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Bankruptcy / Restructuring

Overview

Bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers represent debtors, creditors, equity interest holders, and other entities that may be interested in a business (such as a prospective acquirer) that is confronting financial difficulties. The practice can involve out-of-court negotiations to restructure a company’s financial affairs without the intervention of a court or bankruptcy reorganization litigation; there are practitioners who focus on either one of these aspects and others whose practices encompass both. Likewise, there are firms that specialize in representing creditors, others that focus on the representation of debtors, and broad practices that do both. Lawyers are often drawn to restructuring work to straddle the business and litigation sides. Bankruptcy involves an arcane set of rules that can take a long time to master. There are limited in-house positions for bankruptcy attorneys, so much of the practice is in a law firm setting. The practice is counter-cyclical—bankruptcy lawyers are most in demand in down markets. A clerkship at a federal bankruptcy court can be helpful, especially for those more interested in the litigation side rather than restructuring transactions. Some bankruptcy practitioners also earn an LL.M. in bankruptcy at some point in their careers.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Bankruptcy / Restructuring from real lawyers in the practice area.
Candace Arthur, Partner
Weil

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I primarily focus on corporate restructuring, which involves problem solving any issue related to a company’s liquidity challenges or other areas of financial distress. At the outset of a company representation, I identify the client’s needs and develop various restructuring options that achieve its goals, including deleveraging the balance sheet, optimizing its real property footprint, reviewing material contracts that can be renegotiated or otherwise shed in an in-court proceeding, or addressing mounting litigation. In connection with creditor representation, I formulate different strategies to protect the creditors’ interests, negotiate transaction terms with the company, and represent the creditor in all aspects of the transaction—either in court or out of court.

What types of clients do you represent?

I represent companies, private equity funds, hedge funds, creditors (including ad hoc groups), and purchasers of distressed assets in both out-of-court and in-court scenarios. My most recent representations have been focused in the retail industry, but I have also represented clients in the oil and gas, energy and exploration, aircraft, automotive technology, entertainment, and financial sectors.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I work on both in-court and out-of-court restructuring transactions that involve both financial and operational restructuring initiatives. My recent company-side representations include, among others, J.Crew, Sears, Insys Therapeutics, Southeastern Grocers, Breitburn Energy Partners, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Co. (A&P), Southern Air, and Lehman Brothers. Additionally, I also represent lenders, including most recently in the Chapter 11 cases of Emerge Energy and Garrett Motion.

How did you choose this practice area?

I chose to pursue a career in restructuring because I find the practice intellectually stimulating and emotionally gratifying. It is truly a hybrid practice that provides me with the opportunity to engage in both transactional and litigation-related work. I can enjoy deal-making and litigating at a quick pace and within the bounds of a manageable court process. I was and continue to be inspired by the ever-evolving industry landscape as new and creative approaches are constantly being taken to provide more clarity to certain sections of the Bankruptcy Code, and case law is developing around interesting issues. I was also drawn to this practice area because of its very personal nature. In addition to being a practice that promotes consensus, oftentimes restructuring a company involves saving jobs and dealing with small business creditors.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

My typical day is dictated by the needs of a client in a given moment. Client needs vary depending on whether I am representing the company or a creditor, and my tasks fluctuate depending on how far along the matter has progressed. Generally, I engage in a number of strategy calls; analyze material contracts; liaise directly with my client’s other advisors, such as the investment banker and financial advisor, to develop restructuring alternatives for consideration; plan an effective in-court proceeding; or formulate the terms of an out-of-court transaction. Additionally, I negotiate with key stakeholders, draft client communications, respond to third-party creditor inquiries, draft complex pleadings, and appear in both contested and uncontested matters in court.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

There are experiences and classes that are helpful in practicing restructuring, but there are no prerequisites, and much of what is needed will be learned in the moment. I found my moot court experience invaluable and a basic understanding of secured transactions and corporate finance helpful.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

The biggest misconception is that restructuring is a “niche” practice area. Weil’s corporate restructuring services are very diverse and involve addressing a company’s entire operation and transcending multiple legal disciplines, including, among others, employment, real estate, securities, tax, corporate governance, debt financing, antitrust, and litigation. Bankruptcy is truly a multidisciplinary field.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Restructuring at Weil is unique due to the depth of Weil’s global platform. Weil’s representations include companies, sponsors, portfolio companies, lenders, ad hoc groups of creditors, and creditors’ committees. With offices worldwide and attorneys experienced in representing clients across multiple industries and in both out-of-court and in-court scenarios, Weil is uniquely situated to provide comprehensive solutions to complex transactions. Weil is also continuously developing creative solutions to challenging restructuring issues that are frequently adopted by practitioners and used as a blueprint for other insolvencies.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Junior attorneys in Weil’s restructuring department perform a variety of tasks and are involved in all aspects of a restructuring matter. Typically, junior attorneys conduct legal research, appear in court to handle uncontested matters, prepare pleadings to obtain affirmative relief and draft responses to motions and other filings, conduct claim reconciliation through the drafting and filing of claims objections, assist in creditor negotiations, and prepare a company for a Chapter 11 proceeding—including preparing petitions, conducting client interviews in connection with drafting first day pleadings, and coordinating with the company’s other advisors on various workstreams.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

Summer associates are staffed on deal teams and involved on client calls, participate in internal meetings on matter administration and case strategy, draft research memos on various legal issues, attend court hearings and other observational opportunities, and assist in the drafting of creditor communications and claims objections. Summer associates also assist in the drafting of substantive pleadings and have an opportunity to pair with attorneys in the department to publish articles.

Candace Arthur, Partner—Restructuring Department

Candace Arthur is a partner in Weil’s Restructuring department, where she advises debtors, creditors, equity holders, investors, and other interested parties in the context of out-of-court and in-court domestic and international corporate restructurings, liquidations, and distressed financings and acquisitions. Most recently, she was profiled in Bloomberg Law’s series “They’ve Got Next,” where she was recognized by Bloomberg Law as one of the top young bankruptcy lawyers currently “raising the bar” in the practice area.

Prior to joining Weil, Ms. Arthur clerked for the Honorable Robert E. Gerber at the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in 2009. As an undergraduate at Yale, she was a record-holding member of the Women’s Track team. At Georgetown Law, she served on the Barrister’s Council (Appellate Advocacy Division), was honored as Best Oral Advocate in the 2008 Frederick Douglass Mid-Atlantic Regional Moot Court Competition, and was awarded a second-place finish in the Frederick Douglass National Moot Court Competition.

Andrea Amulic, Associate • Amanda Parra Criste, Associate
White & Case LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Andrea: White & Case’s Financial Restructuring and Insolvency practice guides clients through restructurings, workouts, and insolvency matters worldwide. Our practice covers the full stressed and distressed debt continuum, from advising on corporate and financial restructuring transactions to navigating Chapter 11 proceedings, multijurisdictional insolvencies, debtor and creditor-related disputes, and special situations. We work across a wide range of sectors, including the automotive, maritime, oil and gas, entertainment, sovereign, retail & consumer, and health care sectors.

Our group provides strategic advice to stressed and distressed businesses, secured and unsecured creditors, and equity holders. We provide practical solutions that resolve disputes related to business failures to enable companies to continue operating and achieve the highest possible returns on their investments. As counsel to creditors, we negotiate workouts and restructurings, and when litigation becomes necessary, we put into motion strategies and remedies to obtain the greatest recoveries on claims.

What types of clients do you represent?

Amanda: We advise almost every type of restructuring stakeholder, including debtors, distressed investors, ad hoc creditor groups, unsecured creditor committees, key contract counterparties, independent directors, indenture trustees, and administrative and collateral agents.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Andrea: I have worked on several deals representing secured lenders in both in- and out-of-court restructurings, ad hoc unsecured noteholder groups, and debtors in both Chapter 11 and Chapter 15 proceedings.

Recently, I have been a core part of the team advising The Hertz Corporation in its global restructuring. In this capacity, I have been involved a wide array of matters, including advising and assisting with respect to the debtors’ obtaining a $1.65 billion DIP financing facility, a cross-border restructuring of certain of Hertz’s English-law governed debt through a scheme of arrangement and Chapter 15 recognition proceeding, the debtors’ use of certain cash collateral and provision of adequate protection in connection therewith, and the debtors’ maintenance and renewal of its various insurance programs.

How did you choose this practice area?

Amanda: For me it was important to find a practice that would leverage my finance and consulting background and that would allow me to work across industries. I did not want to be stuck on the same deals and the same forms. There were aspects of litigation that I liked, like being in court and persuasive writing, but I also did not want to be stuck in discovery mode for months or years. I chose bankruptcy and insolvency because it is not only solution oriented, but also provides a very varied practice, where crafting comprehensive business solutions requires collaboration with other disciplines and, in some cases, litigation.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Amanda: The best part of the practice is that every case and every day is different. The specific approach and tasks often depend on the client and its role in the case. As a mid-level associate, however, my role straddles the spectrum of work from researching complex issues, drafting pleadings, or working directly with senior associates and partners on developing broader strategies. One common task is reviewing and revising documents (such as proposed orders, Restructuring Support Agreements, or proposed Chapter 11 plans) and elevating key issues to the partners. At my level, involvement in advisor and client calls and meetings becomes greater, which means time management becomes critical. Delegation of research assignments and training has become a much larger part of my role which, in itself, requires critical organization and communication skills.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Andrea: I would highly recommend taking bankruptcy/restructuring and secured transaction courses, as well as classes on corporations and commercial law. I would also recommend taking a financial accounting course to anyone who does not have a finance or business background. And it remains important to take writing, procedural, and litigation skills courses, as bankruptcy lawyers also need to be strong persuasive writers, and any public-speaking and negotiation-oriented classes are always beneficial.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Andrea: The most challenging aspect of practicing in this area is also often the most rewarding—it is a constantly unpredictable field. Restructuring is, by definition, focused on problem-solving, and every deal presents different problems than the last. While the unpredictable and reactive nature of the work can often present challenges, it also allows (and requires) practitioners to think creatively and apply novel ideas to addressing each unique situation. So it is difficult to ever feel comfortable, but at the same time, it is also impossible to ever feel bored.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Amanda: I think the biggest misconception about the restructuring field is that it is a niche, specialty area that is monotonous, very U.S. centric, or closes doors to potential alternative career paths. None of these are true, however. Restructuring is truly a generalist practice. It requires both transactional and litigation skills and requires an understanding of many other disciplines, including M&A, capital markets, and finance. More and more, global companies are undergoing global restructurings, which requires working with our colleagues in many other jurisdictions. For example, I have been a part of the team involved with the restructuring of Argentina’s public debt and the debt of certain of its Provinces. In addition, our group is renowned for being involved in some of the most high-profile, Chapter 15 cross-border recognition cases.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area? 

Amanda: While many perceive bankruptcy practice to be niche and only permit a career path as a bankruptcy practitioner, in reality, having a bankruptcy career can open up several alternative trajectories. Bankruptcy practitioners develop financial and general corporate skills, which can be leveraged to various career paths. In addition to becoming partners at law firms, many bankruptcy lawyers go in-house and become counsel for major investment and hedge funds; others become financial restructuring advisors at top restructuring consulting firms or investment banks.

In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice? How have you adjusted to lawyering in the wake of COVID-19?

Andrea: The pandemic has significantly impacted not only the number of Chapter 11 (and global insolvency) cases being filed, but has also altered debtor strategies for restructuring and navigating through bankruptcy. Our practice was extremely busy this past year. Prior to the pandemic, many more companies would file for bankruptcy with a pre-negotiated or pre-packaged deal with their major creditors, allowing for a smooth transition into and quick exit from Chapter 11. Now, however, more and more companies are using the full set of reorganization tools provided by the Bankruptcy Code and commencing Chapter 11 proceedings without pre-negotiated deals. Companies are leveraging bankruptcy tools to gain rent relief, renegotiate the terms of their contracts and debt instruments, and operationally restructure their businesses, given the effects the pandemic has had on many industries.

From a practical perspective, adjusting to working virtually has meant more calls and virtual meetings, rather than in-person meetings, which presents certain challenges when it comes to negotiating but allows for more frequent and direct contact among professionals and principals.

Andrea Amulic, Associate, and Amanda Parra Criste, Associate—Financial Restructuring and Insolvency

Andrea Amulic is an associate in the Financial Restructuring and Insolvency practice at White & Case in New York. Her practice focuses on bankruptcy and financial restructuring matters, including representation of debtors, creditors, purchasers, and other interested parties in international insolvency proceedings, Chapter 11 and Chapter 15 proceedings, out-of-court workouts, and related transactions.

Amanda Parra Criste is an associate in the firm’s Financial Restructuring and Insolvency practice in Miami. She advises debtors, secured and unsecured creditors, ad hoc groups, and other parties in interest with respect to complex financial restructurings, both in and out of the bankruptcy court. She also has experience advising clients in connection with bankruptcy litigation, Chapter 15 cases, and other cross-border insolvency matters.

Aparna Yenamandra, Partner
Kirkland & Ellis

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Restructuring is a dynamic practice that has both transactional elements and litigation elements. Among others, we represent companies, creditors of distressed companies, and funds looking to potentially invest in the distressed space. Our practice is primarily focused on deal-making and contingency planning to allow companies to either avoid a Chapter 11 altogether or to ensure their stay in Chapter 11 is as expeditious and successful as possible. Our ultimate goal is to advise the client on a restructuring strategy that is most likely to ensure its stability and long-term success.

What types of clients do you represent?

In the U.S., our practice is approximately 75-80 percent company side and 20-25 percent creditor/investor side. In London, Munich, and Hong Kong, it is the reverse, although our offices in the U.S. and internationally are fully integrated. We represent the largest and most complex clients and are industry agnostic. For example, in recent years, oil and gas has been the focus of the restructuring community, then retail, and now telecom and health care have come into focus. Among other large clients, we have represented Chesapeake Energy, Intelsat, Frontier Communications, J.C. Penney, Energy Future Holdings, iHeart, and Toys ‘R Us. Our representations of Seadrill and Intelsat, in particular, reflected the cross-integration of our domestic and international offices.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

As a group, we largely prepare companies for an expeditious stay in Chapter 11. We work hard to negotiate consensus with as many creditor constituencies as possible, but we are prepared to litigate where necessary. In addition, we advise companies on out-of-court deleveraging transactions (e.g., a debt-for-equity swap, an amendment and extension of debt facilities and/or sale transactions). For my first several years at Kirkland, I spent the majority of my time on Energy Future Holdings, which was the third-largest operational filing in history. Since then, I have worked on a number of high-profile retail matters, including J.C. Penney, Forever 21, and Tailored Brands (the parent company for Men’s Wearhouse and Jos A. Bank).

How did you choose this practice area?

I chose restructuring because I liked (and still like!) that it has a mix of both litigation and corporate elements. It affords me an opportunity to both sit at the negotiating table and present arguments in court, providing a very comprehensive experience to any young lawyer. I also liked that the restructuring practice puts you in a position to help companies during what is typically a high-stress time for them. Helping to reorganize a company, stabilize its operations, save jobs, and “keep the lights on” is hugely satisfying.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

A typical day changes dramatically the longer you are here. I have been in Kirkland’s Restructuring group for eight-and-a-half years; a typical day for me at this stage is a mix of fielding inbound questions from senior members of the management team and board members (regarding issues or strategy), mentoring younger associates to develop pleadings and deal documents, and working on various client presentations. I also coordinate with my senior partners to make sure the communication lines are constantly open and that we are working together as cohesively as possible.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

While in law school, I would recommend taking a broad base of classes, including those touching on business organizations, evidence, federal tax, accounting, trial advocacy, and legal writing. A secured transactions class may also be helpful to understand bankruptcy basics. Much of what we do involves working with investment bankers, so any business-related classes would be helpful. In addition, if there is an opportunity to clerk with a bankruptcy judge, that could be helpful to understanding restructuring from the bench’s perspective. All that being said, Kirkland offers a wealth of training sessions on key topics, and nothing beats on-the-job training.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

I think many people outside of the legal industry think of the restructuring practice as a proxy for Chapter 7 liquidations—that is simply not true; we rarely pivot to a Chapter 7 liquidation. Our focus is always on restoring operations and getting back to normal as quickly as possible following a Chapter 11 filing and consummating a deleveraging deal that results in a leaner, more stable post-emergence company. In addition, sometimes people think of restructuring as a niche practice, when, in fact, restructuring lawyers are true “generalist” lawyers. We advise businesses through a complex and stressful process, and that advice often touches upon every type of legal practice.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Kirkland’s Restructuring practice is truly unique. We are a young, highly energized group that is growing quickly, yet retains a small-group feel. Leadership is laser focused on maximizing the group’s diversity, ensuring that young lawyers have opportunities as early as possible, and encouraging a healthy work-life balance. Our cases are generally staffed fairly leanly, which means that there are not a number of layers between the senior partners and most junior associates. This not only gives junior associates an opportunity to take on more substantive work, but it also helps bridge relationships among the deal teams. We are also office agnostic—all of our cases are cross-staffed between our primary New York and Chicago teams, which gives every team a chance to get to work with as broad of a group as possible.

What do you like best about your practice area?

There are a number of things that I really like about the restructuring practice. First, we work with virtually every practice group in the firm (tax, litigation, debt finance, capital markets, M&A, etc.), which allows me to develop relationships and get a snapshot of the work that others do. Second, every day is completely unpredictable and different from the previous day, which keeps things dynamic and interesting. Third, as distressed industries change, we get to become subject matter experts in the industry—that means we are always learning about new industries and new companies (often high-profile ones), which I really enjoy.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

A junior lawyer in this practice area will have the opportunity to perform a variety of different tasks. For example, in the early stages of a Chapter 11 case (when we are preparing the company for a filing), a junior lawyer will be very involved in the prep. This will mean talking to the client and other advisors to make sure our “first day” pleadings (which request relief from the bankruptcy court to continue to operate in the normal course post-filing) are thorough and accurate. Additionally, a junior lawyer may work with the debt finance team to prepare the company’s request for financing. After the filing, a junior lawyer will work closely with the client to ensure that they are operating within the guidelines of Chapter 11, and will work with senior attorneys and other advisors to document a plan for reorganization that will allow the company to emerge from Chapter 11.

Aparna Yenamandra, Partner—Restructuring

Aparna Yenamandra is a restructuring partner in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis. (She was also a summer associate and associate at Kirkland.) She advises companies and creditors with investments in distressed companies across a host of industries, including oil and gas, retail, and software. From a company perspective, she advises companies in connection with Chapter 11 filings and out-of-court deleveraging solutions. She also advises creditors in connection with distressed investments and sale transactions. Aparna received her B.A. in Economics and Political Science from New York University and her J.D. from Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law.

Dennis F. Dunne, Partner • Nelly Almeida, Partner
Milbank

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

We advise debtors, creditors, private equity sponsors, and other major parties in all aspects of traditional Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, out-of-court restructurings, and cross-border insolvency matters. We also assist our clients in structuring high-risk loans; facilitate the purchase and sale of financially distressed companies; and represent clients in all types of Chapter 11 litigation, including defending or prosecuting challenges to complex transactions, such as leveraged buyouts. The multidisciplinary nature of our practice requires us to work very closely with our colleagues in our Corporate, Finance, Real Estate, Securities, Litigation & Arbitration, Intellectual Property, and Tax groups on a regular basis. Our restructuring attorneys in the U.S. and London also collaborate with our attorneys in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and São Paulo to address complex issues arising in our international insolvency matters.

What types of clients do you represent?

We represent high-profile clients involved in many of the largest and more complex restructuring cases that have taken place over the past decades, including Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), PG&E, Avianca, Intelsat, Guitar Center, and Cirque du Soleil. Representations include official and informal creditor groups, as well as many of the world’s largest financial institutions interested in providing credit to Chapter 11 debtors and acquiring or selling financially distressed companies. We also represent companies facing a distressed situation and boards of directors in a variety of industries and jurisdictions in the U.S. and abroad as they navigate through financial crisis.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Our practice consists of the most complex, cutting-edge restructuring work in the country.  Whether it is setting a record for the shortest pre-packaged plan (Full Beauty successfully confirmed a one-day pre-packaged Chapter 11 plan), navigating the political currents in large cases such as Puerto Rico or PG&E, or leading large-scale distressed M&A transactions, our team will be engaged in primary roles in virtually every large restructuring.  We represent debtors, creditors, official creditor committees, private equity sponsors, and purchasers of distressed assets. Representing secured and unsecured creditors, sponsors, and debtors in Chapter 11 cases and out-of-court workouts in the U.S. and internationally, our engagements have ranged across an array of industries.

How did you choose this practice area?

Dennis: While a summer associate, I rotated through the Litigation and Corporate departments. There were elements of each that I liked (courtroom advocacy and negotiating deals) and elements I disliked (bates-stamping documents and interminable due diligence). During my third year of law school, I worked in the Financial Restructuring group of a law firm. I found that financial restructuring and Chapter 11 work involved the best of each practice area without the undesirable (but necessary) aspects of either.

Nelly: When I was a summer associate in 2010, it was still at the height of the aftermath of the financial crisis and summering in the Financial Restructuring group was a no brainer. I enjoyed the work the group did for many of the same reasons that Dennis mentioned. Most notably, I was drawn to the variety of the work—both in terms of cases and issues that the lawyers handled and also in terms of the day-to-day assignments. That variety continues to be what keeps the practice interesting.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Dennis: From arguing in court and advising a board of directors to creating new and innovative structural solutions and negotiating a precedent-setting solution, I would say one of the most rewarding things about this practice is that there is no typical day. Everything we do is bespoke, and it’s rewarding and challenging.

Nelly: On any deal we do, I think of restructuring lawyers as being the deal quarterbacks, who have to not only be aware of everything going on in the deal, but be ready to make the key strategy decisions quickly as issues come up. We are constantly working through the different pieces of the puzzle to put it all together within the confines of the bankruptcy courts. The variety is what makes it interesting. We’re thought leaders, constantly balancing limitations, the bankruptcy code, and unique circumstances for each client to figure out solutions—often in a tight timeframe.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Dennis: Explore all areas of law in law school. Wherever you follow the course book, you’ll end up using in this practice. Although not crucial to being successful in the practice, any courses on bankruptcy, secured transactions, or anything that teaches you how to negotiate contracts would be helpful.

Nelly: I don’t think there is a particular class that is required. Though, of course, some can be helpful, including Corporate Tax, Securities Regulation, Secured Transactions, and Bankruptcy. I think what is important is the ability to stay organized and focused on the various issues that may impact your deal.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Dennis: The path to a successful restructuring can be tricky. There are often a variety of actors and interests involved as well as various legal considerations to take into account. A successful restructuring requires an in-depth understanding of a company’s challenges. As a result, restructuring attorneys must not only understand the applicable business, but also be proficient in many areas of the law. Because every company has a unique set of problems, we are not a form-based practice. No finite set of documents or a delineated universe of precedents guides our work. We are truly the last of the “generalists.”

What do you like best about your practice area?

Nelly: What attracted me to bankruptcy and restructuring, and what I continue to enjoy, is that there is no one-size-fits-all aspect to it. There is always something new and different to learn—and an opportunity to develop and negotiate a unique solution. I would also add that as an associate, bankruptcy allowed me a unique opportunity to work with many other groups, including M&A, Capital Markets, and Litigation, which was invaluable for my career development.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Dennis: People have the misimpression that restructuring and bankruptcy is a niche practice. To the contrary, it is one of the last bastions of general practice and pure lawyering. Financial restructuring is often the broadest practice area of any department in a large firm as it involves knowledge of a variety of departments. Bankruptcy is undoubtedly a hybrid litigation and transactional practice. Its transactional aspect spans many areas, each of which often constitutes its own department within a firm. For instance, on any given day, lawyers in the group may negotiate bank deals and related documents, distressed M&A transactions, or transactions that entail bond debt. We also negotiate and help craft the key aspects of the charter and by-laws for reorganized companies. The practice area is vast and never boring.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Whether we are in economic booms or swoons, you couldn’t be in a better practice because we are always busy. Naturally in a downturn, or during a pandemic, the practice can be unusually busy. However, because Milbank has a first-rate Restructuring practice that often handles some of the largest, complex situations, we are uniquely positioned to have attorneys from other groups—Corporate, Capital Markets, and Litigation—that often advise on restructuring matters and are, therefore, able to provide tremendous support during a downturn. In fact, during the early months of the pandemic, we had over 100 attorneys advising on restructuring matters, while our core bankruptcy team is around 40 attorneys. More companies are recognizing the benefits to restructuring as a preferred commercial path for a company that is over levered, even during market climbs—there is always an industry going through its own unique headwinds that requires restructuring.

Dennis F. Dunne and Nelly Almeida - Partners, Financial Restructuring

Dennis F. Dunne is a partner in the New York office of Milbank LLP, a member of the firm’s Global Executive Committee, and head of the firm’s Financial Restructuring group. With over 30 years of experience, Mr. Dunne is one of the leading bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers in the nation.

Nelly Almeida is a partner in the Financial Restructuring group at Milbank LLP. Ms. Almeida represents debtors, creditors, lenders, official committees, equity holders, and other parties in complex Chapter 11 cases and out-of-court restructurings. She has advised on some of the most high-profile cases in the country.

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