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James D. Newell

James D. Newell

Chairman and CEO

Pittsburgh, PA

James D. Newell is the Chairman and CEO of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. In the top leadership role at the firm, he is responsible for nurturing the firm’s dynamic culture and ensuring that the firm continues to meet its best-in-class client service standards. He leads the firm in implementing our strategic plan focused on recruiting and retaining high-performing lawyers and professionals and expanding our national platform.  

Throughout his career at Buchanan, Jim has been a leader in cultivating collaboration among practices, sections, industry groups, and offices to drive growth and professional development. Jim previously served as the chair of Buchanan’s Financial Institutions, Bankruptcy and Real Estate section. Consisting of 48 attorneys across 16 offices nationwide, Jim has overseen the growth of the Section and Firm through his leadership in various roles including serving as a multi-time Bankruptcy, Insolvency and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group Chair, Member of the firm’s Board of Directors, Chair of the Firm’s Compensation Committee, Buchanan’s Advisory Committee, as well as its Associates and Recruiting Committees.

How Jim Helps Clients 

Jim focuses his work in the areas of bankruptcy and corporate reorganizations.  For 36 years, Jim’s practice has focused on the representation of secured creditors and financial institutions. With significant experience in commercial loan workouts, out-of-court restructurings, the negotiation of intercreditor agreements and the purchase and sale of commercial loan assets, Jim has represented the bankruptcy trustee in one of the country's oldest pending bankruptcy case and the parent holding-company of one of the largest medical liability insurers in Pennsylvania.

His experience includes the representation of secured and unsecured creditors, debtors and official creditors' committees in chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings throughout the United States.

Jim has represented buyers and sellers of assets in section 363 sales in jurisdictions across the country, and he regularly defends corporate clients in preference and other avoidance actions. He also has more than 30 years of experience in representing financial institutions on treasury/cash management services provided to national retailers and industries in and outside of a chapter 11 context.

He is a regular contributor on federal rules of bankruptcy procedure for the Practising Law Institute’s Western and Central Districts of Pennsylvania.

What Clients Can Expect

Jim is a consummate problem solver known for his close collaboration with clients to develop constructive solutions that best suit their needs and goals. His long-term clients have come to rely on his judgment and experience when making critical decisions in their legal disputes.

Outside the Office

Jim lives in Pine Township, Pennsylvania, with his wife Deborah. They have two adult children, both professionals living in Washington, D.C.  Jim is currently the Immediate Past Chair of Pennsylvania State University’s Political Science Department Board of Visitors, a Board member of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania and a Board member of  the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. In his spare time, he enjoys golf, reading American history and presidential biographies, and attending Steelers and Penn State football games with his wife.


An elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, Jim has been recognized for over a decade in The Best Lawyers in America® for bankruptcy and creditors’ rights and was named Pittsburgh’s Lawyer of the Year in the 2020 & 2023 Editions for his work in insolvency and reorganization law. Chambers USA has selected Jim multiple times, most recently in 2024, as a leading attorney in Pennsylvania in the Bankruptcy/Restructuring category. Since 2022, he has been named to the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® list. 

Additionally, Jim was honored with the Special Situation M&A Deal of the Year Award at the Turnaround Atlas Awards for the restructuring and sale of Rex Energy assets to Penn Energy Resources as part of one of the largest chapter 11 case in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Twice appointed to the Judicial Merit Selection Committee by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and Third Circuit Judicial Counsel to select candidates for bankruptcy judge openings for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Jim also served as the committee’s Chair in 2012.

Proof Points

  • Represented the Debtor in the restructuring and sale of Rex Energy assets to Penn Energy Resources as part of one of the largest chapter 11 case in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
  • Jim led a firm team in representing investors in a $1 billion transaction involving a sale-leaseback of a coal-powered generation facility, advising the largest single investor on bankruptcy planning and protections in structuring the transaction.
  • Served as the lead bankruptcy counsel and restricting counsel for an institutional lender in five national Diocesan restructurings. 
  • Served as lead bankruptcy counsel to the Administrative Agent in connection with a $20 million tax-exempt financing to the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh,and served as lead bankruptcy counsel to the working capital/revolving credit lender to the Debtor. The YMCA chapter 11 filing was a high-profile bankruptcy case in light of the organization’s long-standing presence and importance to the Pittsburgh area. Through the efforts of the firm, on behalf of the Administrative Agent, the YMCA’s operations were stabilized, and it continues to serve the Allegheny County Community.
  • Representation of the Administrative Agent in on-going workout and restructuring with a national media placement company.
  • Represented the senior secured lender in complex restructuring of multiple credit facilities including a traditional line of credit, tax exempt bond financing, aircraft financing and working capital credit.
  • Served as lead counsel for an institutional lender for an out-of-court restructuring of an ecommerce retailer of after-market specialty products for auto and truck industry.
  • Served as lead counsel for the secured lender in the negotiation and documentation of an out-of-court financial restructuring for an international water treatment company.
  • Served as workout/restructuring counsel to a participant bank, in a large syndicated credit facility to one of the largest networks of cemeteries and funeral homes in the United States.