December 17, 2021

Milbank Named Top 20 Most Innovative Law Firm at the 2021 FT Innovative Lawyers Awards


Milbank LLP is pleased to announce that it was recognized by the FT North American Innovative Lawyers Awards 2021 in the “Top 20: Most Innovative Law Firms in North America – Practice of Law” category and the winner in the “Innovation in Rescue, Restructuring & Recovery” category. The winners were celebrated at a virtual awards ceremony this month.

The Top 20 Most Innovative Law Firms in North America – Practice of Law ranking highlights firms that excel in areas of legal practice, business and operational management, inclusion, and environmental, social and governance issues. The ranking recognizes firms in the "Practice of Law" category that have specifically succeeded in the following categories: creating new standards; digital legal practice; dispute resolution; innovative practitioners; racial justice; rescue, restructuring and recovery; social justice; sustainability; and transformational deals.

The firm was recognized in the Rescue, Restructuring & Recovery category for its role advising the underwriters in a novel financing structure that allowed airline carriers to raise capital during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as for its role advising the first lien holders in the JCPenney bankruptcy proceedings.

The prestigious awards, which recognize the most innovative law firms, individuals, transactions and in-house legal teams in North America, are selected by the FT Innovative Lawyers program in conjunction with consulting firm RSG Consulting (“RSG”). The case studies included in the report were researched, compiled and ranked by RSG.

The airlines that benefited from the new financing structure included American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air Canada and Spirit Airlines, with the first three amassing financings of $10 billion, $6.8 billion and $9 billion, respectively. Recognized as some of the largest financings in the aviation industry to-date, the hybrid transactions comprised components from bond transactions and a corporate loan by leveraging frequent flyer loyalty programs as investment assets and converting them into separate subsidiaries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the human race, financial markets and countless industries across the world. The airline sector was under incredible distress with travel halted for months, but we are grateful to have collaborated with our clients to present a new financing model that contributed to the industry’s recovery,” said Milbank partner, Finance Practice Chair and Transportation and Space Practice Group Leader Drew Fine.

Milbank was recognized for a second time in the Rescue, Restructuring & Recovery category for its role representing the first lien holders in the restructuring of JCPenney during bankruptcy proceedings. In this transaction, Milbank created an opco-propco structure to organize the hundreds of properties owned by the retailer in a single legal entity as a property company. This groundbreaking transaction presented a new way for distressed retailers to navigate restructuring proceedings.

Dennis Dunne, member of Milbank’s Global Executive Committee and Practice Group Leader of the firm’s Financial Restructuring Group, added: “We at Milbank pride ourselves on our ability to find creative ways to chart a path forward for clients in difficult situations. We are truly honored to be recognized by FT for our role shepherding some of the biggest airlines and a major retailers through unprecedented times.”

The Rescue, Restructuring & Recovery category detailed 10 case studies spearheaded by nine different law firms. Milbank was the only firm to be recognized more than once in the category.