Delaware bankruptcy attorney Thomas Francella Jr. has decided bigger is better.
After a decade at Maryland-based midsize firm Whiteford Taylor Preston, Francella has joined Cozen O’Connor as a partner in the firm’s bankruptcy, insolvency and restructuring group.
His addition brings the number of partners in Cozen O’Connor’s Wilmington office to seven. Also based in that location are the firm’s bankruptcy, insolvency and restructuring co-chairs, Mark Felger and John Carroll III. The firm opened in Delaware in 1999.
Francella said his previous firm was “excellent,” but was concentrated on the East Coast, and Cozen O’Connor provides a more national platform. “They have a very solid restructuring group and a lot of great opportunities,” he said.
In addition to Delaware, Francella is admitted to practice in Florida and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. He noted Cozen O’Connor’s growing presence in South Florida as another draw to the firm.
Francella started his career as a deputy attorney general for the state of Delaware. He made the move into law firm work in 2002, joining a small Delaware firm, then Reed Smith, before moving to Whiteford Taylor. He represents corporate debtors in the administration of Chapter 11 bankruptcy estates, corporate entities in financial workouts with secured lenders out-of-court and creditors in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Francella said most of his clients have made the move to Cozen O’Connor, including his biggest client, NNN 400 Capitol Center, a high-rise office building that filed its Chapter 11 petition in late 2016. Other clients include retirement communities, an energy plant operator and a national producer of frozen skillet meals.
In representing another high-rise office building, Southfield Office Building, Francella was able to get a Chapter 11 plan confirmed, even though the case involved debtors who were tenants in common. According to Francella and his new firm, that is a rare occurrence, and may be the only instance in which a tenant in common bankruptcy plan was confirmed.
“With experience representing parties on all sides of the table, combined with a thorough knowledge of Delaware’s laws and local procedures, Tom is able to anticipate the needs and priorities of divergent constituencies and put together winning strategies for our clients,” said practice co-chair and Wilmington office managing partner Felger in a statement.
The majority of Cozen O’Connor’s 12 bankruptcy lawyers are located in Delaware. The practice also has three partners in Minneapolis, two in Philadelphia and one in New York.
Francella said bankruptcy practices are on the ups, and will likely continue to improve. “The future is bright now that interest rates are going up.”
Whiteford Taylor did not respond to a request for comment.