Kaufman recognized for helping city of Harrisburg reorganize from brink of bankruptcy; will lead McKenna’s municipal distressed and insolvency practice on West Coast
With many California cities continuing to show signs of fiscal distress, McKenna Long & Aldridge has relocated litigation partner Mark Kaufman, co-chair of the firms’ Municipal Reform & Innovation practice, to its San Francisco office from the Atlanta office. His practice focuses on advising financially distressed cities and towns – as well as tax-exempt bondholders, bond insurers and other public finance stakeholders – on issues and strategies stemming from fiscally challenged municipal credits.
One of the country’s leading municipal restructuring lawyers, Mr. Kaufman was recently honored by the Turnaround Atlas Awards as winner of the Out-of-Court Restructuring of the Year Award for Middle Markets. He was also selected as Mid-Market Restructuring Lawyer of the Year and listed as one of the top 100 restructuring and turnaround professionals in the world.
Some of that recognition reflected Mr. Kaufman’s role as lead counsel advising the Governor-appointed Receiver of the City of Harrisburg, PA in concluding a complex financial restructuring without resorting to Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. Mr. Kaufman was able to successfully work with a broad group of bondholders and other creditors in developing an out-of-court plan of reorganization for the Pennsylvania state capital in restructuring more than $400 million in debt. His contributions weren’t lost on local constituents – an article in Harrisburg’s daily newspaper last December commented, “In the extraordinarily complex world of bankruptcy law, Kaufman is one of the best.”
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Mr. Kaufman will lead McKenna’s work in municipal restructuring matters in California at a time when local governments across the state are facing a gauntlet of challenges, from underfunded public pension plans to a shrinking tax base and nagging high unemployment. Three California cities have filed Chapter 9 bankruptcies in the last several years – San Bernadino, Stockton and Vallejo – and a fourth, Mammoth Lakes, had its case dismissed. Frequent news reports have identified numerous other cities throughout the state that could face default on public debt – including Oakland, San Jose, Fresno and Compton.
“California represents the largest collection of municipal governments of any state in the country – and it’s no secret that many of those cities have remained under severe fiscal stress since the recession,” said Charley Maher, who recently was named managing partner for McKenna’s San Francisco office.
“Having Mark Kaufman resident in our office, with his deep knowledge of distressed public debt, and coming off his tremendous success in helping bring Harrisburg back from the brink, is a huge asset for our West Coast insolvency group,” Mr. Maher added. “Mark’s breadth of knowledge on municipal reform and restructuring complements our existing litigation, transaction and financial practices throughout the state.”
Mr. Kaufman commented: “California is unique laboratory for municipal reform – the state has enormous wealth and marketplace vitality, and is home to many of the country’s most profitable and innovative companies. But it’s also straining in many areas from job loss, corporate exodus, poor fiscal management and other problems that have squeezed many municipalities. I’m looking forward to working with local governments as well as investors and other key participants in the state’s tax-exempt arena in finding the best solutions to fiscal problems.”
He previously served as President of the Bankruptcy Section of the Atlanta Bar Association and is a former chair of Georgia’s Bankruptcy Bench and Bar Conference, as well as the Southeastern Bankruptcy Law Institute.
He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School (1973) and his B.S. from Cornell University (1969).
McKenna’s San Francisco office, located in the city’s financial district, has more than 40 attorneys experienced in a wide range of practices, including real estate finance, business litigation, insurance coverage, product liability and toxic torts, environmental and energy law, intellectual property, unfair trade practices, product regulation and other areas.