Skadden Bankruptcy Baron Joins Liquidation Shop
John “Jack” Wm. Butler Jr., a former cohead of the corporate restructuring practice at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, will leave the Am Law 100 firm's Chicago office on May 1 to become an executive vice president at Hilco Global, a financial services shop specializing in distressed investments.
Hilco announced Butler’s hire in an internal memo released publicly on Wednesday. The company, whose private equity arm evaluates struggling assets and helps troubled clients liquidate their inventory, has several lawyers in its executive tier.
Butler will work alongside fellow executive vice president Benjamin Nortman, a Jones Day alum, and executive vice president for special situations Joseph Malfitano, who joined the Northbrook, Ill.–based company company as deputy general counsel in 2007. Hilco's current general counsel Eric Kaup is a former Skadden associate, as is assistant general counsel Ian Fredericks.
With Butler set to depart, Skadden issued a prepared statement praising him for his 23-year run handling high-profile matters for the firm, including, most recently, a key role counseling bankrupt client American Airlines on its merger with US Airways Group. The deal, which Butler called transformative in a television interview following its approval by the U.S. Department of Justice, created the world's largest airline.
“Jack has made a tremendous contribution to the development of our corporate restructuring practice for more than 20 years and has helped ensure the group’s continued strength and success,” said a statement by Skadden executive partner Eric Friedman. “We are very excited for him as he embarks on this new endeavor and wish him all the best.”
Butler, an American Lawyer Dealmaker of the Year in 2010 who spoke with The Am Law Daily in its infancy six years ago about his work advising blue-chip clients such as Delphi, Kmart and Xerox as they coped with financial difficulties, isn’t the first top restructuring lawyer to jump to the business side.
Leading Weil, Gotshal & Manges bankruptcy partner Harvey Miller left the firm in 2002 for boutique investment bank Greenhill & Co. before rejoining Weil five years later. And Kirkland & Ellis partner James Sprayregen spent two years at Goldman Sachs before returning to the firm in December 2008, according to our previous reports.
That same month, former Skadden restructuring cohead Timothy Pohl left the firm’s Chicago office to join financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard, where he works with former Skadden partner David Kurtz. (Kurtz, who left Skadden for Lazard in 2002, was named global head of restructuring for the latter in 2012.)
Jay Goffman, a partner in New York, currently serves as global head of Skadden’s restructuring practice. While the number of large corporate bankruptcy filings has slipped in recent years, Skadden—along with restructuring rival Kirkland—continues to handle a major share of the most noteworthy matters, according to a recent report by The American Lawyer.