Restructuring & Insolvency 2016: Analysis

Our research, in association with Global Restructuring Review, identifies 540 lawyers from 289 firms across 46 countries as the world’s leading figures in insolvency and restructuring law.

The fall of last year’s market leader Bingham McCutchen sees a change at the top, with several firms making significant gains.

Global US firms, including Weil Gotshal, Akin Gump, DLA Piper and Sidley Austin take up a commanding share of the listings. Meanwhile, Jones Day, Latham & Watkins, Skadden and Kirkland & Ellis are noted for their strong transatlantic practices in particular.

Clifford Chance, Freshfields and Linklaters lead the way in Europe. Meanwhile, Ashurst earns multiple listings across the Pacific and in its London headquarters.

Walkers is the most prominent offshore firm in our research and South Square is our leading barristers' chambers.

Numerous boutiques are also recognised in this edition, including Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern and Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones.

We also pick out the most highly regarded individuals from around the world, according to the recommendations of peers and corporate counsel.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Kenneth Klee Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern, Los Angeles
Marcia Goldstein Weil Gotshal & Manges, New York
Evan Flaschen Bracewell & Giuliani, New York
Alan Kornberg Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, New York
Donald Bernstein Davis Polk & Wardwell, New York
Chris Mallon Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, London
Nick Segal Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, London
Gabriel Moss QC South Square, London
Hamish Anderson Norton Rose Fulbright, London
James Roome Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, London
Rest of the World
Dominic Emmett Gilbert + Tobin, Sydney
Robin Mayor Conyers Dill & Pearman, Bermuda
Jay Carfagnini Goodmans, Toronto
Patrick Ang Rajah & Tann Singapore, Singapore
William Day Arthur Cox, Dublin

Weil Gotshal & Manges has 10 lawyers selected for inclusion this year, including one of the most highly nominated individuals in the world in Marcia Goldstein. Co-chair of the firm’s business finance and restructuring department, she is “the best in the business” in the eyes of her peers. Her track record is “second to none”, and she led the restructurings of WorldCom and Parmalat. Stephen Karotkin was one of the lead attorneys representing General Motors in its chapter 11 case and is “universally well respected”, while Matthew Barr joined the firm from Milbank in late 2015 and is a “real asset”. The “eminent” Richard Krasnow is regarded as a “dean of the NY bankruptcy bar”.

Alfredo Pérez is managing partner of the firm’s Houston office and played a lead role in the bankruptcies of American Airlines, City of Detroit, WorldCom and Lehman among others, while Martin Sosland in Dallas won commendation for his work as one of the principal partners involved in the firm’s representation of Enron Corp. The firm is also very strong in London, where Andrew Wilkinson is a former European head and co-head of restructuring at Goldman Sachs and a “major player in this market” and is known for his work on behalf of creditors, debtors, financial institutions and government bodies. Alongside him, the “very fine” Adam Plainer is leading the team advising KPMG as joint administrators in MF Global UK’s special administration. Jean-Dominique Daudier de Cassini co-heads the highly rated Paris business finance and restructuring department and he is listed alongside his fellow co-head Philippe Druon, “a first-class adviser to both domestic and international funds and companies”.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld performs particularly well in this year’s research, driven in part by its acquisition of three nominees in London from the now defunct Bingham McCutchen – once the leading firm in our research overall and a WWL Insolvency Firm of the Year Award winner. Daniel Golden heads the financial restructuring practice group in New York and his “skills set him apart from the field”. Recognised for his creditor and bondholder practice, his notable representations include NII Holdings, Residential Capital and Sabine Oil & Gas Corporation. Fred Hodara’s creditor practice is “market leading” and he is particularly in demand for cross-border insolvency matters, while Michael Stamer is recognised for the quality of his Chapter 11 work in particular. Lisa Beckerman is “highly respected in the industry” and serves on the board of the American Bankruptcy Institute alongside her well-regarded practice. Ira Dizengoff is “first rate” for his creditors’ and bondholders’ committee work, while Charles Gibbs in Dallas is said to be “outstanding” for his debtor work in particular. The firm’s international strength is demonstrated by further inclusions in Hong Kong, where Naomi Moore is known for her cross-border expertise and knowledge of the insurance and reinsurance market. In the aforementioned London office, James Roome is “supremely impressive”, one of the most highly rated lawyers in the UK research and praised for his contentious work as well as for the quality of his investment advice to financial institution clients. James Terry’s distressed debt work is “second to none”, while Barry Russell is praised for his cross-border work and has acted as counsel to creditor groups in the restructurings of Royal Imtech, Connaught and Icelandic banks Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir.

The nine lawyers from Clifford Chance are selected from six countries, demonstrating the firm’s global profile in this area. Three are from England, where Philip Hertz is “incisive and impressive” and known for his insurance related expertise in particular. David Steinberg is joint leader of the firm’s practice in London and praised for both debtor and creditor work that includes advising creditors and customers of the Lehmans and MF Global estates on a range of issues. Adrian Cohen is advising Co-operative Bank on its current capital and financial restructuring and is “first rate” in the eyes of his clients and peers. Reinhard Dammann is one of the most highly respected experts in France and is particularly praised for his cross-border experience. Iñigo Villoria leads the practice in the Madrid office and is similarly well respected both locally and across Europe, while Bartosz Krużewski in Poland is known for his “excellent” contentious and non-contentious restructuring work. Mark Hyde in Hong Kong is global head of the firm’s insolvency and restructuring practice and “one of the big names in this sphere” having been involved in major restructurings/insolvencies such as Peregine, Maxwell, Dubai World and Nakheel. Peter Avery and Deborah Walker combine to give the firm a highly rated presence in Dubai.

DLA Piper sees nine of its lawyers selected for inclusion this year, with its US offices particularly well represented. Gregg Galardi is a “dominant figure in the New York market” and global co-chair of the firm’s restructuring practice. Three partners are selected from Delaware, where Craig Martin is recommended for his work on complex distressed situations and Stuart Brown is a “first-class bankruptcy lawyer”. Selinda Melnik is internationally recognised for her work in this area. Mark Fairbairn in Hong Kong is the firm’s head of restructuring in Asia and “one of the foremost experts in the region”, while the firm is also represented in Europe through the inclusion of Jasper Berkenbosch in Amsterdam.

Ashurst also sees nine of its lawyers selected for inclusion. The firm is particularly strong in Australia with five nominees listed. James Marshall is “one of the best in the business” and is the global co-head of the firm’s restructuring and special situations practice. He was praised for the breadth of his practice and depth of his expertise, and he has acted for lenders and creditors as well as parties in the secondary debt market and in relation to distressed M&A. Michael Sloan is highly rated for his restructuring work on behalf of corporations in both Australia and New Zealand, while Ross McClymont leads the firm’s restructuring and special situations practice in Melbourne and is a “very fine lawyer with a total grasp of the issues”. In London, Dan Hamilton is much in demand for his leveraged and structured finance restructuring expertise, while global co-head of the practice Giles Boothman is “outstanding” for all types of distressed work. The firm is also recognised in Asia for this work; Bertie Mehigan and Carl Dunton are the key figures in this regard.

Kirkland & Ellis’ expertise stretches across the US, Asia and Europe and it sees eight of its lawyers selected for inclusion. At their head is the “legendary” James Sprayregen, described as “one of the foremost lawyers of his generation” and known for his work on Chapter 11 cases such as Energy Future Holdings Corp and Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. Paul Basta in New York also represented the latter client, as well as Kerzner International and Charter Communications, and is extremely well regarded across the US and beyond. Clients and peers also spoke highly of Marc Kieselstein in Chicago for his Chapter 11 expertise in particular, while David Seligman is recognised for his work across a range of industries including transportation, energy, financial institution and real estate. Neil McDonald in Hong Kong leads Kirkland’s restructuring practice in Asia and is “formidably good” in advising financial institutions, hedge funds and private equity firms. Damien Coles was commended to our researchers as the “go-to guy” for Indonesian restructurings. In London, Kon Asimacopoulos is praised for his contentious work in this sector as well as for his representation of debtors and debt and equity investors. In Munich, Leo Plank is “one of the leading lawyers in Germany for the representation of institutional high-yield and distressed debt investors”.

Jones Day sees seven nominees selected, with six in the US and a further listing in England. In the former, the “brilliant” Corinne Ball is co-head of the business restructuring and reorganisation practice in New York and universally known for leading the firm’s team on the successful Chapter 11 reorganisation of Chrysler. Bruce Bennett in Los Angeles acted as co-lead counsel for the City of Detroit in its Chapter 9 debt adjustment case, and his fellow co-lead counsel David Heiman is also “absolutely first class” in the eyes of his peers. Paul Leake is head of the business restructuring and reorganisation practice and highly regarded for his representation of all types of party in out-of-court and chapter 11 debtor matters including those relating to Georgia Gulf, Globalstar and Independence Air. Ben Larkin is “tremendously impressive” and gives the firm a presence in London.

Latham & Watkins improves its position in this year’s rankings to seven nominees, led by global co-chair of the restructuring, insolvency and workouts practice Jan Baker. “One of the finest legal minds I have come across”, he is immediate past chair of the American College of Bankruptcy and “universally respected across the market”. Fellow co-chair of the practice Mitchell Seider is known for the “unimpeachable quality” of his counsel to secured lenders, bond holders, creditors’ committees and debtors. John Houghton in London is also a global co-chair of the practice as well as head of the European practice and he is praised as a “formidable practitioner and real thought leader in this field”. David Heller in Chicago is much sought after for his advice to secured and unsecured lenders as well as for his counsel to companies in relation to their restructurings.

The seven nominees from Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom are similarly split between the US and London offices. In the former, Jay Goffman in the New York office is the global leader of corporate restructuring group and “an absolute market leader for restructuring work” having successfully led those of America West Airlines, Centro Properties Group, DS Waters and Everest Capital among others, and his expertise related to pre-packaged restructurings “knows no bounds”. Ken Ziman is currently representing Millennium Health in its voluntary pre-packaged Chapter 11 cases and is “quite brilliant” according to those who have seen him in action. In London, Chris Mallon leads the firm’s corporate restructuring practice in Europe and is one of the most highly regarded individuals in our research worldwide. His client list is “second to none” having represented Enron, Global Crossing, WorldCom, Parmalat and Eurotunnel among others, and interviewees commented on his ability to “translate complicated situations into comprehensible and above all commercially aware language”. Alongside him, Dominic McCahill is recognised for his representation of clients including the winding-up committees of Kaupthing Bank, the Lehman Brothers estate and the Enron estate in their respective Chapter 11 bankruptcies.

The London office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is “phenomenal for this type of work”, and Nick Segal in particular was picked out as a “superstar”. He was commended to researchers for his work in a wide range of countries, as well as for his expertise relating to contested matters. Ken Baird is global head of the restructuring and insolvency team and is highly respected for his work on complex restructurings and insolvencies, both at home and abroad, for creditor and debtor clients. Richard Tett has a “major reputation” and worked with the Bank of England on various financial institution workouts including those of Bradford & Bingley, Landsbanki and Kaupthing. Neil Golding counts the government of Trinidad, Zurich Insurance Company and the Bank of England among his clients, and his qualifications as an insolvency practitioner make him “uniquely able to give often invaluable advice”. Adam Gallagher recently advised the senior co-ordinating committee in connection with the approximately £1 billion financial restructuring of the Biffa Group, and is a huge hit with clients – “I am reluctant to recommend him in case anyone else tries to hire him”. Lars Westpfahl in Hamburg is rated as “one of the foremost experts in Germany”, and Raffaele Lener in Rome is similarly well regarded by his peers in Italy.

Larry Nyhan is co-leader of Sidley Austin’s corporate reorganisation and bankruptcy group and a “first-rate lawyer”. One of seven nominees from the firm, he is highly regarded for his Chapter 11 work. Alongside him in Chicago, Bryan Krakauer is known for his creditor work in relation to the Lehman, Sentinel and Petters bankruptcy proceedings. Jennifer Hagle in California is “fantastic” for work relating to banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions. Patrick Corr is head of the corporate reorganisation and bankruptcy group in London and a “very skilled operator”, and he is praised for his work in both contentious and non-contentious settings.

Walkers is regarded as "the go to firm for offshore advice”, and sees its contingent grow to six in this edition. Fraser Hern in Hong Kong is much admired for his contentious work in this sector, while Neil Lupton is one of three representatives of the firm’s office in the Cayman Islands and an “excellent lawyer in all he does”. Sandie Corbett is managing partner of the British Virgin Islands office and widely recognised for her “persuasive and effective work” in contentious insolvency proceedings. Robert Foote is selected in Singapore and is also very highly regarded in the market.

Linklaters maintains a strong practice in this area, particularly in Europe. Tony Bugg in London is global head of the restructuring and insolvency practice and “one of the big names in the market”. He is very well known for his “very high profile and tremendously impressive” work co-leading the team advising PwC as administrators of Lehman Brothers International (Europe). Rebecca Jarvis recently advised the senior lenders in the €2.2 billion restructuring of the European Directories Group. Kolja von Bismarck is “one of the premier experts in Germany” for both creditor and debtor work, and he is recognised for his cross-border expertise in particular, while Aymar de Mauléon is similarly well regarded in France. David Kidd in the Hong Kong office is said to be “one of the finest restructuring lawyers in Asia” by his peers.

Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones is one of the leading firms in the US for this type of work and earns five places in this year’s edition. Isaac Pachulski in Los Angeles is a “class apart” in his representation of debtors and creditors and Richard Pachulski is similarly highly regarded as “one of the foremost experts in California”. Laura Davis Jones in Delaware is renowned for her work as debtor’s counsel in the Continental Airlines bankruptcy case and is a “very impressive operator, both legally skilled and highly commercial”.

The UK Bar is home to many market-leading experts, with 11 based at South Square alone. Gabriel Moss QC has acted as leading counsel in 11 major Supreme Court, Privy Council, CJEU and EFTA Court cases in recent years, and is “second to none in his understanding of all facets of insolvency law”. William Trower QC is “incredibly experienced” and is acting for the administrators of Lehman Brothers and Nortel, having previously acted in relation to the insolvencies of Kaupthing and Landsbanki. Robin Dicker QC is “simply outstanding”, and has appeared before the UK Supreme Court in relation to Nortel/Lehman Brothers and the Court of Appeal in relation to Lehman Brothers International (Europe), among many others. Antony Zacaroli QC recently advised the administrators of the Phones 4U Group and was commended to researchers as “quite brilliant”, while Felicity Toube QC was highlighted by private practitioners as “great to work with” and “the first name on my list when I need a barrister”. 

Four nominees appear from Klee Tuchin Bogdanoff & Stern, led by founding partner Kenneth Klee – one of the most highly regarded individuals in our research worldwide. Described as “one of the forefathers of modern bankruptcy law”, he is Professor Emeritus at the UCLA School of Law and a “real thought leader in this field”. Alongside him, Michael Tuchin is “absolutely first class”, whether for debtor work for clients such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in its Chapter 11 proceedings, creditors or in out-of-court proceedings such as the restructuring of MGM-Mirage. Lee Bogdanoff is “the real deal”, feted for his work across all disciplines and especially respected for his litigation practice – he has represented Washington Mutual and Enron.

Evan Flaschen is the chair of the financial restructuring group at Bracewell & Giuliani and “one of the all-time greats”. Praised in particular for his knowledge of maritime restructuring matters, he also stands out for the quality of his bankruptcy litigation practice. 

Alan Kornberg is chair of the bankruptcy and corporate reorganisation department of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison in New York and a “legend” in this field. His recent assignments include representing the ad hoc committee of first lien debtholders of Texas Competitive Electric Holdings Company in the Chapter 11 case that resulted from the largest leveraged buyout in history. Alongside him Andrew Rosenberg was recommended to researchers for his work on General Motors’ Chapter 11 case.

Donald Bernstein heads the insolvency and restructuring practice at Davis Polk & Wardwell and “one of the foremost figures in this field”. He has represented companies such as Ford Motor Company in restructurings, as well as a range of creditors and liquidators. He is also much sought after by financial institutions – including JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley – for his “insightful and incisive” advice on global credit risk management. Marshall Huebner is co-head of the group and another “big name in the market” having acted as lead counsel to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and to the US Department of the Treasury in relation to their multiple financings and equity stake in the American International Group. He also acted as lead US counsel to the joint administrators and liquidators of Lehman Brothers International (Europe) and its UK Lehman affiliates, and as lead bankruptcy and restructuring counsel to Delta Air Lines. “They have acted on some of the biggest cases in history” said one interviewee, “and you can see why – their skills are second to none”.

Hamish Anderson is one of four nominees from Norton Rose Fulbright, and he is recognised for his work on behalf of insolvency practitioners and creditors both at home and abroad, as well as for his “commercial and practical” advice to regulators.

Dominic Emmett heads the restructuring and insolvency group at Gilbert + Tobin, and he is a veteran of some of Australia’s largest workouts and insolvencies. Described as a “very fine lawyer and a joy to deal with”, he received votes from across the region and beyond.

In Bermuda, Robin Mayor heads the insolvency and restructuring practice of Conyers Dill & Pearman and is “the counsel of choice” for a wide range of companies, regulators, investors, creditors and liquidators. She was commended to researchers for the “hugely impressive breadth of her expertise”.

Jay Carfagnini at Goodmans in Toronto is the most highly nominated lawyer in the country and the “go-to guy for major restructurings in Canada”, having participated in those of Nortel Networks, MF Global Canada and LightSquared. As well as being highly rated domestically he also garnered votes from the UK and US in recognition of his knowledge of the intersection of Canadian law with their local jurisdictions.

Patrick Ang of Rajah & Tann in Singapore is viewed as one of the foremost insolvency lawyers in Asia by the clients and peers we canvassed, and he was praised for his contentious and non-contentious work on behalf of financial institutions and companies. His experience includes acting for the shareholders of Asia Pulp and Paper, Lehman Brothers Singapore and Nortel Networks Singapore.

William Day of Arthur Cox has participated in some of Ireland’s most high profile insolvencies in recent years, including advising Eircom on its restructuring. He is “very able and a real pleasure to work with”, according to 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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