People: James B. Sowka, Partner
James B. Sowka
Direct: (312) 460-5325
Fax: (312) 460-7325
- J.D., University of Arizona College of Law (2004)
B.A., University of Illinois (1998)Phi Kappa Phi; College Honors
- United States Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
Bankruptcy Court Liaison Committee, Northern District of Illinois
- Co-Chair (2016-2017)
- Committee Member (2015-2017)
Friends of Pulaski
- Officer and Director (2012-2016)
Chicago Bar Association
- Director, Young Lawyers Section (2011-2013)
- Co-Chair, Young Lawyers Section Bankruptcy Committee (2008-2011)
American Bankruptcy Institute (2008-present)
- Representation of successful bidder at auction sale of real property leases in chapter 11 bankruptcy case for national retailer.
- Representation of unsecured creditors in chapter 7 dischargeability action based on RICO judgment exceeding $400 million. Obtained favorable verdict on summary judgment.
- Representation of chapter 11 trustee with respect to operation and reorganization of commercial real estate holding company with ownership interests in more than 50 non-debtor entities and land trusts holding title to more than 70 parcels of real property. Negotiated settlements with various insiders resulting in recovery of more than $8 million in disputed pre-petition transfers of cash and other assets.
- Representation of chapter 7 trustee in wind-down of Ponzi scheme involving technology company with more than $100 million in claims. Assisted in obtaining recoveries in excess of $80 million through prosecution and settlement of fraudulent transfer and breach of fiduciary duty actions and the sale of assets.
- Representation of global restaurant equipment manufacturer in state court receivership action initiated against restaurant equipment distribution company. Obtained allowance of claims and favorable resolution of objections to sale of company.
- Representation of large, commercial bank in individual chapter 11 bankruptcy case involving over $100 million in real estate related claims. Successfully obtained appointment of chapter 11 trustee and favorable settlement involving over $16.5 million in disputed state and federal income tax refunds.
- Representation of national insurance company in individual chapter 7 bankruptcy. In case of first impression, obtained denial of debtor’s claimed exemption in non-qualified ERISA Supplemental Executive Retirement Plan.
- Representation of petitioning creditors in involuntary chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding against defunct regional grocery store chain which resulted in entry of order for relief and commencement of chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
- Representation of large, commercial bank in $26 million single asset real estate bankruptcy. Prevailed in objecting to confirmation of debtor’s chapter 11 plan following two-day trial; later secured confirmation of joint chapter 11 plan of liquidation with debtor, and obtained order recharacterizing $17.5 million insider claim as equity and successfully defended appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals regarding same.
- Representation of chapter 7 trustee in wind-down of operating logistics and warehouse company with two facilities totaling over 615,000 sq. ft. in space, liquidation of inventory and personal property, and sale of real property.
- Representation of national insurance company in chapter 11 asbestos bankruptcy case involving contested plan confirmation which resulted in multimillion dollar settlement agreement.
- Representation of secured lender in $40 million single asset real estate bankruptcy. Obtained confirmation of joint plan of liquidation with chapter 11 trustee and sale of real property.
- “Section 546(e): Rough Waters in the Safe Harbor,” Chicago Bar Association Bankruptcy & Reorganization Committee (November 17, 2016)
- “Non-Consolidation Opinions in Real Estate Transactions” Webinar, presented by Seyfarth Shaw LLP (April 26, 2016)
- “Bankruptcy Basics from the Experts - 2016: The Creditor’s Perspective - How to Maximize Recoveries” Illinois State Bar Association (April 14, 2016)
- “Acquisitions of Distressed Businesses” Webinar, presented by Seyfarth Shaw LLP (October 27, 2015)
- “Professional Ethics in Bankruptcy” Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Joint Bankruptcy & Professional Responsibility Committee Meeting (April 18, 2014)
- "Commercial Real Estate in Distress" Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Bankruptcy Seminar (October 7, 2010)
- "Mortgage Fraud," presented by the Office of the United States Trustee, Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Bankruptcy Committee Meeting (2008)
- Co-Author, "How Sports Authority’s Bankruptcy Filing Impacts Landlords and Trade Creditors, and Creates Opportunities for Retailers," One Minute Memo, Seyfarth Shaw LLP (March 3, 2016)
- Co-Author, “Recharacterization: The Debate,” The Bankruptcy Strategist (November 2013)
- Co-Author, “Seventh Circuit mandates an “auction process” in “new value” Chapter 11 plans,” Management Alert, Seyfarth Shaw LLP (July 31, 2013)
- Co-Author, "Bankruptcy Court Applies Third Circuit test for addressing 'debt' versus 'equity' question." One Minute Memo, Seyfarth Shaw LLP (July 25, 2013)
- Author, “U.S. Supreme Court Resolves Circuit Split In Favor Of Secured Lenders’ Credit-Bid Rights In Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Cases,” One Minute Memo, Seyfarth Shaw LLP (June 4, 2012)
- Co-author, “Not All Retirement Plans Are Created Equal - ERISA Top-Hat Plans Constitute Property of the Bankruptcy Estate,” American Bankruptcy Institute Journal (September 2011)
- Co-author, “Seventh Circuit Upholds Secured Lenders’ Credit-Bid Rights In Chapter 11 Bankruptcy,” One Minute Memo, Seyfarth Shaw LLP (July 15, 2011)
- Co-author, “Lenders’ Right to Credit Bid Tested Before 7th Circuit,” The National Law Journal (November 29, 2010)