Ex-Kirkland Partner Will Co-Chair Restructuring at Paul Weiss

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison announced on Tuesday that veteran bankruptcy lawyer Paul Basta has started at the firm as the co-chair of its corporate restructuring practice.

Basta, who departed Kirkland & Ellis this July without announcing any plans and earlier in his career spent more than a decade at Weil Gotshal & Manges, has represented A&P Supermarkets, Caesar’s Entertainment Corp, Charter Communications, and many other high-profile clients.

“We’ve been emphasizing growth in our restructuring practice in the last few years,” said firm chair Brad Karp. “It’s one of five key practice areas for us, and this is the first large lateral investment [in restructuring].”

He added that “when the opportunity presented itself, we couldn’t pass.”

The other key practice areas the firm is focusing on include mergers and acquisitions, private equity, litigation, and white collar regulatory defense, Karp said.

It marks the latest instance in which Paul Weiss has made a major lateral hire from one of its top competitors since it hired Scott Barshay away from Cravath, Swaine & Moore in April 2016 to lead its global mergers and acquisitions’ practice.

Karp said adding Basta will enhance the firm’s debtor practice, although he and the firm also represent creditors in restructuring cases.

Basta will share leadership of the bankruptcy and restructuring practice group with the existing chair Alan Kornberg, who has represented aluminum maker Noranda, the sandwich chain Quiznos, publishing giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and other companies, according to his bio.

It’s sort of a dream come true in a way because we’ve had a strategic goal of adding more resources senior resources,” said Kornberg.

The Paul Weiss website lists 10 partners and four counsel in the practice group, nearly all of whom are located in New York, making it just a fraction of Kirkland’s practice, which has more than 100 lawyers located around the U.S., London, Munich and Hong Kong.

At Kirkland, Basta’s representation of Caesar’s Entertainment Corp. was pinpointed as an especially lucrative engagement, from which it received more than $70 million in fees, according to the American Lawyer.

Kornberg said Paul Weiss’ practice is balanced between debtor and creditor work, and that the firm is angling to increase the amount of work it does for companies that file for bankruptcy.

“We think that there’s room in the marketplace for another top flight company side [law firm],” he said, adding “[Basta] does more on the company side than the creditor or investor side, so it’s kind of a perfect fit.”

Basta was not available, nor was James Sprayregen, a Kirkland partner who serves on the firm’s management committee.

Contact the reporter responsible for this story: Gabe Friedman at gabefriedman@outlook.com.

Contact the editors responsible for this story: Casey Sullivan at csullivan@bloomberglaw.com and Tom Taylor at ttaylor@bna.com.