The attorneys in Patterson Belknap‘s Business Reorganization and Creditors' Rights practice group offer our clients a broad array of experience and skills managing, mitigating, and monetizing every kind of financial distress. Our clients include indenture trustees, banks, creditors’ committees, examiners, developers, manufacturers, licensors, and other businesses, partnerships, individuals, and foreign and domestic government agencies.  We assist them in bankruptcy matters, bankruptcy-related litigation, out-of-court workouts, and many other special situations.

Bankruptcy Proceedings

Patterson Belknap plays a variety of roles in hundreds of bankruptcy cases nationwide.  We represent secured and unsecured creditors, landlords and tenants, creditors’ committees and court-appointed trustees in corporate reorganizations under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, liquidations under Chapter 7, cross-border proceedings under Chapter 15, and municipal bankruptcy cases under Chapter 9.  A few examples of the Firm’s diverse work include:

  • Patterson Belknap represented the indenture trustee for more than five billion dollars of unsecured debt issued by an energy portfolio company in the largest bankruptcy case ever filed in Delaware.      

  • The Firm was lead counsel to the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of multi-state real estate developer with liabilities in excess of a billion dollars.  The Bankruptcy Court praised the “remarkable results” achieved through the “extraordinary efforts” of Patterson Belknap attorneys in this case.

  • Patterson Belknap regularly represents one of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical, consumer health, and medical device manufacturers as a significant creditor in bankruptcy cases nationwide.

  • The Firm served as New York counsel for the largest private bank in Brazil in connection with the Chapter 15 bankruptcy case of a Brazilian company.

  • Patterson Belknap represented the winning bidder in an auction to acquire the assets and intellectual property from a Chapter 7 debtor over the objection and competing bid of the debtor’s secured lender.

Financial Distress Outside of Bankruptcy:  Workouts, Acquisitions and Troubled Loans

Patterson Belknap regularly represents parties engaging in transactions (particularly financings, purchases and sales, and franchising) with distressed companies outside of and prior to the commencement of a bankruptcy case.  The Firm offers advice on structuring transactions to avoid or minimize risks resulting from the subsequent insolvency or bankruptcy of the distressed party.  Patterson Belknap also represents secured lenders and borrowers in connection with the restructuring of lending arrangements involving financially illiquid or distressed companies.  Some examples include:

  • Advising and representing a secured lender in the restructuring of its credit facilities with a series of related agribusinesses in Colorado, including the sale of real property and the liquidation of other collateral.

  • Advising foreign banks in the modification of revolving credit facilities to a troubled commodities dealer in order to avoid bankruptcy proceedings.

  • Advising several of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturers on structuring joint ventures with distressed or non-creditworthy companies.

  • Acquisition by a real estate and retailing organization of a major independent oil refiner in Chapter 11 through stock purchase from secured creditors.

  • Acquisition by an investment company of a controlling interest in a defense aviation company and related businesses outside of Chapter 11.

  • Providing advice on closing out commodities transactions with a major financially troubled trading company.

  • Providing guidance to foreign exporters and their banks and credit insurers concerning transactions with distressed U.S. Companies.

Multidisciplinary Approach

Financial distress, insolvency and bankruptcy can occur in every sector, in different economic climates, and anywhere in the world.  So our diverse nationwide and international practice spans a broad range of industries in foreign and domestic jurisdictions around the world.  The attorneys in Patterson Belknap‘s Business Reorganization and Creditors' Rights practice group are able to provide efficient service without sacrificing the resources of a larger firm:  we regularly partner with colleagues who focus on litigation, internal investigations, real estate, and tax, to provide our clients with the full panoply of services required to mitigate and manage the risks associated with financial distress.  


Patterson Belknap is particularly known for its active and effective litigation in bankruptcy court. It represents several major corporations in preference and related bankruptcy litigation on a coast-to-coast basis, but concentrates in handling complex litigation arising from bankruptcy cases. Noteworthy matters include:

  • Representation of a major financial institution in a negligence suit against a nationwide accounting firm upon which it relied in lending to a bankrupt manufacturer.

  • Representation of a nationwide accounting firm in litigation brought by financial institutions which relied on it in lending to a bankrupt commodities trader.

  • Working in tandem with the firm’s nationally-renowned Law Firm Defense group, Patterson Belknap has developed significant experience defending lawyers and law firms against malpractice and malfeasance claims in Bankruptcy Court.


Patterson Belknap, well known for its investigative work, serves a substantial number of financial institutions and major corporations with sensitive internal and external matters requiring independent scrutiny. This work extends into the bankruptcy and debtor-creditor area. The Firm’s attorneys have frequently been called upon to perform investigations and to act swiftly to maximize recovery on behalf of creditors, creditors’ committees or trustees in bankruptcies and workout cases involving allegations of fraud and embezzlement. Representative matters include:

  • Investigation of multi-million dollar embezzlement and misappropriation by financial officer of an entertainment company and diversified efforts to recover embezzled and misappropriated assets in a Chapter 11 case; related civil litigation resulting in significant recovery from a third party whose negligence contributed to loss.

  • Investigation of embezzlement by senior financial officer of a manufacturing company resulting in restitution agreement involving other creditor interests.

  • Advising securities firm which suffered heavy losses as a result of unauthorized investments by senior executives.

  • Internal investigation for a national law firm following its role in a large Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

Real Estate

Patterson Belknap’s debtor-creditor practice often comes together with the Firm’s Real Estate practice to assist landlords, lenders, developers and others in efforts to restructure troubled real estate projects.  The Firm also handles foreclosure and related bankruptcy litigation. Some noteworthy matters include:

  • Representation of landlords in connection with tenant bankruptcies, assumption and assignment of leases, and sales to new owners.

  • Representation of a large North American banking corporation in prosecution of secured and unsecured claims against a major New York real estate partnership and related individuals, in both state and federal courts.

  • Representation of numerous single-asset borrowers with significant commercial real estate in New York, including the Architects’ & Designers’ Building, the Designers’ & Decorators’ Building, 275 Madison Avenue, 633 Third Avenue and 909 Third Avenue, as well as 114 Sansome Street in San Francisco.

Pro Bono

Finally, like all of Patterson Belknap’s lawyers, the attorneys in the Business Reorganization and Creditors' Rights practice group take seriously their commitment to providing pro bono legal services.  By partnering with legal service organizations throughout New York, the Firm regularly serves low-income and indigent clients who might not otherwise have access to high quality legal representation.  Recent matters include:

  • Assist with the wind-down and liquidation of a not-for-profit advocacy and lobbying organization, ensuring that the officers and directors who served in a voluntary capacity were not held personally liable for the organization’s debts.

  • Secured dismissal of a bankruptcy case that was filed to frustrate and delay the claims of nail salon workers who allege they were paid below minimum wage in violation of New York and federal wage and hour laws.

  • Obtained favorable settlement for underpaid restaurant workers after commencing an adversary proceeding to establish that their claims could not be discharged in bankruptcy.