X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Standing in a hallway in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., three minutes before the start of the men’s finals at the 2001 U.S. Open, Laura Davis Jones — soft drink in one hand and mobile phone in the other — is doing what she does best: negotiating. Work never stops for this Wilmington, Del.-based name partner at Los Angeles’ Pachulski, Stang, Ziehl, Young & Jones, not even for her favorite sports event. On Sept. 7, a Friday afternoon two days before the tennis match, Jones had been retained by American Tissue Inc., which needed to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection the following Monday. That meant she’d have to work over the weekend on American Tissue’s filing, along with that of discount retailer McCrory Corp., which was also heading to bankruptcy court on Monday morning. Despite the mountain of work, Jones had no intention of missing Pete Sampras squaring off against Lleyton Hewitt that Sunday. She hadn’t missed the men’s finals in six years, a friend was flying in from California for the match, and Jones had passes for the box next to Donald Trump’s — prime real estate on the shadowed side of the court. Jones could negotiate financing for the American Tissue bankruptcy up to the first serve, but not after that. Cell phones are prohibited in the stadium, so American Tissue would have to be put on hold for a couple of hours. The tennis was subpar. “Sampras wasn’t playing too well,” she recalls. “It wasn’t a long match.” But Jones got a pleasant surprise nonetheless: A few seconds after turning on her phone, postmatch, it rang. It turned out that Jones hadn’t missed a single call during the match. “All this time nobody [knew] I [was] at the U.S. Open,” she says. By the time Jones got back to her office in Wilmington at 8:30 that evening, a draft of the financing had been drawn up. She worked through the night to prepare for the following day’s hearings — McCrory’s was scheduled for 10 a.m., and American Tissue’s was to be a half-hour later. After those hearings, Jones met with the trustees of American Tissue and then, finally, went home to sleep. All-nighters, weekend work, back-to-back hearings: Such is the stuff of Jones’ life. Of the 20 biggest bankruptcies filed in 2001, Jones is involved in seven. On the debtors side, she is counsel with Sidley Austin Brown & Wood in Federal-Mogul Corporation’s $10 billion filing, and with Kirkland & Ellis in W.R. Grace & Co. Inc.’s $2.5 billion filing. On the creditors side, she is counsel with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz on both the $14 billion filing of The FINOVA Group Inc., and the $3.9 billion filing of Exodus Communications Inc. She has smaller roles in the bankruptcies of Winstar Communications Inc.; ANC Rental Corporation; and Laidlaw Inc. Colleagues describe Jones, 40, as smart and fearless, but calm. “She’s constructively aggressive,” says Kirkland & Ellis’ James Sprayregen, Jones’ co-counsel on the W.R. Grace filing. “Laura is not afraid to go to court.” Adds Sleepmaster LLC president Kyle Boyle, whose firm is being represented by Jones in its bankruptcy proceedings: “Laura is extremely business-driven and focused, but she keeps everybody comfortable. She does not raise anyone’s stress level, even if you’re on the other side of the table.” And then there’s Jones’ relentless energy. “Laura makes time zones irrelevant,” says Ali Mojdehi, head of Baker & McKenzie’s San Diego bankruptcy practice. “She can multitask at a level I have rarely seen.” In fact, it was Jones’s energy that led to her first bit of national recognition. As a 29-year-old third-year associate at Wilmington’s Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, a general practice firm with a large bankruptcy department, Jones was tapped as co�-lead debtor’s counsel in the 1990 Chapter 11 filing of Continental Airline Holding Company. Jones says she got the plum assignment because she clicked with Continental’s then�-general counsel, Barry Simon, who is now head of international flight operations. “He was someone with a lot of energy, and so was I,” Jones says. By proving that Delaware courts could handle big cases efficiently, the Continental bankruptcy turned that state into a hub for Chapter 11 filings. It also kick-started Jones’ career. A reorganization plan that Jones helped plot kept the airline operating and saved 39,000 jobs. Young Conaway made her a partner the next year, and Jones went on to spend the 1990s as Delaware counsel on such high-profiles filings as that of the Marvel Entertainment Group Inc. Citing personality differences with her partners, Jones left Young Conaway in December 2000 to set up a Wilmington office for Pachulski Stang. Until Jones’ arrival, Pachulski Stang had no offices on the East Coast. Now it has two: a 13-lawyer operation in Wilmington and a four-lawyer one in New York. Pachulski Stang co-founder Richard Pachulski credits Jones with helping the firm grow from 40 lawyers in 2000 to 70 today. “There’s no question that she has been the major factor,” he says. “It was hard to convince people [to come to the firm] before we had an East Coast presence.” Jones has led the Wilmington office into profitability after two years of operation. She also sits on the firm’s management, intake, and business development committees. By Jones’ account, it is a good fit. Describing her initial meeting with Richard Pachulski, she recalls the equation that drew her to the boutique. “He had the bodies,” she says. “I had the contacts.” Given the current economic climate, both the bodies and the contacts are sure to be worked hard for months to come.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.