The 16 Best Bankruptcy Lawyers Are Poised To Make Millions As The Economy Changes

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  • Corporate bankruptcies have bottomed out, with just 143 filings this year through May.
  • But inflation, rising rates and a “crypto winter” are creating financial stress.
  • Here are 16 attorneys who may benefit as more companies negotiate with lenders and restructure their debt.

Bankruptcy and debt restructuring attorneys haven’t seen many new cases in court for more than a year, but some are betting that will change soon.

Bankruptcy filings, which have been on a downward spiral since last year, continue to fall. As of May, there were only 143 corporate bankruptcy filings, putting bankruptcies on pace for an all-time low. In 2021, there were just 410 filings, down from 640 in 2020, according to a June S&P Global Market Intelligence report.

But there are pockets of activity, and more than a dozen top restructuring professionals told Insider they expect more settlements and new Chapter 11 protection filings over the next year. Conference room negotiations between companies and their lenders, which tend to precede presentations, are accelerating, lawyers said.

Supply chain issues, uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and declining consumer confidence are likely to create distress, leading restructuring lawyers said. These income pressures come at a time when lenders are less inclined to grant extensions for payment or impose more conditions on such requests, leading restructuring experts said.

“No one really sees supply chain shortages stopping. COVID is going to stick around for a while and obviously the war in Ukraine continues to create all sorts of problems,” Kris Hansen, who co-chairs the financial restructuring group. at Paul Hastings, he said. “I think you’re going to see more restructurings in Europe. I think you’re going to see more restructurings here in the US, and you’re going to see a lot more cross-border work as a result as well.”

Meanwhile, mass tort cases (where large numbers of plaintiffs seek damages from manufacturers of products like opioids and baby powder); pressures on traditional retail, service and hospitality industries; and the so-called crypto winter are driving most of the restructuring work and bankruptcy litigation.

And the main debtor companies appear before the courts with the main restructuring companies in tow. Kirkland & Ellis represents cryptocurrency lender Celsius and crypto brokerage Voyager Digital, while Revlon filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June on behalf of Paul, Weiss.

Major firms like Latham & Watkins are also advising in the mass-damage bankruptcy space, where companies spin off injury claims into a separate entity and file for bankruptcy to treat injury claimants as if they were creditors.

The work is highly lucrative for companies that play a significant role in large bankruptcies, as many retail cases during the pandemic have shown. During the roughly four-month window alone when Neiman Marcus filed for bankruptcy in 2020 and emerged with an exit plan, Kirkland earned more than $10 million in fees for his work representing the luxury clothing retailer, according to documents filed in court. case. When Weil, Gotshal & Manges represented J.Crew, the law firm sought about $13.6 million in fees for its work during a similar four-month period in the same year.

Here are 16 of the best restructuring attorneys, representing companies, lenders, owners, creditors, buyers, and other major stakeholders, who are expected to help their companies rake in tens of millions in fees as bankruptcies mount.

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