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Business Law Careers: Bankruptcy Lawyers Rescue Corporations

If you love business as much as you love law, you’ll enjoy hearing from today’s guest, Scott Gautier, a corporate bankruptcy lawyer in Los Angeles. Many bankruptcy lawyers focus on individuals who find themselves in financial strains. Corporate bankruptcy is a different game. When a corporation can no longer pay its bills, these types of lawyers dig deep into its practices and strategies to solve both legal and business problems.

Scott tells us that corporate bankruptcy lawyers even serve as a psychologist during a business leader’s time of distress. He says these business law careers are extremely rewarding. By helping debtors recover from bankruptcy, you may be changing lives, rebuilding companies, and saving jobs.
  Join JD Careers Out There for access to this video plus more day-in-the-life career path interview videos & transcripts.

Today’s Guest

Bankruptcy Attorney Scott GautierCorporate Bankruptcy Lawyer Scott Gautier
Title: Partner, Robins Kaplan
City: Los Angeles, CA
Law School: IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in Chicago, IL
College: The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH
Videos: Corporate Bankruptcy Law & Scott’s Career Advice

Business Law Careers

Corporate bankruptcy lawyers do a mix of both transactional law and litigation. The fact patterns of a corporate bankruptcy can be extremely complex. These types of lawyers need to learn a lot about their clients’ industries and handle negotiations with many players.

In the full version of JDCOT’s interview on these business law careers (below), Scott shares a number of real-life bankruptcy cases he’s handled (pay attention to the background – he points to some of his office decorations from corporations he’s helped). If those fact patterns sound interesting to you, he also shares some great secrets about how to break into corporate bankruptcy law – and what to avoid as well.



This is a preview of the video transcript on working in being a bankruptcy lawyer.

Join JD Careers Out There for access to the full version of this transcript plus the career guidance video library & transcripts.

Luber: Hey everyone – are you interested in business law careers? Do you like the idea of doing a mix of litigation and transactional work? That’s what we’re looking at as we explore being a corporate bankruptcy lawyer today on JD Careers Out There, so stick around! [theme song]

Alright, as you may already know, at JDCOT we we help you find and succeed in fulfilling careers using a law degree by exploring career paths both in and out of law.

I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Today’s guest is Scott Gautier, a corporate bankruptcy lawyer in Los Angeles who’s a partner at the firm of Peitzman Weg. Scott’s previously practiced at some of the top international law firms and he’s been recognized by Chambers USA as one of California’s leading bankruptcy lawyers and he’s been listed as one of Southern California’s Super Lawyers by Law & Politics and Los Angeles magazines.

Scott, welcome to JDCOT.

Scott Gautier: Thanks, Marc, it’s great to be here.

Luber: Scott, I’m going to have you tell everybody about a typical day for bankruptcy lawyers, who makes the right fit for this path, as well as how to break in and how to succeed. But first let’s start with the basics: tell us about your practice and what you do as a corporate bankruptcy lawyer.

Scott Gautier: Wow! We do a lot – and one of the reasons I chose corporate bankruptcy law is because in a typical day, particularly if we’re representing a debtor, we get to climb into someone’s business that’s in distress and really help them out.

People look to us not just for legal answers but they look to us to help them solve their business problems. They look for us to be a psychologist.

As you might imagine, people that have a failed company or at the helm of a failed company, often feel guilty about the choices and decisions they’ve made and we help them move past that; we help them feel better about the future, we help empower them to move forward and we also, obviously, do the legal side of it which is to analyze their situation and provide options – or at least outline their options so that they can choose the path going forward.

Luber: What are those options usually?

Scott Gautier: Wow! There’s lots of them. Sometimes the option is closing down the business and getting out, both personally __________ to redeploy the assets, to sell the business, to chop it up into various pieces. It might be the options between suing and settling certain litigation they might be facing.

They’re business decisions in every way possible as much as they are legal decisions – and I think that’s more the case in corporate bankruptcy than in a lot of other areas of law.

Luber: So for someone who knows nothing about bankruptcy, let’s say someone’s watching, maybe they haven’t yet gone to law school or they’re in law school, they haven’t yet taken a bankruptcy class, explain what exactly it is that you’re really helping a business do in real layman’s terms.

Scott: Well we’re talking about the debtor’s side of the practice and I think that’s probably a good place to be, Marc. On the debtor’s side of the practice, you’re talking about that business, that company that is in trouble, that can’t pay all of its debts as they come due and they’re looking for the future.

So one of the things you have to do is analyze each of their creditor’s claims. Each creditor for a corporate business has a different priority with respect to repayment of their obligations.

So one of the first things we need to do is we need to analyze and investigate the priority of their various creditor claims so that we can advise the client in how to negotiate with the different creditors in terms of moving forward.

Ultimately, something’s got to give. You can’t get blood out of a turnip, right? You can’t pay everyone if you don’t have enough money – and if the future proceeds of this business are not going to be enough to pay all of the existing obligations, somebody’s got to give.

The bankruptcy code answers that question to some extent – but bankruptcy is every bit as much a negotiation and creating a business plan and something that works for everyone; it’s a global settlement between all of your creditors – and so you’ve got to be able to analyze and understand the law as to who has priorities to what assets and what priorities you can set aside and in what ways and for how long and how you might restructure and reorganize those debts.

It is fascinating because you’re dealing with the universe of claims against the business and you’re analyzing each one of their positions, you’re playing one side against the other, you’re playing against the middle, it’s intense.

Luber: This is great – we’ll dive a lot deeper in the full interview. You’ll all hear more from Scott on what it’s like to be a corporate bankruptcy lawyer, who makes the right fit for this path, how to break in and how you can succeed as bankruptcy lawyers.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full, in-depth career interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people have to say about JDCOT by clicking here.

Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.

[theme song]

©2016 Careers Out There

Are you interested in business law careers? How about being a corporate bankruptcy lawyer? Be sure to share your feedback in the Comments section below.

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JDCOT's self-reflection questionnaire 


Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.