Bankruptcy

Don't hit if it is at all possible to avoid hitting;
but never hit soft.
—Theodore Roosevelt

Bankruptcy

DODGING THE BANKRUPTCY BULLET

Debtor/Creditor Negotiations. Our clients are often creditors collecting on a defaulted note, a final judgment or a delinquent account. Just as often, we represent troubled borrowers, judgment debtors or corporations on the ropes. If a non-bankruptcy solution exists, we will find it. In every case, we help our clients negotiate the best outcome possible under the circumstances.

Insolvency Planning. Often the best way to avoid a bankruptcy is to plan for one. We help our clients game out various legal scenarios, settlement possibilities, and out-of-court work-outs. Such planning sometimes reveals that bankruptcy is the most cost-effective solution to an otherwise insoluble problem. Even in those cases, however, bankruptcy might be avoided by walking an adversary through the analysis so that they can see the wisdom in offering our client a negotiated way out.

Creditors Rights. A good creditors attorney gets the client paid as much as possible as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost. Often, a judgment or account debtor may reflexively threaten bankruptcy. We advise our clients on whether a bankruptcy threat is credible, how a bankruptcy might affect their interests, and whether not the best response is simply “bring it on.” In short, we help our clients collect.

Loan Workouts. In many loan workouts, a bank vice president demands an immediate payment, more security, a lock-box arrangement, and additional guaranties in exchange for waiving a little default interest. A credible threat of bankruptcy by a seasoned bankruptcy lawyer results in a successful out-of-court loan workout. Our attorneys negotiate with lenders all year long, recession after recession, achieving for our clients the best results possible under the circumstances.

WHEN BANKUPCY IS THE BEST ANSWER

Bankruptcy is sometimes unavoidable. Our attorneys represent debtors, creditors, commercial landlords, and bankruptcy trustees in bankruptcy cases around the country.

Complex Individual Bankruptcy Representation. An individual’s case often involves valuable real estate, contentious litigation, aggressive creditors, and large, potentially non-dischargeable debts. Individuals with complex legal and insolvency issues require a sophisticated attorney to plan and execute well-conceived and custom tailored strategies in Chapters 7, 11, and 13. Our bankruptcy attorneys are all certified specialists in bankruptcy law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization and each has decades of experience advising clients in complex individual bankruptcy cases.

Classic Chapter 11 Business Reorganizations. In business bankruptcy cases, lawyers for secured lenders taxing authorities, tort creditors, suppliers, employees, and equity holders jockey for the best deal for their clients. To succeed, a company must be well-advised on realistic goals and cost-effective strategies. We help our debtor clients design and implement the best reorganization strategy for their companies. For our creditor clients, we ensure that their decisions are informed and that their interests are protected. We also represent officers, directors, and insiders whose personal interests may be in conflict with the interests of their corporations.

Tactical Bankruptcies. While a classic Chapter 11 case results in a confirmed plan, a client’s goals are sometimes more immediate and tactical, like bringing a stubborn creditor to heal, avoiding a costly appeal bond, obtaining a more favorable forum, or wiping away a burdensome attachment or levy. Often, the dynamics underlying the dispute are sufficiently altered by the bankruptcy case that settlement becomes possible. We help our clients determine whether a tactical bankruptcy is likely to achieve their goals.

Entertainment Industry Bankruptcy Representation. We work with closely with entertainment attorneys and business managers to help our industry clients, artists, writers, and professional athletes confront their legal and financial predicaments. Our clients include well-know actors facing a large judgments, production companies in danger of losing their film library to a creditors, producers sued on a “pay or play” deals, rock stars cheated by a former business managers, pop divas in disputes with their record labels, and highly compensated athletes with even higher debts. As often as not, entertainment industry bankruptcies are about breaking negotiating log jams. We help our clients implement the solutions that bankruptcy makes possible.

High Profile Debtor Bankruptcy Representation. A bankruptcy can generate publicity. How the case and resulting publicity is managed can often mean the difference between a successful outcome and a pyrrhic victory. From inception, we handle high-profile clients with this in mind. Disclosures are made carefully, not reflexively. We don’t respond to calls from the press unless instructed to do, and we arrange for discreet entrances and exits when necessary. We are keenly aware that what may be in the client’s best legal interests, may not be in the client’s best overall interests. For that reason, frequent consultation with high-profile clients and their other professionals is the norm.

Real Estate and Shopping Center Bankruptcies. Commercial property values fluctuate. Special rules govern “single asset” real estate cases and cases involving shopping center leases. We lay out for our real estate clients all of the options so that they can make the best decisions for their companies and their families.

Fashion Industry Bankruptcy Representation. When a fashion industry company is forced into bankruptcy, its lender may accuse the principals of borrowing base manipulation. Expensive and risky litigation often ensures. We help our clients to avoid such litigation whenever possible and to achieve the most favorable outcomes in court whenever necessary.

LITIGATION INSIDE BANKRUPTY CASES

We represent clients in adversary actions throughout California and around the country. We also serve as local counsel to out of state law firms in litigation matters in Southern California bankruptcy courts.

Non-Dischargeability Litigation. Creditors may seek to have a debtor’s discharge denied or the have a debt exempted from discharge, by alleging fraud or other of malfeasance in litigation commenced within a bankruptcy case. Such “adversary actions” can be hard-fought and complex. Parties on both sides of such cases benefit from experienced bankruptcy litigation counsel to bring the matter to a successful conclusion. Our attorneys are particularly experienced in handling difficult non-dischargeability litigation and related appeals.

Fraudulent Transfer Litigation. When bankruptcy rears its head, creditors and bankruptcy trustees will scrutinize transactions to ensure that fair value was received, especially transactions involving principals and affiliates. Sometimes a creditor or trustee will fight to have several years' worth of loan repayments declared illegal dividends, subjecting an insider or corporate affiliate to serious financial jeopardy. We evaluate such claims and represent our clients’ interests vigorously to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Preferential Transfer Defense. Bankruptcy law allows trustees recover “preferential” payments made to legitimate creditors, even when substantial sums are still owed. Merely having been owed the money received is not a defense to a preference lawsuit. However, creditors may have obscure statutory defenses to a trustee’s repayment demands. We help our clients evaluate and prove the viability of preference defenses.

ASSET SALES IN BANKRUPTCY

Buying assets in a bankruptcy case is a tricky business. There are no warranties, no guaranties, and there is no recourse if things don’t turn out how they should. Smart buyers negotiate safeguards designed to protect their interests and to increase the likelihood that they will be the successful bidders. Smart creditors work to strip transactions of bid-chilling conditions and break-up fees, while bankruptcy trustees and debtors-in-possession play each against the other to encourage a stalking horse bidder and to increase the likelihood of overbids. We help our clients through the bankruptcy sale process so that they participate with their eyes wide open, fully informed about the opportunities and risks of purchasing property in a bankruptcy sale.

ASSIGNMENTS FOR THE BENEFIT OF CREDITORS

Assignments for the benefit of creditors or “ABCs” are the state law analogue to business bankruptcy cases. In the right circumstances, an ABC can provide for the assets of a business, including its goodwill and going concern value, to be transferred quickly to a third party, free and clear of creditor claims, without the stigma of bankruptcy, and at a fraction of the cost of a Chapter 11. We represent assignors, assignees, and creditors in California ABCs and in related state court litigation.