Award Chambers & Partners

America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2011: 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' 2011 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:

Illinois Ranking: Tier 1

The Firm: This group works in close conjunction with colleagues in the firm's New York office to form one of the strongest debtor representation practices nationwide. It brings its preeminence to bear on a range of industries, including the automotive, retail, real estate, media and telecom. The team's close links to the firm's market-leading private equity desk have also enabled it to deftly handle some of the most significant REIT-related bankruptcies in the market. In this vein, the firm has been advising Innkeepers USA Trust, the owner and operator of a large portfolio of hotels, on one of the largest filings of 2010. The group also plays an integral role on many multidisciplinary and multijurisdictional mandates handled by the firm, recently participating in undertakings for General Growth Properties, FGIC and ION Media Networks.

Sources Say: "One of the largest and most impressive practices around."

Key Individuals: James Sprayregen hit the ground running upon returning to the marketplace in December 2008, following a spell as co-head of the restructuring group at Goldman Sachs. He focuses on representing troubled companies and their directors and has quickly reestablished himself as a leading practitioner: "A restructuring genius and one of the best strategists in the country." David Eaton has a broad practice working on behalf of debtors, committees and secured and unsecured creditors. "An outstanding and highly effective lawyer," he recently provided Chapter 11 advice to Flying J, one of the largest privately held companies in the USA. Anup Sathy has played key roles on a number of the firm's recent high-profile assignments, including the Innkeepers USA Trust, General Growth Properties and Neff mandates. Held in high esteem by contemporaries, he's praised for being "extremely skilled, hard-working and capable." David Seligman has an eminent practice acting for a variety of public and private portfolio companies, and wins particular praise for his strength in cross-border work. He recently assisted Sprayregen in guiding Corus Bankshares through a restructuring. James Stempel has a wide-ranging workload, providing debtor and unsecured creditor representation alongside advice to purchasers of distressed companies. He recently advised Questex Media, a leading business-to-business media provider, on the implications of Chapter 11 cases on approximately $242 million in secured debt obligations.

New York Ranking: Tier 1

The Firm: Kirkland & Ellis has successfully built one of the largest teams in this sector, housing some of the best bankruptcy talents available for major company-side representations. The team is strong across a broad sweep of industries, and has been especially active in real estate-related bankruptcy filings. These have included representing Innkeepers USA Trust, the owner and operator of a large portfolio of hotels, in its Chapter 11 reorganization. The firm is also co-counsel in the representation of 382 affiliates of General Growth Properties in their bankruptcy cases.

Sources Say: "The group is unbelievably deep in its expertise and practical in its approach."

Key Individuals: Richard Cieri is "one of the most respected bankruptcy attorneys around." He is highlighted for his excellent strategy and management skills in large-scale cases on behalf of troubled companies and their directors. He has led an impressive number of the market's largest bankruptcies this year, recently acting for both Charter Communications and Chemtura in their Chapter 11 proceedings. Paul Basta is increasingly recommended as "a stellar restructuring specialist" and an integral player in the group's most significant company representations. These have included acting for insurance holding company FGIC in its in and out-of-court restructurings, and also acting for Innkeepers USA Trust. Jonathan Henes is similarly lauded for his debtor-side restructuring expertise. Sources remark upon his "fantastic stature in the market" and describe him as one of the sector's future leaders. The "tremendously capable and constructive" Marc Kieselstein recently arrived from the firm's Chicago office. He is commended as "an extraordinarily seasoned bankruptcy lawyer," and wins extensive praise for his role in representing automotive parts supplier Visteon and 31 affiliates in their Chapter 11 cases. Peers have also been impressed by the performance of the up-and-coming Joshua Sussberg. "He is an absolute pleasure to work with and against," say sources.

Nationwide Ranking: Tier 1

The Firm: This firm's preeminent Chicago and New York-based teams work seamlessly together to form one of the country's strongest practice groups for the representation of debtors. While expert in a variety of industries, including retail, media and telecom, the team has been especially prominent in real estate-related bankruptcies of late. These have included representing Innkeepers USA Trust, the owner of a sizeable portfolio of hotels, in one of the sector's largest filings. It has also been acting as co-counsel to 382 affiliates of General Growth Properties. Other highlights include its representation of specialty chemical company Chemtura Corporation and construction equipment rental company Neff Rental.

Key Individuals: The New York-based Rick Cieri is one of the group's leading national players.

Reprinted with permission from Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business 2011—