But when I was being slotted for
work, there was a need for a new
bankruptcy lawyer, so the attorneys
in the bankruptcy group were
encouraging me to come be a
bankruptcy lawyer, as opposed to
going to the commercial litigation
section. They started to explain to me
that you get a lot of courtroom time. It
can be very aggressive, very intense.
It’s strictly a federal-based practice,
and it’s a very complex, litigation-based practice if you want it to be.
by morticians. They wanted to be
cremated or buried directly, something
along these lines.
the best practitioner that I can be. It
also has really helped me, through
its communications, keep my finger
on the pulse of the industry.
I had to learn an awful lot about the
mortuary trade. It was very interesting,
and it’s a case I’ll never forget. Ultimately,
the college was restructured, and they
came out of Chapter 11. I understand
that they’re still in business today.
Q Who inspires you professionally and/or personally?
It piqued my interest because I didn’t
really know a whole lot, practically
speaking, about what bankruptcy was
all about and what insolvency and
restructuring were all about. A federal
bankruptcy judge happened to be a
college classmate of my father’s, and
I happened to be a high school and
college classmate of his son. My father
encouraged me to pick up the phone
and call him, and I did. This was back
in 1996, and he encouraged me to get
into restructuring. I gave it a shot. I fell
in love with it, and I haven’t looked
back. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
The most difficult engagement was
probably my most recent, Trico Marine
Services and DeepOcean Group.
Trico was a very large company with
international operations, a very complex
capital structure, many different
competing interests, tight liquidity that
was drying up fast, and several litigious
creditor groups. It was probably the
most challenging, probably the hardest
I’ve worked on a case in my career.
Being able to get it across the goal line
and getting the plan confirmed and
being able to restructure some of the
European operations, the international
operations, that are still doing very
well today was quite rewarding.
MITCHELL My family certainly
inspires me professionally and
personally. My lovely wife of 23 years has
stuck by me through thick and thin. It’s
kind of nice when you get back from a
business trip to come home and sit back
and think, “I’ve got a couple of good kids
and a good family,” and it really does
motivate you to keep on going when
you’ve got to put in those long hours.
My father also is a large inspiration in
my life, when he was alive and still to
this day, after he’s passed away. I don’t
know that anybody had a stronger
moral compass than he did. With him,
everything was black and white. It was
either right or wrong, and that’s the way
he lived his whole life. He was a Vietnam
veteran with several tours in Vietnam.
Q If you could start your career over, would you do anything differently?
MITCHELL The one thing that comes
to mind is that I would probably try to
find a way to go to New York City and
practice law for a few years. New York is
clearly the financial capital of the United
States, if not the financial capital of the
world. I think it would have given me the
opportunity to build some relationships,
which I could have taken back home to
Texas with me. I could have always gone
back to Dallas or back to Texas, which I
think I certainly would have done at
Another rewarding one was a restaurant
chain that we restructured outside of
bankruptcy court. Several years ago, I
was representing the company in an
out-of-court restructuring, but it was
on the cusp of having to file bankruptcy.
We worked very, very hard to keep the
company out of bankruptcy. I knew that
if it went into Chapter 11, there was a very
good chance it might not have come out.
After 26 years and a successful career
as an Army officer, he left the military
and went into business. He worked
for a Mexican offshore manufacturing
company, a contract manufacturer,
headquartered in Juarez, Mexico. He
was very successful and did that for
quite a few years after the military.
He was always somebody I could
go to for advice. Even today I always
think, when things are getting difficult,
what would he do in this situation?
What makes it a rewarding
representation is the fact that today,
the company is doing well. They’re
opening new stores. I get invited to
grand openings periodically. When I go,
it’s kind of nice to see the fruits of our
labor. You don’t always get to see that
when you’re an insolvency lawyer.
Q What might people who know you only in your professional capacity
be most surprised to learn about you?
Q What were your most gratifying, favorite, and/or important
Q What role has TMA membership layed in your career?
MITCHELL It probably would be my
history as both a cadet and as a military
officer. I don’t think you see a lot of that.
MITCHELL Probably one of the most
interesting cases I’ve had was one of the
very first engagements I got involved in
as a young lawyer. It dealt with a
mortuary school in Dallas that had to file
bankruptcy because the mortuary
college was caught wrongfully using
bodies against the wishes of the family
members to train future morticians in
the trade, even though the individuals
had requested that they not be
embalmed or otherwise worked on
MITCHELL I’ve been a member for
quite a few years now. I haven’t been
very active from a committee or
leadership perspective, but I knew after I
practiced a few years that TMA was an
organization I absolutely needed to join
with an eye toward, in the future when I
would have an opportunity, maybe
moving into a committee position or
getting a little more active in it.
I always knew I wanted to be in the
military. In fact, I really had no intention
of going to law school. I went to Texas
A&M with the sole purpose of joining
the Corps of Cadets, which I did, and
I focused 100 percent of my time
at Texas A&M on military training,
learning military skills, leadership
skills, with my goal of receiving a
commission in the Army and then
spending a career in the Army.
It has certainly provided me access
to educational materials to keep me
educated and informed so I can be
I was commissioned as a lieutenant
in the air defense artillery and was
assigned to Germany and, ultimately,