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Jack Butler, a Top Bankruptcy Lawyer, Will Move to Hilco

Feb 05, 2014

By Michael J. De La Merced

One of the bankruptcy bar’s biggest names is planning to leave the law to take up a different perch in the world of restructuring.

John W. Butler Jr., a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, will move to Hilco Global, a financial firm whose services include liquidating bankrupt companies, Hilco announced in an internal memorandum on Wednesday.

The move will signal a major shift for Mr. Butler, who is known as Jack and is one of the most prominent bankruptcy lawyers. In his 23 years at Skadden, he has been involved in some of the biggest — and most contentious — Chapter 11 filings in memory.

Those include the bankruptcies of American Airlines, where he represented the airline’s creditors committee and helped orchestrate the company’s merger with US Airways; Delphi, where he worked for the auto-part maker’s infamously protracted Chapter 11 case; and Kmart.

“Jack has made a tremendous contribution to the development of our corporate restructuring practice for more than 20 years and has helped ensure the group’s continued strength and success,” Eric Friedman, Skadden’s executive partner, said in a statement. “We are very excited for him as he embarks on this new endeavor and wish him all the best.”

Other top bankruptcy lawyers have left the legal world to try their hand in other parts of the restructuring universe. David Kurtz, the global head of Lazard’s restructuring practice, formerly worked at Skadden.

Harvey R. Miller, a partner atWeil, Gotshal & Manges and one of the foremost practitioners in the field, left his firm to work at Greenhill & Company, a boutique investment bank, but returned after five years.

And James H. M. Sprayregen, a top partner at Kirkland & Ellis, spent two years at Goldman Sachs before coming back to the law.

A Michigan native, Mr. Butler graduated from Princeton and the University of Michigan’s law school, joining Skadden in 1990. He developed a reputation as a tough-headed negotiator, unafraid of negotiating for hours on end.

Mr. Butler will take that reputation to Hilco, a financial services firm whose array of businesses include appraising assets, providing corporate advice and running a private equity firm that owns brands like Polaroid and the fashion label Halston.

But roughly 70 percent of the firm’s business now involves working with healthy businesses, rather than distressed companies.

At Hilco, he will serve as an executive vice president, reporting to Jeffrey B. Hecktman, the firm’s chairman and chief executive.

In the memo, Mr. Hecktman praised his new hire as “one of the most wellknown and highly regarded deal-makers and thought leaders in the restructuring, corporate reorganization and M.&A. community.”

© 2014 The New York Times Company