Biography

John Willard is a banking and restructuring attorney in the firm’s Financial and Real Estate Services practice group. 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, spin-offs 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 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 spin-off from Peabody Energy Corporation’s chapter 11 reorganization).

John’s dynamic background in law, business, entertainment and international affairs has made him a natural fit for a variety of clients seeking outside general counsel, including the world’s largest international neurosurgical organization.

Education

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

Admissions

  • Missouri, 2014
  • 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

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

  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Ones to Watch, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Real Estate Law (2021)

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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