James H.M. Sprayregen is the founder of Kirkland & Ellis’ worldwide Restructuring Group, building the group from inception in 1990 to become the premier restructuring group in the world, and the only such group ranked tier 1 in every major region of the world. He is a partner in the Chicago and New York offices of Kirkland & Ellis. He served on Kirkland’s worldwide management committee from 2003–2006 and 2009–2019. He joined Goldman Sachs in 2006 where he was co-head of Goldman Sachs’ Restructuring Group and advised clients in restructuring and distressed situations. He rejoined Kirkland three years later.

Described as “a legend in the bankruptcy space” and “one of the United States’ most sought-after bankruptcy attorneys,” Mr. Sprayregen has led some of the most complex Chapter 11 filings in recent history. He has extensive experience representing major U.S. and international companies in restructurings both in and out of court and has handled matters for clients in industries as varied as manufacturing, technology, transportation, energy, media, retail, and real estate. He has extensive experience advising boards of directors, and generally representing debtors and creditors in complex workout, insolvency, restructuring, and bankruptcy planning matters worldwide. 

Chambers & Partners has praised Mr. Sprayregen for his “outstanding reputation for complex Chapter 11 cases.” Recently noting he is “a go-to for big issues” and a “bankruptcy guru.” In the most recent 2022 edition of Chambers USA, sources described Mr. Sprayregen as "a rock star - the Mick Jagger of the bankruptcy bar." Chambers said that clients it spoke to noted that he is “probably the best restructuring lawyer in the world” and is “a luminary in the field” of restructuring and insolvency. Sources have also commented that he is “a premier restructuring expert” and “in a class of his own” with “unbelievable technical capabilities” and “deep experience he can draw upon.” He has been praised as a “great clients’ lawyer, admired for his unflustered ways” and for his ability “to take extraordinarily complex issues and make them understandable for boards and executive management teams.” Prior editions of Chambers guides have described Mr. Sprayregen as “a world-class practice leader,” “one of the deans of the Bar,” and “a restructuring genius and one of the best strategists in the country” noting that clients look to him as someone who is “providing leadership and strategic guidance on the big issues.” Sources commended Mr. Sprayregen for his “incredible work ethic and skill” and for his ability to “bring a mastery of the law to practical application.” Clients are “impressed by his boundless energy to work on issues” and note that Mr. Sprayregen is “very good in complicated and difficult situations.”

In March 2010, Mr. Sprayregen was selected by The National Law Journal as one of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers.” Mr. Sprayregen was named “Global Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyer of the Year” in 2013 by Who’s Who Legal Awards, receiving more votes from clients and peers than any other individual worldwide. In October 2013, Mr. Sprayregen was inducted into the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Turnaround, Restructuring, and Distressed Investing Industry Hall of Fame‎. From 2013-2015, Mr. Sprayregen was appointed to serve a two year term as the President of INSOL International, the world’s leading international insolvency association. Mr. Sprayregen is also an Adjunct Full Professor of Finance at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches a combined Wharton/Penn Law course on “Corporate Restructuring.”


Thought Leadership


"Bankruptcy Reform in Saudi Arabia: Bridging Islamic Law and Modern Bankruptcy?" The Bankruptcy Strategist, December 2016 (co-author).

“Arcapita and the Need for Mideast Restructuring Regimes,” INSOL World - The Quarterly Journal of INSOL International, Fourth Quarter 2014 (co-author).

"Leveraging Litigation to Drive a Deal and Establishing § 524(g) Trusts,” American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, November 2014 (co-author).

“Recent Lessons on Management Compensation at Various States of the Chapter 11,” Harvard Law School Bankruptcy Roundtable, April 22, 2014 (co-author).

"In Memoriam: Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland,” Law360, February 19, 2014 (co-author).

"Need for Speed: Utilizing Hybrid Solicitation Strategies to Shorten Ch. 11 Cases," BNA's Bankruptcy Law Reporter, October 2012 (co-author).

"Uncertainty In Complex Real Estate Restructurings," Law360, March 23, 2012 (co-author).

"Bankruptcy Court Rules CMBS Certificateholder Does Not Have Standing to Appear in Chapter 11 Case" Bloomberg Law Reports, February 13, 2012 (co-author).

"Unfunded retirement liabilities in Europe and the US: can lessons be learned from corporate America?" Financier Worldwide Magazine, January 2012 (co-author).

"Too Much Discretion Exacerbates 'Too Big To Fail,'" Who's Who Legal, July 2011 (co-author).

"Orderly Liquidation Authority Under the Dodd-Frank Act: The United States Congress's Misdirected Attempt to Ban Wall Street Bailouts," INSOL World - The Quarterly Journal of INSOL International, Third Quarter 2010 (co-author). 

"The Race to the Starting Line: Developing Prepackaged and Prenegotiated Reorganization Plans to Maximize Value," Navigating Today's Environment, The Directors' and Officers' Guide to Restructuring, 2010 (co-author).

"Third Circuit Overrules Long-Criticized Frenville Decision; Redefines When "Claim" Accrues for Future Claimants," Pratt's Journal of Bankruptcy Law, July/August 2010 (co-author).

"Failing to Be Too Big to Fail," The Daily Deal, May 21, 2010 (co-author).

"Markets Party Like It's… 2007?" Financier Worldwide, March 2010 (co-author).

"Recent Bankruptcy Court Decision Reconciles Central Tenets of Commercial Real Estate Financing and Bankruptcy Law," Real Estate Finance Journal, Winter 2010, (co-author).

"Crossing Borders: International Reorganizations," Daily Bankruptcy Review, February 2010, (co-author).

"Credit (Bid) Where Credit's Due - Part Two," The Bankruptcy Strategist, February 2010, (co-author).

"Credit (Bid) Where Credit's Due - Part One," The Bankruptcy Strategist, January 2010, (co-author).

"The Financial System Meltdown of 2008 - A Year Unlike Any Other (Hopefully)," INSOL World - The Quarterly Journal of INSOL International, First Quarter 2009, (co-author).

"Rights Offerings Attracting Investors, Providing Cash for Turnarounds," Turnaround Management Association Journal of Corporate Renewal, November 2007, (co-author).

"Learning from the United Airlines Deal," Financial Executive, June 2006, (co-author).

"The Sum and Substance of Substantive Consolidation," Annual Survey of Bankruptcy Law, 2005, (co-author).

"Chapter 11 - Not Perfect, But Better Than the Alternatives," Journal of Bankruptcy Law and Practice, December 2005, (co-author).

"Deal Doing For Restructuring Professionals," The Bankruptcy Strategist, November 2005, (co-author).

"Country Q&A: United States," Global Counsel Restructuring and Insolvency Handbook, May 2005, (co-author).

"Bankruptcy Law Reform - New KERP Payment Restrictions Show Democrats' Influence," Daily Bankruptcy Review, April 2005, (co-author).

"Bankruptcy Law Reform - Amended Code Demands More Cash From Debtors In Ch. 11," Daily Bankruptcy Review, April 2005, (co-author).

"Bankruptcy Law Reform - Congress Tells Bankruptcy Participants: 'We Don't Trust You,'" Daily Bankruptcy Review, April 2005, (co-author).

"Bankruptcy Law Reform - Code Revisions Of 'Special' Interest To Businesses," Daily Bankruptcy Review, April 2005, (co-author).

"Bankruptcy Law Reform - The New Bankruptcy Code - A Solution In Search Of A Problem?" Daily Bankruptcy Review, April 2005, (co-author).

"The Middle Kingdom's Chapter 11?  China's New Bankruptcy Law Comes into Sight," American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, January 2005, (co-author).

"A Look Back And A Look Ahead: Relax, Rest And Get Ready," Daily Bankruptcy Review, December 2004, (co-author).

"Investment Opportunities in China's Out-of-Court Restructurings," Financier Worldwide 2004 Asia Pacific Restructuring & Insolvency Review, June 2004, (co-author).

"Non-performing Loans in China: A Potential Win-Win Opportunity for Foreign Investors and China's Economy," Financier Worldwide Global Restructuring & Insolvency Review, June 2004, (co-author).

"Five Rules For The (Restructuring) Road," Daily Bankruptcy Review, April 2004, (co-author).

"Vulture Investors Heed Caution: Creditors Committees and Trading May Be a Dangerous Combination," Financier Worldwide, April 2004, (co-author).

"Looking Forward to 2004 and Beyond," Daily Bankruptcy Review, January 2004, (co-author).

"Recharacterization from Debt to Equity: Lenders Beware," American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, November 2003, (co-author).

"Corporate Stewardship in the New Millennium," Financier Worldwide 2003 Global Restructuring & Insolvency Review, October 2003, (co-author).

"EC Regulations: Innovations in Restructuring," Financier Worldwide 2003 Global Restructuring & Insolvency Review, October 2003, (co-author).

"Country Q&A: United States," Global Counsel Restructuring and Insolvency Handbook, May 2003, (co-author).

"Cross-border Bond Restructurings," Global Counsel Restructuring and Insolvency Handbook, May 2003, (co-author).

"Doubledowning: Avoid Double Trouble - Structuring Alternatives for Additional Rounds in Troubled Portfolio Companies," The Journal of Private Equity, Fall 2002, (co-author).

"First Things First — A Primer of How to Obtain Appropriate 'First Day' Relief in Chapter 11 Cases," Journal of Bankruptcy Law & Practice, November 2002, (co-author).

"High Yield Bond Restructuring - Comfort or Caution from the Use of the US Model in Europe," INSOL World, September 2002, (co-author).

"Country Q&A: United States," Global Counsel Restructuring and Insolvency Handbook, April 2002, (co-author).

"The Legal Considerations of Acquiring Distressed Businesses: A Primer," Journal of Bankruptcy Law and Practice [Vol 11], March 2002 (co-author).

"Recharacterization From Debt to Equity: Do Bankruptcy Courts Have the Power?," The Bankruptcy Strategist, March 2002, (co-author).

"Fees in Chapter 11 Cases," 1992 Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education On Bankruptcy. 

"The Applicability of the Automatic Stay to OTS Actions," Norton Bankruptcy Law Adviser, No. 10, Oct. 1991. 

"Dischargeability of Taxes in Bankruptcy," American Bankruptcy Law Journal, Vol. 64 No. 2, Spring 1990, pp. 209–227.

"Workers' Compensation In Bankruptcy, How Do The Parties Fare?," Tort and Insurance Practice Law Journal, Vol. XXIV, No. 3, Spring 1989, (co-author).

"Comparison of Japanese and American Bankruptcy Law," Michigan Yearbook of International Legal Studies, 1988 Vol. IX, (contributor).

"Conflicting Claims To Collateral," American Enterprise Institute, 1987 (co-author). 

"1984 Bankruptcy Code Amendments — Fresh From the Anvil," 89 Comm. L.J. 317 (1984).


“State of the Market on Cross-Border Recognition,” American Bankruptcy Institute 2023 International Insolvency and Restructuring Symposium, November 2, 2023, Lisbon, Portugal.

“Keynote Presentation: International Restructuring and Insolvency Regimes Through Covid-19 - A Continuing Evolution?” AIRA Annual Bankruptcy and Restructuring Conference, June 9, 2022, Cleveland, OH.

“The Role of Commercial Courts in Cross-Border Insolvency Disputes,” Singapore International Commercial Court Virtual Symposium, March 10, 2021.

“Pre-Arranged Insolvency Proceedings in India: Lessons Learned from USA and UK,” International Insolvency Institute Webinar, February 17, 2021.

“Navigating Distressed Investing in the Pandemic Era,” INSOL Virtual Program, September 17, 2020.

“Crossing Borders, Pushing Boundaries: Creativity in Chapter 15 Insolvency Proceedings,” International Insolvency Institute USA/Canada/Caribbean and Latin America Regional Program, January 15, 2020, Miami, Florida.

“Recent Developments in Retail Restructurings,” National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, October 31, 2019, Washington, D.C.

“Fiduciary Duties,” INSOL PRC Seminar, October 16, 2019, Beijing, China.

“Nothing Up My Sleeve,” American College of Bankruptcy Seventh Circuit Education Committee Seminar, September 27, 2019, Chicago, Illinois.

“Hot Topics in Valuation,” AIRA Annual Bankruptcy and Restructuring Conference, June 7, 2019, Boston, Massachusetts.

“Regional Update,” INSOL International PRC Half Day Seminars, October 30, 2018 & November 1, 2018, Beijing & Shanghai, China.

“Asset Tracing in International Insolvencies,” American Bankruptcy Institute International Insolvency & Restructuring Symposium, October 17, 2018, Milan, Italy.

“Comparative Restructuring Laws as Value-Drivers,” American Bankruptcy Institute VALCON 2018, May 16, 2018, Las Vegas, Nevada.

“The Next Wave,” Southern District of Texas Bankruptcy Bench Bar Conference, May 10, 2018, Corpus Christi, Texas.

“The Empire Strikes Back - European Jurisdictions on Their Way to Modernize Their Insolvency Regime,” INSOL International Americas Conference, April 30, 2018, New York, New York.

“Keynote Speaker,” INSOL International Americas Conference Offshore Program, April 29, 2018, New York, New York.

“Supreme Court Recurring Issues,” American College of Bankruptcy & Boston College Law School Bankruptcy Symposium, March 23, 2018, Boston, Massachusetts.

“Interview with Keynote Speaker Glenn Tilton, Former CEO of United Airlines,” The Chicago Booth School 13th Annual Credit, Restructuring, Distressed Investing & Turnaround (CREDIT) Conference, March 2, 2018, Chicago, Illinois.

“The Future of Corporate Restructuring & Distressed Investing,” 24th Annual Distressed Investing Conference, November 27, 2017, New York, New York.

“Distressed Investing,” University of Michigan Undergraduate Investment Conference, October 20, 2018, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Brazilian Bankruptcy Regime - How Chinese Investments Have Been Affected by Brazilian Distressed Companies,” INSOL International PRC Half Day Seminars on Cross-Border Insolvency and Restructuring, September 28, 2017, Shanghai, China.

“Pre-Packs: The Missing Player in the Game,” INSOL India Insolvency Summit 2017, September 23, 2017, Mumbai, India.

“Advanced Planning and Coordination Across Jurisdictions for Multinationals” INSOL International and INSOL Europe Tel Aviv One Day Joint Seminar, June 27, 2017, Tel Aviv, Israel.

“How Europe is Perceived,” Turnaround Management Association Europe Annual Conference, June 16, 2017, London, United Kingdom.

“Keynote Speaker,” American Law Institute Young Scholars Medal Conference: Law and Corporate Finance: Credit Markets and Corporate Reorganization, April 4, 2017, New York, New York.

“Minimizing Personal Liability of Directors and Officers of Insolvent Corporations,” PENews Conference Call, February 15, 2017, Chicago, Illinois.

“Bankruptcy Morning Edition from Broken Bench Radio,” The National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges’ 90th Annual Conference, October 27, 2016, San Francisco, California.

“Effective Coordinating Committees,” INSOL International PRC Half Day Seminars, September 20, 2016 & September 22, 2016, Beijing & Shanghai, China.

“What’s Mine Is Yours, and What’s Yours Is Mine,” American College of Bankruptcy Seventh Circuit Education Committee Seminar, September 16, 2016, Chicago, Illinois.

“Retention and Compensation,” National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, September 29, 2015, Miami, Florida.

“ABI Reform Commission,” Distressed Investment Summit, April 23, 2015, Chicago, Illinois.

“Distressed Investing Opportunities and Dangers in the North American Oil and Gas Sector,” Grant’s Interest Rate Observer Spring Conference, April 7, 2015, New York, New York.

“Looking in – Foreign Perspectives on Canadian Restructurings,” INSOL One Day Seminar, November 17, 2014, Toronto, Canada.

"Born in The USA: Grown Abroad – How Different Foreign Jurisdictions Restructure Major Corporate Groups," 87th Annual National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, October 9, 2014, Chicago, Illinois.

"The Case for Business Bankruptcy Reform in the U.S. -- A Report on the Commission to Reform Chapter 11," International Association of Insolvency Regulators Annual Conference, September 10, 2014, Washington, D.C.

"Business Debate," American Bankruptcy Institute's 22nd Annual Southwest Bankruptcy Conference, September 5, 2014, Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Labor and Employment Issues in Cross-Border Cases," American Bankruptcy Institute's 32nd Annual Spring Meeting, April 25, 2014, Washington, D.C.

"Honourable Donald Brenner Memorial Keynote Address," National Centre for Business Law's 11th Annual Review of Insolvency Law Conference, February 21, 2014, Vancouver, Canada.

"Asset sales in corporate restructurings and liquidations," Fifth Annual Turnaround Management Association Brazil Congress, November 25, 2013, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

"Role of Professional Turnaround Manager," INSOL International Tokyo, Japan One Day Seminar, November 21, 2013, Tokyo, Japan.

"Municipal Bankruptcies," Chicago Bar Association's Headline Topics in Commercial Bankruptcy, November 12, 2013, Chicago, Illinois.

"Cross border operations: realising assets across borders and the problems caused by lack of harmonisation," International Association of Insolvency Regulators Conference and Annual General Meeting, September 24, 2013, Edinburgh, Scotland.

"Investing in distressed and restructuring assets," Eighth Annual Oxford Private Equity Forum, March 5, 2013, Oxford, England.

"Discussion of Current Key Legal Issues in Restructuring and Bankruptcy," J.P.Morgan High Yield & Leveraged Finance Conference, February 26, 2013, Miami, Florida.

"Distressed Hedge Funds," Wharton Restructuring and Distressed Investing Conference, February 22, 2013, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"Regulation and Remuneration of Insolvency Professionals: A Comparative Study," American Bankruptcy Institute International Insolvency & Restructuring Symposium, October 18, 2012, Rome, Italy.

"Fiduciary Duty," National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges 86th Annual Conference, October 26, 2012, San Diego, California.

"The Ethics of Organizers - Ethical Challenges in Forming Official and Unofficial Committees," National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges 86th Annual Conference, October 25, 2012, San Diego, California

"Coping with Dodd-Frank Reforms and New Regulations During Turnarounds," Kellogg Turnaround Management Conference, May 2, 2012, Chicago, Illinois.

"A Discussion of Stern v. Marshall and What it Means to You — Ten Months Later," American College of Bankruptcy Fifth Circuit Fellows' Bankruptcy Jurisdiction - It is Not a Joking Matter, April 28, 2012, San Antonio, Texas.

"Judicial Panel," Turnaround Management Association's 2012 Spring Conference, April 5, 2012, Atlanta, Georgia.

"Judicial Panel," American Bankruptcy Institute VALCON 2012, February 23, 2012, Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Confirmation Issues: Settlements, Releases, Gifting, Death-Traps and More," American Bankruptcy Institute Delaware Views from the Bench, November 21, 2011, Wilmington, Delaware.

"North American Idol - Insights from Leading Turnaround Specialists," American Bankruptcy Institute 2011 Canadian-American Cross-Border Insolvency Symposium, November 7, 2011, Toronto, Ontario.

"Confirmation: Hot Cases Roundtable," American Bankruptcy Institute and Georgetown Law CLE's Bankruptcy 2011 Views from the Bench, September 16, 2011, Washington, D.C.

"Effective Business Development Techniques: What Works? What Doesn't?," International Women's Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation Chicago's Fall Educational Event - Effective Business Development Techniques, September 12, 2011, Chicago, Illinois.

"Valuation: Issues in a Restructuring Context," M&A Network's Distressed M&A Forum, June 16, 2011, Chicago, Illinois.

"White Elephants in the Caribbean – How to Realize Value from Distressed Property Developments," INSOL International British Virgin Islands One Day Seminar, May 19, 2011, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

"CEO Panel," Moderator, Turnaround Management Association's 2011 Spring Conference, April 27, 2011, Chicago, Illinois.

"Update on Bankruptcy Filings and the Credit Market in the U.S." Dubai International Financial Centre Program (DIFC) on Insolvency in the UAE and Across the World, February 28, 2011, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

"The Return of Special Dividends: Fraudulent Conveyance Or A Brighter Future?" 7th Annual Wharton Restructuring and Turnaround Conference, February 18, 2011, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"The Impact of Long-Arm Legislation on Canadian Restructurings," 8th Annual Review of Insolvency Law Conference, February 4, 2011, Toronto, Ontario.

"Important Cross-border Developments Impacting your Canadian Practice," The Canadian Institute's 11th Annual Forum on Advanced Commercial Insolvency & Restructuring, January 19, 2011, Toronto, Ontario.

Keynote Speaker, ABI International Insolvency & Restructuring Symposium, October 29, 2010, London, England.

"How Do I Advance At My Firm And Within My Profession," ABI Professional Development Program, October 28, 2010, New York, New York.

"Deal or No Deal - Hard Choices for Troubled Businesses," International Bar Association Annual Conference, October 5, 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia.

"Lucrative Opportunities Investing in Distressed Debt," Distressed Investing Experts Forum, September 21, 2010, New York, New York.

"Labor Issues," ABI Annual Spring Meeting, May 1, 2010, Washington, D.C.

"Legal Panel," University of Chicago Booth School of Business 5th Annual Distressed Investing & Restructuring Conference, April 16, 2010, Chicago, Illinois.

"Workouts:  Keeping the Borrower on the Hook," USC Law School Conference, April 14, 2010, Los Angeles, California.

"Real Estate in Distress: Bankruptcy and Restructuring Cases," INSOL International Annual Regional Conference, February 23, 2010, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

"GM/Chrysler Cases," ABI Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy Conference, January 22, 2010, Denver, Colorado.

"Financial Institution Recovery and the New Era in Banking and Finance," Renaissance American Management's 16th Annual Distressed Investing Conference, November 30, 2009, New York, New York.

"Bankruptcy - Unprecedented Times: What Does it Mean for Current and Future Transactions?" KMPG & University of Chicago M&A Forum, October 22, 2009, Chicago, Illinois.

"Aviation Industry in Distress," INSOL Europe Annual Congress, October 3, 2009, Stockholm, Sweden.

"New Dilemmas in DIP Financing," ABI Views from the Bench, October 2, 2009, Washington, D.C.

"Options in a Limited Credit Environment," Northwestern 48th Annual Corporate Counsel Institute, October 1, 2009, Chicago, Illinois.

"Lions of Investing," Turnaround Management Association Breakfast Program, September 18, 2009, Chicago, Illinois.

"Target in Sight: Gaining Influence or Control," YPO Business and Personal Development Seminar, September 16, 2009, Chicago, Illinois. 

"Keynote Address - First Anniversary of the Financial Crisis and Latin America - Recent Complex Corporate Restructuring Cases," International Insolvency Conference, September 15, 2009, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"Hot  Topics," Eighth World INSOL International Quadrennial Congress, June 24, 2009, Vancouver, British Columbia.

"How do I Advance at my Firm and Within my Profession?" ABI Professional Development Program, May 28, 2009, Chicago, Illinois.

"The Opportunities of Distress Real Estate Investing: A Distressed Acquisition Primer," 2009 International Council of Shopping Centers RECON Conference, May 19, 2009, Las Vegas, Nevada.

"DIP Financing," INSOL International Rio de Janeiro One Day Seminar, April 2, 2009, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"International Keynote Address - Managing Insolvencies and Corporate Restructurings after the Global Credit Crisis" and "Panel Presentation - What Caused the Global Credit Crisis and Future Predictions," Corporate Insolvency Conference, March 13, 2009, Auckland, New Zealand.

"Keynote Address - Essential Industry Update: Examining The Current Investing Landscape," Distressed Investing Forum, February 23, 2009, New York, New York.

"Bankruptcy Considerations for Creditors in Difficult Financing Markets," JP Morgan Annual High Yield Conference, February 2, 2009, Miami, Florida.

"Investment Bankers' Roundtable: Restoring Order," Renaissance American Management's 15th Annual Distressed Investing Conference, November 17, 2008, New York, New York.

"America Now," American Bankruptcy Institute International Insolvency Symposium, October 31, 2008, Frankfurt, Germany.

"Distressed Investing:  How to Make Money in 2009," Turnaround Management Association Annual Convention, October 28, 2008, New Orleans, Louisiana.

"The Intersection of the Credit Markets and Insolvency," IBA 2008 Annual Conference, October 14, 2008, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"Bankruptcy 101 Workshop," ILPA Conference, October 2, 2008, San Diego, California.

"The Big Picture — What's the Fate of Leveraged Deals?" New York Institute of Credit Summer Master Forum, July 16, 2008, New York, New York.

Keynote Speaker, Turnaround Management Association Holding Court 2008: A Bankruptcy Judges' Forum, May 29, 2008, Chicago, Illinois.

"Global Views of Restructuring," IPAA Journal and Conference, May 22, 2008, Sydney, Australia.

"Subprime Panel," 10th Annual New York City Bankruptcy Conference, May 12, 2008, New York, New York.

"Balancing Interests: Insolvency Reform in the Asia-Pacific Region (Part 1)," 18th IPBA Annual Meeting and Conference, April 29, 2008, Los Angeles, California.

"Keynote Address:  The Ever Changing Nature of Distressed Debt Investing," Global Distressed Debt West Coast Investor Forum, April 1, 2008, Los Angeles, California.

Keynote Speaker, Wharton Restructuring Conference, February 22, 2008, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

"The U.S.-Based Multinational Corporation," The 2008 Global Distressed Investing Summit, January 29, 2008, New York, New York.

"Successful Strategies for Your Position in the Capital Structure," Renaissance American Management Distressed Investing Conference, November 26, 2007, New York, New York.

"Comparative Provisions & Implications of U.S. and China Bankruptcy Codes: Moving Towards Common Ground," AIRA China Restructuring & Investing Conference, October 21, 2007, Shanghai, China.

"New Corporate Raiders - The Role of Hedge Funds in Financial Restructuring," IBA Annual Conference, October 16, 2007, Singapore.

"The Ethical Issues When Hedge Funds and Distressed Debt Holders are Calling the Shots," National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, October 11, 2007, Orlando, Florida.

"Early Experiences with Financial Restructuring: Successes and Lessons Learned," Automotive Industry Restructuring Finance Summit, September 19, 2007, Detroit, Michigan.

Keynote Speaker, Financial Research Associates 2007 Distressed Debt Summit, May 30, 2007, New York, New York.

Keynote Speaker, Turnaround Management Association 6th Annual Great Lakes Regional Conference, May 17, 2007, Concord, Ohio.

"Collapse of Multinational Corporate Groups: Lessons to be Learned," INSOL International Turnaround & Reorganization Ancillary, March 20, 2007, Cape Town, South Africa.

"The Changing Lender Constituency in Second Lien, Third Lien and Mezzanine," Institutional Investor 2007 Turnaround Management & Distressed Investing Forum, February 6, 2007, New York, New York.

"Keynote Roundtable Discussion: State of the Market," Turnaround Management Association Distressed Investing Conference, January 18, 2007, Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Social Claims and Priorities in Reorganizations," International Insolvency Institute Sixth Annual International Insolvency Conference, June 13, 2006, New York, New York.

"The New Code's Impact on Chapter 11," ABI Delaware Views from the Bankruptcy Bench and Bar, June 9, 2006, Wilmington, Delaware.

"The Automotive Industry," INSOL 2006 World Conference, May 23, 2006, Scottsdale, Arizona.

"The Future of the Worldwide Airline Industry," INSOL 2006 World Conference, May 21, 2006, Scottsdale, Arizona.

"U.S. Chapter 11: A model for the Asia & Asia Pacific Countries?" Inter-Pacific Bar Association Annual Conference, May 2, 2006, Sydney, Australia.

"Social Protection: Priorities, Pensions and Other Strategies for Protecting Employees in the Context of Insolvency," Forum on Asian Insolvency Reform 2006, April 27, 2006, Beijing, China.

"Is the Substantive Consolidation Party Over?" ABA Spring Meeting, April 6, 2006, Tampa Bay, Florida.

"Vanishing Pensions and Shrinking Retirement Benefits: Does Chapter 11 Allow a Company to Take Away with One Hand What it Gave with the Other?"  ABI 14th Annual Bankruptcy Battleground West Conference, March 10, 2006, Los Angeles, California.

"Anatomy of a Bankruptcy: United Airlines," Harvard Business School Turnaround Symposium, February 23, 2006, Boston, Massachusetts.

"What United Has Taught Us - Part II," JP Morgan Airline, Aerospace, and Airfreight Conference, February 22, 2006, New York, New York.

"Dealing with Multi-National Insolvencies on Both Sides of the Border: Strategies for Success," Canadian Institute Insolvency Program, January, 19, 2006, Toronto, Canada.

"International Panel - Managing Multi-Jurisdictional Insolvencies," International Corporate Renewal Forum, December 5, 2005, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

"The Effect on Investors of the New Bankruptcy Code," Distressed Investing Conference, November 29, 2005, New York, New York.

"The New Bankruptcy Code - A Solution In Search of a Problem," Navigant Consulting Legal Roundtable, November 18, 2005, Chicago, Illinois.

"The Purpose, Role & Importance of Restructurings in Corporate America," Cardozo School of Law Fall Symposium: Perspectives on Corporate Restructurings, November 14, 2005, New York, New York.

"Restructuring - Roulette, Rule Regulation, and Roughhousing - The Purpose, Role and Importance of Restructurings in Corporate America," Seventh Annual Distressed Debt West Conference, November 8, 2005, Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Jurisdictional Issues - Comparing the US and EU," ABI International Insolvency Symposium, September 23, 2005, London, England.

"Chapter 11 - Operations During the Case (Advanced Issues)," National Association of Attorneys General Bankruptcy Seminar, September 13, 2005, Denver, Colorado.

"Bankruptcy Experts Panel," JP Morgan Auto Conference, August 2, 2005, Dearborn, Michigan.

"Why is This Case There and Not Here, Venue Selection - A Practitioner's View," BBK Educational Forum, June 30, 2005, Detroit, Michigan.

"Crisis Management and Balance Sheet Restructuring in Today's Market Environment," Distressed Debt Investing Forum, June 30, 2005, New York, New York.

"Forum Shopping - Taylor Corporation United States," INSOL 2005 World Conference, March 15, 2005, Sydney, Australia.

"United Airlines: Labor and Cost Restructuring Update," JP Morgan Airline Conference, February 17, 2005, New York, New York.

"Ancillary Proceedings - Should the Tail Wag the Dog?" ABI American-Canadian Symposium, February 11, 2005, Toronto, Canada.

"When a Contract is Not a Contract: Bankruptcy Courts' Choice of Reason over Rigidity," Distressed Investing Conference, November 29, 2004, New York, New York.

"Chapter 11 Reorganization: Any Way to Reorganize an Industry?," ABA Air & Space Law Forum, October 29, 2004, Santa Monica, California.

"Priority Schemes in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico," National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, October 12, 2004, Nashville, Tennessee.

"What United has Taught us about Airline Restructuring," American Conference Institute Airline Conference, October 1, 2004, New York, New York.

Panelist, Vail Leadership Institute, Changing the Game Forum 2004, June 11, 2004, Vail, Colorado.

"Section 1110 and Public Aircraft Debt," JP Morgan, 2004 Airline Conference, March 2, 2004, New York, New York.

"Early Considerations to the Chapter 11 Filing of a Distressed Business," University of Chicago Graduate Studies Class, February 28, 2004, Chicago, Illinois.

"Cross Border Insolvencies - Does the Undefended Border Need Defending?," Turnaround Management Association, 6th Annual Symposium, February 26, 2004, Toronto, Canada.

"Commercial Loan Workouts," American Conference Institute, 3rd Annual Forum on Commercial Loan Workouts, February 2, 2004, New York, New York.

"Early Considerations Relating to a Distressed Businesses' Chapter 11 Filing," University of Michigan Law School, Advanced Bankruptcy Seminar, January 14–15, 2004, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"Bridging the Gap: Resolving Valuation Disputes in Chapter 11 Plan Negotiations," American College of Bankruptcy, 2003 Conference, March 29, 2003, Washington, D.C.

"The Airline Industry:  Soft Landing or Crash Landing?," Distressed Debt Investing Forum, December 5, 2002, Chicago, Illinois.

"Comparing & Contrasting Market Trends and Practices in the US and Europe," IIR Conference, Debt Restructuring in Europe, November 11, 2002, London, England.

"Current Issues in Debtor in Possession Financing," National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, October 2, 2002, Chicago, Illinois.

"The Art of Bankruptcy Financing: When Does a Pig Become a Hog?," National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, October 2, 2002, Chicago, Illinois.

"International Issues: Are You Ready for the New European Union Regulations?," American Bankruptcy Institute, 20th Annual Spring Meeting, April 20, 2002, Washington, D.C.

"Shareholder Rights and Fiduciary Duties of Directors of Insolvent or Near-Insolvent Companies," CLE International, Program on Counseling Distressed Businesses, November 11, 2001, San Francisco, California.

"Cash Collateral and DIP Financing," American Bankruptcy Institute, Hawaiian Bankruptcy Workshop, June 28, 2001, Maui, Hawaii.

"Acquiring an Insolvent Business in Bankruptcy or Outside of Bankruptcy: A Primer for Transactional Attorneys," Chicago Bar Association, February 16, 1999, Chicago, Illinois.

"Turning Sour Grapes into Fine Wine:  Resolving Israeli-American Disputes Through Litigation and Arbitration," American Bankruptcy Institute, February 8–11, 1999, Cross-Border Program in Israel.

"Defending Against the Vultures - Equity's Perspective" Corporate Reorganization, June 11–12, 1998, Chicago, Illinois.

"Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice . . ." Price Waterhouse, L.L.P., 1997 Corporate Recovery Symposium, February 8–11, 1997.

Mr. Sprayregen has lectured at The London Business School, The University of Chicago Business School, The University of Illinois College of Law, The University of Michigan Law School, Yale Law School, and The University of Michigan Liberal Arts College.


Mr. Sprayregen has been listed as a top tier lawyer in bankruptcy, restructuring and insolvency by Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Chambers Global, The World's Leading Lawyers for Business, The Legal 500, and IFLR1000: The Guide to the World's Leading Financial Law Firms.

In March 2010, The National Law Journal selected Mr. Sprayregen as one of “The Decade's Most Influential Lawyers.”

Mr. Sprayregen has been honored as an “Outstanding Bankruptcy Lawyer” and has been recognized for his representations of some of the largest and most successful bankruptcies in history by Turnarounds & Workouts.

In 2018, Mr. Sprayregen was recognized by The M&A Advisor with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The New York Institute of Credit honored Mr. Sprayregen with the Leadership in Credit Education Award in 2016.

Mr. Sprayregen was named “Global Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyer of the Year” in 2013 by Who’s Who Legal Awards, receiving more votes from clients and peers than any other individual worldwide.

In October 2013, Mr. Sprayregen was inducted into the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Turnaround, Restructuring, and Distressed Investing Industry Hall of Fame‎.

Mr. Sprayregen was selected by Best Lawyers as “Chicago’s Lawyer of the Year 2013” for Bankruptcy and Creditor, Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law.

Mr. Sprayregen has been named to Crain’s Chicago Business’ list of Who’s Who in Chicago Business, which recognizes the influential individuals who form and lead Chicago’s business and civic community.

Mr. Sprayregen was featured in The Chicago Tribune article “Building Off the Messes of Others; James Sprayregen, United Airlines Lead Bankruptcy Attorney Has Created a Thriving Practice at Chicago Law Firm Kirkland & Ellis.” The article states that “under his leadership, Kirkland & Ellis' bankruptcy practice has grown from a handful of attorneys to more than 100 and has emerged as a force in knotty restructurings.”

The Chicago Sun-Times described Mr. Sprayregen as a “24-hour kind of player,” who is a “tireless dealmaker and problem solver.”

The American Lawyer stated, “even in the land of the notoriously hard working, James Sprayregen stands out,” in the article “45 Under Forty-Five: The Rising Stars of the Private Bar.”

In Crain's Chicago Business' first annual law firm feature, Mr. Sprayregen was profiled as one of the best in the Restructuring practice area, stating that “Mr. Sprayregen understands the importance of successfully guiding large companies through difficult Chapter 11 filings.”

Mr. Sprayregen is a Fellow of the 15th Class of the American College of Bankruptcy.

Mr. Sprayregen was a recipient of the New Trier Township High School Alumni Achievement Award.

Memberships & Affiliations

Past President, Vice President and Member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of INSOL International

Member of the International Insolvency Institute

Member of the National Bankruptcy Conference

Member of the ABI Bankruptcy Reform Commission

Member of the Advisory Panel for the Singapore Commercial Court Insolvency and Restructuring Rules Committee

Member of the Southern District of Texas (Houston) Complex Case Procedures Committee

Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy

Member of the Board of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Member of the National Board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Member of the American Jewish Committee Board of Governors

Member of the American Bankruptcy Institute

Member of the Turnaround Management Association

Member of the Chicago Bar Association (Corporate and Bankruptcy Sections)

Member of the Illinois Bar Association (Insolvency Section)

Member of the American Bar Association (Sections on Litigation, Corporation Banking and Business Law, Debtor‑Creditor Relations Committee)

Member of the Commercial Law League of America

Member of The World Bank Insolvency and Creditors Rights Task Force

Appointed to Delaware Bankruptcy Rules and Practice Committee by Del. Chief District Court Judge Joseph J. Farnan


Admissions & Qualifications

  • 1985Illinois
  • 1992New York


  • Admitted to Illinois Bar and U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, 1985;  admitted to Seventh Circuit Bar and U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar, 1986;  admitted to U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin 1988;  admitted to New York State Bar, U.S. District Court Southern District of New York, U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York, U.S. District Court Western District of Michigan, U.S. District Court District of Arizona, 1992. 
  • Appeared in Bankruptcy Courts and cases throughout the United States including N.D. Ill., E.D. Wis., C.D. Cal., N.D. Texas, S.D. N.Y., S.D. Ala., M.D. Tenn, D. Mass., D. S.D., N.D. Ind., C.D. Ill., W.D. Mo., D. Md., D. N.J., E.D. MI, D. AZ., S.D. Tex., S.D. OH.


  • University of Illinois College of LawJ.D.cum laude1985
  • University of MichiganB.A., Historycum laude1982