For Marcia Goldstein, chair of Weil’s restructuring department, the depth of the economic collapse was driven home one weekend this past winter, when a client asked if she could join a conference call at 9 p.m. on a Sunday. Goldstein had to put the client off; she was already booked with another.
Goldstein’s department filed 13 major Chapter 11 petitions in 2008, including those of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Washington Mutual Inc., the two largest bankruptcies in history. Goldstein herself is lead counsel for Washington Mutual in its $328 billion bankruptcy and is advising American International Group, Inc., in its restructuring and in negotiations with the U.S. Department of the Treasury over bailout funds.
Goldstein has had a front-row seat to the international bloodletting as well. When Iceland’s largest bank fell victim to the global financial crisis last fall, it turned to Weil. Kaupthing Bunadarbanki hf had $26 billion in debt on its books, equal to twice the country’s gross domestic product, when it was seized by the Icelandic government in October 2008. The bank needed a firm that could handle the complex cross-border litigation and transactional work that its bankruptcy would entail. A London investment bank recommended Weil.
While Weil’s British partners shepherd the bank through reorganization in Reykjavik and litigation in London, Goldstein is leading Kaupthing’s Chapter 15 bankruptcy in the United States, where $222 million of its assets are located, and fielding litigation within the case over assets that the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., says were transferred to another bank in the United States.
Wherever the clients are, the deepening crisis means that Goldstein can expect the Sunday night conference calls to continue. “It used to be that the lawyers worked weekends to finish work for their clients,” Goldstein says. “Now it’s the clients that are feeling the pressure.”
See all 25 of our Dealmakers of the Year, from the April 2009 issue of The American Lawyer.
Photo: Weil, Gotshal & Manges