Chicago firm Kirkland & Ellis is merging with Los Angeles (LA) boutique Wynne Spiegel Itkin, adding a bankruptcy capability on the West Coast for the first time.
Wynne Spiegel gives Kirkland four new partners and ramps up the LA office to 80 lawyers. The new group represents deBTors' and creditors' committees in mainly corporate and entertainment international bankruptcies, Chapter 11 cases and out-of-court restructurings. The group's clients have included entertainers such as Zsa Zsa Gabor and Motley Crue, and hockey team Los Angeles Kings. Current representations include acting for the deBTor in OAN Services, the creditors' committee in the Reed Slatkin investment portfolio Chapter 11 case, a telecommunications billing company and the Store of Knowledge creditors' committee. The 50-strong global bankruptcy group has acted on restructurings and workouts for clients such as TWA, Chiquita Brands, Zenith Electronics and United Artists Theatres. Head of Wynne Spiegel Richard Wynne said his firm chose Kirkland because it was impressed with the strong corporate deBTor practice. Wynne said: "It was somewhat client-driven in that the cases just got more complex and we always had to bring in general counsel firms to help us with things like tax or international issues. Kirkland didn't have any bankruptcy attorneys in LA, giving us the ability to handle a lot more of the East Coast work." He said his firm was first approached about a merger six months ago, but decided it would rather choose who to merge with instead of being left on the shelf. More cases of bankruptcy are filed in LA than anywhere else in the US. Wynne said: "There are a lot of entrepreneurs who take risks and a lot of undercapitalised companies, such as the technology companies." The three other partners joining Kirkland are Bennett Spiegel, Robbin Itkin and Christopher Combs. James Sprayregen, a senior partner in Kirkland's national bankruptcy group, said that the firm has decided on this merger due to a burgeoning West Coast corporate practice.