Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2010: Bankruptcy/Restructuring

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' 2010 review of national legal talent in the area of "Bankruptcy/Restructuring," our Firm and our lawyers are listed among the best in the country.

Chambers' comments:

Nationwide Ranking: Tier 1

The Firm: With leading lawyers working cohesively across the firm's Chicago and New York offices, Kirkland & Ellis has a premier debtor practice and continues to edge ahead of its competition in company-side representations. A key highlight for the group was its role in assisting Charter Communications to emerge from bankruptcy protection in November 2009. The team also acted for Lear in achieving the first successful pre-arranged restructuring of a Tier 1 automotive supplier.

Sources Say: "Kirkland has a tremendous company-side practice both on a national and international platform."

Key Individuals: New York-based Rick Cieri is a key leader in the group.

Illinois Ranking: Tier 1

The Firm: This group continues to pick up the best debtor cases and is widely regarded as setting the pace in Chicago. Its activity in major Chapter 11s covers multiple industries including the media, automotive, telecoms and retail sectors. An increased convergence with its leading private equity department has resulted in a growing number of REIT-related matters. Recently, the team represented DBSD North America in its Chapter 11 cases, which involved the restructuring of approximately $800 million in outstanding liabilities. This matter exemplifies its ability to work alongside partners in the New York office as one team.

Sources Say: "The team never fails to provide practical, business-minded advice: it's undoubtedly a number-one practice."

Key Individuals: The return of James Sprayregen created a buzz in the marketplace: "He will lift the practice even higher," remarked one commentator. Observers assert that his prior experience at Goldman Sachs will be invaluable, and clients applaud his ability to "smooth the waters where needed but also take an aggressive stand when necessary." Marc Kieselstein has been working alongside Sprayregen on several matters and was involved in representing Lear in its Chapter 11, with a listed debt of $4.5 billion. David Eaton has made a name for himself advising debtors, financial institutions and unsecured creditors and is described as "a lawyer who delivers every single time." He recently acted for Norwood Promotional Products Holdings in its Chapter 11. Anup Sathy and James Stempel both ascend the rankings this year. Sathy is respected for his role in sophisticated national cases, which recently included a multibillion-dollar reorganization. Stempel regularly acts for distressed companies. Clients appreciate his broad approach to the law: "He has a clear sense of our objectives, making him incredibly effective in bankruptcy transactions," says one. Public corporations and private portfolio companies make up the bulk of David Seligman's clientele. He continues to act in cross-border restructurings.

New York Ranking: Tier 1

The Firm: This team's growth and increased bench strength in recent years have greatly impressed sources and seen it further distance itself from the rest of the pack in terms of debtor work, both in New York and internationally. The group has been active in some of the largest cases, including representing Charter Communications in its prearranged bankruptcy, acting for Chemtura in its Chapter 11 restructuring and acting for auto suppliers such as Lear and Visteon in their Chapter 11 proceedings.

Sources Say: "These are the premier debtor lawyers in the country. They take into account not only the law but also the motives and personalities of all those involved."

Key Individuals: Richard Cieri has a fantastic reputation for "his terrific management of large-scale cases and flawless strategy skills." He has led the group on behalf of Charter and Chemtura and "excels in keeping expectations realistic and in accordance with the constraints of a case." Restructuring specialist Paul Basta receives accolades for "always keeping in mind what's best for the company and providing consistently good advice on extremely difficult and challenging issues." Jonathan Henes is developing a strong reputation as "a real hands-on and roll-up-your-sleeves attorney who has terrific negotiation skills."

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2010 —