In this episode, we speak with James ("Jamie") H. M. Sprayregen, partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and founder of the firm's powerhouse bankruptcy restructuring practice. Few know the story of how Jamie built the practice from humble beginnings starting in 1990. In a frank interview, Jamie describes the vision he had three decades ago, the challenges he encountered along the way, and the banner chapter 11 cases—Zenith Electronics, United Airlines—that he believes helped to shape the then-emerging brand of this premier practice. Jamie is partner in the Chicago and New York offices of Kirkland & Ellis. Under Jamie's leadership, the Restructuring Group has represented debtors and creditors in some of the most complex Chapter 11 filings in recent history, including Energy Future Holdings Corp., Seadrill Limited, Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. Inc, Toys "R" Us, Inc., Trans World Airlines, Inc., and Conseco, Inc. In October 2013, Jamie was inducted into the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Turnaround, Restructuring, and Distressed Investing Industry Hall of Fame‎. From 2013 to 2015, Jamie was appointed to serve a two year term as the President of INSOL International, the world's leading international insolvency association. Jamie is a Fellow in the American College of Bankruptcy.


What We Discussed in This Episode:

  • The circuitous, and serendipitous, route by which Jamie arrived as a junior associate at Kirkland in 1990
  • The transactional deal that Jamie believes put Kirkland's restructuring practice "on the map"
  • That business plan that Jamie, while a senior associate, wrote that envisioned creating "the best bankruptcy practice in the world"
  • How the various economic downturns during Jamie's tenure—including the 1989 real estate crash, the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, the 2000 dot com crash, the Global Financial Crisis, of 2007-2008 the COVID-19 recession—changed the practice of bankruptcy law

Contact Information:

Justin Bernbrock

James H.M. Sprayregen

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