James Donnell

James Donnell is a partner in the firm’s New York office. Since 1986, he has specialized in bankruptcy and restructuring matters.

For more than 25 years, Mr. Donnell has represented secured lenders, creditors’ committees, and debtors in bankruptcies and out-of-court restructurings. His current clients include Carlson Capital, LoneStar Funds, Regiment Capital/TCW Special Situations, Wells Fargo Bank, Rabobank, and CIT.

Industry Restructuring Experience

  • Oil and Gas E&P and Mining Companies: Crusader Energy, Foothill Resources, Forcenergy, GMX Resources, Martin Exploration, Seven Seas Petroleum, Stormcat Energy, TXCO Resources, National Energy Group, Z2 LLC, Grand Prairie Resources, Goldking Holdings
  • Oil and Gas Service and Equipment Companies: Allstate Excavating, Consolidated Equipment, Fleet Trucking, ProPetro, Grant Geophysical, Digicon Geophysical
  • Utilities and Power Generation: Boston Generating, CoServ Electric, NorthWestern Energy
  • Chemical Plants and Refineries: Agrifos, CIBRO Refinery, El Paso Refinery, Texas Petrochemicals
  • Bank Holding Companies: Bank of New England Corporation, First City Bancorporation, First RepublicBank Corporation
  • Agriculture: Allen’s Food, Imperial Sugar, Pope Vineyards, Renwood Winery
  • Engineering and Construction: Encompass Services
  • Real Estate: Fairfield Communities (time shares), General Homes (home builder), Harold Farb Investments (apartment complexes), Petro Ventures (convenience store chain), Southeast Bank Corporation (office tower/group lease), DBSI (various), Search Capital (mortgage finance)
  • Shipping and Drilling Ships: Global Marine, Great Eastern, Omega Navigation
  • Transport and Logistics: Conquest Airlines, Kitty Hawk Airways, Express One Limited
  • Telecom: General Wireless, Total National Telecom
  • Health Care: Apple Orthodontix, Bayonne Hospital, Paracelsus Hospitals
  • Consumer Products: CompuAdd, Efficient Solutions, Enstar, Global Home Products, Minami, Neostar, Pinnacle Brands

Areas of Focus

  • Corporate debt restructuring: Negotiating and implementing debt modification; acquiring control of target company equity through debt conversion on both a consensual and contested basis through Chapter 11 cramdown plans
  • Acquisition of distressed assets: Negotiating asset purchase agreements, stalking horse protections, bidding and auction procedures; structuring sales to avoid subsequent fraudulent conveyance and breach of fiduciary duty attacks
  • Director, officer, and insider liability: Mitigating risk for charges of conflicts of interest and breach of duty for transactions made during a time of potential insolvency
  • Financing agreements: Negotiating and litigating provisions of credit agreements, debtor-in-possession financing agreements, intercreditor agreements and trust indentures
  • Forward contracts and hedging agreements: Litigating contract issues, including whether contracts are forward contracts or whether they are subject to recharacterization or fraudulent conveyance attack
  • Litigation: Planning strategy and directing litigation over breach of fiduciary duty claims, fraudulent conveyance claims, and interpretation of regulatory provisions promulgated by FDIC, FAA, FCC, FERC, Bureau of Energy Management, and Public Utility Commission
  • Oil and Gas: Litigating scope of mortgages in oil and gas leases and after acquired property, terminability of leases, recharacterization of overriding royalty interests, production payments, farmout agreements, priority and scope of statutory vendors’ liens, avoidance of mortgages in offshore waters, and valuation of oil and gas reserves
  • Valuation: Litigating valuation of companies using discounted cash flow, comparable transactions, and other methodologies in context of contested DIP financing and Chapter 11 cramdown plans

Mr. Donnell received a B.S., cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Civil Engineering from Rice University in 1983. He received a J.D., with honors, in 1986 from University of Texas Law School.

Honors & Awards

Mr. Donnell has received the highest rating from Martindale Hubbell, “AV,” indicating a “Very High to Preeminent” legal ability. He is Board Certified in Business Bankruptcy and has been recognized as a Super Lawyer in Bankruptcy and Creditor/Debtor Rights by Texas Monthly (2004-2009) and as a New York Super Lawyer for 2010-2014. 


Mr. Donnell served as chairman of the Indenture Trustee Subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Business Bankruptcy Section and as chairman of the American Bar Association’s Energy Business Committee.


Speaking Engagements:

  • Speaker, "U.S. Recognition of Foreign Insolvency Proceedings- Chapter 15," Camino al Mercado Internacional de Capitales, Buenos Aires, May 2014


  • New York
  • Texas


  • University of Texas Law School, JD, 1986
  • Rice University, BS, 1983