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James D. Newell

James D. Newell


Chair, Financial Institutions Practice

Pittsburgh, PA

How James Helps Clients

James D. Newell is the chair of Buchanan’s Financial Institutions practice. He focuses his work in the areas of bankruptcy and corporate reorganizations. 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 significant experience in representing commercial lenders in loan workouts, out-of-court restructurings, the negotiation of intercreditor agreements and the purchase and sale of commercial loan assets. He represented the bankruptcy trustee in the country's oldest pending bankruptcy case and the parent holding-company of one of the largest medical liability insurers in Pennsylvania.

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 25 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.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals and Third Circuit Judicial Counsel have twice appointed Jim to the Judicial Merit Selection Committee to select candidates for bankruptcy judge openings for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Jim served as Chair of the Merit Selection Committee in 2012. He is a regular contributor on federal rules of bankruptcy procedure for the Practising Law Institute’s Western and Central Districts of Pennsylvania. In addition, he is an elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Jim has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® for bankruptcy and creditors’ rights each year since 2011 and was named Pittsburgh’s Lawyer of the Year 2020 Edition in bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law. He has also been selected for inclusion in Chambers USA as a leading attorney for bankruptcy/restructuring in Pennsylvania for 2019 and 2021. 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 the largest chapter 11 case in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Jim is the vice-chair of the firm’s Compensation Committee. He is the past chair of the Bankruptcy & Insolvency and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group and has chaired Buchanan’s Advisory Committee, as well as its Associates Committee and Recruiting Committee. 

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. Jim’s 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, Pittsburgh, with his wife Deborah. They have two children, one in graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and one in college at Vanderbilt University.  In his spare time, he enjoys golf, reading American history and presidential biographies, and attending Steelers and Penn State football games with his wife.

Proof Points

  • 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.
  • Represented the Debtor in the restructuring and sale of Rex Energy assets to Penn Energy Resources as part of the largest chapter 11 case in the Western District of Pennsylvania.
  • 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 working capital/revolving credit lender to 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 a bank 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.