Restructuring & Insolvency 2017: Analysis

The collaboration between Who’s Who Legal and Global Restructuring Review has again generated extensive research into restructuring and insolvency legal markets around the world. All told, we list 570 lawyers this year from 47 jurisdictions.

Thought Leaders
Rita Gismondi Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners, Rome
Nick Segal Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, London
Kolja von Bismarck Linklaters, Frankfurt
Annerose  Tashiro Schultze & Braun, Achern
Leo Plank Kirkland & Ellis International, Munich
Gabriel Moss QC South Square, London
Jennifer Marshall Allen & Overy, London
Brigitte Umbach-Spahn Wenger Plattner, Zurich
Robert van Galen NautaDutilh, Amsterdam
Andreas Spahlinger Gleiss Lutz, Stuttgart
North America
James Sprayregen Kirkland & Ellis, Chicago
Kenneth Klee Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern, Los Angeles
Mark Collins Richards Layton & Finger, Wilmington
Jay Carfagnini Goodmans, Toronto
Robert Chadwick Goodmans, Toronto
Richard Mason Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, New York
Dennis Dunne Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, New York
DJ (Jan) Baker Latham & Watkins, New York
Donald Bernstein Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York
Andrew Rosenberg Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, New York
Rest of the World
James Marshall Ashurst, Sydney
Robin Mayor Conyers Dill & Pearman, Hamilton
Dominic Emmett Gilbert + Tobin, Sydney
Patrick Ang Rajah & Tann Singapore, Singapore
Neil McDonald Kirkland & Ellis, Hong Kong

South Square maintains its position as the leading barristers’ chambers in our research with 12 listings. Gabriel Moss QC is “one of the stars of the insolvency bar” and is known for his ability to deliver “excellent results”. Antony Zacaroli QC is “incredibly good and a pleasure to work with” according to clients, for whom he is “a first choice for many cases”. David Allison QC wins praise for his technical restructuring work and is considered “a guru on schemes and arrangements”. Robin Dicker QC is “a stand-out silk”. One respondent describes him as “probably the best in the business at the moment.” “Top junior” Richard Fisher is highly regarded by clients who value his “user-friendly” style. Known for his “sensible and good judgement”, William Trower QC earns a reputation as “one of the top choices in the field”. According to clients, Felicity Toube QC is “robust, thoughtful and good to have on your side,” while Mark Phillips QC is also well regarded in the market.

Clifford Chance demonstrates a strong global practice with nine lawyers listed across seven offices. In the London office, global head of restructuring and insolvency Philip Hertz advises on a wide range of insolvency issues. He is known as “a dynamic lawyer and one of the foremost leaders in the field”. Adrian Cohen advises lenders, debtors, sponsors and counterparties on restructuring and insolvency issues and is “a longstanding and well-respected practitioner”. Stefan Sax in Frankfurt advises financial institutions on cross-border insolvency matters including crisis situations, where he “gives very considered advice and is highly skilled”. In the Madrid office, Iñigo Villoria has advised on matters of insolvency, debt restructuring, sale and purchase agreements and claw back actions. In Hong Kong, Mark Hyde has been involved in some of the most high-level restructurings and insolvencies relating to banks and investment funds around the world. He is “technically excellent and very well regarded”. In the Paris office, Reinhard Dammann is a specialist in cross-border insolvency and has acted for financial institutions, investment funds, companies and trustees.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has a top-tier restructuring practice with a strong network centred on its London, New York and Hong Kong offices, as well as a host of headline mandates, including acting in the bankruptcy of LyondellBasell for one of the principal investors. Topping our rankings at the firm is London-based Barry Russell, one of the undisputed stars of the bar. He continues to advise investors, lenders and other creditors in many of the most high-profile restructurings in Europe. James Roome earns similarly strong endorsements from respondents, who highlight his outstanding track record in domestic and cross-border insolvency and restructurings. For instance, last year Roome represented the lender in the financial restructuring of UK waste management firm Cory Environmental. In the firm’s New York office, global financial restructuring co-chair Daniel Golden is recognised as being among the highest-calibre lawyers in the city by peers. He is noted for advising creditors and bondholders in complex restructurings and Chapter 11 cases. Meanwhile, Naomi Moore earns strong praise for her Hong Kong-based practice. Referring to her as “tenacious and pragmatic”, clients recommend her for high- profile distressed situations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Eight stand-out practitioners at Sidley Austin are highlighted this year including practice co-head Larry Nyhan. He is an esteemed authority known for his longstanding practice in corporate bankruptcy. Jennifer Hagle's "ability to command a room, capture the ear of her counterparts, and negotiate a deal are what truly sets her apart." Jessica Boelter is "an excellent, technically strong lawyer" who is well noted for her expertise in Chapter 11 proceedings. Matthew Clemente is "a go-to lawyer for complex insolvency issues" who is cited for his "practical approach". Kenneth Kansa's impressive practice focuses on representing corporations in contentious and non-contentious restructurings, as well as cross-border insolvency cases. James Conlan is praised for his sophisticated practice, which combines a “high level of technical expertise with a thorough understanding of clients’ business needs”, according to sources. Bryan Krakauer offers clients comprehensive expertise across the area, with particular experience handling significant out-of-court restructurings. Patrick Corr is a "pragmatic and creative" bankruptcy expert who has notable experience in an array of multi-jurisdictional disputes.

Also boasting eight lawyers listed is Kirkland & Ellis. James Sprayregen in Chicago is one of two Kirkland lawyers highlighted as thought leaders in our research. He secures nominations from all over the world for his superb expertise in Chapter 11 cases. Also very highly regarded is Leo Plank, whose representation of clients in cross-border restructurings is particularly lauded, with notable expertise in leveraged buyouts. He represents clients on both the creditor and debtor side. The “outstanding” Kon Asimacopoulos in London is a talented partner who handles a wide range of restructurings and insolvencies, for funds, banks and debtor companies. Thought leader Neil McDonald is the top lawyer in Hong Kong in this year’s research and is a “highly impressive figure in the market”. Also in Hong Kong is “strong up-and-comer” Damien Coles. Three other US lawyers are recommended. Paul Basta is regarded as a “leader in New York”. He is particularly known for his debtor-side representations and also acts for funds with regard to distressed portfolio entities. Marc Kieselstein and David Seligman in the firm’s head office in Chicago are also listed.

Weil Gotshal & Manges is a third firm with eight lawyers included in the listings. In the USA Marcia Goldstein is “a terrific lawyer and strategist” who brings over 35 years of experience to her handling of domestic and international restructuring matters. She particularly impresses with her “tremendous commitment and focus, which facilitates the best outcome for her clients.” Joining her is Alfredo Perez who is described as “one of the hardest-working lawyers in the business” with particular experience managing transnational bankruptcies. Alongside them, Stephen Karotkin is particularly known among sources for his “vast experience having been involved in many of the largest bankruptcies in the US". In London, the “fantastic” Andrew Wilkinson impresses clients with his “unique insights and technical expertise”. He has deep experience handling numerous restructurings for significant public, creditors and private companies across Europe.

Jones Day also has a strong showing, with eight practitioners included in the listings. Practice head  Bruce Bennett is a “powerful lawyer” and a “real force in the market”. He recently acted for the official committee of second priority noteholders in the bankruptcy of Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, in an agreement worth US$3.62 billion. Corinne Ball stands out as among the very best US lawyers in our research and the top-ranked lawyer at the firm. Her outstanding experience in the area is focused on corporate reorganisations, including multi-jurisdictional mandates. In Cleveland, the highly experienced David Heiman is also widely nominated for his expertise in the area. The Amsterdam-based Jasper Berkenbosch is regarded by market sources as a “first-tier practitioner” in the Netherlands. His expertise includes restructurings involving substantial real estate elements. Ben Larkin in London garners a range of nominations for his cross-border restructuring expertise.

Walkers sees seven of its practitioners recognised. The Cayman Islands office performs well, with six of the firm’s lawyers listed there. Neil Lupton specialises in complex restructurings and both contentious and non-contentious insolvencies. He is noted for his “ability to grasp the crux of the issue and achieve a good solution”. Matthew Goucke advises on the liquidation of hedge and investment funds and “has an acute grasp of insolvency law”. Colette Wilkins is a contentious insolvency specialist and has over 25 years of litigation experience. In the British Virgin Islands, Sandie Corbett has experience in schemes of arrangement, restructuring and contentious insolvency matters. She is “without a doubt one of the best lawyers practising in the field”.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, with its strong global practice, has been active in a number of key transactions over the last few years, including the restructurings of New World Resources, Stemcor, FCC Environment Group/WRG and IVG. The firm earns seven listings with the majority of its top lawyers based in London. Ken Baird heads the global team and focuses his practice on complex cross-border restructurings and insolvencies on both the debtor and creditor side. A respondent notes: “He has excellent judgement and is a strong presence during negotiations.” Nick Segal ranks as one of the very top practitioners in our research, earning recommendations from peers across the world. He regularly acts on complex cross-border mandates, handing restructurings in the UK, US, European and Asian markets. The “outstanding” Neil Golding has a strong portfolio of financial institutions clients, including the Bank of England. He is often seen acting on high-value cross-border transactions.

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom is home to an excellent team and follows closely behind with seven listings. Chris Mallon is highlighted in the firm’s London office, with clients describing him as “one of the best UK restructuring lawyers”. His notable clients include Enron, WorldCom, Loral and British Vita, among others. Alongside him Dominic McCahill has a “longstanding reputation for excellence and achievement”. He focuses his practice on corporate restructuring matters, advising companies and creditors with an emphasis on cross-border situations. In the USA Paul Leake is described by sources as a “consummate dealmaker”. He specialises in corporate restructurings and represents debtors, banks, and distressed investment funds among other high-profile clients. Jay Goffman “is a powerhouse lawyer”, who is known in the industry for his “innovative thinking and creative approach to problems”.

DLA Piper achieves six listings this year. In the US, Selinda Melnik possesses almost 30 years of experience in the field and is internationally renowned for her impressive restructuring practice. Alongside her, Craig Martin is recognised for his notable work on distressed cases, particularly in relation to cross-border matters. Stuart Brown also wins praise for his first-rate practice while Richard Chesley is “a formidable opponent” according to peers. In Canada, Mary Buttery chairs the restructuring group, and is “very well respected” in the national market. Hong Kong-based Mark Fairbairn heads the firm’s restructuring practice in Asia and is “a well-known name” among peers.

At Latham & Watkins, the New York office sees “all-time great” DJ (Jan) Baker recommended. He represents companies, committees, lenders and acquirers on various restructuring engagements and sources describe him as “one of the leading figures in restructuring, with a real depth of both legal and commercial understanding”. Global co-chair of the firm’s restructuring practice Mitchell Seider is recommended for his experience representing multinational organisations and financial institutions in largescale restructurings and reorganisations. In the Chicago office, David Heller advises both public and private sector institutions on financial issues relating to bankruptcy and insolvency and is regarded as “a great lawyer and a dean of restructuring”. Peter Gilhuly in Los Angeles heads the West Coast insolvency practice where he is recognised as one of the leading experts in bankruptcy matters.

Ashurst’s standout offering stems from its strong foundations in the UK and Australia. As such, the firm can lay claim to some of the top performers in these markets. James Marshall is top of the list in Australia, according to research, with a reputation for being “extremely knowledgeable”. He regularly counsels lending syndicates to distressed companies in both domestic and cross-border mandates. Giles Boothman heads up the firm’s global restructuring team from London. He receives very strong endorsements, particularly in relation to distressed debt. One prominent peer comments: “He’s a fantastic lawyer and has been our go-to for years.” Alongside him, Dan Hamilton is noted for financial restructuring practice, with much of his 30 years’ legal experience spent focusing on leveraged and structured finance restructurings.

From Dentons seven outstanding practitioners are identified by our research. The firm’s England office is represented by the “excellent” Neil Griffiths who has a particular focus on contentious and litigious insolvency and restructuring matters. Sources praise him as being “a pleasure to work with”. He is joined by Nigel Barnett, who is “very knowledgeable and precise”, with a broad practice covering all aspects of insolvency. In Canada John Sandrelli is “highly recommended” especially for his “very good restructuring work”.  He frequently acts for companies as well as trustees, financial institutions and creditors among others, with particular experience of handling matters across the mining, forestry, energy, and aviation sectors. David Mann is described as a “leader in the field” and “a very fine lawyer” by interviewees. He has more than 25 years of experience handling insolvency cases.

Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones has six lawyers featured in this year’s research. The “really excellent” Debra Grassgreen is a leading attorney at the firm for insolvency and restructuring work, particular on Chapter 11 bankruptcies. Also in the firm’s California office, Isaac Pachulski is regarded as a “brilliant lawyer” by peers. He brings over 40 years’ experience to an array of complex reorganisations and insolvency matters. Richard Pachulski also possesses exceptional experience and depth of expertise in the area and has acted for a number of leading clients including Lehman Brothers and American Suzuki Motor Corporation. The Delaware-based Laura Davis Jones is highlighted by a peer as a “very effective lawyer who is very practical”.

Five leading practitioners from NautaDutilh are recognised, including head of the insolvency and restructuring group Robert van Galen, who is considered “a first-tier lawyer”. He is joined in the Netherlands by the internationally recognised Barbara Rumora-Scheltema who is known for her impressive work in a range of restructuring and insolvency matters. Teun Struycken is also highlighted for his impressive work advising both domestic and international clients.

White & Case sees five lawyers listed for their expertise. In Hamburg, practice leader Sven-Holger Undritz advises on corporate insolvency and restructuring where he is considered “a dealmaker”. Biner Bähr in Düsseldorf is listed for his expertise in restructurings including complex structures across multiple industry sectors. Thomas Lauria in Miami focuses on bankruptcy and restructuring where he has over three decades of experience. He is described by peers as "a really solid lawyer who can handle major bankruptcy matters”.

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison is another premier firm in our research, earning five listings. Chair of the practice Alan Kornberg handles Chapter 11 cases, cross-border insolvency litigation, out-of-court restructurings and distressed transactions. Sources place him among the very top tier, stating: “Kornberg is extremely resourceful and is a go-to for the very toughest cases.” This year Andrew Rosenberg ranks among the top 10 restructuring practitioners at the New York bar. He advises both on the debtor and creditor side, and peers call him “a sharp and incredibly creative lawyer.” Stephen Shimshak rates highly for insolvency litigation. A source calls him “an outstanding bankruptcy lawyer”. Kelley Cornish is known for serving as counsel to both debtors and creditors in complex litigation and corporate restructurings. One effusive respondent asserts, “She is a terrific counsel, who I would trust to excel in the most complex and high-pressure situations.” Brian Hermann’s practice covers both out-of-court restructurings and Chapter 11 cases. A respondent remarks, “He is top-notch, with strong attention to detail and excellent initiative.”

Appleby ranks as a top firm for offshore insolvency litigation, particularly in British Overseas Territories. In the Cayman Islands, global disputes head Andrew Bolton specialises in insolvency litigation. One peer sums up market sentiment by stating: “Bolton is a sophisticated litigator with insolvency nous.” In Bermuda, John Riihiluoma acts as senior counsel to the firm with a longstanding practice in insolvency litigation. Respondents note, “He is very well known and widely respected.” Andrew Willins also earns strong endorsements for his BVI-based practice.

At Los Angeles-based Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern, Kenneth Klee is recognised as a thought leader in the field of restructuring and insolvency. He is widely regarded as “a brilliant lawyer” and an expert on bankruptcy, business reorganisations and renegotiations of agreements. Lee Bogdanoff represents debtors, creditors and creditors’ committees and asset acquirers. He also has expertise in insolvency litigation and is noted for his “commanding knowledge of the field”. Michael Tuchin has significant experience in Chapter 11 cases and has been involved in restructuring matters both in and out of court.

At Norton Rose Fulbright five leading practitioners are highlighted, including Hamish Anderson in the firm’s London office who is “very good” and described as “a real leader of the group”. His practice comprises both individual and corporate insolvency matters from a broad variety of sectors, with particular experience handling cross-border cases. In Canada Howard Gorman QC is “one of the top lawyers in Alberta”, with an emphasis on oil and gas and commercial matters. They are joined in Australia by the “fantastic” Steven Palmer who is well known for his “hugely impressive breadth of expertise” having been involved in a number of significant restructuring cases over the last few years.

Delaware firm Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor boasts extensive expertise in restructuring and insolvency and has five excellent practitioners included in this year’s edition. Firm chairman James Patton secures the most nominations among lawyers at the firm, with peers regarding him as being “in the very top echelon” for cross-border insolvencies and corporate restructurings. Robert Brady also excels and is highlighted by our research as one of the top three lawyers in Delaware in this area. He has over 25 years of experience in complex restructurings. Pauline Morgan is also widely nominated for her bankruptcy expertise. She has acted for creditors and debtors on a broad spectrum of Chapter 11 cases.

Blake Cassels & Graydon achieves five nominations including Linc Rogers who is described by respondents as “practical and business-minded” when it comes to complex restructurings. Pamela Huff is highly respected among peers who consider her “an all-round excellent lawyer.” William Kaplan QC is “a leading practitioner in Vancouver” and recognised for his impressive insolvency work. 

Three lawyers from ASW Law in Bermuda gain a listing. Jan Woloniecki is noted as an "excellent performer in insolvency litigation". Kehinde George is "great to work with and adeptly handles the different parties involved in insolvency matters". Rod Attride-Stirling is "a formidable lawyer who understands his clients' goals and gets results".

Gowling WLG also garners three listings this year. Alex MacFarlane is recognised as "one of the very best" Canadian restructuring and insolvency lawyers in the market. Denis St-Onge focuses his practice on insolvency litigation and is praised for his “through and meticulous approach”. Derrick Tay advises many national and multinational debtor corporations regarding their restructurings, and has “longstanding market-leading expertise”.

A trio of impressive lawyers from Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz secure listings. Harold Novikoff boasts an impressive 40 years of practice as a leading lawyer handling restructurings for both public and private companies. Richard Mason receives widespread praise from peers and clients alike for his superlative restructuring practice, while Scott Charles is described as "one of the most creative lawyers in his area and highly responsive".

A pair of Walder Wyss practitioners are also included. Christoph Stäubli has been described as “a favourite Swiss lawyer” by clients, who he advises on an extensive range of bankruptcy and restructuring matters. Urs Schenker is a highly regarded lawyer who offers clients 30 years' of experience handling all manner of complex restructurings.

Giuseppe Lombardi at Lombardi Molinari Segni is “one of the foremost insolvency experts in Italy” according to sources, with a particular focus on litigation and arbitration relating to insolvency cases. Also at the firm, Ugo Molinari has “extensive experience of handling complicated insolvency matters”, and has major banking, insurance and financial institutions on his client list.

Two lawyers at Thornton Grout Finnigan receive listings. Jim Grout is highlighted as "a real player in the market and a top-quality lawyer", while Bob Thornton is regarded by sources as "head and shoulders above others in Canada for innovation, solution creation and strategy".

A pair of Goodmans lawyers come out at the top of the Canadian listings; both are among our thought leaders this year. Head of practice Jay Carfagnini is “one of the very best” in the area; he is an expert in UK and US restructuring proceedings in addition to his Canadian expertise. Robert Chadwick also garners an array of nominations from the market for his advice and representation of clients in major Canadian and cross-border restructurings.

Alejandro Sainz at Cervantes Sainz is known in the market to be “very active and very good” for his handling of major restructurings in Mexico for national and international clients.

Vincent Jeanneret of Schellenberg Wittmer "is a great representative on disputes" who undertakes an array of complex domestic and international insolvency cases.

SSEK Legal Consultants’ Darrell Johnson is a “fantastic lawyer who always gives first-class advice” to large multinational clients and Indonesian firms across a variety of practice areas.

At Lantourne & Associés, Maurice Lantourne is lauded as one of the most experienced and skillful insolvency practitioners in France.

Brown Rudnick’s Edward Weisfelner offers “fantastic experience” to clients in their most complex restructuring issues, including both in-court and out-of-court matters. He primarily represents creidtors.

Rita Gismondi of Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners is our leading lawyer listed in Italy in this area and is among the most nominated restructuring practitioners in the world. She has nearly 20 years’ experience working in corporate and restructuring law.

Thought leader Kolja von Bismarck at Linklaters in Frankfurt acts for a range of major vehicle manufacturers as well as banks and other lenders on highly complex restructurings. He is described as “a simply fantastic lawyer.”

At Schultze & Braun in Achern, “excellent lawyer” Annerose Tashiro is “a first choice for clients” due to her “very straightforward advice”, according to sources. She is particularly known for her cross-border expertise.

Allen & Overy’s Jennifer Marshall is among the most-nominated practitioners in England, with sources noting her stand-out expertise in representing banks facing insolvency. She also advises on transactional restructuring work and security enforcement issues.

The Zurich-based Brigitte Umbach-Spahn of Wenger Plattner is “an excellent lawyer and negotiator” and the top-ranked Swiss lawyer in this year’s research. She brings clients 20 years of experience in insolvency litigation and cross-border restructurings.

Andreas Spahlinger at Gleiss Lutz in Stuttgart heads the firm’s restructuring group and brings extensive experience across the full range of insolvency matters. He is cited by interviewees for his “pioneering work on complex and difficult cases”.

A number of leading North American lawyers are also highlighted. At Richards Layton & Finger in Wilmington, Delaware, Mark Collins receives a “very high recommendation” from peers for his prolific and high-quality bankruptcy practice. He has 25 years’ experience in the area.

In New York, Dennis Dunne of Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy is a “smart guy and a top lawyer”. Among his notable recent representations was for Chassix Holdings in its restructuring and recapitalisation plan, allowing it to exit Chapter 11 protection.

Donald Bernstein leads Davis Polk & Wardwell’s restructuring group and is widely regarded as one of the leading insolvency practitioners in the USA. He has acted for a range of blue-chip clients and recently assisted an ad hoc group of bondholders in a restructuring of bonds issued by the Puerto Rican Government Development Bank, worth around US$935 million.

Elsewhere in the world, a number of other leading practitioners stand out. In Hamilton, Bermuda, Robin Mayor of Conyers Dill & Pearman is described as “extremely knowledgeable and practical” and “without doubt the best in Bermuda” for her extensive experience and expertise in insolvencies and restructurings.

Dominic Emmett at Gilbert + Tobin in Sydney is a “tough and smart” lawyer who has deep experience in Australian and international insolvency matters. He is particularly known for his work with financial institutions.

Patrick Ang of Rajah & Tann Singapore continues to garner praise for his “truly outstanding” expertise in contentious and non-contentious restructurings and insolvencies.

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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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