Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring
We represent stakeholders in financial restructurings through chapter 11 cases, cross-border insolvency proceedings and out-of-court restructurings. Our creditor-side clients include ad hoc committees, noteholders, lenders, agents, indenture trustees, official committees, insurance providers, clearing organizations, broker-dealers, licensees, landlords, trade creditors, joint venture partners and equity holders. Our debtor-side clients include companies, independent board committees, nondebtor affiliates and board members. Our financial restructuring matters span virtually every industry and sector of the economy and often draw on WilmerHale’s knowledge in other specialized areas including intellectual property, debt finance, securities and other government regulation.
WilmerHale’s top-notch trial and appellate attorneys are deeply involved in bankruptcy matters, providing the ideal team for high-value bankruptcy and creditor rights litigation. Unlike many other firms where the bankruptcy lawyers are not litigators and the litigators are not experts on bankruptcy law, we have real bankruptcy lawyers who routinely lead major trials and argue appeals in large, hotly contested bankruptcy matters. We are well-known for our involvement in high-stakes cases involving substantial, often unsettled, issues of bankruptcy law and policy, with a proven track record of success, obtaining precedent-setting victories in cramdown and other plan confirmation disputes; fraudulent transfer, preference and subordination matters; and "make whole" and other litigation. Drawing upon WilmerHale’s premier appellate practice, we have been involved in most US Supreme Court cases addressing bankruptcy-related issues.
Creditor Groups & RepresentativesWe have deep experience representing ad hoc committees, official committees, agents and indenture trustees in bankruptcy and financial restructuring matters. Representing creditor groups and representatives requires specific knowledge of structuring engagements, management of constituencies that change over the course of time, and a consistent focus on end results as matters shift between transactional and litigation elements. WilmerHale’s bankruptcy and financial restructuring lawyers bring a nimble and creative approach to serving these clients in the insolvency context, protecting their rights and interests while maximizing their investment opportunities.
Financial Distress & Government Regulation and InvestigationWilmerHale’s firmwide capabilities in virtually every area of government regulation give us a unique perspective on the intersection of government regulation and investigations with bankruptcy. We have substantial experience evaluating and mitigating insolvency risk in securities and commodities contexts and in addressing the financial distress that can accompany government investigation and regulatory action. We have represented clients in bank and bank holding company insolvency proceedings involving the FDIC and state regulators, in financial restructurings against the backdrop of securities investigations and enforcement proceedings, in US Trustee investigations into bankruptcy-related practices, and in tax-related financial distress situations. We have helped institutional clients focus on the array of issues regarding the treatment of consumer lending transactions in bankruptcy.
Investment in Financially Distressed CompaniesWe regularly represent financial and strategic investors—from collaboration partners to hedge funds—in sourcing, structuring and implementing their investments in financially distressed targets, both in and out of bankruptcy. We help clients conduct diligence on, design and document their investments, and when litigation becomes part of the strategy of realizing their investment goals, WilmerHale’s bankruptcy litigators work seamlessly with our financial restructuring lawyers to reach the best results. We have experience evaluating and addressing financial distress induced by government regulation and investigation and by issues related to intellectual property and technology development.
Distressed Mergers & AcquisitionsWilmerHale’s bankruptcy and financial restructuring attorneys are recognized for their work in distressed M&A and asset divestiture transactions through section 363 bankruptcy sales, chapter 11 reorganization plans, foreclosure sales, secured party sales, receiverships, reverse mergers and other distressed sale processes. We work closely with attorneys from the firm’s corporate, M&A, securities, litigation, tax, environmental, intellectual property, real estate, labor, and governmental and regulatory practices to identify the key issues in the transaction, viewing those issues through the lens of the financial distress or insolvency context of the deal.
Insolvency & Intellectual PropertyWilmerHale’s firmwide experience in intellectual property extends to its bankruptcy practice. For decades, our bankruptcy and financial restructuring lawyers have been advising technology clients on issues at the intersection of bankruptcy and intellectual property. We have extensive experience addressing counterparty insolvency risk in all types of intellectual property–related transactions, from mergers and acquisitions to complex joint development programs. We routinely represent licensors, licensees and others as interested parties in insolvency proceedings where intellectual property rights may be at issue, including in cross-border situations. We have represented buyers and sellers in record-setting distressed patent sales and other intellectual property monetization transactions.
Bankruptcy Litigation, Regulation and Policy
- Represented the indenture trustee for, and holders of, billions of dollars in bonds in the successful prosecution and appeal of “makewhole” and related claims totaling approximately $600 million in the Energy Future Intermediate Holdings Company (EFIH) chapter 11 case.
- Served as appellate counsel for the indenture trustee for, and holders of, $1.1 billion in notes issued by Momentive Performance Materials in their appeal of the debtor’s plan of reorganization.
- Successfully argued on behalf of creditors in Czyzewski v. Jevic Transportation Co., finding that so-called “structured dismissals” to end chapter 11 cases cannot be used in a way that violates the Bankruptcy Code’s priority scheme.
- Represent Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries in dozens of bankruptcy cases filed by debtors, over more than 15 years, with asbestos and other mass-tort related liabilities.
- Defended a Fortune 20 company against a suit brought by a litigation trust on behalf of creditors of a former subsidiary in US District Court, related to the spinoff of the former subsidiary prior to its bankruptcy.
- Tried and settled claims of the Getty Petroleum Marketing, Inc. estate against multinational defendant Lukoil, related to Lukoil’s spinoff of Getty, following the assignment of those claims to a liquidating trust through Getty’s confirmed chapter 11 plan.
- Represented a leading national mortgage servicer in connection with a number of disputes in bankruptcy courts across the country relating to the treatment of home mortgages in chapter 13, and in connection with its residential mortgage business generally, helping the bank to navigate the evolving policy and regulatory regimes in that area.
- Represented financial institutions in their defense of claims arising from the Lyondell and Tribune Company bankruptcies, related to the leveraged buyouts that preceded those bankruptcy filings, as well as other financial institutions in their defense of claims relating to the bankruptcies of Refco and the SPhinX Funds.
- Represented the Loan Syndication and Trading Association as amicus curiae in the US Supreme Court RadLAX case, regarding the right of a secured creditor to credit bid its claim in bankruptcy, and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association as amicus curiae in a Second Circuit Madoff appeal, regarding the Bankruptcy Code’s safe-harbor provisions relating to securities contracts.
- Represented the Creditors’ Committee in the chapter 11 cases of Verso Paper, Getty Petroleum Marketing, Frontier Airlines and Alamo/National Car Rental.
- Represented the indenture trustee in the bankruptcies of Avaya, Ecobat, SunEdison and Essar Steel Algoma.
- Represented lenders and bondholders in the restructurings and exchanges of Venoco, Empresas ICA, Tribune, American Airlines, Bicent Power, RJ O’Brien, Inergy, ATA Holdings, Satmex and McLeod.
- Represented the first-lien agents and DIP agents in the chapter 11 cases of Digital Domain Media Group and Workflow Management.
- Represented Constar, KB Toys, Kmart and PSINet as debtors in their chapter 11 restructurings, and the involuntary petitioners in the chapter 11 filing for a Houston sports cable network.
- Represented buyers and sellers in Section 363 sales in the bankruptcy cases of Jumio, Kodak, Coach America, Nortel, BearingPoint and TLO, among others.
Among the Top Bankruptcy and Restructuring Practices in Massachusetts, New York and Washington DC
Recipient of the Chapter 11 Reorganization Award
The M&A Advisor
Named a First-Tier National Firm for Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law
U.S. News - Best Lawyers®
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business – Named our Bankruptcy and Restructuring Practice among the top in Massachusetts (2013–2019), Washington DC (2013–2021) and New York (2016–2021), with sources commenting, “They’re the pinnacle of professionalism, competent and possess all the virtues of first-class lawyers.”
- U.S. News - Best Lawyers® – Recognized in the "Best Law Firms" rankings since 2010. In the 2021 rankings, the firm was honored with first-tier national rankings in Litigation - Bankruptcy and in Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law, as well as first-tier metropolitan rankings in Boston, New York and Washington DC. The firm is also recognized with a second-tier national ranking and first-tier Washington DC ranking in Banking and Finance Law.
- The M&A Advisor – Honored WilmerHale with the Chapter 11 Reorganization Award in 2019 for its work in advising Argos Therapeutics in an asset sale, and previously named WilmerHale a recipient of the 2017 Restructuring Community Impact Deal of the Year Award for the firm’s work on the restructuring of Jumio, Inc.
- Best Lawyers in America – Recognized 124 WilmerHale attorneys and named 11 partners as “Lawyer of the Year,” including Partner Phil Anker for New York Litigation - Bankruptcy Lawyer of the Year, in its 2020 edition.
- American College of Bankruptcy – Partners Phil Anker and Danielle Spinelli are fellows of the American College of Bankruptcy.