Stroock lines up highly-rated advisory team to wind down firm

Togut Segal & Segal serving as legal counsel alongside liquidation manager from Teneo and restructuring expert David Pauker
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New York firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan has hired a top team of advisers as it seeks an orderly dissolution, with its offices due to be vacated before the end of the year.

Gary Polkowitz, a senior managing director at Teneo, has been appointed liquidation manager responsible for overseeing the wind down of the firm while New York insolvency law boutique Togut Segal & Segal, which is well known for its pioneering work advising on law firm failures, is serving as legal counsel.

High-profile restructuring expert David Pauker, who played a key role in overseeing Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy, has also been hired as a special adviser to assist with planning and strategic matters.

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan’s partnership voted to dissolve the firm at the end of October after the failure of several well-publicised attempts to find a merger partner against the backdrop of partner and team departures, culminating in the hire by Hogan Lovells of a 28-partner team that included co-managing partner Jeff Keitelman.

Having resolved to wind down the firm, its former partners will now be focused on achieving an orderly dissolution with the help of its advisory team that avoids it being forced into bankruptcy proceedings by creditors, a fate which befell San Francisco firm Sedgwick in 2018 and national firm LeClairRyan a year later.

“It is a shame to see a firm with such a long and illustrious history come to an end,” said Polkowitz. “We wish much success to the former partners and their practices at their new firms.”

He added: “Stroock will be wound down in accordance with applicable law and recognition of the firm’s obligations to its former clients. Fair treatment will be given to creditors, lenders and former employees according to their respective rights under the law. Priority will be given to paying wind down expenses, creditors and lenders.”

According to a statement issued by the firm last week, a dissolution plan agreed by the partners came into effect on 17 November, the day the partners departing for Hogan Lovells landed at their new firm. At that point a three-person wind-down committee took over from the executive committee in order to oversee Pauker’s work. 

It is made up of retired partners Mark Wintner and Bruce Schneider and former partner Claude Szyfer, a litigation, arbitration and employment specialist who is among the partners who have joined Hogan Lovells. 

In its statement Stroock said “only a few attorneys remain in the Stroock offices and those few will vacate before the end of the year”.   

The firm’s website remains online and currently lists 21 people. 

Togut Segal & Segal has carved out an unrivalled reputation advising on law firm dissolutions and bankruptcies. Senior partner Albert Togut represented Dewey & LeBoeuf during its bankruptcy and advised Patton Boggs when it ran into financial difficulties, helping it to merge with Squire Sanders to form Squire Patton Boggs.

Pauker, meanwhile, is currently serving as chief restructuring officer at Archegos Capital Management, according to his LinkedIn profile. The limited liability family office, which managed the assets of Bill Hwang, collapsed in 2021 leaving global banks with $10bn in losses.

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