Chambers & Partners has compiled its independent and objective list of America's Leading Lawyers for Business based on comments gathered from thousands of interviews with clients and lawyers from Maine to Hawaii. This guide — which is designed to reflect market opinion — contains a view of the firms and attorneys who are considered leaders in their field.
In Chambers' 2009 review of national legal talent in the area of "Bankruptcy/Restructuring," our Firm and our lawyers are listed among the best in the country.
Nationwide Ranking: Tier 1
This premier restructuring group is spread across the firm's Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC offices. It is a leading debtor shop, but also handles creditor work, and represents hedge funds and other investors in distressed companies. The New York outfit has been bulking up its bankruptcy and restructuring team, including snaring a partner and three associates from Weil Gotshal in 2008. The group is handling the $2.43 billion restructuring of casino operator Tropicana Entertainment, as well as being retained by debtors on some of the largest bankruptcy cases of the year, including that of TOUSA. What makes this group so successful according to clients is that the lawyers operate as a team rather than a collection of individuals. It also marries legal knowledge with a practical understanding of business needs and "knows the real secret of restructuring, which is how to get where you need to be, either through negotiations or court." One of the biggest pieces of news to impact the firm this year occurred away from the deal table, with the announcement in January 2009 of the return of James Sprayregen. An illustrious name with an outstanding reputation in the handling of complex Chapter 11 cases, he returns from a three-year term as co-head of Goldman Sachs' Americas Restructuring Group and will be working out of the Chicago and New York offices. New York-based Rick Cieri is a key contact.
Illinois Ranking: Tier 1
With a long and successful history in the market, this team "finds the perfect balance between knowledge of the law and getting the job done — that's the secret to its success." The practice operates as one entity across the USA. In Chicago, it has filed ten major Chapter 11 cases through 2008, including the high-profile bankruptcy of Calpine, a matter that involved more than 270 debtors and approximately $18 billion of funded debt. Marc Kieselstein, one of the key attorneys working on the Calpine case, "always looks out for the client's interests and gets you where you need to be." He has been instrumental in many of the other Chapter 11 filings. Working closely alongside him, David Seligman is gaining an increasingly high profile in a wide range of bankruptcy and restructuring matters. Clients say: "When you need to accomplish something urgently, he's the guy you can depend on as he is incredibly informed in finding the right legal argument." The firm is also distinguished for its excellence in debtor representation and the seamless coordination of bankruptcy experts across the firm's offices, whether it be Chicago, New York or Washington, DC. Sources say: "The lawyers operate as a cohesive team, and that's a strength that can never be understated." Having expertly handled a couple of Chapter 11 filings recently, David Eaton is noted for his representation of debtors, financial institutions, unsecured creditors and committees in bankruptcy planning, negotiation and litigation. Other attorneys to note are James Stempel, who acts for public and private debtors and secured and unsecured creditors, and Anup Sathy, who was involved in representing Hines Horticulture in a Chapter 11 case filed in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. One of the biggest pieces of news about the practice recently was the announcement in January 2009 of the return of James Sprayregen. An illustrious name with an outstanding reputation for complex Chapter 11 cases, he returns from a three-year term as co-head of Goldman Sachs's Americas Restructuring Group and will be working out of the Chicago and New York offices.
New York Ranking: Tier 1
This top-notch group has been bulking up its bankruptcy and restructuring team, and recently recruited one partner and three associates from Weil Gotshal. The group is handling the $2.43 billion restructuring of casino operator Tropicana Entertainment LLC, as well as being retained by debtors on some the largest bankruptcy cases around, including that of TOUSA. What makes this group so successful, according to clients, is that the lawyers operate as a team rather than a collection of individuals. The team marries legal knowledge with a practical understanding of business needs and "knows the real secret of restructuring, which is how to get to where you need to be, either through negotiations or court." Rick Cieri "is a fierce advocate for his clients" and is highly rated for his management of high-level, strategic issues. He acted for Calpine and Solutia, both of which emerged from bankruptcy in early 2008. "Extremely smart and creative," Paul Basta "knows how to pull together disparate views and find the right solution," according sources. He recently assisted Dura Automotive Systems with its successful Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring, which resulted in the company cutting its debt of more than $1.3 billion to approximately $180 million. Jonathan Henes stands out for being "astonishingly knowledgeable and determined." He is representing Wellman in its Chapter 11 case.
California Ranking: Tier 3
In the highest class of firms nationally, the firm also has an active bankruptcy practice in California. The group has filed ten substantial Chapter 11 cases in the last twelve months, including for Platinum Equity, White Mountains Capital, Kapalua Bay Holdings and Leiner Health Products. Spearheading the team, Richard Wynne exemplifies the firm's commendable work ethic. His successes include securing a dismissal of claims against 430 lending institutions in the case Adelphia Recovery Trust v Bank of America et al. He also represented Gen Gate Capital in the $15 million asset acquisition of Lexicon Marketing (USA).
Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2009 — www.chambersandpartners.com.