Orrick public finance partner John Knox and restructuring partner Marc Levinson have been selected by California Lawyer as “Attorneys of the Year” for their work on behalf of the cities of Vallejo and Stockton in their bankruptcy cases. This annual list recognized 60 lawyers throughout California whose legal work made a significant impact in the past year.
For the past three years, Mr. Knox and Mr. Levinson have guided the City of Vallejo through the unexplored complexities of chapter 9, which led to the establishment of the legal criteria for a city's eligibility to be a chapter 9 debtor and, in a matter of first impression, that a debtor city could reject labor contracts. Vallejo won acceptance of its plan of adjustment in August 2011, and exited chapter 9 later that year. In 2012, it liquidated disputed claims and paid creditors pursuant to the approved plan of adjustment, having regained its financial footing.
Last year, the City of Stockton became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy protection. In its first month, the Stockton chapter 9 case generated two published opinions on cutting edge issues; one related to the new California mediation law and the other addressed the statutory and constitutional limits of the jurisdiction of the bankruptcy court in chapter 9 cases.
In both cases, Mr. Knox (who also received the CLAY Award in 2005) focused on the public financing side, involving creditors, banks and the restructuring of debt. Mr. Levinson was the lead insolvency lawyer for Stockton in the California-mandated mediation process, and is serving as the lead bankruptcy lawyer in its chapter 9 case – the same role he filled for Vallejo.