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They’ve Got Next: Bankruptcy Fresh Face Justin Alberto

Nov. 27, 2020, 11:01 AM

Justin Alberto calls the opioid crisis “one of the worst, if not the worst, man-made epidemics of our lifetime.”

A bankruptcy attorney who represented creditors’ committees in the Purdue Pharma LP and Insys Therapeutics Inc. bankruptcies and now represents opioid claimants in the case of Mallinckrodt Plc, Alberto said he always thinks of his six children when he hears the “heart-wrenching” stories of addiction.

“It’s almost impossible to be in a circle of friends and not have someone affected by it,” Alberto says. In other types of cases, it might be easy to forget the human aspects of what bankruptcy means and does, he said. “In these cases, that is impossible. You can never lose sight of the impact that this epidemic has had on the nation.”

That widespread impact is why Alberto calls his work with opioid claimants the most challenging and most rewarding of his career. “We are on the front lines of not only doing right by victims but helping abate a national crisis,” he said.

Formerly the co-chair of Bayard PA’s corporate bankruptcy and restructuring group, Alberto joined Cole Schotz PC’s bankruptcy and corporate restructuring team as a partner in February.

Alberto graduated from Widener University of Delaware Law School in 2008, and has since developed a specialization in the retail, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries. In addition to his work with opioid claimants, he represented creditors’ committees in cases such as Claire’s Stores Inc., Bumble Bee Foods LLC, and Brookstone Co.

Alberto has also represented debtors in high-profile and complex commercial restructurings, including clothier and footwear retailer Charlotte Russe Holding Inc. and designer jeans retailer True Religion Apparel Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in April and emerged in October.

An offensive lineman for the football team when an undergrad at Springfield College, Mass., Alberto now channels his competitive drive to fight for clients, he said.

“I motivated my team to fight like hell to save this business,” Alberto said of True Religion. Judge Christopher Sontchi of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware called it a “minor miracle” that the retailer was able to reorganize successfully during the pandemic.

Alberto’s colleagues say he’s not just skilled in the nuts and bolts of the bankruptcy code, but has a keen awareness of how to bring in business and keep clients happy. Personable and approachable, Alberto sees the big picture and has the ability to pinpoint exactly what each client needs, they said.

He’s steady, practical, doesn’t get flustered, “and he’ll fight like an animal when he can’t make a deal,” said Stuart Komrower, a member in Cole Schotz’s restructuring group.

Alberto is excellent in the courtroom, “but where you really see him shine is behind the scenes at the negotiating table,” said Seth Van Aalten, a member of Cole Schotz’s restructuring team who has known Alberto for 15 years. He not only advocates for his clients, but also educates them on what’s appropriate and reasonable, Van Aalten said.

Michael Sirota, co-chair of Cole Schotz’s national bankruptcy and corporate restructuring department, calls Alberto “one of the preeminent creditors’ committee lawyers in the country.”

Despite joining the firm less than a year ago, Alberto has made friends and earned respect at all levels “without any hiccups whatsoever,” Sirota said. “When he opens a case, people want to work with him, which is the ultimate compliment.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Leslie A. Pappas in Wilmington, Del. at lpappas@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Laura D. Francis at lfrancis@bloomberglaw.com; Lisa Helem at lhelem@bloombergindustry.com

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