Hogan Lovells Cross-Trains Attys To Boost Bankruptcy Ranks

By Vince Sullivan
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Law360 (April 7, 2020, 8:48 PM EDT) -- International law firm Hogan Lovells announced Tuesday that it would offer its attorneys in other practice areas the opportunity to receive restructuring cross-training to assist the firm's existing practice ahead of an anticipated rush of bankruptcy filings in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Referred to as secondment, the practice is not new for the firm, especially at its London office, and gives associates a chance to receive training in the restructuring area so they can use their own area of specialization to assist in those cases.

The option will be made available to attorneys in the firm's U.S. offices in preparation for an expected wave of insolvency cases as the global economy reels from the novel coronavirus, which has forced businesses in multiple industries to cease operations for the foreseeable future.

Christopher Donoho, the head of Hogan Lovells' global restructuring and insolvency practice, said the training will augment the existing restructuring practice with attorneys who have expertise in other areas of law.

"The U.S. business restructuring practice at Hogan Lovells, in anticipation of a wave of bankruptcy filings in the coming months, is conducting cross-office WebEx presentations for associates interested in potentially taking on restructuring-related assignments in the future as need arises," Donoho told Law360 in a statement. "The presentations are designed to introduce the associates to the restructuring process and certain key concepts, and demonstrate how their respective skill sets from their existing practice area can complement the firm's restructuring practice for the benefit of our clients."

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the onslaught of an anticipated global recession as well as the expected struggles of companies with unbalanced debt loads, according to multiple restructuring attorneys. Many firms have been preparing for a glut of work in the restructuring space, including by expanding head count in key areas and forming special working teams to address vulnerable industries.

"We've been preparing for a downturn for some time," Donoho told Law360 in late March. "We obviously view this as a remarkable, once-in-a-hundred-year kind of event. But also we recognize that this was as much as anything a catalyst for overlevered companies and companies that had been in trouble anyway, but kept afloat by the enormous liquidity in the market."

Donoho took over as the global restructuring head of Hogan Lovells in January 2019 after serving as lead of the U.S. practice. He said the firm had started gearing up for the next downturn even before he assumed the worldwide leadership position.

"Since the middle of 2018, we've more than doubled the size of our U.S. practice," Donoho said, including adding four new partners in the Los Angeles office. Globally, Hogan Lovells has bolstered its London practice, added a leading restructuring attorney in Paris and rejuvenated its Hong Kong office.

"We are now really in a great position to be able to handle whatever happens next from a personnel perspective," Donoho said.

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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