Workouts, bankruptcy, debtor/creditor remedies, commercial law and business litigation are Jim’s areas of practice. He has counseled and represented thousands of businesses in challenging financial circumstances in over 40 years of practice, and he is an expert at developing creative solutions to difficult problems. He was lead attorney for the Turnaround Management Association’s National Transaction of the Year in 2009 and for the TMA Upper Midwest Chapter’s Transactions of the Year in 2006 and in 2010. Nominated by his peers, he became a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy in 1997.
Recently Jim chaired the committee that drafted Minnesota’s comprehensive new statute covering receiverships and assignments for the benefit of the creditors that will become effective August 1, 2012. He has been listed in “Best Lawyers in America” since 1989. He has also been included in all listings of Minnesota’s “Super Lawyers” and is a “Top 100 Attorney” among all Minnesota Lawyers. He is also an active speaker for continuing legal education programs both locally and nationally.
Jim is very active in bar leadership and pro bono legal activities, and has received national honors for his work, including the first national pro bono award given by the American Bar Association. He has served as president of the 7,500- member Hennepin County Bar Association and of the 15,000- member Minnesota State Bar Association. He is an active member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Turnaround Management Association, among others.
- University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 1967
- University of Chicago, A.B., 1964
- Minnesota, 1967
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 1969
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, 1980
- Bankruptcy, Restructuring & Workouts
- Commercial Law
- Banking & Financial Services Litigation
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Represented building products company, a subsidiary of a $1 billion plus corporate family, facing massive liabilities in a successful 524(g) (asbestos) chapter 11 case creating a trust for asbestos personal injury claimants after extensive litigation with insurers. The company was then able to continue as a successful business.
- Represented twelve building products companies, together the largest in the Midwest, in a complex out-of-court workout involving six different securities offerings, working with multiple secured and unsecured creditors. It received the 2009 Turnaround Management Association National Transaction of the Year (mid-size).
- Represented one of the world’s largest boat building companies in 22 related chapter 11 cases and the §363 bankruptcy sales of the businesses. It received the 2010 TMA Upper Midwest Chapter Transaction of the Year.
- Represented an individual real estate developer and property manager with over 100 legal entities and multiple commercial real estate holdings and more than $200 million in debt in successful individual chapter 11 case. It was selected by Twin City Business magazine as a 2011 “Top Ten Business Litigation Case of the Year”.
- Managed chapter 11 363 sale process for a high tech manufacturing company that resulted in sales proceeds four times the original offer and twice what was necessary to pay all creditors in full.
- Helped purchase valuable online consumer products company from bankruptcy in California.
- Led successful chapter 11 reorganization of well-known manufacturer of high tech components for the auto industry allowing most current funders to make additional investments into a company with a cleaner corporate debt and equity structure.
- Handled successful “pre-packaged” chapter 11 cases where votes in favor of plan are obtained before filing chapter 11 case, making the cases go more quickly and without damage to business goodwill.
- Provided local representation of an international energy company in one of the nation’s largest chapter 11 cases of the year.
- Represented franchisees in out-of-court workouts and in chapter 11 cases.
- Represented lenders to the construction industry in collections against their debtors and in workouts with their own creditors.
- Counseled numerous real estate developers, builders, property managers and owners facing loan default and possible foreclosures.
- Represented individual guarantors of business debt in workouts and, when necessary, in bankruptcy.
- Litigated numerous debtor-creditor issues.
- Led chapter 11 sale of an aquarium in large local mall.
- Represented vendors in collection litigation, reclamation of creditors remedies
- Represented largest trucking company in region in chapter 11 case involving rejection of union contracts.
- Drafted (as chair of committee) Minnesota statutes on replevin, attachment, receivership and assignments for the benefit of creditors.
- Co-Author, “Minnesota Constructs Comprehensive Receivership Law,” Journal of Corporate Renewal, March 2013
- Presenter, Bankruptcy Breakfast Seminar: New Receivership and ABC Statutes, July 31, 2012
- Chair, drafting committee for the 2012 Minnesota statute on receivership and assignments for the benefit of creditors; testified before legislative committees, 2010-2012 and presented at continuing legal education program
- Co-author and presenter, “Chapter 11 Reorganization,” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Bankruptcy Practice Deskbook, 2012
- Course co-chair and presenter, Hot Topics in Debtor-Creditor Practice, MCLE, 2012
- Co-editor, MCLE Debtor-Creditor Handbook and Formbook, 1996-2012 (all editions); author of the chapters on attachment and replevin
- Chair (or co-chair) and presenter, MCLE Debtor and Creditor Law courses, 1996-2012. Presenter in earlier years
- Presenter, Committee Solicitation Issues - The Problems, the Rules and the Enforcers, 83rd Annual National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (Las Vegas, Nevada), 2009
- Author, Waiver of Bankruptcy Protections in Pre Bankruptcy Workout Agreements, Chapter 21, Second Edition of the Business Workouts Manual, Supplement; Thomson Reuters/West, 2010–2011 editions and prior editions
- Presenter, Changes in the New Bankruptcy Law Affecting Business Bankruptcies, Turnaround Management Association seminar, June, 2006
- Author and presenter, Purchasing at the Bankruptcy Bazaar, MCLE, 2002
- Author and presenter, Advising the Public Company in the Vicinity of Insolvency, MILE, 2002
- Author and presenter, Bankruptcy Legislation MCLE, 2001
Highlights of Earlier Publications & Presentations
- Author and presenter, Negotiating the Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization, Lender Liability and Bankruptcy, 1998
- Author and presenter, Solving the Practical Problems of Pro Bono, National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, San Francisco, California, 1999
- Editor, How to Begin a Pro Bono Program in Your Bankruptcy Court: A Starter Kit for Lawyers and Judges, ABA Section of Litigation and ABA Section of Business Law, 1999
- Author and presenter, A Privatization Solution to the Legitimacy of Prepetition Waivers of the Automatic Stay, Arizona Law Review, 1996
- Presenter, The Law Firm and the Public Good, Brookings Institute program, 1995
- Author, In the Spirit of Public Service: Model Rule 6.1, the Profession and Legal Education, Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice, University of Minnesota, 1994
- Numerous other presentations at the annual Minnesota Bankruptcy Institute and at other programs on topics such as the pitfalls of lending to distressed businesses, mediation in bankruptcy court, commercial lending and lender liability, bankruptcy legislative changes, how to do a motion in bankruptcy court, hostile purchases of assets and creditors’ plans, lender liability, role of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in bankruptcy, role of the board in turnarounds, financial institutions law, and bankruptcy litigation (more than 50 presentations in all).
- Secretary, American College of Bankruptcy Foundation, 2012-present
- Vice-chair, Pro Bono Committee, American College of Bankruptcy, 2012-present
- Member, Minnesota Supreme Court Legal Services Planning Committee, a committee of the Minnesota Supreme Court to assist in the delivery of legal services to low income Minnesotans, current member, and numerous prior years
- Founder and vice-chair, LegalCORPS, an organization that provides pro bono legal services to small non-profits and small businesses to aid in community development, 2003-
- Chair, American Bar Association, Special Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness, 2007-2011; member, 2006-2007
- American Bar Association, Section Council (Section of Business Law of ABA), 2003-2006; Publications Board (Section of Business Law of ABA), 1998 - 2002; Chair, Pro Bono Committee (Section of Business Law of ABA), 1999-2003; Editorial Board, Business Law Today (Journal of Section of Business Law of ABA), 1993-1998; co-editor, Bankruptcy Litigation (Newsletter of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Committee of Litigation Section of the ABA), 1993-1995
- Chair, American Bar Association, Standing Committee on Lawyers’ Public Service Responsibility, 1993-1996; member, 1991-1996
- President, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2003-2004; President-elect, 2002-2003; Treasurer, 2001-2002; Secretary, 2000-2001; chair, Bankruptcy Section, 1985-1988; co-chair, Committee on Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged, 1982-1985; member, 1981-1993; Litigation and Business Law Sections, member since 1967
- Board of Directors, Upper Midwest Chapter of Turnaround Management Association, 1998-2003
- Chair, Minnesota Supreme Court Legal Services Advisory Committee, 1985-1990; member 1982-1985
- President, Hennepin County Bar Association, 1996-1997; President-elect, 1994-1996; Treasurer, 1993-1994; Secretary, 1992-1993; chair, Debtor-Creditor Remedies Committee, 1977-1979
- Chair, Hennepin County Bar Association - Legal Advice Clinics, Inc., 1980-1981; board of directors, 1972-1983, 1991-1993
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, 1967-68
Honors & Distinctions
- Best Lawyers in America, (Nominated by peers), 1989-present
- Best Lawyers in America Lawyer of the Year, 2011, 2013
- Minnesota Super Lawyer, Minnesota Super Lawyers magazine, 2011 “Top 100 Attorney”; super lawyer, twenty plus prior years
- Fellow, American College of Bankruptcy, 1997-present
- Fellow (Sustaining Life Fellow), American Bar Foundation, 1995-present
- David Graven Public Service Award, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2009
- National Transaction of the Year (mid-size), Turnaround Management Association, 2009
- Transaction of the Year, Turnaround Management Association, Upper Midwest Chapter, 2006 and 2010
- Transaction of the Year, Turnaround Management Association, Chicago/Midwest Chapter, 2006
- William Reece Smith Jr. Special Services to Pro Bono Award, American Bar Association, March 2006
- John Minor Wisdom Award for Professionalism and Public Service, American Bar Association Litigation Section, 1999
- Pro Bono Publico Award, Hennepin County Bar Association, 1992 (first year awards given)
- National Pro Bono Publico Award, American Bar Association, 1984 (one of four national recipients the first year national awards were given by the ABA)
- Pro Bono Publico Attorney Award, Minnesota Legal Services Coalition, 1983