Biography

Rafael X. Zahralddin-Aravena is a skilled business lawyer and litigator with significant experience advising clients in corporate and commercial litigation, insolvency, distressed M&A, compliance, corporate law and entity formation, corporate governance, commercial transactions, cyber law, regulatory actions and cross-border issues.

Rafael represents clients in all aspects of bankruptcy and restructuring and has extensive experience in international commercial law issues, including cross-border insolvency, federal bankruptcy court matters, and assignments for the benefits of creditors and receiverships. Rafael’s international law experience particularly in international commercial transactions brings a unique and nuanced approach to business issues both inside and outside of distressed situations.

He has also worked for two decades with early stage companies and venture capitalists and private venture funds as both a transactional lawyer and a corporate litigator. He has assisted businesses in starting, selling, or buying a business, and dealing with employees and contracts, among other operational issues.  This experience has been critical in representation of both debtors and creditors committees in chapter 11.  Rafael is noted for his problem solving abilities, especially with varied constituencies on official and ad hoc committees, including trade creditors, bondholders, labor unions and other key stakeholders in insolvency matters.

He is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, which is limited to less than 1% of lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction, and is a National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Governance Fellow, the highest level of credentialing for corporate directors and corporate governance professionals. He has been recognized as a Philadelphia Inquirer  Influencer of Law by an expert panel of judges who felt he shaped, changed, and transformed the legal industry, and listed among The Philadelphia Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” and “Minority Business Leaders.”

A Six Sigma Green Belt, Rafael is an extensive writer and lecturer and has trained both in-house lawyers and outside law firms in legal project management, lean practices and Six Sigma application to value-added provision of legal services. He is also the co-editor and author of several chapters in the American Bar Association’s Reorganizing Failing Businesses, and has written an extensive number of publications for bar journals, periodicals, law reviews and trade organizations.

Background

Prior to joining Armstrong Teasdale, Rafael was a shareholder at a regional law firm on the East Coast. While there, he served as chair of the firm’s Commercial Bankruptcy and Reorganization practice and as a member of the firm’s Board of Directors. In 2007, he founded the firm’s Wilmington, Delaware, office, and served as its first managing shareholder.

His distinguished career also includes serving as general counsel to the Hispanic National Bar Association, and as an attorney at firms of all sizes, primarily on the East Coast. Early in his career, Rafael served as a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Samuel L. Bufford in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California.

He was a founding faculty member and Associate Professor at Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California. Prior to becoming a tenure track professor, Rafael was a senior writing fellow at Georgetown University Law Center.

Education

  • Georgetown University Law Center  (LL.M., 1995)
    • International and Comparative Law
    • Senior Writing Fellow
  • Widener University Delaware Law School  (J.D., 1993)
    • Delaware Journal of Corporate Law (Articles Editor)
    • Phi Alpha Delta
    • Dean's Scholarship
    • Rugby Team
  • University of Virginia  (B.S., 1989)
    • Architecture
    • Sigma Phi Epsilon
    • Judiciary Judge
    • Architecture School Class President

Admissions

  • Delaware
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, District of Delaware
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York

Professional Activities

  • Six Sigma Green Belt, State of Delaware (Delaware Economic Development Office) and Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  • American Bar Foundation (Fellow)
  • Philadelphia Bar Association Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention (2018-2020)
  • National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) (Governance Fellow, 2016-present)
  • American Bar Association (Business Law Section, Fellow; Business Bankruptcy Committee, Trustee and Examiners Subcommittee Co-chair, 2011-2014; Task Force on Professional Fees Co-chair, 2012-2014; Ambassadors, Fellows and Diplomats Committee, 2008-2011; International Law Section, International Insolvency Committee, 2002-2007; Section of International Law, Inter-American Committee Vice Chair, 2001-2002; Section of International Law, International Law Teaching Committee, Vice Chair, 1999 -2001; Section of International Law, Law Student & New Lawyer Committee Vice Chair, 2000-2001; International Law Section, Vice Chair International Legal Education Committee, 1999 – 2001; Business Law Section Diversity Committee)
  • American Bankruptcy Institute (International Committee Co-Chair, 2017–2020; International Committee Co-Education Director, 2014-2015; International Committee Newsletter Editor, 2012-2013; International Committee Task Force Leader, 2010-2011)
  • Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (Fellow, 2015; Alumni Executive Council, 2016-2017)
  • Cyber Enterprise Risk Management Cyber Security Training (2015)
  • Delaware State Bar Association (International Committee Co-Chair, 2017-present, Vice Chair 2016-2017; Nominating Committee, 2011-2013; Multicultural Judges and Lawyers Section, Chair, 2008-2009,Vice Chair, 2007-2008)
  • Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania (Advisory Board, 2015-present)
  • Richard S. Rodney American Inn of Court (June 2014-present)
  • American Bar Association (Senior Editor, ”Reorganizing Failing Businesses,” 2014-present)
  • Turnaround Management Association (January 2013-present)
  • Delaware Hispanic Bar Association (Treasurer, April 2012-2019; President and Founder, 2008-2009)
  • National Association of Credit Managers (NACM) (January 2012-present)
  • Hispanic National Bar Association (Executive Committee - General Counsel, 2014-2015; Vice President of External Affairs, Executive Committee, 2013-2014; Deputy General Counsel, 2011-2012;Representative to Board of Governors for the Delaware Hispanic Bar Association, 2008-2013; Regional President for Region IV (Delaware and Pennsylvania), 2009-2010, 2007-2008)
  • Credit Research Foundation (CRF) (January 2008-present)
  • Delaware Bankruptcy Inns of Court (January 2008-present)
  • Lake Oswego Holding Company, Inc. (Director, 2007-present)
  • Potts Welding & Boiler Repair, Inc. (Director, 2007-present)
  • University of Virginia Club of Delaware (President, 2003-2009)
  • DuPont Minority Counsel Network (Conference Planning Committee, Networking and Marketing Committee Chair, CLE Moderator, 2007-2008; Networking and Marketing Committee, 2006-2007; Privacy Panel: Security Breaches and E-mail Monitoring)
  • DuPont Preferred Law Firm Network (Commercial Litigation Co-chair, 2007-2008)
  • United States Secretary of State Advisory Committee on International Insolvency (2000-2003)
  • AALS (Minority Law Professor Section,1996-2000)
  • Inter-American Bar Association
  • Chapman University School of Law (Founding faculty member and associate professor, 1995-2000)
  • Widener University School of Law (Adjunct Professor, Chapter 11 Course, 2003-2010)

Charitable and Civic Involvement

  • Read Aloud Delaware (Board Member and Development Committee Member, 2006-2009)
  • New Castle County Historic Review Board (2010-present)
  • National Small College Rugby Association (Board Member, 2017-2019)
  • National Collegiate Rugby Organization (President of the Board and Board Member, 2020-present)
  • Road Warriors Lacrosse Inc. Board (Director, 2017-present)
  • U.S.A. Rugby Super League (Sponsorship Committee Chair, 2007; Disciplinary Committee, 2006-2008; Philadelphia Representative, 1998-2000, 2005-2007)
  • Philadelphia Rugby Corporation, a Pennsylvania Non-Profit Corp. (President, 2005-2009)
  • Army Navy Rugby Match (Chair, 2003-2005)

Accolades

  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Preeminent™ Rating
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyers®, Creditor Debtor Rights (2019, 2020)
  • Influencer of Law, Philadelphia Inquirer (2019)
  • Top 50 Latino Lawyer, Latino Leaders Magazine (2016-2019)
  • Annual List of Rainmakers, Minority Corporate Counsel Association (2014)
  • Excellence in Community Service Award, Delaware State Bar Association Multicultural Judges and Lawyers (2016)
  • “Restructuring Deal of the Year ($25MM-$50MM)” for the New England Motor Freight bankruptcy, M&A Advisor (2019)
  • “Information Technology Deal of the Year (Under $250MM)” for the sale of Violin Memory, Inc., M&A Advisor(March 2018)
  • “Large Company Transaction of the Year” for the sale of  AgFeed USA  to TriOak Foods and Smithfield/Murphy Brown, Turnaround Management Association (2014)
  • “M&A Deal of the Year (Over $50mm to $75mm)” and “Agriculture Deal of the Year” for successful sale of AgFeed Industries, Inc. to Ningbo Tech Bank China, The 6th Annual International M&A Advisor (2014)
  • “Sec. 363 Sale of the Year (Over $50mm to $100mm)” for the firm’s services during the successful sale of AgFeed USA to TriOak Foods and Smithfield/Murphy Brown, 8th Annual M&A Advisor Turnaround Award (2014)
  • “Consumer Deal of the Year (Under $50MM)” for sale of AgFeed USA to TriOak Foods and Smithfield/Murphy Brown, ACG and M&A Advisor Champions Award (2014)
  • Turnaround Atlas Awards ― AgFeed Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization and sale of assets to Ningbo Tech Bank, TriOak Foods, and Smithfield/Murphy (2014)
  • “Information Technology Deal of the Year (Under $250MM)” for the sale of Violin Memory, Inc., M&A Advisor (2018)
  • “Healthcare/Life Sciences Deal of the Year (Under $500MM)” for the sale of Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc., M&A Advisor (2019)

Languages

  • Spanish
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