Most Highly Regarded Firms: Insolvency & Restructuring 2012

In this section we analyse the findings of our research in greater depth to identify the firms and practitioners who stand out worldwide.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
James Sprayregen Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Chicago
Marcia Goldstein Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, New York
Brigitte Umbach-Spahn Wenger Plattner, Küsnacht-Zurich
Harvey Miller Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, New York
Robert Van Galen NautaDutilh NV, Amsterdam
Stephen Gale Herbert Smith LLP, London
Nick Segal Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, London
Kenneth Klee Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern LLP, Los Angeles
Corinne Ball Jones Day, New York
Patricia Godfrey Nabarro LLP, London

Our research identifies 405 bankruptcy and restructuring experts from across 40 countries worldwide.

Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP is once again the leading firm in this sector with more lawyers selected for inclusion than any other. Marcia Goldstein chairs the firm’s business finance and restructuring department and is “world renowned” for her skills in this area. Her “incredible track record” includes assisting AIG with respect to its restructuring, acting as US counsel for Kaupthing Bank and acting as US counsel for the special administrators of MF Global UK. Alongside her, the “legendary” Harvey Miller also garnered votes from across the world and is one of the most highly recommended individuals in our international research. Stephen Karotkin is also based in New York and is a “star”. He is currently one of the lead attorneys representing AMR Corporation and its US subsidiaries, including American Airlines, and received strong commendation for his work for General Motors in its Chapter 11 case. The “excellent” Richard Krasnow completes the contingent from the New York office, and two further nominees are selected in Texas. In Paris, Jean-Dominique Daudier de Cassini co-heads the Paris business finance and restructuring department and is “one of France’s foremost experts”, while Adam Plainer heads the firm’s practice in London and has represented various lenders on the restructuring of Premier League football clubs.

Jones Day increases its presence to seven in this edition. Corinne Ball is one of the most highly respected lawyers in the area and co-head of the New York office’s business restructuring and reorganisation practice. She divides her time between the US and Europe and is recognised for her representation of Chrysler as well as her work on the reorganisations of Kaiser Aluminum and Oceans Casino Cruise Lines among others. Her colleague in the NY office Paul Leake is also well regarded for his debtor and creditor work. Bruce Bennett joined the Los Angeles office in May 2012 from Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP and brings a “first-class practice” which has previously included a role as lead debtor’s counsel in the largest municipal bankruptcy in the US (Orange County, California). David Heiman in Cleveland is a past chair of the American College of Bankruptcy and “extremely well known”, while Kevyn Orr gives the firm a presence in the DC research. Michael Rutstein is highly rated in the UK and acted for London Town Plc in its restructuring and administration.

The six-strong contingent from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP are based across Europe, with the London office particularly strong. Nick Segal is one of the practice area’s leading lights and was described as “a real pleasure to work with”. Ken Baird heads the London restructuring and insolvency team and is praised for his “impeccable judgement”, while Lars Westpfahl stands out as one of the foremost lawyers in the German research. Raffaele Lener is “one of the most important restructuring lawyers in Italy”, according to our sources.

Clifford Chance also sees six of its European lawyers selected for inclusion, with its London office similarly strong. The “very able” Nicholas Frome scores highly while Mark Hyde is “one of the leading practitioners in London” for cross-border work in particular. Philip Hertz was also strongly recommended to researchers. Reinhard Dammann is “a clear choice as one of the best in France”, while Bartosz Kruz˙ewski gives the firm a presence in Poland.

Six lawyers appear from Bingham McCutchen LLP. James Roome is London managing partner and a “well-known, tenacious operator who manages his clients very well”. Barry Russell heads the firm’s London finance group and is also very popular with our sources. In the States, Edwin Smith in Boston is “hugely proficient”, while Michael Reilly, co-head of the global financial restructuring group, is a “tremendous lawyer” and fellow co-head Jeffrey Sabin is said to be a “guru on Dodd-Frank reforms”. Hideyuki Sakai is managing partner of the Tokyo office and “highly esteemed” by clients and peers alike.

Jan Baker is global co-chair of the Latham & Watkins LLP’s insolvency practice and leads a quintet of nominees from the firm. Chairman of the American College of Bankruptcy, he is “extremely well known and incredibly respected in this field”. David Heller is global chair of the firm’s finance department from the Chicago office and a “hugely skilled practitioner”, while Robert Klyman is one of the most highly regarded experts in California. Simon Powell in the Hong Kong office is also well known throughout Asia for the quality of his counsel.

James Sprayregen of Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago leads our research overall this year, with more nominations than any other practitioner. Described as “incredibly skilled” and “phenomenally talented”, he garnered votes from across the globe for his restructuring work across a wide range of industries. Richard Cieri is “the first port of call” for directors and officers seeking representation in this area, while Leo Plank and Kon Asimacopoulos are selected for inclusion in Munich and London respectively.

The four nominees from Allen & Overy LLP are spread across Europe and Asia. In London, Jennifer Marshall is “fantastic for cross-border work”, while Mark Sterling is managing partner of the global restructuring and insolvency group and internationally renowned for his work on the insolvencies of Lehman and the Icelandic banks. Rob Abendroth is one of the leading experts in the Netherlands, once again selected for inclusion in Amsterdam, and David Kidd in Hong Kong is recognised for his work on behalf of liquidators and creditors with claims in liquidations both locally and in China.

Herbert Smith LLP scores highly once again with three partners selected for inclusion, including one of the leaders in the field worldwide in Stephen Gale. His work, such as his counsel to Ernst & Young as administrators of Nortel’s EMEA entities as part of its global administration, “is of the highest quality”.

Patricia Godfrey of Nabarro LLP in London is similarly well regarded. Described as “absolutely top-drawer”, she is past president of INSOL Europe and of R3 and the UK Association of Business Recovery Professionals, and a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy.

Brigitte Umbach-Spahn of Wenger Plattner in Switzerland is one of the most highly recommended individuals in our research worldwide, and is a “leading light in the profession” in the eyes of her peers. She is joined by Karl Wüthrich (“the top of the top” according to our sources) and Fritz Rothenbühler, and all three are well known throughout Europe for their work on high-profile cases.

Robert van Galen of NautaDutilh NV in Amsterdam is the most highly regarded lawyer in the Netherlands and one of the leading experts in our research overall, having been involved in recent international restructurings and bankruptcies such as Kroymans, Yukos and Lehman.

Sidley Austin LLP sees four of its partners selected. Patrick Corr in London is a “tremendous lawyer for both contentious and non-contentious work”. The “excellent” James Conlan is co-chairman of the firm-wide corporate reorganisation and bankruptcy group and listed in Chicago alongside the “highly esteemed” fellow co-chair Larry Nyhan. Sally Neely is senior counsel in the Los Angeles office and “extremely impressive to deal with”.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom also has four nominees split between the US and London. In the latter, Christopher Mallon leads the corporate restructuring practice in Europe and is “hugely respected across the continent”. In Chicago, Jack Butler is widely renowned for the quality of his restructuring work on behalf of clients such as Delphi, Enron and Sprint Nextel, and two further nominees are selected from New York.

Pepper Hamilton LLP is one of the foremost US firms in this sector and has four of its partners selected for inclusion. Robert Hertzberg is resident in the Detroit and New York offices and co-chair of the firm’s practice in this area – “he is a reliable and trusted adviser” to his clients. David Stratton in Delaware was commended to researchers as “masterful in the courtroom”.

Stutman Treister & Glatt PC sees four partners from its Los Angeles office recognised in this edition. Isaac Pachulski is a “standout practitioner in this field”, recognised for his representation of the holders of in excess of $3 billion of senior unsecured debt of Enron Corp in Enron’s chapter 11 case.

Also in California, three founding members of Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern LLP are selected for inclusion. Kenneth Klee is a “leader in this area” and a professor at the UCLA School of Law. He is joined by Michael Tuchin, who is fêted for his debtor work for clients such as MGM Studios, as well as for his out-of-court restructuring expertise. The trio is completed by the “tremendously good” Lee Bogdanoff.

Canadian firms performed strongly in this year’s research. Borden Ladner & Gervais LLP earns four places in this year’s listing, with Josef Kruger QC described as “one of the best-known lawyers in Alberta” and Patrick McCarthy QC, co-chair of the practice, is “at the very top end”. The firm garners further nominees in Quebec and British Columbia.

Kevin McElcheran is a “major player” at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, and he is joined by the highly rated Philippe Bélanger and Sylvain Vauclair in Montreal and Sean Collins in Alberta.

Edward Sellers is “an absolute market leader” and chair emeritus of Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s practice group. He is joined by two further colleagues from the Toronto office and the highly rated Robert Anderson in Alberta.

Jay Carfagnini of Goodmans LLP in Toronto is a “standout practitioner”, and he appears alongside Gale Rubenstein and Robert Chadwick, “the best of the bunch” in the eyes of our sources.

Further afield, three lawyers from Minter Ellison are selected, with Ian Walker in Melbourne one of the most highly rated experts in Australia and known for his advice to clients such as NAB, CBA and Deloitte. Two further nominees are selected from the Sydney office, as well as Sean Gollin of Minter Ellison Rudd Watts in New Zealand, a “very fine advocate for his clients”.

The quartet from Conyers Dill & Pearman is spread across three jurisdictions. Robin Mayor is said to be the “queen of Bermuda bankruptcy law” while the highly rated Mark Forté and Richard Evans are nominated in the British Virgin Islands. Nigel Meeson QC heads the litigation and restructuring practice in the Cayman Islands and is “first rate for disputes” in the eyes of our sources.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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