Q How did you gravitate into turnaround/restructuring work,
or did you start out in that direction?
I definitely did not start
out in that direction. In fact, I never
took either bankruptcy or secured
transactions in law school. My career
has been one of progressions.
I started my career at a very small firm
in New Haven. It was a very general
practice, and I did a lot of everything,
including a fair amount of commercial
litigation. That included litigation for
banks and financial institutions. At the
time, in the early ‘90s, almost every one
of those cases ended up in bankruptcy
court at one time or another. I had to
get relief from stay or address a related
issue, and I found myself, as a young
lawyer, spending time almost sitting
in very long calendar calls in the
bankruptcy court. My understanding of
the bankruptcy process began there.
About four-plus years into my career,
I moved to Cummings & Lockwood.
Coincidentally, about the time that
I arrived, Cummings & Lockwood
hired a Florida partner with a national
bankruptcy practice who exposed
me and a few others to a bankruptcy
world that we otherwise wouldn’t have
seen if we had stuck to a Connecticut-based practice. I found myself doing
more and more bankruptcy work.
Ultimately, that became a core practice
at Cummings & Lockwood, and I was
a core component of that practice.
Five or six years later, through
another evolution, I ended up
at Day Pitney, and I now find
myself chair of the bankruptcy
practice here. It’s been somewhat
of an unusual progression—a
combination of circumstance
and interest that pulled me in.
Q If you could start over, would you do anything differently?
Certainly not in the way
my career has progressed as a lawyer. I
was somebody who had a lot of
interests. Going back to high school
and college, I was very active in music
and theater, and that’s a direction I
might have gone, depending on
circumstances. I was also a pre-med in
college, but I ultimately elected not to
go to medical school.
If I were to think about my life,
how it would be different, I think I
could have had an equally satisfying
career as a doc. I’ve been very happy
with my choice to become a lawyer
and particularly pleased with the
choices I’ve made along the way
professionally, including to start at
a small firm and get very broad and
general experience. I think that has
really provided a unique foundation
for me as a bankruptcy lawyer
because the bankruptcy world and
the restructuring world call upon
many different aspects and specialties
in the law to provide or identify
solutions to complex problems.
Q You had some very attractive career choices. You’re obviously a
multitalented individual. What tipped
the scale in favor of law school?
I talked to about whether I should go
into medicine basically said, “If you’re
even asking the question, you
shouldn’t do it.”
That was one thing. The other was that
I got married within a year of having
graduated from college, and I saw law
school as a somewhat shorter timeline
under the circumstances. Also, law
school to me at the time was a flexible
alternative. It’s interesting that I came
to law school with that perspective
and end up doing restructuring
work, which to me draws upon that
flexibility in terms of the skill sets
that you’re taught and the analytical
strategies you work on as a lawyer.
To me, it’s what makes a law degree
valuable, whether you use it like I do
or you take it in another direction, be
it in business, banking, or whatever
it may be. It’s that toolbox that law
school provides that creates the value.
Q What have been some of your favorite or most gratifying
engagements along the way?
The more recent
engagement that comes to mind was
representing a title company in the
Lehman Brothers case. It was a very
satisfying engagement in the sense
that it was an opportunity to operate at
the highest level. The issues were
challenging, both legally and with
regard to the human dynamic.
There wasn’t a short-term resolution
to the issues that was apparent.
It was one of those engagements
where getting everyone to step back
and take a longer view was critical.
I think the ability to ultimately
get everybody there, convincing
everybody that patience was going to
lead to a resolution of the problem, and
ultimately seeing that play out over
the course of what turned out to be a
five-year process was very satisfying.
The other one that comes to mind is a
matter I handled as a senior associate
at Cummings & Lockwood. I coauthored an amicus brief to the U.S.
Supreme Court with then-Professor
and now U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
in the 2003 North LaSalle case. Just
the experience of collaborating with
her—her intelligence, her strategic
thinking, her insight, and the
efficiency with which we were able to
get to what I think was an excellent
product—was just remarkable. Then to
be able to sit through the arguments
and watch that decision come down,
to participate in that process, was
really a unique opportunity that we as
bankruptcy lawyers don’t often get.
I’ve been very happy with my choice
to become a lawyer and particularly
pleased with the choices I’ve made
along the way professionally,
including to start at a small firm and
get very broad and general experience.