Paul Basta, a top restructuring partner at Kirkland & Ellis in New York and member of the firm’s 15-person management committee, is preparing to leave the firm.
“Kirkland is an outstanding law firm with exceptional lawyers,” Basta said in a statement provided by the firm. “It has been an honor to have worked here alongside such supportive colleagues, and I am so proud of what our restructuring practice and our firm has achieved. I am excited to explore new opportunities ahead of me.”
It is so far unknown where Basta will head or what he will do next. At Kirkland, Basta handled several major bankruptcy matters, including the recent Chapter 11 case of Caesars Entertainment Operating Corp., which kicked more than $70 million into Kirkland’s coffers since its inception in early 2015.
“We thank Paul for his contributions to our restructuring practice and the firm,” Kirkland said in its own statement. “We wish him all the best in the future.”
Basta joined Kirkland shortly after the brief departure from the firm of the brand name bankruptcy partner James Sprayregen, who joined The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2006 before returning to the firm in late 2008. Sprayregen is perennially one of the most active restructuring lawyers in the country.
Basta was recruited at the time by a then-leading partner of the firm’s restructuring practice, Richard “Rick” Cieri, who retired in early 2015 after a distinguished 35-year career. Two years after Basta joined from Weil, Kirkland lured another bankruptcy partner from the same competitor in Christopher Marcus, who remains a partner at Kirkland in New York.
Kirkland’s restructuring practice, which recently welcomed back partner Joshua Sussberg after his battle with a rare form of lymphoma, announced in May that it would bring on Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Sean Lacey in London. Lacey replaces Mark Knight, a restructuring partner who left Kirkland earlier this year to become general counsel at Pillarstone, an investment platform formed by New York-based buyout giant KKR & Co. LP.
Veteran Kirkland restructuring partner David Eaton retired from the firm’s Chicago office earlier this year and now works as a consultant, while bankruptcy litigation partner Jeffrey Gould left in April to join Washington, D.C.-based boutique Oppenheimer & Zebrak as senior counsel.
As for Basta, in addition to representing Caesars, he has also handled Chapter 11 cases for LINN Energy LLC, Longview Power LLC and Samson Resources Corp. Luxury retailer Barneys New York Inc. also turned to Basta to advise on an out-of-court restructuring that helped the company cut its long-term debt from $590 million to $50 million.
CLARIFICATION: 7/26/17, 10:18 a.m. EDT: The second-to-last paragraph of this story has been revised to note that Eaton retired from Kirkland.