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John (“Jack”) Wm. Butler, Jr.: Partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP [By Kenneth Davis] John Butler’s motivation to enter the legal profession did not stem from a lifelong dream of one day becoming an attorney. Rather, he went into law because of his father’s bad experiences with attorneys in business dealings.

“When I was a junior in college, my father,

International, Inc., Rite Aid Corporation,

“I like the opportunity of being able to help

who’s a businessman and entrepreneur, came

Wickes Furniture, and Xerox Corporation as

companies restructure and turn around their

to me and asked me to go into law,” Butler

well as special-counsel representations of

businesses,” he said. “And I really enjoy

said, “because he had spent many years and

360 Networks, Inc., Enron Corporation, and

helping people solve problems and transform

lots of money hiring professionals to work on

Warnaco Group, Inc.

businesses and sort of love the art of the deal.”

transactions and found that he was spending most of the time telling them what to do as opposed to them giving advice. And he said, ‘You’ve been raised in a business family, and if you go into law and learn the technical stuff with your business background, you’ll have plenty of work to do down the line.’” His father was absolutely right. Butler is now a partner at esteemed international firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, and is coleader of its worldwide corporate restructuring practice, which serves corporations and their principal creditors and investors by providing value-added legal solutions in troubledcompany mergers and acquisitions, financing, and restructuring situations. He has acted as lead counsel for sellers,

He has led two of the largest Chapter 11 business reorganizations in history-those of Kmart Corporation and US Airwaysto successful conclusions in different jurisdictions at the same time; the two companies ended up reemerging from their bankruptcy-reorganization cases within about 35 days of each other. His bankruptcy reorganization of US Airways resulted in $1.24 billion of new liquidity for the airline. Kmart emerged from its reorganization having strengthened its balance sheet and having reduced liabilities of $6 billion and new equity investments of $387 million.

cross-border transactions in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. Butler also advises officers and directors of public companies involved in debt restructuring on matters relating to corporate governance and fiduciary duty. His representative company matters have included the restructurings of Delphi Corporation, Friedman’s, Inc., Haynes

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of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, graduating magna cum laude in 1977. He then entered the University of Michigan Law School and earned his law degree there in 1980. After law school, Butler practiced at two law firms in Detroit before joining Skadden Arps in its Chicago office as a partner in 1989 to help lead its corporate restructuring practice. He explained why he joined Skadden Arps: “I think that Skadden has the best platform,

Butler, who has specialized in corporate

client base, and collegial atmosphere of

restructuring throughout his career, discussed

lawyers working across offices and across

what he enjoys most about his job:

disciplines to really provide upper-margin

purchasers, and creditors in hundreds of transactions across the Americas as well as

Butler attended the Woodrow Wilson School

solutions to clients,” he said. “And that was About Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom was founded in 1948 and is one of the largest and wealthiest law firms in the world. It is headquartered in New York City and has approximately 1,915 attorneys in 22 offices. The total number of employees is nearly 4,500. With $1.61 billion in annual revenue, Skadden is the largest law firm in the U.S. in terms of revenue.

really exciting to me, and it’s been really exciting for the past 18 years.” Butler said that although he doesn’t teach formally (“I’m not, like, an associate professor anywhere”), he occasionally speaks on corporate restructuring at law schools and has taught classes on how to problem solve in that arena. Butler has also participated in seminars that provided career advice for law students.

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“I really like the opportunity of being able to

context, I think it’s very important for the legal

try to put in context how somebody can think

community to continue to be focused on pro

about career paths and think about their future

bono and public-interest commitments, to

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP

in a wide variety of settings,” he said.

reach beyond ourselves-you know, sort of the

www.skadden.com

day-to-day business obligations we have-and Butler discussed what he believes are some

make sure that the system itself remains

Princeton University

of the most important issues facing the

viable and protected and that we are able to

www.princeton.edu

legal community:

help people get access to legal services in all aspects of economic ability.”

“I think constantly being able to make sure

www.kmart.com

that you wake up every day and deliver

Butler was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.

appropriate client services to your client is

He said he loves traveling and the theater.

important. I think being able to make sure that in your practice you deliver real value to

Butler has also been featured in several legal

a transaction and to your clients is something

and business publications, including Financial

we think about every day, and I think that’s an

Times, The American Lawyer, and The National Law Journal.

important element. And in sort of a broader

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Kmart Corporation


John (''Jack'') Wm. Butler, Jr.: Partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP  

John Butler's motivation to enter the legal profession did not stem from a lifelong dream of one day becoming an attorney. Rather, he went i...

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