United States > Finance > Restructuring (including bankruptcy): corporate > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings
Index of tables
Restructuring (including bankruptcy): corporate
- Jan Baker - Latham & Watkins LLP
- Corinne Ball - Jones Day
- Paul Basta - Kirkland & Ellis LLP
- Bruce Bennett - Jones Day
Donald Bernstein -
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
- Martin Bienenstock - Proskauer Rose LLP
Dennis Dunne -
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
- Evan Flaschen - Bracewell LLP
- Peter Friedman - O’Melveny & Myers LLP
- James Giddens - Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
Jay Goffman -
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Daniel Golden -
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
- Marcia Goldstein - Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Marshall Huebner -
Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
- Stephen Karotkin - Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Susheel Kirpalani -
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP
- Alan Kornberg - Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
- Paul Leake - Jones Day
- Richard Levin - Jenner & Block LLP
- Jeff Marwill - Proskauer Rose LLP
- John Rapisardi - O’Melveny & Myers LLP
- Michael Reilly - Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
- Andrew Rosenberg - Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
- James Sprayregen - Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a natural choice for energy and mining sector restructurings and has acted in some of the highest-profile mandates. Ira Dizengoff, Abid Qureshi and Washington DC-based Scott Alberino are representing the $1.7bn ad hoc group of unsecured noteholders in Energy Future Holdings, and a group of senior secured noteholders in Walter Energy’s $3.1bn restructuring. The firm also demonstrates its sector strengths on the debtor side, with Dizengoff and Phil Dublin acting for Allied Nevada Gold in its $699m Chapter 11 filing, while a Dallas-based team led by Sarah Schultz and Chuck Gibbs is advising Quicksilver Resources on its $2.3bn Chapter 11 proceedings. Other notable instructions included advising the holders of 65% of the debt in the $1bn restructuring of Longview Power, and advising Apollo Global Management as a significant holder of debt and equity in the $3bn Chapter 11 of Momentive Performance Materials. Daniel Golden and Fred Hodara lead the group, which also includes Lisa Beckerman and David Botter. All named lawyers are based in New York unless otherwise stated.
A creditor-side powerhouse that has obtained key roles in all of the mega bankruptcies of recent years, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP’s caseload spans the major ongoing sovereign debt crises and a range of keynote mandates in the sectors currently driving the industry. In healthcare, the firm is advising InnovaCare on the potential restructuring of $350m of secured debt as a result of ongoing Puerto Rican economic conditions, while in energy, it is assisting the administrative agent with the restructuring of $957m of debt incurred by Canadian exploration and production company Connacher Oil and Gas. While the group has obtained fewer of the limited number of major company-side mandates compared to some of its competitors, it is nevertheless acting as lead counsel in the first major Chapter 11 of 2016: Arch Coal’s $6.45bn proceedings filed in January (the firm was also lead counsel to James River Coal company in its successful $250m filing, a further illustration of its capabilities in the natural resources sector). Donald Bernstein and Marshall Huebner lead the group, which is wholly based in the firm’s New York headquarters and includes recognized players such as Brian Resnick (‘very strong’), Timothy Graulich and Eli Vonnegut and litigators Benjamin Kaminetzky and Elliot Moskowitz.
Jones Day is acting as lead debtor’s counsel in the Chapter 11 filings of American Apparel, RadioShack and Relativity Media, and is taking its fair share of energy sector instructions with roles in the Chapter 11s of Alpha Natural Resources (lead debtor’s counsel) and Patriot Coal (counsel to Peabody Energy, former parent of the debtor). In a keynote creditor role, the firm is representing the official committee of second lien bondholders in the $18bn Caesars Entertainment bankruptcy. Other clients include NII Holdings (another big-ticket lead debtor role - the second-largest filed in the US in 2014), MF Global Holdings and Macquarie Capital. Strong on both coasts, Paul Leake’s team includes Corinne Ball, Scott Greenberg, Michael Cohen and Lisa Laukitis in New York; Bruce Bennett, Erin Brady, and Richard Wynne in Los Angeles; and partners in Ohio, Boston and Texas, with the rehire of Kevyn Orr bringing substantial municipal and corporate experience to its Washington DC office. Three lawyers made partner in January 2015.
According to one client, Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s ‘outstanding lawyers form the top restructuring team in the US’. Remarkably, given the relative scarcity of company-side mandates, the firm’s debtor caseload outstrips its creditor-side work. Demonstrating its credentials, the firm is lead debtor’s counsel in the two largest ongoing Chapter 11 proceedings: Caesars Entertainment’s $18bn filing and the numerous cases filed under the $40bn bankruptcy of Energy Future Holdings. It has also been retained by a large proportion of the US natural resources companies subject to the current harsh market conditions in that sector. It is advising Hess Corporation as joint owner of the Hovensa petroleum refinery in the latter’s $1.6bn filing, Sabine Oil & Gas in its $2.6bn Chapter 11, Patriot Coal in its $790m Virginia filing, and Samson Resources in its $4.2bn proceedings. It also advised Indiana Toll Road Concession Company on the third-largest pre-packaged Chapter 11 of 2014. Though less well known for creditor work, its recent caseload includes advising ad hoc noteholders in the bankruptcies of Alpha Natura Resources and Altegrity Risk International. James Sprayregen and Paul Basta head the respective groups in Chicago and New York, which comprises 18 partners. Key lawyers in the former include Adam Paul (‘super smart and very effective’), Ryan Bennett and David Eaton; and, in the latter, Nicole Greenblatt, Jonathan Henes and Stephen Hessler.
‘The clear leader for creditor restructuring work’, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP’s ‘dedicated team is highly respected by other players in the field’. Notwithstanding its remarkable creditor capabilities, the firm displayed its adroitness on the company side by acting as lead counsel to Walter Energy in its $3.1bn Chapter 11, and acting for the parent of Caesars Entertainment Operating Company in the $18bn bankruptcy of its subsidiary. A typically prolific year on the creditor side included acting for the ad hoc committee of certain first lien secured creditors of Texas Competitive Electric Holdings (as part of the $40bn Energy Future Holdings proceedings), and advising the committee of unsecured creditors of Quicksilver Resources. Kelley Cornish is ‘someone you want on your side when the stakes are high’; Alice Eaton’s ‘ease in grasping complex structures make her the perfect lawyer to attack difficult restructuring issues’; Andrew Rosenberg ‘never disappoints’; and counsel Claudia Tobler has ‘in-depth understanding of the Chapter 11 regime’. Other key lawyers in the eight-partner group include Alan Kornberg, Brian Hermann and Elizabeth McColm. Capital markets attorney Lawrence Wee’s ‘has a unique perspective advising debtor-side restructuring parties’. All lawyers named are based in New York.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s longstanding reputation as a market-leading debtor counsel is supported by its involvement in some of the largest bankruptcies in US history - Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual and General Motors. Continuing to leverage its company-side strength, the firm has been advising on prominent Chapter 11 proceedings in a range of sectors. It is advising The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company in its $2.3bn filing, Chassix Holdings in $700m proceedings, and, in oil and gas, Endeavour International ($1.2bn). Demonstrating its capabilities on both sides of the table, it is advising the Export-Import Bank of China as the largest secured creditor in the $3.6bn Chapter 11 of the ‘Baha Mar’ luxury resort, and an ad hoc group of first lien lenders and convertible note holders on the restructuring of Energy Exploration & Energy. Practice co-chairs Gary Holzer and Ray Schrock lead the core New York group, which also includes Stephen Karotkin, Marcia Goldstein and Robert Lemons. Alfredo Perez and Stephen Youngman are key figures in Houston and Dallas respectively. Matthew Barr joined from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP in August 2015.
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP’s ‘restructuring partners are top notch, supported by well-trained, responsive associates’. Its status as premier adviser to foreign governments in sovereign debt matters is highlighted by clients, who single out its cross-border prowess in Latin America deals, for which it has ‘by far the deepest and best bench’ - Richard Cooper in particular is singled out for his experience in the region. Illustrative of this pedigree, Cooper is part of a team advising a group of ad hoc bondholders of Brazilian oil and gas company OGX (subsequent to its high-profile $5.1bn bankruptcy in 2013). The firm continues to play a leading role in matters related to the Chapter 11 of client Nortel Networks, acting as US counsel in disputes concerning the allocation of sale proceeds and claims by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Other key figures in the eight-partner, New York-based group include Seth Grosshandler, Lindsee Granfield and James Bromley.
Adept on both sides of the table, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP has secured some of the most notable creditor and debtor roles in the market. It is representing the official committee of unsecured creditors in the $4.1bn Chapter 11 of NII Holdings, an ad hoc group of first priority lenders in the $18bn bankruptcy of Caesars Entertainment, and a group of second priority lenders to Energy Future Holdings in its $40bn restructuring. Significant company-side roles include acting for Genco Shipping and Trading in its $1.5bn Chapter 11, and representing a leading health service provider and a technology company in respective out-of-court restructurings. Key lawyers include group head Kenneth Eckstein, Adam Rogoff, Douglas Mannal and Amy Caton.
Latham & Watkins LLP’s leading out-of-court restructuring practice is supported by highly impressive creditor credentials. The firm represented an ad hoc group of bondholders, including JPMorgan and AQR Capital, in the highly litigious settlement of claims under the $4.1bn bankruptcy of NII Holdings, and is acting for Credit Suisse as agent in the $2.3bn Chapter 11 of Quicksilver Resources. In a distressed M&A matter, it advised stalking horse bidder Blackhawk Mining in its acquisition of the majority of assets of Patriot Coal following an auction. Other notable company-side mandates included representing Reichhold Industries in its emergence from bankruptcy via a debt-for-equity exchange, and assisting Allen Systems Group with exiting its $666m pre-packaged Chapter 11. New York-based practice co-chair Mitchell Seider, and Chicago-based partners Richard Levy and Peter Knight ‘form a very strong team who are, individually, as good as it gets’, and the ‘excellent’ Peter Gilhuly in Los Angeles is also noted. Other key New York figures include fellow practice co-chair Jan Baker, Mark Broude and litigator Christopher Harris.
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP’s creditor-side prowess coincides with its status as a premier adviser to lenders, including the likes of Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Centerbridge Partners. The firm has represented a host of such premier financial institutions in some of the largest Chapter 11s of recent times. For example, it represented the holders of junior secured notes, led by Aurelius Capital Management, in the $2.5bn bankruptcy of mortgage lender ResCap, the holders of $2.1bn of claims under the 2013 bankruptcy of Cengage Learning, and the secured creditors of a $1.2bn facility provided to Genco Shipping and Trading. More recently, the group displayed its broad capabilities by representing LightSquared in confirmation of its $7bn restructuring plan in the New York bankruptcy courts. Dennis Dunne heads the 11-partner group, which is divided between east and west coasts and includes Evan Fleck and Samuel Khalil in New York, and Paul Aronzon, Mark Shinderman and Thomas Kreller in Los Angeles.
Sidley Austin LLP is particularly noted for its strength in big-ticket company-side mandates, often defending debtors against creditor claims following emergence from Chapter 11 proceedings. A cross-office team including Larry Nyhan and Jessica Boelter achieved recognition of LDK Solar’s restructuring at a US bankruptcy court (following similar judgments in Hong Kong and the Cayman Islands) in one of the first such multi-jurisdictional rulings involving a Chinese entity. In another high-profile company-side mandate, the firm is acting as special corporate and litigation counsel to Energy Future Holdings in its $40bn restructuring. Other notable clients include Dynegy Holdings (in ongoing matters subsequent to its 2012 filing), MGM International Resorts (in relation to the bankruptcies of three entities in which it holds interests) and Tribune Media (in obtaining the dismissal of an appeal by hedge fund creditor Aurelius subsequent to Tribune’s 2012 reorganization). On the creditor side, where it is less prolific, highlights included acting for Wells Fargo in $57m of claims against SCI Holdings. Nylan and James Conlan lead the group from Chicago; other key names include Kevin Lantry in Los Angeles and Paul Caruso, Matthew Clemente and Duston McFaul in Houston.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s company-side practice has been acting as debtor’s counsel on a range of cases, including the Chapter 11s of Exide Technologies, Nautilus Holdings and Dendreon. The successful exit of Exide was particularly notable in its complexity, involving the negotiation and execution of a $570m debtor-in-possession (DIP) facility and assisting the company raise $165m in new convertible notes. Other highlights included advising Caesars Acquisition Company on its proposed merger with Caesars Entertainment as part of the latter’s high-profile restructuring. Leading figures in the large group include global restructuring head Jay Goffman, Ken Ziman, Eric Ivestor in New York and Chicago-based George Panagakis; the firm also has restructuring partners in Los Angeles and Wilmington.
In two examples of its impressive capabilities, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP represented Altegrity in Delaware bankruptcy court in restructuring for its $1.8bn Chapter 11, and acted for Standard General as DIP lender and successful stalking horse bidder in the $1bn filing of RadioShack. In keeping with its reputation for handling big-ticket litigation, the firm is acting for Ernst & Young as joint administrators of Nortel Networks, successfully arguing for pro rata allocation of the company’s value in the Canadian and US courts. Other keynote mandates included advising American Seafoods Group on its $1bn out-of-court restructuring, acting as international counsel to ship builder OSX Brasil in its cross-border reorganization, and representing Oaktree Capital Management as holder of one of the largest claims ($2.7bn) in Energy Future Holdings. The firm’s well-known private equity capabilities also see it handle a significant number of out-of-court company-side mandates for private equity sponsors; recent examples include acting for Kelso & Company as sponsor to Logan’s Roadhouse in a $200m senior note swap, and for Elan Holdings (a joint venture of Crown Resorts and Oaktree) in the distressed acquisition of a prime brownfield site in Las Vegas. Richard Hahn and Natasha Labovitz lead the seven-partner, New York-based group, which includes Jasmine Ball, Shannon Selden, of counsel George Maguire and litigator Joseph Moodhe.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s 12-partner group is equally strong on each coast, with the New York office housing practice co-heads David Feldman and Michael Rosenthal as well as Matthew Williams, and fellow co-heads Jeffrey Krause and Robert Klyman as well as Oscar Garza among those in Los Angeles. Playing to its natural strengths in litigation, the firm secured two notable victories for client Wilmington Trust Company in putative class actions subsequent to the 2009 bankruptcy of General Motors. Confirming the primacy of federal over state bankruptcy laws at the First Circuit; the firm was also successful on behalf of BlueMountain Capital in its claims against Puerto Rican electricity utility PREPA (Williams was the lead restructuring lawyer in both cases). Exhibiting superb mid-market, debtor-side credentials, it recently represented Natrol and Standard Register in their respective $132m and $583m filings; and demonstrating its strength in larger-cap work, it represented the majority shareholders of Overseas Shipping Group in relation to the company’s $3bn Chapter 11. Since publication, Janet Weiss moved to Dorsey & Whitney LLP.
Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP’s ‘bankruptcy litigation group is among the strongest’, with lawyers who ‘guarantee quick, practical advice and the ability to back it up in court’. The firm secured keynote creditor roles in the multibillion-dollar LightSquared and Energy Future Holdings bankruptcies, showcasing its strength in contentious matters in both cases by successfully arguing against restructuring plan terms unfavorable to its clients. It is also representing clients in a raft of disputes subsequent to major Chapter 11s, including defending the controlling shareholder of Israeli company Ampal against turnover motions brought by a Chapter 7 trustee, and acting for distressed debt hedge fund Solus Alternative Asset Management in its litigation against Perry Capital following the latter’s refusal to close an agreed trade involving a $195m Madoff claim. David Friedman has ‘a first-class legal and business mind which can simplify complex financial issues’ and co-leads the ten-partner, New York-based group with David Rosner. Adam Shiff, Andrew Glenn and senior counsel Michael Harwood are other names to note.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP’s restructuring group has expanded further since the addition of eight partners from Bingham McCutchen, with the hire of Renèe M Dailey to its Hartford office. Chaired by Glenn Siegel and Timothy DeSieno in New York, the department’s substantial East Coast footprint now comprises 15 partners spread between Hartford, Boston and Philadelphia. Boston-based Julia Frost-Davies is leading the advice to Pacific Investment Management Company as the largest DIP lender to Energy Future Holdings in its $40bn Chapter 11, while a Hartford team led by Hal Horwich is acting for a consortium of major insurers, including Aetna and Anthem, in the rehabilitation of Penn Treaty Network America. In another major energy matter, Siegel, together with colleagues in London, is advising Deutsche Bank as indenture trustee in the $1.7bn insolvency of Afren, the first major London-listed energy casualty of 2015. Other clients include UniTek Global Services, Bank of America (in the Cal Dive International filing) and ad hoc noteholders under the cross-border restructuring of Brazilian engineering company OAS. New York-based Michael Reilly is another key name.
Morrison & Foerster LLP’s New York-based team has attracted keynote creditor roles in some of the most important insolvencies of the last two years, with some notable recent successes acting for unsecured creditors in major energy cases. The firm assisted such a group in preventing court approval of an unfavorable restructuring agreement in the Energy Future Holdings bankruptcy, and in relation to Patriot Coal bankruptcy, it represented the official unsecured creditors’ committee in significantly altering the terms of a DIP facility. It also continues to assist the unsecured group under Walter Energy’s $3.1bn restructuring plan. In two notable cross-border mandates, Lorenzo Marinuzzi, Brett Miller and Jennifer Marines are acting for Hovensa in its US Virgin Islands filing, while Gary Lee and John Pintarelli are assisting Landsbanki with winding-up proceedings subsequent to its 2009 Chapter 15 filing. Lee and James Peck lead the practice.
Proskauer Rose LLP ‘provides value by staffing matters with only the necessary partners needed, but has the strength-in-depth to bring in further expertise if required’. The group includes ‘top-notch attorneys’ who are ‘also genuinely nice people’, such as Jeff Marwill (‘one of the finest attorneys in the restructuring arena’) and associate Jeremy Stillings (‘a force to be reckoned with’). Mark Thomas and Peter Young are also recommended (‘can handle any deal on the transactional side’, ‘incredibly effective in the courtroom’. New York-based Martin Bienenstock, who co-chairs the practice with Marwill and Thomas, is advising the unsecured creditors’ committee in the $18bn bankruptcy of Caesars Entertainment and, in a headline assignment, the firm is co-counsel to Energy Future Holdings in the largest Chapter 11 filing of 2015. All partners named above are based in Chicago unless otherwise stated; other key New York attorneys include Philip Abelson, Judy Liu and Scott Rutsky.
Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP’s status as a go-to counsel for creditors in cases requiring forceful negotiation and/or litigation reflects the firm’s core dispute resolution focus. Typifying the kind of hard-fought matters which are the group’s forte, the highly regarded Susheel Kirpalani is pursuing recovery for the committee of unsecured creditors under the RadioShack Chapter 11 through settlement with the secured creditors. Similarly, James Tecce has been retained by a group of investment funds, including Solus Asset Management, in challenging litigation seeking recovery of $300m in unsecured credit under the 2009 Delphi Automotive bankruptcy. Kirpalani and Michael Carlinsky scored a high-profile victory for Brazilian engineering company OAS in obtaining Chapter 15 recognition of its reorganization in the US courts. Not limited to tough litigation, other highlights included assisting Gradient Resources with the out-of-court restructuring of $150m in debt, with Benjamin Finestone leading the advice. Key figures on the West Coast include Eric Winston and John Shaffer; all other named attorneys are based in New York.
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz leverages its exemplary corporate capabilities to act for creditors and acquirers in a broad range of Chapter 11, out-of-court workout and distressed M&A matters. In a major demonstration of its capacity for big-ticket mandates, it advised the US Treasury on the rescues of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Other representative work includes mandates under the Chapter 11s of Energy Future Holdings, Lehman Brothers and LightSquared. Chaired by Harold Novikoff, other key practitioners include Richard Mason and Scott Charles. All are based in New York.
White & Case LLP has forged a reputation as a tenacious fighter for creditors’ rights, due in no small part to practice head Thomas Lauria, and earns notable roles in some of the largest, most complex Chapter 11s. It marries this with highly regarded capabilities in Latin America, where it has secured company-side roles in a large proportion of reorganizations in the Brazilian energy sector. Demonstrating its strength in hard-fought creditor cases, regarding the Energy Future Holdings (EFH) bankruptcy, on behalf of an ad hoc group of noteholders of an EFH subsidiary, the firm successfully argued for an amended restructuring plan that gives the clients the opportunity to purchase EFH’s regulated utility, Oncor. The firm also has leading creditor roles in the bankruptcies of Caesars Entertainment and Samson Resources. On the debtor side, it has been active in the highly publicized Revel AC case, and achieved Chapter 15 recognition for Brazilian companies Rede Energia and Sifco. Lauria, Scott Greissman and John Cunningham are the key figures; Lauria and Cunningham divide their time between New York and Miami.
When it comes to Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP’s restructuring group, according to one client, ‘no one is better’. Rachel Strickland is singled out as ‘extremely smart and a terrific negotiator who knows how to get the deal done’. Marc Abrams and Matthew Feldman lead the practice, which represents a swathe of financial institutions and investment funds, balanced by a healthy pipeline of debtor and company-side creditor work. Feldman and Strickland are part of a cross-practice team acting for Momentive Performance Materials in its highly contested $4.2bn Chapter 11, while notable creditor mandates involve the filings of Samson Resources (acting for Deutsche Bank which holds $1bn in second lien debt), IMRIS (representing Deerfield Management Company as DIP lender and, ultimately, the winner of a stalking horse bid) and Colt Defense (acting for various lenders holding a total of $360m of debt). Demonstrating an ability to handle big-ticket, cross-border litigation, Abrams is part of a team acting as joint trial counsel to UK pension claimants in joint allocation proceedings regarding the $7bn Nortel Networks bankruptcy in the Delaware and Ontario bankruptcy courts. Shaunna Jones, Paul Shalhoub, John Longmire and Joseph Minias complete the seven-partner New York-based department, which suffered a blow with the departures of Margot Schonholtz to Linklaters LLP and Mary Warren to an in-house role.
Brown Rudnick LLP’s reputation for handling tricky and complex cases makes it a natural choice for mandates with a significant contentious element. Representative experience includes securing a substantial return for unsecured creditor clients in the A123 Systems insolvency through the sale to Chinese investors (following a proposed sale on less favorable terms to a US-based stalking horse bidder). The firm was also highly visible during initial negotiations in the Energy Future Holdings case, representing the holders of $1.6bn in debt and achieving, among other things, material amendment to a pre-plan restructuring scheme proposing bid procedures for the company’s key assets. Managing director William Baldiga and co-chairs Edward Weisfelner and Jeffrey Jonas are among the key figures in the sizeable group, which is divided between Boston and New York.
Dechert LLP’s ‘cost-effective, streamlined’ team is a natural choice for investment funds, given the firm’s exemplary strength in that arena, with clients including the likes of Stonehill Capital Management, UBS Securities and Solus Alternative Asset Management. It has landed prized creditor roles in some of the largest ongoing proceedings, acting for major noteholders in the restructurings of OAS and Trump Entertainment Resorts and for first lien holders of $1.1bn of the $4.1bn of debt in Momentive Performance Materials. Playing to its strengths in litigation, the firm - most recently through Eric Brunstad - has filed numerous amicus briefs on points of bankruptcy law, and has won notable judgments for client NML Capital in the Supreme Court in its consideration of the Republic of Argentina’s sovereign bond default. Its ‘super-sharp’ lawyers include team co-heads Michael Sage (‘a voice of reason in difficult negotiations’) and Allan Brilliant, as well as Craig Druehl (‘practical and thorough’), Brunstad and the ‘exceptionally capable’ Shmuel Vasser. All partners named are based in New York, except for Hartford-based Brunstad.
Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP ‘first-rate’ team is ‘in a class of its own for Securities Investment Protection Act liquidations’ and ‘at the top of its game for contentious work’. Its prowess in both was exemplified in its latest victories under the Lehman Brothers liquidation, which included securing court approval of a $1.9bn distribution to unsecured creditors of the brokerage, and acting as liquidation trustee - in the form of group head James Giddens - in the $40bn liquidation of MF Global, which, to date, has returned $7bn to customers. The firm attracts significant praise from peers with whom it has collaborated on major cases: Giddens ‘provides outstanding leadership and sage advice, often on unique points of restructuring law’; Christopher Kiplok ‘has fantastic vision and a clear view of the goals and priorities of different stakeholders’; and James Kobak has ‘keen insight into contentious issues’. Several members of its litigation group - with Sarah Cave in particular singled out - attract praise for their ability ‘to provide leadership on cutting-edge issues of law at all levels, from the bankruptcy courts to the Supreme Court’. The firm’s leading roles in Washington Mutual (the largest US bank failure in history) and Nortel Networks litigation further demonstrate its contentious capabilities. Key partner Kathryn Coleman is also recommended. All lawyers named are based in New York.
O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s group attracts praise for its ‘excellent bench strength’ and ‘willingness to move mountains’ for its clients. The hires of heavyweight New York partners George Davis and John Rapsiardi from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in 2013 added significant East Coast strength to the firm’s established West Coast practice, and has brought with it a remarkable balance of debtor and creditor work. Highlights on the debtor side include its roles in the Chapter 11s of Cal Dive International and Colt Defense. It is representing Apollo Global Management as one of the largest creditors in the Energy Future Holdings Chapter 11, also obtaining roles in two pieces of litigation related to the $40bn bankruptcy. Rapsiardi is ‘a very smart strategic thinker’; Andrew Parlen is ‘very diligent and creative’; Washington DC-based litigator Peter Friedman is ‘the smartest guy in the room with the intellectual horsepower to deal with the most complicated legal issue’; and counsel Daniel Shamah is ‘excellent’. San Francisco-based Suzzanne Uhland chairs the practice with Davis and Rapsiardi.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP’s market-leading capabilities in M&A make it a natural choice for complex out-of-court restructurings and purchases of distressed assets, while its impressive financial services practice provides a steady stream of creditor mandates from a client base which includes KKR, Blackstone Group and Deutsche Bank. Sandeep Qusba leads the compact New York-based team, which also includes Steven Fuhrmann and Elisha Graff. Qusba and Fuhrmann are acting for key client JPMorgan in the Chapter 11 of Dex Media, while Fuhrmann and Graff are representing JPMorgan in various mandates, including its provision of a $300m facility to Quicksilver Resources as part of its $2.3bn Chapter 11. Graff is also advising private equity clients on potential distressed asset purchases. Leading figures in the group’s robust bankruptcy-related litigation practice include Thomas Rice and David Woll.
In an impressive year, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP augmented its highly regarded capacity for distressed asset work for private equity funds and institutional investors with some notable mid-market, debtor-side mandates. Kristopher Hansen and Erez Gilad represented Trump Entertainment Resorts in confirmation of its plan of reorganization in March 2015, and Los Angeles-based partner Frank Merola advised BPZ Resources in one of the many recent filings by Texas oil and gas companies. More typically, the firm’s creditor-side practice has been acting on a diverse range of high-value cases. Hansen is representing the holders of the majority of the $5.4bn first lien debt held in the $18bn filing of Caesars Entertainment, and Hansen and Jayme Goldstein are representing Fortress Investment Group as a holder of significant debt in the $7bn filing of telecoms company LightSquared. Goldstein and Brett Lawrence are assisting various lenders, including the committee of senior unsecured noteholders, in Allied Nevada’s ongoing proceedings. Hansen heads the nine-partner group, which, apart for Merola, is based in New York.
Bracewell LLP has secured roles in a significant proportion of filings by Texas oil producers, due in part to its well-regarded Houston base. Chief among these are debtor-side mandates in the Delaware-filed Chapter 11s of Optim Energy and Quicksilver Resources (advising joint venture partner ENI in the latter), which are valued at $750m and $2.3bn respectively. Further cementing its energy credentials, it won impressive creditor-side mandates in the bankruptcies of ATP Oil and Gas, and Miller Energy Resources. The compact five-partner team (which suffered a blow with the departures of Samuel Stricklin and Renèe M Dailey to Gruber Hurst Elrod Johansen Hail Shank LLP and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP respectively) comprises team head Evan Flaschen and Kurt Mayr in Hartford, William Wood and Marcy Kurtz in Houston, and Robert Burns in New York.
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP has been acting for a many of the largest US and international investment banks on some of the highest-profile restructurings in the market. In Energy Future Holdings, it assisted Morgan Stanley in successfully defeating a plaintiff motion to have the case transferred to state court; in Revel Casino, the team obtained confirmation of a Chapter 11 liquidation plan on highly favorable terms for its client JPMorgan (DIP lender and holder of first lien debt); and it has been acting for Deutsche Bank in a $90m claim under the Chapter 15 of Canadian mining company Veris Gold, which raised interesting issues of cross-border bankruptcy law. Greg Petrick and Mark Ellenberg co-chair the compact team, with Ingrid Bagby and recently promoted special counsels Michele Maman and Christopher Updike the other key figures. All those named are based in New York, except Washington DC-based Ellenberg.
Chadbourne & Parke LLP has carved out a reputation for acting on precedent-setting cross-border restructurings, in keeping with its track record of big-ticket South American and, especially, European mandates. Team head Howard Seife is advising Bank of New York Mellon on the potential reorganization of $50bn of outstanding bonds of Petrobras. He also led a team which achieved Chapter 15 recognition of the UK liquidation proceedings of Hellas Telecommunications II, and acted for the British Virgin Islands-court-appointed liquidators of OAS in their attempt to obtain recognition of BVI proceedings in the company’s $1bn reorganization. Douglas E Deutsch, David M LeMay, Samuel Kohn and Andrew Rosenblatt complete the five-partner, New York-based team.
Greenberg Traurig, LLP fields ‘a deep bench of restructuring professionals with a wide range of skillsets’. Its broad geographical footprint, spanning the East Coast, West Coast, Texas and elsewhere, makes it a natural choice for mid-market, regional Chapter 11s. Its south Florida group is praised as ‘one of the best teams in the market’, with Mark Bloom (‘a consummate professional who can devise a strategy and implement it collaboratively’), Paul Keenan (‘an expert in Latin American matters’), Scott Grossman (‘an all-round quality lawyer with a detail-oriented approach to analyzing and solving problems’) and John Hutton (‘an excellent choice for creditor and committee work’) singled out for praise in its Miami and Fort Lauderdale offices. Notable matters included acting for Versa Capital Management in the Chapter 11 of Californian clothing retailer Wet Seal, and representing the committee of unsecured creditors in the Texas-filed Chapter 11 of AutoSeis. Nancy Mitchell and Keith Shapiro, based in New York and Chicago respectively, co-chair the practice with Bloom.
The ‘exceptionally talented’ 11-partner group at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP ‘adds value by staffing matters pragmatically without dilution of focus’ and attracts praise for its ‘consistently sound counsel’. Its core Chicago-based team is singled out for particular praise: practice co-chair John Sieger is ‘a pleasure to work with’; Kenneth Ottaviano is ‘pragmatic, effective and thinks outside the box’; the ‘dedicated’ Karin Berg ‘always sees the bigger picture’; and Peter Siddiqui ‘conducts himself in a professional, selfless manner’. Fellow co-chair Craig Barbarosh, who divides his time between New York and Orange County, is lead counsel to UMB Bank as holder of $6.4bn of first lien notes issued by Caesars Entertainment Operating Company. In a further illustration of its ability to handle significant mandates in headline matters, it successfully argued for a pro-rata allocation of proceeds in the Delaware and Ontario bankruptcy courts in the $7bn Chapter 11 of Nortel Networks.
Mayer Brown has secured its fair share of mid-market energy mandates, including an impressive debtor-side matter for an upstream oil and gas company, and assisting JPMorgan as first lien agent in the $4.2bn Chapter 11 of Samson Resources. Drawing on the firm’s financial institution client base, the team’s client roster includes HSBC, Bank of Montreal and CIBC. Its eight-partner team, led by Brian Trust, includes fellow key New York contacts Howard Beltzer and Frederick Hyman, with Thomas Kiriakos, Stuart Rozen and Sean Scott based in Chicago.
Ropes & Gray LLP seven-partner group, divided between Boston and New York, leverages the firm’s well-known private equity capabilities to advise funds on distressed assets. In 2015, it also showcased an ability to secure significant mandates in headline cases: D. Ross Martin, Mark Somerstein and Keith Wofford are representing the official committee of unsecured creditors in the $2.6bn Chapter 11 of Sabine Oil & Gas; and the same team is acting for Delaware Trust as indenture trustee for $3.6bn of first lien notes of Energy Future Holdings in its $40bn filing. Further demonstrating its skill in big-ticket indenture trustee mandates, it is acting for Wilmington Trust in the bankruptcies of RadioShack, Momentive Performance Materials and Walter Energy. Mark Bane and Stephen Moeller-Sally chair the practice.
Squire Patton Boggs ‘top-notch, incredibly talented’ group has attracted a remarkable number of debtor-side mandates from distressed mining companies, including Midway Gold US and its Canadian parent in its June 2015 filing, and as lead restructuring counsel to Veris Gold in complex Chapter 15 proceedings concluding with the sale of its primary mine asset. Not limited to natural resources, the firm’s recent experience spans healthcare, transport and real estate (most notably securing the dismissal of Chapter 11 petitions by 14 Bahamian companies in the $3.6bn ‘Baha Mar’ resort proceedings for client CCA Bahamas). The ‘highly respected’ Stephen Lerner chairs the widely dispersed group from its Cincinnati stronghold, with other key partners including San Francisco-based Karol Denniston, New York-based Nava Hazan and Phoenix-based Craig Hansen. Cincinnati-based senior associate Elliot Smith is also recommended.
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP secured a notable role in the $40bn bankruptcy of Energy Future Holdings, representing Fidelity Investments, the case’s largest single creditor holding nearly $2bn in debt. In another coveted role, it acted for Centerbridge Partners in its exchange of existing debt for equity in the confirmed $7bn Chapter 11 of telecoms company LightSquared. Senior partner Brad Eric Scheler heads the team, which also includes Jennifer Rodburg, who is leading on the Centerbridge matter, and ‘absolute superstar’ Gary Kaplan.
In the two biggest Chapter 11s of 2015, Jenner & Block LLP is acting as local counsel to the parent company in the $18bn bankruptcy of Caesars Entertainment, and is representing a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings in the numerous inter-company claims under its $40bn Chapter 11. Daniel Murray and Richard Levin lead the practice from Chicago and New York respectively, the latter a high-profile lateral hire from Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in May 2015.
Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP’s leverages the core Texas presence of its legacy Fulbright & Jaworski restructuring practice, and its internationally renowned reputation in the energy space, to secure roles on an impressive number of filings by US oil and gas companies. Chief among these are representing the board of directors of Quicksilver Resources in its $2.3bn proceedings, and significant creditor roles in two of the largest energy bankruptcy proceedings of 2015. Louis Strubeck, who divides his time between Dallas and New York, leads the six-partner group, with other key lawyers based in San Antonio, Houston and also Dallas, where the ‘outstanding’ Toby Gerber resides. David Rosenzweig is based in New York, but his former New York-based colleague David Barrack went to Polsinelli PC.
Paul Hastings LLP’s TMT pedigree ensures a steady stream of work in this space, most recently in a high-profile debtor-side mandate for Apple supplier GT Advanced Technologies. In 2015, it also attracted two impressive natural resources mandates, namely in the $1.8bn Chapter 11 of rare earth miner Molycorp (representing the official committee) and in the $699m filing of Allied Nevada Gold (acting for Wells Fargo as senior secured lender). New York-based Luc Despins leads the group, which added Chris Dickerson and Matt Murphy to its main Chicago operation in May 2015.
Vinson & Elkins LLP’s marked aptitude for Texas-filed oil and gas Chapters 11s was reflected in debtor-side work for Kentucky-based RAAM Global Energy and for Canadian fracking company GASFRAC Energy Services. In a notable New York-led matter, Steven Abramowitz continued to advise United Airlines as the largest creditor on various matters subsequent to the 2012 filing of Pinnacle Airlines. The highly regarded William Wallander, who divides his time between Dallas and New York, heads the largely Texas-based group.