As part of the 2023 New York Legal Awards, partner Josh Sussberg was recognized by the New York Law Journal in the "Dealmaker of the Year" category and was profiled in a Q&A.
What were some of your most satisfying successes of the past year, and why? Learning about the cryptocurrency marketplace and being able to break that down in an easily digestible way for the courts and other constituents to understand was one of the most challenging, but rewarding parts of the year. Navigating billions of dollars of indebtedness, and ultimately bringing all parties together to save the second-largest movie-theater operator in the world—in a very challenging and changing operating environment—was the most satisfying. More than 30,000 jobs will be saved and that is why I do this every day.
What qualities make a great dealmaker? A great dealmaker fosters consensus among disparate views by earning the respect and trust of people around the table. Absent trust and respect, it is difficult, if not impossible, to bring disparate parties together to solve a problem. Trust and respect are earned through repetition and a demonstration that one is truly dedicated to finding a solution that is workable for all parties.
What recent market factors have been the most challenging in your practice area? Rising rates and inflation have suddenly made it very challenging for companies to source liquidity. Liquidity is the lifeblood of every company, and the sudden shift in the marketplace has caused many companies to miscalculate their liquidity runways. Being left with little time to navigate a company’s balance sheet and operational issues in the face of dwindling liquidity creates immense tension amongst the company and its key stakeholders.
A prospective client calls and asks why you or your team should be retained. What is your response? There are lots of good restructuring lawyers at many different highly respected firms. And while I truly believe Kirkland has the best and largest restructuring group (with close to 200 dedicated full-time restructuring lawyers), our “secret sauce”—and what truly separates us from our competitors—is the hundreds of lawyers at the firm in various practice groups who over 30 years have gained invaluable experience counseling on restructuring matters. From tax, capital markets, litigation to debt finance, there are 500-600 lawyers that spend a significant amount of their time advising distressed companies. There is no other firm that can bring the expertise that we have developed across all these practice groups. This provides clients with a complete solution and professionals who have been at the forefront of nearly every major restructuring in the last several decades. And this is not lip service—if there is a way to avoid a Chapter 11, we will navigate that path seven out of seven days of the week. We want Chapter 11 to be a tool to merely implement a transaction if necessary.