is held in particularly high regard for his expertise in distressed M&A transactions. Commentators describe him as "incredibly cerebral and responsive; when you're trying to be very strategic, Scott is one of the guys that I use."
Richard Mason operates across the spectrum of the firm's restructuring and finance expertise. He acts for bank and bondholder groups, shareholders and acquirers of distressed assets. Much of his recent work has involved issues in the hotels, retail and resorts sectors.
Philip Mindlin recently transitioned into a role as of counsel in the restructuring and finance group. He continues to work full-time and is actively involved in the group's high-profile distressed M&A engagements.
THE FIRM This firm presents a diverse practice that has strength in a number of areas, including representations of debtors, bondholders, lenders and investors in distressed M&A. The international powerhouse is also a frequent feature on the international bankruptcy scene. The group represents an ad hoc committee of senior noteholders in the Washington Mutual Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On the company side, White & Case acts for Dynegy during its ongoing reorganization process.
Sources say: "Very assertive and aggressive when they need to be. They have a lot of creative energy and come up with solutions."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice head Thomas Lauria is praised for his lead in developing the firm's superb national bankruptcy practice. Admiring sources call him a "good and very aggressive lawyer." He plays a leading role on many of the group's major engagements, including representing an ad hoc committee of senior noteholders in the Washington Mutual bankruptcy, and his role as counsel to Dynegy during its ongoing reorganization process.
THE FIRM Willkie Farr's business reorganization and restructuring department is traditionally renowned for its superb performance on company-side representations. However, the group continues to garner extensive acclaim for an increasingly robust lender and hedge fund-related practice as well. Debtor-side highlights include representing pharmaceutical and medical device company Angiotech Pharmaceuticals during its financial reorganization. On the creditor side, the group recently represented Bank of America in relation to its credit exposure to MF Global Holdings.
Sources say: "Extremely deep bench of people with a tremendous variety of experience." "They are very practical and are in it to get the best result possible for you."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Department co-head Marc Abrams "brings to an assignment decades of experience in complicated restructurings," say sources. He practices across the spectrum of bankruptcy-related representations, and comes highly recommended for his debtor-side expertise in particular. He led in the firm's representation of Angiotech Pharmaceuticals.
Fellow practice group co-head Matthew Feldman "is an extremely experienced guy who is a fierce advocate for his client; an all-around attorney." Following his return to the firm from a spell as chief legal adviser for the US Treasury on the task force on the auto industry, he has been regularly advising both debtors and creditors.
Margot Schonholtz maintains a stellar creditor-side practice, where she "does an excellent job with very large, complicated, difficult contentious situations." She is lead counsel to the Bank of America, as a significant creditor to MF Global Holdings, during its major Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. She is "excellent in getting a bank group in line and also dealing with clients and standing up to parties and other adverse groups," according to interviewees.
The "very smart, very capable" John Longmire is building a strong reputation in the New York bankruptcy sector as an attorney who "can execute a deal but is going to do it the right way."
Paul Shalhoub has a broad-ranging practice representing debtors, creditors, lenders and financial institutions. He has garnered particular praise for being "extremely practical; he gets to the heart of matters very quickly."
Rachel Strickland is a "fierce negotiator and advocate" for the firm's bondholder and lender clients, among others. She is often admired for her intelligence, being "very familiar with complicated issues; she understands very quickly." She is playing a key role in the group's representation of JPMorgan, as a noteholder in the pre-negotiated Chapter 11 proceedings of Nebraska Book Company.
THE FIRM This group is well known for its representations of creditors, largely on behalf of unsecured creditor committees. Recent highlights include acting for an ad hoc committee made up of entities holding $1.6 billion of securities in relation to the bankruptcy of Washington Mutual. It was also engaged by indenture trustee Wilmington Trust, undertaking litigation in connection with the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of the Tribune Company.
Sources say: "They're willing to fight the fight and not worry about losing potential business on the other side. They're involved because they are not afraid to get stuck into litigation."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The bankruptcy and corporate restructuring group is chaired by Edward Weisfelner. Renowned for his robust defense of clients' interests, he recently represented an ad hoc group of senior secured noteholders during Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea's bankruptcy. He also leads the firm's representation of the official creditors' committee in the Barnes Bay Development Chapter 11 case in Delaware.
Robert Stark leads the firm's involvements in the Washington Mutual and Tribune Company bankruptcies. Sources are pleased with his creativity and aggressiveness: "He is an extremely good strategist; he is thinking of things two moves ahead; he has relentless drive and will do anything for his clients."
THE FIRM Cadwalader's financial restructuring department is renowned for its high-profile representations on both creditor and debtor sides, with niche strengths in industries such as the auto sector. The group is currently playing a significant role in the restructuring of energy company Dynegy on behalf of US Bank as trustee for certain notes and certificates issued as part of a number of financing transactions. The team also acts for a group of senior lenders holding approximately $250 million of secured debt, in the bankruptcy of radio broadcaster Inner City Media.
Sources say: "They are creative in the way they approach a deal, try to deliver what the client desires and figure out the best solution. They bring a practical approach, understanding changes, current trends and perspectives."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Ingrid Bagby is a key contact.
THE FIRM Kasowitz's practice is one of the best in the country when it comes to bankruptcy disputes, particularly on behalf of creditors. It is renowned for its aggressive and creative pursuit and defense of its clients' interests. The group currently represents the Law Debenture Trust Company of New York as indenture trustee for an amount of senior notes issued by Tribune Company, a case involving the firm's role in various contested actions for the recovery of constructive fraudulent conveyances. Kasowitz's excellence also extends beyond its litigious, creditor-side capabilities, evidenced by its representation of the debtors in the bankruptcy of Borders bookstores.
Sources say: "They don't overstaff, are smart people and they're very quick about getting things done. They cut to the chase and focus on what's important; they're effective advocates."
KEY INDIVIDUALS David Friedman is co-head of the firm's creditors' rights and bankruptcy practice. He recently represented Borders in its Chapter 11 proceedings. Clients admire his "unique combination of skills" in that he is "a deal-making bankruptcy lawyer but also a very good trial lawyer."
David Rosner is described as a "really good, effective and creative lawyer" by sources. He is presently acting as litigation trustee in the Le-Nature’s bankruptcy case.
THE FIRM Latham & Watkins's New York office boasts a restructuring, insolvency and workouts group that has developed an exemplary national reputation acting for secured and unsecured lenders. Recent highlights include representing JPMorgan Chase as agent for the senior secured lenders in relation to a prepackaged Chapter 11 restructuring plan for the Dallas Stars. It also acts for a group of co-lead arrangers of a $1.7 billion debtor-in-possession credit facility for Dynegy during its ongoing Chapter 11 proceedings. The group also continues to showcase its diversity by securing a number of significant debtor-side engagements, including acting as lead counsel to Boston Generating during its Chapter 11 case.
Sources say: "A very good team that understands our perspective in terms of bankruptcy." "They don't tell us what we can't do, they work very hard to give us a number of options to obtain the results that we need and the risks involved in each option."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Global practice group cochair Jan Baker is known as a "fantastic lawyer with honor and integrity." He is one of the foremost company-side practitioners in the sector and leads the firm's debtor engagements, including as lead counsel to Boston Generating. Market sources note his "extraordinary talent, sophistication and collaboration. His style in getting people on the same page is exceptional."
The "terrific, multidimensional" Paul Harner continues to excel after moving to Latham in 2011 from Paul Hastings. He is praised in particular for representing investors, bank groups and secured lenders.
Mitchell Seider is cochair of the global restructuring, insolvency and workouts group. "He is incredibly knowledgeable and very creative," according to respondents, who also praise his responsiveness: "He makes himself available at all hours."
THE FIRM This firm builds upon an overall preeminence in commercial litigation to enable its restructuring team to be considered one of the sector's go-to groups for bankruptcy litigation matters. In addition to playing a major role in the contentious aspects of many recent prominent bankruptcy filings, it is also regularly chosen as conflicts counsel by peers. The group recently acted for the official committee of unsecured creditors for New Stream Secured Capital.
Sources say: "Very precise and knowledgeable; they put the law into a tactical and strategic context and help to get a positive achievement."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Department head Susheel Kirpalani is regularly lauded as the driving force behind the firm's ever-increasing bankruptcy prowess. Interviewees describe him as an "incredibly smart bankruptcy attorney" and say that "when it comes to bankruptcy law and its intricacies, he is very knowledgeable, creative, practical and realistic." One of Kirpalani's most significant achievements came recently when he was appointed examiner for the Chapter 11 case of Dynegy.
THE FIRM This group maintains a global outlook and is involved in various cross-border and international bankruptcies, especially on behalf of committees of bondholders. The group is currently counsel to bond insurance providers in the out-of-court restructuring of $2 billion of debt relating to one of the largest Native American gaming casinos in the country. It also acts for a secured lending group in the restructuring of $200 million of debt of drug company Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals.
Sources say: "They have the experience and intellect to handle really sophisticated situations."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Michael Reilly and Jeffrey Sabin are the practice group cochairs. Reilly is known for his expertise in cross-border restructurings and is seen among sources as a "bright strategist and strong technician." Sabin practices across a range of areas and has been especially active working on the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. He is also renowned for strategic expertise: "He sees connections coming down the road that others don't see," say sources.
THE FIRM Fried Frank's group runs the gamut of debtor and creditor representations, acting for a number of client types across multiple sectors. On the debtor side, the group has impressed commentators with its cross-border capabilities. Its highlights include representing the official committee of unsecured creditors of Station Casinos, as well as acting for NewLead Holdings, a Greece-based global shipping company, in connection with efforts to restructure $665 million of debt.
Sources say: "Spectacular quality."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice group chair Brad Eric Scheler leads on many of the team's major creditor-side engagements, including its involvement acting for a number of creditors of Washington Mutual. He is highlighted for his industry connections and collegial approach; he is "a deal guy; a good negotiator and people manager," say sources.
Gary Kaplan maintains his excellent reputation for bankruptcy litigation issues. He is currently leading the group's representation of NewLead Holdings during its debt restructuring.
THE FIRM This firm's bankruptcy and restructuring group has been gaining a substantial amount of traction in the sector over the past year, especially in relation to creditor committee representations. Recent examples include advising the official unsecured creditors' committees on the Chapter 11 proceedings of Ambac Financial Group and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The group is also gaining momentum on the debtor side, and has secured the spotlight with its role as lead counsel to the Chapter 11 trustee for MF Global Holdings, during MF Global's high-profile bankruptcy proceedings.
Sources say: "They're very commercial and really good at giving advice and being very clear as to what they think is an appropriate course of action."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "very good, practical" Brett Miller has been instrumental to the firm's recent rise in the bankruptcy and restructuring sector. He is traditionally recognized for representing creditors' committees, particularly in the aviation sector. His recent work includes advising on the Ambac and Los Angeles Dodgers bankruptcies. He is also involved in company-side work and heads the representation of the trustee in MF Global's Chapter 11 filing.
The "practical and smart" Lorenzo Marinuzzi similarly specializes in the representation of creditors and creditors' committees in bankruptcy cases. He is lauded as an attorney who "is very effective in convincing clients when it's time to make a deal." He assists Miller in many of the group's major representations and is lead counsel to Lehman Brothers Japan as creditors in the US bankruptcy and restructuring of Lehman Brothers.
The highly experienced Larren Nashelsky co-heads the bankruptcy and restructuring practice. An important player in the group's recent upsurge, he is lead counsel in a number of the firm's most significant representations, including its role for residential mortgage company Residential Capital during its out-of-court restructuring.
THE FIRM The New York-based bankruptcy and business restructuring group at Ropes & Gray works in conjunction with the firm's well-regarded Boston and London offices. The group boasts capabilities in a broad range of bankruptcy-related areas, but is noted in particular for its developing strength in out-of-court restructurings and distressed M&A transactions. Recent highlights include representing an ad hoc committee of second-priority secured noteholders during the restructuring of Mexican satellite operator Satélites Mexicanos.
Sources say: "Can provide great analysis of all the information you need so you can be the most commercial in achieving a solution."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Respected practice chair Mark Bane has a broad-ranging practice encompassing work on behalf of bondholders, private equity funds, portfolio companies and boards of directors. He spearheaded the firm’s efforts advising the aforementioned noteholders in the Satélites Mexicanos restructuring. Commentators praise him as "effective, businesslike and good to deal with."
Keith Wofford is acclaimed by market sources due to his "understanding of the underlying issues" and his dedicated approach: "He gives tremendous passion to the needs of the client." He specializes in acting on behalf of investment funds in distressed M&A transactions.
Mark Somerstein wins praise as a "very practical, assertive and business-oriented" attorney. His recent highlights include acting for the official committee of unsecured creditors in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of restaurant operator and franchisor Perkins & Marie Callender.
THE FIRM Schulte has developed a heavyweight business reorganization group that specializes in representing investment funds, banks and other financial institutions. It recently acted for an ad hoc group of second-lien noteholders in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Real Mex restaurants. The group is regularly involved in high-value distressed M&A transactions and has strong litigation capabilities, evidenced by its recent representation of Cerberus Capital Management in a fraudulent transfer suit filed by bankrupt department store operator Mervyn’s.
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "excellent" Adam Harris heads the firm's business reorganization group. He focuses on acting for investment funds and financial institutions in bankruptcy-related situations and distressed asset acquisitions. He led the firm's representation of Cerberus Capital Management in connection with various matters relating to the bankruptcy case of Innkeepers USA Trust.
Michael Cook is praised for his tremendous experience and vision in bankruptcy matters, where he dedicates his practice to corporate restructuring, workouts and creditors' rights litigation.
David Hillman retains his reputation as a young lawyer with prodigious talent. He leads the firm's representation of an ad hoc group of second-lien noteholders in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Real Mex restaurants. He also demonstrates superb litigation skills in acting for Cerberus Capital Management during a fraudulent transfer suit filed by bankrupt department store operator Mervyn’s.
THE FIRM Stroock's financial restructuring group is primarily known for its strong creditor-side practice, regularly representing large financial institutions in committee and bondholder groups. Its recent highlights include representing an ad hoc group of convertible noteholders in Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea during its Chapter 11 case. The group also has recognized expertise in representing debtors, and recently acted as debtors' counsel to Ambassadors International during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Sources say: "The experience has been spectacular because of their range of expertise and ability to facilitate deals."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Kristopher Hansen is cochair of the financial restructuring group. He is singled out as an attorney who excels in getting deals done. He garners praise because he has "plenty of energy and is very hands-on; responsive and practical from a business point of view." Hansen led the team involved in the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea and Ambassadors International bankruptcies.
THE FIRM This group is a highly respected player in the bankruptcy market, with a team that brings specific expertise in international and cross-border restructurings. The bankruptcy and financial restructuring group is principally known for representing senior lenders and creditor committees. Of particular note is the group's recent representation of the official committee of unsecured creditors in the Tribune Chapter 11 proceedings. It is also well known for strong expertise in the monoline insurance sector.
Sources say: "Very responsive and knowledgeable. The team picks up on difficult commercial concepts very quickly."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Practice chair Howard Seife is key in the firm's reputation for cross-border restructurings and representing creditor committees. He leads for the official creditors' committee in the Tribune bankruptcy. He is praised by sources as "good in all facets of bankruptcy; intelligent, creative and good at gaining consensus and looking for common ground."
David LeMay is acting for various parties in the ongoing Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Clients recommend him for his technical knowledge, efficiency and responsiveness.
THE FIRM This team represents a full spectrum of clients, including debtors, creditors and investors in distressed M&A. It is also renowned for its strength in the airline and insurance sectors. Recent highlights include acting as special aircraft counsel and advising on employee benefit matters in relation to the AMR and American Airlines Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. The firm's global footprint means the group is called in to advise clients on bankruptcy law across multiple jurisdictions.
Sources say: "Skilled and knowledgeable and experienced."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The highly experienced Steven Gross co-heads the practice alongside Richard Hahn. Their respective practices coincide with the group's broad-ranging creditor and debtor-side expertise. Hahn has garnered particular praise from one source, who comments: "I felt through the entire process that he fully had our backs; he didn't just give technical answers to questions, he was so thoughtful about things that we should anticipate, and he educated us and put himself in our shoes."
My Chi To has developed a solid reputation as an attorney who is "very relationship-oriented." According to sources, "her service is exceptional, and on the workout and restructuring level, she is very cool and effective in getting through the process."
THE FIRM Dechert's business restructuring and reorganization group represents clients across a range of bankruptcy-related matters, with a particular focus on acting for bondholders, creditor groups and investors in distressed assets. Its recent highlights include representing an ad hoc group of noteholders in connection with the cross-border restructuring of approximately $1.6 billion in defaulted senior notes issued by the Mexican glass manufacturer Vitro. The group is also admired for its bankruptcy litigation expertise and recently secured a significant victory in US Supreme Court, acting for the Marshall family in the precedent-setting Stern v Marshall case.
Sources say: "They are knowledgeable in bankruptcy law and have an understanding of getting deals done and business practicalities."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Cochair of the business restructuring and reorganization group Allan Brilliant leads the firm's representation of an ad hoc group of noteholders in the cross-border bankruptcy of Mexican glass maker Vitro. Respondents are pleased with his well-rounded approach: "He is aggressive for clients but in a commercial way and balances that with strategic planning."
Fellow cochair Michael Sage is respected for being an attorney who "gives thoughtful advice and is willing to be aggressive, but leaves the door open for settlement in the client's best interest." He played a key role in the group's representation of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation as a lender holding $360 million of mezzanine debt in connection with the Chapter 11 proceedings of MSR Resort Golf Course.
THE FIRM Despite the departures of Michael Luskin and Richard Stern in April, 2012, Hughes Hubbard maintains a strong reputation for undertaking broker-dealer matters and for its roles as trustee - largely in part to the highly respected James Giddens - in some of the sector's largest bankruptcies. On the broker-dealer side, James Giddens was recently appointed as trustee for the $40 billion liquidation of MF Global.
Sources say: "Well thought-out approach to looking at any particular situation." "Thorough and strategic; highly skilled problem solvers and excellent negotiators."
KEY INDIVIDUALS James Giddens leads the broker-dealer side of the practice and is presently matching his role as trustee in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy with his more recent appointment as trustee in the MF Global bankruptcy. He is praised a "consummate lawyer in all areas of practice; his ability to remain balanced in genuinely exciting and intense moments is a great gift."
THE FIRM This firm's solid bankruptcy and restructuring group is predominantly renowned for its expertise in creditor representations, where it acts for committees as well as individual creditors and indenture trustees. Highlights include acting for US Bank as indenture trustee and collateral agent in the TerreStar bankruptcy case, as well as representing an ad hoc committee of landlords of Borders bookstores.
Sources say: "One thing that stands out about Kelley Drye is that it understands our business and keeps up with developments affecting our business."
KEY INDIVIDUALS National practice head James Carr has a premier practice in the retail and real estate sectors, representing landlords and developers across the country. He led the firm's representations in the TerreStar and Borders bankruptcies. Clients have praised his connections and effectiveness, saying that "he knows everybody and is very good at getting to the gist or the heart of the matter, talking to people and working out deals."
Eric Wilson is also praised for his ability to build a consensus in negotiations while driving a client's interests forward. As one happy client mentioned, "he understands my business and is able to bring practical, real-world solutions to my problems."
THE FIRM Shearman & Sterling's bankruptcy and reorganization group benefits from global coverage and a renowned M&A practice. This enables the team to provide consummate advice to both debtors and creditors on a broad range of matters related to Chapter 11 bankruptcies and out-of-court restructurings. The firm's wider M&A expertise gives the bankruptcy group a particular advantage in the acquisition of distressed assets.
Sources say: "Outstanding and super-helpful."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Douglas Bartner represents debtors and creditors, with additional expertise in distressed M&A transactions.
THE FIRM Sullivan & Cromwell enters the rankings after an outstanding year was capped by securing a role as lead counsel to Kodak during its high-profile Chapter 11 proceedings. The group has been making impressive gains in recent years, leveraging effectively off the firm’s impressive transactional practices. The team also advised PMI Group and MF Global on restructuring matters before each company's respective filings.
Sources say: "Amazing competence in restructuring and an amazingly diligent and hard-working legal team."
KEY INDIVIDUALS The "bright and talented" Andrew Dietderich heads the firm's bankruptcy and restructuring group. He is renowned among sources for his complex bankruptcy analysis and litigation skills. He is lead counsel for Kodak.
Michael Torkin is a notable new hire from Shearman & Sterling who now plays a prominent role alongside Dietderich in many of the group's most significant recent engagements, including Kodak.
of Allen & Overy is widely regarded as a "really good lawyer for cross-border matters." He recently acted as US counsel to Alvarez & Marsal, the court-appointed monitor of Angiotech Pharmaceuticals.
of Baker Hostetler is well known and respected for his role in acting for the trustee for the liquidation of Bernard Madoff Investment Securities. Sources describe him as a "very intelligent and absolutely solid bankruptcy practitioner, who is creative but also realistic in his approach; a good negotiator."
chairs the financial restructuring group at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP. He "serves clients extraordinarily well"
according to market sources, who also highlight his significant international presence. He currently acts for an international lending group in relation to the global restructuring of Australia-based Centro Properties, one of the world's largest shopping mall developers.
"Great strategist" Steven Reisman
is cochair of the restructuring group at Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP. He is widely admired as a first-choice practitioner for conflicts counsel representations in New York, having acted as such for Lehman Brothers, Sbarro and Caribe Media during their recent bankruptcies. Clients admire how he "has the ability to come up with brilliant ideas and solutions that no one else would think of."
of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP is considered one of the most experienced and knowledgeable attorneys around and "a genius in the industry."
He chairs the firm's restructuring practice, and is renowned as one of the founding fathers in the sector, having helped write the 1978 Bankruptcy Code.
cochairs the business reorganization and bankruptcy practice at Greenberg Traurig, LLP. He has been involved in a number of prominent bankruptcy cases over recent years and is respected among market sources for his intelligence and balanced approach. Fellow group cochair Nancy Mitchell
is praised for her "excellent business sense; she understands the ins and outs on the business side and is solution-oriented."
Her recent highlights include representing Indianapolis Downs and Satélites Mexicanos during their recent restructurings.
is founding partner of boutique firm Halperin Battaglia Raicht LLP. "He sees through all the smoke and gets to the real issues very quickly and works around the clock to resolve them with creativity,"
according to interviewees. He garners respect for his expertise in representing creditors and is also recognized for his bankruptcy litigation capabilities.
is cochair of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP's business restructuring and reorganization practice. He focuses on a core workload of representing financial institutions, lenders and hedge funds in distressed M&A matters.
, also of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, undertakes a similar range of engagements. He recently acted for hedge fund Whippoorwill Associates as DIP lender and stalking horse purchaser of international cruise line Ambassadors International.
of Haynes and Boone, LLP acts for a range of clients in the real estate, energy, retail and telecom sectors, to name a few. He enters the rankings on the back of superb market praise of his recent workload, which includes representing Midland Loan Service as the special servicer for the largest secured creditors in the Innkeepers USA Trust bankruptcy.
is well placed at Linklaters to provide advice on large-scale cross-border and international insolvency issues. He is particularly active on the creditor side and regularly acts on matters involving distressed M&A. Flics is involved in a number of the sector's large recently filed bankruptcies.
Former bankruptcy judge James Garrity
of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP is a reputable player across the spectrum of bankruptcy matters. He is currently representing GE Capital as agent for a $575 million DIP financing in the Borders bankruptcy.
of Mayer Brown LLP is "universally highly regarded for his intellect and his steadiness."
He is firmwide leader of the practice and regularly represents major financial institutions and creditors.
is chair of the global restructuring practice at Paul Hastings LLP. He focuses on representing creditor committees and recently acted for the unsecured creditors' committee of NewPage during its bankruptcy proceedings.
of Otterbourg, Steindler, Houston & Rosen, PC is noted for his broad-ranging expertise and many years of bankruptcy experience, particularly in the retail sector.
is the co-head of the bankruptcy and restructuring group at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. He is particularly renowned for his bankruptcy litigation experience and is also adept at representing creditors in the airline, shipping and energy sectors. He regularly acts in major bankruptcies for large financial institutions, including Bank of America, Bank of Ireland and The Bank of New York Mellon.
joined the practice at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in January 2012. He represents both debtors and creditors in complex bankruptcy matters and is highly regarded for his capabilities in major proceedings.
of Vinson & Elkins LLP is praised for his practical approach to solving complex issues. Sources are pleased with his approachable demeanor and reasoned analysis in negotiations.
, also of Vinson & Elkins LLP, has made the transition to an of counsel role with the team but remains a trusted adviser in many of the group's major matters. He has more than 35 years' experience in the bankruptcy sector and is universally respected as a leading authority.
of Togut Segal & Segal LLP is a highly lauded and respected choice as one of the sector's leading conflicts counsel attorneys.
of SNR Denton has played prominent roles in many of New York's largest bankruptcies. He acts for creditors, bondholders and equity committees. His highlights include his representation of law firm Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell in defending 'unfinished business' claims asserted by the Chapter 7 trustee of bankrupt firm Morgan & Finnegan.
The "bright and congenial" Andrew Goldman
is vice chair of WilmerHale's bankruptcy and restructuring group. He is renowned for "representing clients zealously and without acrimony."
He recently represented Constar International in its prearranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Fellow practice group vice chair Philip Anker
has garnered praise as "extraordinarily responsive, bright and practical in his approach."
He is currently representing a number of large financial institutions in defending two multibillion-dollar fraudulent transfer actions filed by trusts created under the Chapter 11 plan for Lyondell Chemical.
and Richard Stern
left Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP in April, 2012, to reform their old firm, Luskin, Stern & Eisler LLP. Luskin's recent highlights include representing The Bank of Nova Scotia as agent on $1.3 billion of loans to Adelphia Communications. Clients comment that he is "very sharp and an extremely quick study; adept in picking up on situations and protecting client interests."
Stern recently represented a court-appointed fee committee in the Chapter 11 proceedings of General Growth. Stern is "methodical and strategic,"
according to respondents, and is "extremely diplomatic in terms of his approach and is good at both technical work and pragmatic elements."
recently left the now defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf for Hogan Lovells US LLP. He has fast become recognized as a go-to specialist in insurance sector restructurings. He is described as an "expert in handling bankruptcy litigation matters, including court testimony, plus integrating that into the restructuring side."
Also formerly of Dewey is the "preeminent" Martin Bienenstock
, who has joined Proskauer Rose LLP. A highly respected attorney, he is praised as "absolutely outstanding; a very smart and thoughtful strategist and tactician."
of Proskauer Rose LLP enters the rankings as an up-and-comer. The former Dewey & LeBoeuf lawyer is described by market sources as "very commercial."
Since publication, John Rapisardi
has joined O'Melveny & Myers LLP from Cadwalader. Market sources praise his "ability to understand a client's needs"
and his skill in finding "creative solutions."
He acts across a range of industries and wins recognition for his specialist expertise on the application of the Chinese Bankruptcy Code.
has also moved to O'Melveny & Myers LLP from Cadwalader. Davis is acclaimed by commentators as "excellent, very professional and a pleasure to work with."