A Reputation for Results
In any bit of spare time afforded to high-profile New York City corporate restructuring attorney Dan Lowenthal, JD '87, he can be found coaching soccer or basketball for one of his three children. That may come as no surprise to his clients at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, who receive that same dedicated counseling in their bankruptcy and business reorganization matters.
Mr. Lowenthal joined Patterson as a partner in February 2008, after five years with Thelen Reid & Priest and 15 years with Pillsbury Winthrop and its predecessor, Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts. At Winthrop, he initially handled commercial, employment, and securities litigation. In the early 1990s, he worked on the second Continental Airlines bankruptcy and began developing his niche.
Almost a decade later, as counsel for one of the examiners in the Enron bankruptcy, he and colleagues investigated the company's off–balance-sheet transactions and produced a 400-page report of their findings. And, in a seven-day trial on behalf of the retiree committee in the second U.S. Airways bankruptcy in the Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Virginia, he worked to protect his clients' retirement benefits.
"Depending on the economy, a lot of my work is in the bankruptcy courts," he says. His reputation for results also attracts brand-name clients with sophisticated concerns. For example, after Washington Mutual became the largest commercial bank failure in American history during the fall of 2008, Law Debenture Trust Co. of New York, the indenture trustee for $1.4 billion of senior subordinated notes, asked Mr. Lowenthal to represent its interests.
He also recently represented former executives of Glitnir Bank of Iceland who were sued for more than $2 billion, a Brazilian bank in a cross-border insolvency matter, and two of China's largest state-owned banks litigating failed real estate investments and loan transactions. While he primarily represents clients in New York, Delaware, and New Jersey courts, his work is national (he has handled cases in California, Illinois, and in the South).
Mr. Lowenthal represented two banks in a Ponzi scheme case that were facing an adverse ruling against another party. They sought a creative solution to their dilemma. After an extensive consultation with his clients, thorough review of the record, and evaluating the legal arguments, he filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision in question based upon additional areas of concern.
After oral argument, the judge reconsidered and issued a second decision, which was favorable not only to his clients but also to many other banks facing a similar issue. Upheld on appeal, he estimates the net worth of that ruling to be $50 million for these institutions. "While convincing a judge to reconsider a decision is rare, it's not unusual in a bankruptcy case for a decision to impact multiple parties," he says.
Between graduating from Duke in 1982 and entering GW Law in 1984, Mr. Lowenthal was a reporter for a newspaper on the New Jersey shore. He covered everything, and that broad capability continues to characterize his practice. As a member of Patterson's Business Reorganization & Creditors' Rights group, he handles a wide range of matters.
From his representation of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of homebuilder Tarragon Corp., which filed for bankruptcy along with 24 affiliated companies, to an oral argument before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, he is always focused on helping to solve problems. "I like having a diverse practice, as well as using my knowledge and experience to help clients obtain favorable results in their commercial challenges."
Those clients are not always billed, reflecting Mr. Lowenthal's—as well as his firm's—commitment to pro bono matters. Over the years, he has represented former Vietnamese immigrants challenging the constitutionality of a key regulation, the Office of the Manhattan District Attorney in a drug buy/bust case in an appeal of a conviction, and prisoners' rights cases.
"I make sure I am very responsive to the needs of my clients," he says. "You have to put yourself in your client's position, understand its business and goals, and then use your judgment to help your client get through what is often a difficult process."
—Ari Kaplan, JD '97