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
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
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
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