So when I opened my own office, I
gravitated toward some of those people.
We stayed in touch. I began to do work
for entities where some of them wound
up, and I started getting referred work.
The contacts just built from there.
Q What have been some of your favorite cases along the way?
I had a case relatively early on
after I opened my own practice. It was
really relatively small in the overall
scheme of things compared with the type
of cases that TMA members generally
handle. There was a guy who was
running a storage business in one of the
more rural parts of the metropolitan area.
His wife had just passed away. He was an
older gentleman, and he had gotten into
a dispute with some of his partners. The
lawyers who were representing him
brought me in to try to work out a
resolution to the case and help him keep
his business, but also to turn it around.
Over the course of 18 months, we were
able to do that. We got the litigation
resolved outside of bankruptcy. We
never had to go into bankruptcy.
This gentleman was able to keep his
business. We were able to work out a
resolution not only with the people
who were suing him but also with his
lender as well. Several years later, he
was able to refinance his business, and
he constructed and opened an entirely
new section of storage facilities.
To be able to help somebody who was
not only down business-wise but also
down in his personal life and help him
keep a business that he had built—in
hindsight, I’d say that’s probably the
most satisfying one that I’ve worked
on. Most of my work is on behalf of
creditors, and I’m quite good at that. But
you tend to be trying to inflict stress in
that circumstance. In the other one, I
think I was really able to help a guy out.
Q The impact of the whole thing came down to this one
individual, so you were able to see it
on a more human level.
Very much. It helped, of
course, that he was a good guy. That’s
probably the most gratifying case I’ve had
in this type of work.
Q Any other favorites?
As I said, most of them have
been cases where I’m trying to inflict
stress to help get my clients paid. I’ve had
some circumstances where we’ve gotten
very significant payouts for my clients. I
have a number of cases going in
bankruptcy right now, or ones that I
recently got out of because Chapter 7
trustees were appointed. But we’ve been
able to bring misconduct on the part of
the debtors to the court’s attention. From
my perspective, that’s always gratifying,
and my clients appreciate it very much.
While I can’t really say in those
circumstances that I’m helping to turn
around a business, I’m helping to enforce
my client’s rights.
Q You touched a little on this in the beginning, but what role has TMA
played in your career?
I think that’s been a significant
aspect of it. I have been able to build a
network of colleagues and friends from
coast to coast that I never would have
had without being a member of TMA
and being given the opportunities that
I’ve had within TMA to network with
people and to participate in TMA
activities. Whether it was planning a
conference or being part of the board of
trustees or being the corporate secretary
for a while, it has permitted me to meet
so many people that I have become
friends with, people who I can go to as a
resource, and people who sometimes
come to me as a resource.
It has been very, very gratifying, and I
don’t think I’d be as good a lawyer or as
good a professional today were it not
for TMA. I know that sounds trite, but
in my case, I firmly believe that. The
opportunity to work with judges from
around the country—who I will probably
never have an opportunity to appear in
front of—on panels, to hear what they
have to say, to get insights from them
as we work through presentations or as
part of TMA governance has been an
experience that I didn’t think I would
have, but it’s been one of the best parts.
Q What other advice would you have for someone who was new to the
industry or was thinking about getting
Find a good mentor who has
experience in the bankruptcy,
turnaround, and restructuring industry
from whom you can learn. Also, develop
your leadership skills from the beginning.
By that I don’t mean constantly putting
up your hand to do what some people
perceive to be leading. What I mean is, if
you’re asked to do something, take the
opportunity to do it and do it well. Do
things that will permit you to meet people
and grow your own network.
For young TMA members, don’t
volunteer for something just to say, “I
can sit next to a judge.” Do it with an
open mind and open ears and work with
the judges that you have the opportunity
to meet because it’s a wonderful
experience. Sometimes you get some
real pearls of wisdom by just listening
to them talk amongst themselves.
Obviously, the most critical thing is to do
a good job in whatever your engagement
is, no matter how big or how small. But
people who just know you as a colleague
have to be able to realize that they can
rely on you. That’s something I think
you have to start working on at the
very beginning, because it builds the
trust that somewhere down the road
may lead to an engagement. I think it’s
something that is critically important, but
I don’t think it’s necessarily something
that people focus on as early in their
careers as perhaps they should.
Q If you could start your own career over, would you do
I love being a lawyer, so I don’t
think I would change that aspect of it. I
might focus earlier on what I really want
to specialize in. I’ve wound up doing
predominantly commercial litigation, real
estate litigation, some construction
litigation, and then, of course, bankruptcy
litigation. I wish I had had a focus earlier
in my career, particularly in the
bankruptcy area. I did some of it, but it’s
taken until probably the last 15 to 20 years
for me to really focus on it. I enjoy it. I feel
like I get decisions faster in Bankruptcy
Court than I do in some of the other
courts in which I appear. The bankruptcy
cases really make progress, and I enjoy
that aspect of it.
So, I probably would focus a little more
on my area of practice. I would take
my own advice and would learn how
to lead, whether it was putting up my
hand to volunteer or leading by example
more than I did when I was younger.
If I could go back with my knowledge
after the years of practice I’ve had, I’d
start out as a much better lawyer.
Q What might people who know you only in your professional capacity
be most surprised to learn about you?
The moustache is fake. J