Restructuring and insolvency lawyers act for clients (either individuals or companies) in financial difficulties. Restructuring is usually the first stage in the process of agreeing a way forward with creditors in order to manage repayment of the debt, without the client becoming insolvent.
What do restructuring and insolvency lawyers do?
As a restructuring lawyer, you may be acting for either debtors or creditors. The work you undertake would be non-contentious and involve negotiating agreements and repayment schedules to enable the creditor to pay off the debt without becoming insolvent.
As an insolvency lawyer, you may be acting for either debtors or creditors, but the work will be contentious. Insolvency lawyers are engaged in all stages of the insolvency process, from negotiating company voluntary arrangements, to administration and receivership. They are also engaged in the liquidation stage, where the individual or company’s assets are taken to pay off the outstanding monies owed.
The precise nature of the work will depend to large extent on the type of firm you work for and the clients you represent. For instance, City firms are more likely to act for banks or investors in cases of big corporate restructurings and insolvency. Smaller firms usually represent smaller companies or individuals in financial difficulty.
What skills are required?
Having an interest in the world of business and finance is a pre-requisite for this area of law. In order to advise clients on every aspect of restructuring their business, you will need to have very good levels of commercial awareness and excellent persuasive communication skills in order to deal with people in difficult situations.
Strong communication skills are need when negotiating with debtors or creditors (depending on which side you are acting for), litigating on your client’s behalf or working alongside other professionals involved in the process, from liquidators to accountants.
This is an academically demanding area of law, covering many different fields such as banking, commercial and litigation. You will need to be able to absorb large volumes of paperwork and make accurate judgement calls quickly.
The following student guides have useful information on working in restructuring and insolvency law: Chambers and Partners Student guide, Target Law and the news section of The Insolvency Lawyers’ Association website.