Donnell, James

James Donnell

Baker & McKenzie LLP


James Donnell is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Restructuring & Insolvency Group in New York. Mr. Donnell has over 30 years of experience representing lenders, creditor committees, and debtors in bankruptcies and out-of-court restructurings. He is particularly seasoned in energy-related restructurings. He was recognized as a Super Lawyer in Bankruptcy and Creditor/Debtor Rights by Texas Monthly, 2004-2009, and as a New York Super Lawyer, 2010-2016 and 2018. Mr. Donnell has received the highest rating from Martindale Hubbell, "AV," indicating a "Very High to Preeminent" legal ability.

Practice Focus

Mr. Donnell focuses on corporate restructuring and bankruptcy work, representing private investment funds, commercial banks and companies reorganizing under Chapter 11. His work for these clients has consisted primarily of restructuring and bankruptcy matters, but has also included distressed mergers and acquisitions of portfolio companies. He also represents officers and directors of companies facing Chapter 11.

His litigation experience includes successful fraudulent conveyance suits against the FDIC (on behalf of FirstRepublic, Bank of New England, and FirstCity), Chesapeake Energy (on behalf of Seven Seas) and the FCC (on behalf of General Wireless) ; successful suit against Ally Financial to impose a non-consensual guaranty and subordination (on behalf of Wells Fargo).

Representative Legal Matters

  • Represented hedge funds, commercial banks, and creditor committees in oil and gas E&P, midstream, and service company bankruptcies and restructurings, including: Linn Energy and Berry Petroleum (Wells Fargo as Agent), Foothill Resources. (Regiment Capital), Forcenergy (Debtor), Martin Exploration (Tenneco), Seven Seas Petroleum (Committee/Trustee), Stormcat Energy (Regiment Capital), TXCO Resources (CIT, Regiment and Carlson Capital), National Energy Group (Committee), Z2 LLC (Hudson Advisors), Grand Prairie Resources (Duke Energy), Goldking Holdings (White Oak Energy) ProPetro (Regiment Capital). SemCrude (Magellan), Northstar Energy ( Hudson Advisors), Azure Midstream Partners, LP (Wells Fargo as Agent).
  • Represented companies reorganizing as debtors under Chapter 11, including Forcenergy, Digiicon Geophysical, Great Eastern Drilling, Search Capital Mortgage Finance, Efficient Solutions, Inc., Paracelsus Hospitals, General Wireless, El Paso Refinery, and CIBRO Refinery.
  • Represented secured creditors and purchasers of utilities and power generation assets, including: Boston Generating (Constellation), CoServ Electric (CFC), NorthWestern Energy (Harbinger Capital).
  • Represented purchasers of assets in bankruptcy including: Taylor Wharton International (Worthington), Hovensa,( Bay Ltd.), Dune Energy (White Marlin), Crusader Energy (Carlson Capital), Linc USA (White Marlin).
  • Represented secured creditors and debtors in restructurings of chemical plants and refineries, including: Agrifos, CIBRO Refinery, El Paso Refinery, Texas Petrochemicals.
  • Represented creditor committees in major bank holding company bankruptcies, including: Bank of New England Corporation, First City Bancorporation, and First RepublicBank Corporation.
  • Represented commercial bank lenders in restructuring of agricultural companies, including: Allen’s Food (Rabobank and Wells Fargo), Imperial Sugar (Wells Fargo), Pope Vineyards and Renwood Winery (Rabobank).
  • Represented secured creditors in real estate bankruptcies, including: Fairfield Communities (Aetna), General Homes (American Savings), Harold Farb Investments (Aetna), Petro Ventures (Wells Fargo), Southeast Bank Corporation (Aetna), DBSI (Wells Fargo), Search Capital Mortgage Finance (Debtor).
  • Represented ship mortgage lenders and creditor committees in shipping and drilling ship bankruptcies, including: Global Marine (Export Development Corporation), Great Eastern (Debtor), and Omega Navigation (Committee).
  • Represented commercial bank lenders and creditor committees in transport and logistics cases, including: Conquest Airlines, Kitty Hawk Airways (Wells Fargo), Express One Limited (Committee).
  • Represented secured creditors and licensors of intellectual property in restructurings, including: CompuAdd (Wells Fargo), Global Home Products (Perot Systems), Minami (Wells Fargo), Pinnacle Brands (Wells Fargo), Bayonne Hospital (Perot Systems).

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Texas Bar Association - Member
  • New York State Bar Association - Member
  • American Bar Association - Former Chairman, Indenture Trustee Subcommittee
  • American Bar Association - Former Chairman, Energy Business Committee


  • New York~United States (2006)
  • Texas~United States (1986)


  • University of Texas School of Law (J.D. with Honors) (1986)
  • Rice University (B.S. cum laude) (1983)


  • English


  • Author, "Fraudulent Conveyance Update: In the Next Economic Downturn, Will Fraudulent Conveyance Challenges to the Recent LBO’s, Spinoffs, and Dividends Have a Real Chance of Success?," American Bankruptcy Institute, 22 May 2019


  • Speaker, "Survival Strategies for In-House Counsel: Dealing with the Chaos and Confusion of 2016," Association of Corporate Counsel, Houston, Texas, 29 September 2016

  • Speaker, Navigating the Oil and Gas Pricing Storm: Practical Solutions From Lenders, Investors, and Operators, Houston, Texas, 7 April 2015

  • Speaker, New Risks to Creditors of Bank Affiliates under Dodd-Frank and the FDIC’s OLA Receiverships, 25 March 2015

  • Speaker, Distressed Asset Workshop: Being a "Constructivist" Lender in a Workout Process, New York, New York, 10 March 2015