Jones Day goes for broke

Jones Day hires magnificent seven to cement pole position in restructuring.

Last WEEK’S hire of a seven-lawyer restructuring team from Kirkland & Ellis by Jones Day (TheLawyer.com, 28 May) has shone a light on the latter firm’s capabilities in this area on both sides of the Atlantic.

As Paul Leake, the head of Jones Day’s global business restructuring and reorganisation practice, puts it: “The addition of these exceptional lawyers to our restructuring practice not only bolsters our capabilities in the US West Coast restructuring arena, but also solidifies our ability to handle the most intense and complex restructurings in any industry anywhere in the US and around the world.”

That includes London. Although the arrival of partners Rick Wynne and Bennett Spiegel, along with two of counsel and three associates, is essentially a US deal, the group hire highlights the moves Jones Day has made in recent years to ramp up its restructuring capabilities.

In particular, the size and shape of the firm’s London office group has changed radically over the past few years. London office head Russell Carmedy says: “Bankruptcy and restructuring is, and always has been, a core ­practice area for Jones Day. The priority we give it as a firm will have been instrumental in convincing this group of lawyers that it was the right move for them.”

Carmedy is equally convinced that the arrival of this new group will have benefits for the team in the City. Jones Day’s global restructuring practice (including star New York partner Corinne Ball) is well known for advising auto parts supplier Dana throughout 2005 and 2006.

But probably its largest source of work these days is distressed assets investor Wilbur Ross. On Ross-related deals the firm’s New York office is usually the jumping off point, but more often than not there is a London or European end.

This link with Jones Day’s US practice was strengthened back in 2005 when bondholder specialist Andrew Rotenburg joined from Bingham McCutchen.

“Andrew spends almost 100 per cent of his time working hand-in-hand with the US,” says Carmedy.

Jones Day’s London office as a whole grew as a result of its 2002 merger with Gouldens, but that corporate and real estate shop had no real restructuring or insolvency capability. It has been down to Adam Plainer, formerly of Hammonds and SJ Berwin, to grow the team into a five-partner dedicated insolvency unit in London since he joined Jones Day in 2003.

“Adam’s been the most prominent partner over the years,” confirms Carmedy, “although fraud litigation specialist Sion Richards has also been instrumental in attracting work since he moved into the bankruptcy practice in 2004.”

In the past couple of years the growth of the London office restructuring group has continued with the arrival in 2007 of Paul Bromfield, who was made up to partner on 1 January this year, and Michael Rutstein, who joined the London office last September from Denton Wilde Sapte, where he was a partner.

When The Lawyer called Jones Day last week it was a little difficult finding a restructuring partner to talk to. The firm was holding one of its regular practice group get togethers and the bulk of the restructuring team was on a plane bound for Atlanta and the W Hotel to rub shoulders with banking and finance colleagues.

This should give Plainer and co the first chance to meet their new former Kirkland colleagues. It is unlikely to be the last.

As for the the firm’s new stateside acquisitions, Rick Wynne is the best known, although Spiegel’s representation of members of the US rock band Mötley Crüe raised a few eyebrows when The Lawyer highlighted it in last week’s ‘The Lawyer in New York’ email.

Wynne was formerly the leader of Kirkland’s West Coast restructuring practice. He has been lead debtors’ counsel in a number of major Chapter 11 cases and recently focused on significant bondholder and creditor committee representations.

Currently, Wynne is representing the Station Casinos bondholders’ committee in an out-of-court restructuring involving its approximately $2.4bn (£1.5bn) in unsecured debt and more than $3bn in secured debt.

For the past four years he has also represented the Adelphia Non-Agent Lenders Committee, a group of 400 lenders that held approximately $4.3bn in Adelphia bank debt.

Spiegel’s experience includes the management of a restructuring team in the Chapter 11 of Calpine Corporation and more than 250 of its affiliates. He was also lead Chapter 11 bankruptcy counsel for RBS Greenwich Capital in connection with several matters, including its $100m debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing of New Century Financial Corporation, its $500m DIP financing of American Business Financial Services, and its $215m DIP financing of Oakwood Homes Corporation.