Kirkland & Ellis LLP
James H.M. Sprayregen is the founder of Kirkland & Ellis’ worldwide Restructuring Group, building the group from inception in 1990 to become the premier restructuring group in the world, and the only such group ranked tier 1 in every major region of the world. He is a partner in the Chicago and New York offices of Kirkland & Ellis. He served on Kirkland’s worldwide management committee from 2003–2006 and 2009–2019. He joined Goldman Sachs in 2006 where he was co-head of Goldman Sachs’ Restructuring Group and advised clients in restructuring and distressed situations. He rejoined Kirkland three years later.
Described as “a legend in the bankruptcy space” and “one of the United States’ most sought-after bankruptcy attorneys,” Mr. Sprayregen has led some of the most complex Chapter 11 filings in recent history. He has extensive experience representing major U.S. and international companies in restructurings both in and out of court and has handled matters for clients in industries as varied as manufacturing, technology, transportation, energy, media, retail, and real estate. He has extensive experience advising boards of directors, and generally representing debtors and creditors in complex workout, insolvency, restructuring, and bankruptcy planning matters worldwide.
Chambers & Partners has praised Mr. Sprayregen for his “outstanding reputation for complex Chapter 11 cases.” Recently noting he is “a go-to for big issues” and a “bankruptcy guru.” In the most recent 2022 edition of Chambers USA, sources described Mr. Sprayregen as "a rock star - the Mick Jagger of the bankruptcy bar." Chambers said that clients it spoke to noted that he is “probably the best restructuring lawyer in the world” and is “a luminary in the field” of restructuring and insolvency. Sources have also commented that he is “a premier restructuring expert” and “in a class of his own” with “unbelievable technical capabilities” and “deep experience he can draw upon.” He has been praised as a “great clients’ lawyer, admired for his unflustered ways” and for his ability “to take extraordinarily complex issues and make them understandable for boards and executive management teams.” Prior editions of Chambers guides have described Mr. Sprayregen as “a world-class practice leader,” “one of the deans of the Bar,” and “a restructuring genius and one of the best strategists in the country” noting that clients look to him as someone who is “providing leadership and strategic guidance on the big issues.” Sources commended Mr. Sprayregen for his “incredible work ethic and skill” and for his ability to “bring a mastery of the law to practical application.” Clients are “impressed by his boundless energy to work on issues” and note that Mr. Sprayregen is “very good in complicated and difficult situations.”
In March 2010, Mr. Sprayregen was selected by The National Law Journal as one of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers.” Mr. Sprayregen was named “Global Insolvency & Restructuring Lawyer of the Year” in 2013 by Who’s Who Legal Awards, receiving more votes from clients and peers than any other individual worldwide. In October 2013, Mr. Sprayregen was inducted into the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) Turnaround, Restructuring, and Distressed Investing Industry Hall of Fame. From 2013-2015, Mr. Sprayregen was appointed to serve a two year term as the President of INSOL International, the world’s leading international insolvency association. Mr. Sprayregen is also an Adjunct Full Professor of Finance at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches a combined Wharton/Penn Law course on “Corporate Restructuring.”