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Introducing our Financial Restructuring and Insolvency Practice

July 2021: Andrea Amulic and Amanda Parra Criste are both associates in our Financial Restructuring and Insolvency Practice, based in New York and Miami respectively. They talk about why they chose this area, dispel some myths and offer advice to future lawyers.

"White & Case's Financial Restructuring and Insolvency Practice guides clients through restructurings, workouts and insolvency matters worldwide. Our practice covers the full stressed and distressed debt continuum, from advising on corporate and financial restructuring transactions to navigating chapter 11 proceedings, multijurisdictional insolvencies, debtor and creditor-related disputes, and special situations," explains Andrea.

Who are the typical clients? According to Amanda: "We advise almost every type of restructuring stakeholder, including debtors, distressed investors, ad hoc creditor groups, unsecured creditor committees, key contract counterparties, independent directors, indenture trustees, and administrative and collateral agents."

Collaboration, solutions and varied practice

Amanda reflects on why she chose this area of work. "For me it was important to find a practice that would leverage my finance and consulting background and that would allow me to work across industries. I did not want to be stuck on the same deals and the same forms. There were aspects of litigation that I liked, like being in court and persuasive writing, but I also did not want to be stuck in discovery mode for months or years. I chose bankruptcy and insolvency because it is solution-oriented and provides a very varied practice, where crafting comprehensive business solutions requires collaboration with other disciplines and, in some cases, litigation."

Novel ideas for unique situations: The importance of problem-solving

"The most challenging aspect of practicing in this area is also often the most rewarding—it is a constantly unpredictable field," says Andrea. "Restructuring is, by definition, focused on problem-solving, and every deal presents different problems than the last. While the unpredictable and reactive nature of the work can often present challenges, it also allows (and requires) practitioners to think creatively and apply novel ideas to addressing each unique situation. So it is difficult to ever feel comfortable, but at the same time, it is also impossible to ever feel bored."

A day in the life: Time management is critical

Amanda gives an insight into the typical working day of an associate in this area: "The best part of the practice is that every case and every day is different. The specific approach and tasks often depend on the client and its role in the case. As a mid-level associate, however, my role straddles the spectrum of work from researching complex issues, drafting pleadings, or working directly with senior associates and partners on developing broader strategies."

She adds, "One common task is reviewing and revising documents, such as proposed orders, restructuring support agreements, or proposed chapter 11 plans, and elevating key issues to the partners. At my level, involvement in advisor and client calls and meetings becomes greater, which means time management becomes critical. Delegation of research assignments and training has become a much larger part of my role, which, in itself, requires critical organization and communication skills.

Advice to law students: Learn about the area, don't forget your writing skills

What key skills or experience can law students take to prepare themselves for working in this area? Andrea's response: "I would highly recommend taking bankruptcy/restructuring and secured transaction courses, as well as classes on corporations and commercial law. I would also recommend taking a financial accounting course to anyone who does not have a finance or business background. And it remains important to take writing, procedural and litigation skills courses, as bankruptcy lawyers also need to be strong, persuasive writers, and any public speaking and negotiation-oriented classes are always beneficial."

Mythbusting: Why restructuring is a generalist practice

Amanda challenges some myths about working in this area of the law: "I think the biggest misconception about the restructuring field is that it is a niche, specialty area that is monotonous, very US-centric, or closes doors to potential alternative career paths. None of these are true."  She explains that, "Restructuring is truly a generalist practice. It requires both transactional and litigation skills and requires an understanding of many other disciplines, including M&A, capital markets and finance. More and more, global companies are undergoing global restructurings, which requires working with our colleagues in many other jurisdictions."

Varied career paths and valuable experience in corporate law

She points to the multiple different career paths available: "Bankruptcy practitioners develop financial and general corporate skills, which can be leveraged to various career paths. In addition to becoming partners at law firms, many bankruptcy lawyers go in-house and become counsel for major investment and hedge funds; others become financial restructuring advisors at top restructuring consulting firms or investment banks."