Biography

John Willard is a banking and restructuring attorney in the firm’s Financial and Real Estate Services practice group and leader of the Debt Finance practice. He has extensive experience advising a wide range of clients in complex financial transactions and corporate restructurings.

In his banking practice, John focuses on representing domestic and international financial institutions, as well as corporate borrowers, in financings across a variety of industries, including media and entertainment, real estate, manufacturing, technology and retail. He has represented financiers and borrowers in numerous complex syndicated loan transactions, mergers and acquisitions, real estate developments, recapitalizations, working capital loans, spinoffs and debt restructurings.

In his restructuring practice, John advises corporate and financial institutions on bankruptcy and creditor rights issues. His bankruptcy experience includes representing numerous debtor companies in Chapter 11 reorganizations, including domestic and international retailers and energy companies, highly regulated institutions, bank holding companies and liquidating trusts. Representative Chapter 11 clients include Foresight Energy LP (a leading producer of thermal coal), Payless ShoeSource (the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere), Peabody Energy Corporation (the largest private-sector coal company in the world), Armstrong Energy, Inc. (one of the largest producers of thermal coal in the Illinois basin), and the Gold Fields Liquidating Trust (a spinoff from Peabody Energy Corporation’s chapter 11 reorganization).

John’s dynamic professional background in entertainment, finance, business, and international transactions has made him a versatile counselor for a wide array of clients and organizations, including Academy Award-winning artists, the world’s largest neurosurgical society, and the historical trust of a former United States President.

Education

  • Saint Louis University  (J.D.)
    • Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Rhodes College  (B.A.)
    • Spanish
    • Rhodes Ambassador
    • Presidential Scholar
  • University of Salamanca - Spain  (2005)
    • International Studies

Admissions

  • Missouri, 2014
  • New York
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Missouri

Professional Activities

  • Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
  • The Missouri Bar
  • The New York Bar
  • American Bankruptcy Institute
  • INSOL International

Charitable and Civic Involvement

  • USS Gerald R. Ford Ship Sponsor Advisory Committee
  • Aim High St. Louis (Legal Leader Board)
  • Loyola Academy of St. Louis (Junior Board of Directors) 
  • Young Friends of the Saint Louis Art Museum
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society (2015 Corporate Achievers Campaign) 
  • St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers & Accountants for the Arts (Volunteer Attorney) 
  • St. Louis Criminal Justice Ministry (2014-2015)

Accolades

  • Missouri/Kansas Super Lawyers®, Rising Star (2022)
  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Ones to Watch, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Real Estate Law (2021-present)

Languages

  • Spanish

Background

Prior to joining the firm, John was an associate at another St. Louis law firm where he focused on banking, mergers and acquisitions, corporate, bankruptcy and real estate law. Before entering law school, John was a professional film and stage actor, musician and dancer. He also worked for several years in Los Angeles on the corporate side of some of the nation’s preeminent studios. 

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