McDermott Will & Emery is adding a five-lawyer group from Katten Muchin Rosenman to its restructuring and insolvency practice in Dallas as the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis bring more bankruptcy work for Big Law firms.
Katten partner Charles “Chuck” Gibbs leads the team joining McDermott, and will head its Dallas-based restructuring practice. Mark Patterson and Eric Seitz are also making the move from Katten joining as counsel along with two associates.
Gibbs is just the latest partner to join McDermott’s restructuring and insolvency practice over the last year as the threat of an economic downturn prompted some firms to start bulking up bankruptcy groups even ahead of the pandemic.
Among those additions at McDermott were Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom partner Felicia Gerber Perlman, who now co-heads the practice, as well as King & Spalding partner Bradley Giordano, Kristin Going from Drinker Biddle & Reath (now Faegre Drinker), and David Hurst from Cole Schotz. The firm also added Jeffrey Reisner from Irell & Manella in September, who briefly co-led McDermott’s restructuring practice, before decamping to Steptoe & Johnson last month where he leads its insolvency and restructuring group.
Gibbs said in an email to Bloomberg Law that it was this effort to build out its restructuring practice as well as the firm’s presence in the U.S and Europe that drew him and his team to McDermott.
Gibbs, Patterson, and Seitz joined Katten in April 2019 from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Gibbs has almost four decades of experience representing public and private companies in the oil and gas exploration, midstream pipeline, and oilfield services as well as retail and real estate industries. He’s worked on complex financial restructurings on both the debtor and creditor sides. Patterson has advised lenders and equity investors in leveraged real estate projects while Seitz focuses his practice on complex Chapter 11 cases, representing debtors and trustees.
“Our clients are actively exploring every option to emerge from this crisis stronger than they went into it,” Harris Siskind, global head of McDermott’s corporate and transactional group, said in a statement. “This means they need advisors that understand the landscape and are ready to think creatively about solutions.”
In his move to McDermott, Gibbs said he hopes to to help the firm establish a major footprint in the Dallas-area restructuring community given the prevalence of Chapter 11 filings in Texas, which has been fueled by the widespread financial distress in the domestic energy sector.
The appetite for bankruptcy and restructuring work has been particularly noticeable in Texas, where the economic consequences of the coronavirus, including plunging oil prices, will likely create work for law firms equipped to assist floundering energy companies.
“We are seeing a much deeper, more widespread and more pronounced level of financial distress occasioned by COVID-19’s effect on multiple sectors and industries,” Gibbs said, noting that levels of distress in the exploration and production sector, as well as in the mid-stream and oil field service sectors, are far more pronounced than when energy prices tumbled in late 2014.
Katten, which recently announced that it would lay off some of its furloughed business administration staff, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the restructuring team’s departure.