Municipal Recovery & Restructuring
McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP (MLA) is nationally recognized as a leading law and public policy firm at the intersection of government and business. Our Municipal Recovery & Restructuring (MRR) team consists of a multidisciplinary group of experienced lawyers, managing directors and strategic advisors that are renowned practice leaders in the areas of public finance, bankruptcy, restructuring, insolvency, tax, public policy, public-private partnerships, employee benefits and labor, government contracting, government affairs and governance.
In addition, team members include the following former public officials: mayor, governor, state attorney general, board members and directors of municipal special purpose entities, chiefs of staff and legal advisors to mayors and governors, Chief Counsel to the Federal Highway Administration, and members of the U.S. Congress and state legislatures. A team member is also a co-chair of the Privatization, Outsourcing and Financing Transactions committee of the American Bar Association.
MLA’s Unique Added Value
This extensive blend of legal, political and financial experience, coupled with our full range of transactional, litigation and regulatory services, enables us to have a deep understanding of the fiscal pressures and credit consequences facing the public sector. Our team presents an independent approach to local interests, with the goal of assisting public sector clients to achieve a consensual resolution of its financial concerns without litigation and only resorting to a Chapter 9 bankruptcy when absolutely necessary. As a result, we provide our clients with a unique perspective and counsel that is critical for developing high-stakes decisions dealing with financial distress. By laying a foundation based on best practices, cost savings and client service, we help create and execute effective legal and public policy strategies that optimize results.
MRR team members have participated in public finance, restructuring, and consolidation and public private partnership transactions in virtually every state in the country. Our firm’s highly regarded collaborations with political leaders, government managers, financial institutions, and corporate leaders, have resulted in an aggregate amount of hundreds of billions dollars in transactions, as well as savings in restructuring matters related to:
- Special Purpose Districts
- School Districts
- Public Works (including water and sewer systems, utilities and buildings)
- Parks and Recreation (including publicly-owned land, race tracks and casinos)
- Emergency Services (including police, fire, and emergency management)
- Health Care Facilities
- Back Office Operations (including accounting, human resources and information technology)
- Transportation (including airports, seaports, roads, rail systems and bus lines)
- Municipal Courts
Challenges and Approach
We recognize that municipalities face significant challenges reconciling increased public demands for services with declining revenue and tax base, escalating labor and pension costs, and limited access to capital. Therefore, to ensure that we meet the needs of our clients seamlessly, we form small multi-discipline teams of attorneys, managing directors and strategic advisors to handle clients’ short- and long-term needs efficiently and effectively. Together, team members combine a national scope of legal and public policy practices with local knowledge of the political landscape, to meet with and listen to local government officials and their financial advisers. We work together to analyze the legal and political situation, with a focus of charting a course forward that minimizes disruption in governmental services and leverages our national experience to position our clients for fiscal health and financial balance in the long term.
Public Finance: Lawyers in MLA’s Public Finance practice serve as bond counsel, special tax counsel, and disclosure counsel for cities, counties, special purpose districts, states, school districts, public authorities, and other governmental entities, as well as counsel to underwriters and institutional investors involved in these financings. In addition, our team members are frequently asked by the public sector to draft and consult on public finance-related legislation, as well as testify before state legislatures on project finance statutes, and government reform. We have participated in a wide variety of governmental financings including various types of tax-supported and revenue obligations of governmental entities; short-term cash flow borrowings and structural deficit financings by governmental entities; lease and installment purchase financings by governmental entities; various types of floating rate obligations of governmental entities; commercial paper and bond anticipation notes that serve as interim financing for governmental entities; tax-exempt derivative products; various types of credit enhancements and liquidity products; tax increment financings, special district financings, and financings secured by payments in lieu of taxes (or PILOTs); and federal, state, and local incentives and subsidies for projects.
Public Policy: Our bipartisan public policy practice consists of attorneys and professionals who have a unique blend of federal, state and local experience in both elected and non-elected positions. We regularly advise clients, and craft advocacy solutions on legislative, administrative and regulatory issues at both state and local government levels across the nation. Based on our background, experience and insight, we are able to customize these public sector strategies to resolve our clients’ issues and to identify opportunities that will positively impact their goals.
Bankruptcy and Restructuring: Members of the Bankruptcy and Restructuring practice advise municipalities and special purpose districts in a wide range of default and workout situations, as well as offer strategic counsel on how to avoid Chapter 9; and when necessary, how to develop a strategy and file in a manner that is best for their constituents. We understand state and local laws governing distressed municipalities, and their interplay with Chapter 9 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code. Team member are fellows of the American College of Bankruptcy, hold leadership positions in bankruptcy and insolvency-related bar and other organizations, regularly speak and write about issues arising in and outside of the bankruptcy courts and are nationally well known to, and highly regarded by, public sector officials.
Tax: The Tax practice provides strategic, practical advice on every aspect of tax law and public policy. Team members have served as special legal counsel at the national and local levels developing tax legislation, and supporting restructuring transactions. Our lawyers can help municipalities maintain tax-efficient structures and capitalize on unseen opportunities. In this way, we help our clients increase their profitability and achieve their long-term goals.
Public-Private Partnerships (P3): The P3 practice has skillfully negotiated arrangements in a variety of projects. We support the initiatives of our clients in the following areas: assessment of P3 opportunities; brownfield and greenfield projects; clarifying the priorities and goals of federal, state and local governments; legislative analysis and reform strategy; procurement advocacy, financing and teaming arrangements; project delivery methodologies; real estate and joint development; and strategic planning and government outreach. We provide counsel, due diligence review, and strategic government affairs and business solutions to the public sector. Our team employs a full and multidisciplinary range of business planning and finance and government relations tools to successfully identify P3 opportunities and profitable partnerships for our diverse client-base consisting of municipalities, developers, lenders, technology companies, environmental/engineering firms, consultants, and construction companies.
Employer Services and Labor Relations: Our Employer Services and Labor Relations practice offers public sector clients experienced and informed counsel in all aspects of the labor and employment relationships and have represented clients in several high profiled labor and employment disputes. Stable labor-management relations require trust, so we strive to uphold our clients’ credibility in the workplace as well as our own. Employers and labor unions respect our firm for the integrity we bring to the process and the results we achieve. In addition to advising employers on labor matters and contract negotiations, we regularly handle a full range of labor relations matters, including: unfair labor practice charges; collective bargaining and contract administration; and, union issues arising out of consolidations.
Government Contracts: For more than 50 years, MLA has been home to the largest and most successful Government Contract practice in the country. We have counseled clients and successfully litigated in all aspects of state and local government contract law, including state and local vendor contracts, teaming agreements and subcontract, and laws applicable to procurements, including minority subcontracting, labor, recycled content, balanced bid and technical specification issues. The team also has experience in securing grants and loans from the federal government, and has a long history of achieving clients’ objectives even in the most complex and difficult circumstances. No matter what the client’s needs are, the team brings industry perspective, experience, and creative problem solving to Government Contract issues.
“Emerging Chapter 9 Issues,” Emory Bankruptcy Journal’s Annual Symposium, February 28, 2013.
“Is Distress the New Normal? - U.S. Municipal Distress and the U.S. Municipal Bond Market,” IWIRC's 19th Annual Fall International Conference, October 24, 2012.
"The Bankruptcy Decision: How Stockton Changes Everything," Bloomberg State & Municipal Finance 2012, October 3, 2012.
“Municipal Distress: What’s Next and the Chapter 9 Option,” Pennsylvania Office of the General Counsel University, September 12, 2012.
“Municipal Insolvency: The Next Wave of Bankruptcies,” Strafford Webinar, July 17, 2012.
“Municipal governments in distress: What’s it all about?,” Georgia Chapter of Certified Fraud Examiners, July 13, 2012.
"Bankruptcy, Restructuring and the Road Back," Bloomberg State & Municipal Finance 2012, June 7, 2012.
“Bankruptcy or Bust: How Local Governments Are Managing the Fiscal Crisis,” The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's Building Resilient Cities Conference, May 10, 2012.
Keynote address, Detroit Regional Chamber's Detroit Business Conference, April 24, 2012.
“Critical Considerations When Representing Parties in a Municipal Distress Matter," Turnaround Management Association’s 2012 Spring Conference, April 3, 2012.
Keynote address, The Bond Buyer's Symposium on Distressed Municipalities, March 27, 2012.
"Better, Faster, Cheaper: A Framework for Operational Efficiencies," MDGFOA Winter Conference, January 27, 2012.
Team members have also been guest lecturers at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the Emory University School of Law, and the University of Miami School of Law on municipal financial distress.
- Maybe Taxes Aren't So Certain
- Understanding the Chapter 9 Option: A Strategic Guide for Municipalities and Special Purpose Districts
- Ten Considerations for Financially Distressed Local Governments and Public Authorities
- Stockton gains the go-ahead
- Watching, waiting for ripple
- Stockton Case Could Rule Out Ch. 9 For Other Cities