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James M. Lawniczak Senior Counsel

Jim has more than 30 years experience representing clients in complex corporate reorganizations and bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, as well as commercial business and finance matters. Head of Calfee’s Bankruptcy Litigation practice, he represents secured and unsecured creditors, debtors, liquidators, receivers and unsecured creditors’ committees in all aspects of corporate and insurance insolvency and workout proceedings. Jim’s practice also includes working with domestic and international clients on transactional matters in the commercial business and finance arena.

Jim has successfully handled complex bankruptcies and reorganizations for private and public companies in the steel, manufacturing and retail industries.  His work includes serving as debtors’ counsel in the successful reorganization of the Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corporation, a company that restructured hundreds of millions of dollars of debt in chapter 11.  Jim also facilitated the 363 sale of Republic Storage Systems Company and Concord Steel Inc.; his guidance enabled them to achieve their goal of selling the businesses, while preserving critical assets and jobs.

A nationally respected bankruptcy advisor, Jim has been recognized in Ohio Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America and Chambers USA as a leader in his field.  He is a contributing author to the 16th Edition of Collier on Bankruptcy – the leading national treatise on bankruptcy law – and is the author of the bankruptcy and related chapters of Lexis’s Asset Based Financing, Business Organizations with Tax Planning (including chapter 154 on alter ego claims), Franchising and Debtor-Creditor Law treatises.  Jim is a featured online contributor to the “LexisNexis Expert Commentaries” series, providing insight on significant, high-profile bankruptcy cases and has been a featured panelist in Financier Worldwide.  He also has published multiple articles in professional and legal journals, and frequently lectures on bankruptcy and commercial finance issues at professional seminars and conferences.

Jim is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, having served as a trustee from 2005-2009. He is a member of its Bankruptcy and Commercial Law Section (chairperson 2003-2004) and served as chair of its Lawyer-Client Fee Dispute Resolution Committee (2011-2012). He also served as chair (2009-2010) of the Association’s 3R Committee, which directs an award-winning educational program for high school students. He serves as legal advisor to Shaw High School’s mock trial team, which has repeatedly advanced to the state tournament. He is a former trustee and program committee chairman of the Northern Ohio Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association and was a long-time trustee (treasurer 2004-2007) of the Fairmount Center for the Arts.

Jim served as a law clerk for Judge Robert E. DeMascio, U.S. District Court, Detroit, Michigan, during which time Judge DeMascio was chairman of the Judicial Conference Committee on Bankruptcy. Jim was a partner with the Chicago firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt until he joined Calfee as a partner in 1988.