The following is an excerpt from Practice Perspectives: Vault's Guide to Legal Practice Areas.
Lauren A. Moskowitz is a partner in Cravath’s Litigation Department. She has a broad litigation practice with a focus on financial restructuring and reorganization, as well as general commercial, securities, antitrust and intellectual property matters. Lauren has been recognized by numerous professional publications, including by Law360 as a “Bankruptcy MVP” in 2021. She was also named to Crain’s New York Business’s 2021 list of “Notable Women in Law,” and received a 2014 Distinguished Alumna Award from The Fordham Law School Moot Court Board.
Lauren received a B.A. with distinction in all subjects in 2002 from Cornell University and received a J.D. magna cum laude from Fordham University School of Law, where she was a member of the National Moot Court Competition team and the Moot Court Editorial Board. She joined Cravath in 2005. From 2006 to 2007, she served as a law clerk to Hon. Shira A. Scheindlin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She returned to Cravath in 2007 and was elected a partner in 2012. Lauren resides in New Jersey with her husband and two daughters.
Describe your practice area and what it entails.
I am part of Cravath’s Financial Restructuring & Reorganization practice, which advises clients facing financial distress and insolvency. Though I am a litigator, I work with colleagues on the firm’s board advisory, M&A and finance teams to provide complete representation that considers not only the legal issues at hand, but also the commercial imperatives as well. I represent companies and creditors in various bankruptcy-related causes of action, including alleged fraudulent conveyances, alleged breaches of fiduciary duty by board members or officers of distressed companies, disputes arising out of lender claims, and alleged breaches of contract. In addition to my bankruptcy litigation practice, I am also involved in a number of general litigation matters, spanning many practice areas including antitrust, patent, contract and securities law.
What types of clients do you represent?
Clients that come to the firm represent the entire range of industries and companies, though the one thing they have in common is they need help solving their most complex issues. My matters with respect to financial restructuring and reorganization litigation are incredibly broad, as is my overall practice. We have represented debtors as well as companies who are creditors in bankruptcy proceedings, and have partnered with a number of foreign law firms who have restructuring or bankruptcy litigation needs in the United States that we help navigate. I also devote a portion of my practice to pro bono clients, which is not only critically important in giving back to our communities but is also a fundamental part of who we are as a firm.
What types of cases/deals do you work on?
Some examples of recent bankruptcy matters include representing Seadrill Limited as conflicts counsel in its chapter 11 proceedings, Stanley Black & Decker in a lawsuit against Sears related to the administrative consent program in its chapter 11 proceedings, as well as Dutch retailer HEMA B.V. in a U.S. chapter 15 proceeding related to its comprehensive debt restructuring and recapitalization transaction—a matter in which we were able to obtain chapter 15 recognition of the scheme by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
How did you choose this practice area?
I chose bankruptcy as a practice area because it is fast-paced and challenging. It is a very different type of practice from general litigation. Like all Cravath litigators, I was trained as a generalist and, as a result, am familiar with many areas of the law, which has helped immensely with my practice. This wide-ranging skill set translates incredibly well to bankruptcy—there is so much to learn and absorb outside of just the Code and procedure. As a trusted advisor to clients, you have to know the ins and outs of every aspect of their business as well as their short- and long-term goals. As with my rotation system training as an associate, I find that I learn most by doing, and this is what keeps me coming back.
What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?
There is no typical day at Cravath! But in terms of my restructuring practice, we are a very collaborative group and work as a team. On any given day, we may be on a call with a client navigating the most stressful and challenging experience of their entire company history. So the client needs advice on legal issues while also juggling how to keep their business running. On other days, we may be working collaboratively on a brief or other papers that will be filed with the court, or we may just be having a team discussion on recent developments in the law—this area is constantly evolving and we are always excited to learn.
What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?
I do not think there is any class that anyone needs to take in law school to be a great lawyer in any practice area. For students considering the litigation route, I would strongly recommend moot court. It is what made me fall in love with law school, and I consider it the most impactful part of my legal education, personally. There is no better substitute to getting out there and competing against other talented teams, and learning firsthand what that experience is actually like.
The best training is what you can get at Cravath. This is pretty standard advice that I benefited from when I was a law student and a young associate: be active in your training. Try to squeeze every drop out of every lesson out of every experience, and don’t be a tourist. Ask yourself how and why you did things the way you do, or why the partner did things the way they did. Critically think about why someone chose those steps. Make everything an opportunity to learn. You can get a lot out of the early moments if you put yourself in those shoes and actively listen and ask questions.
What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?
Generally speaking, in litigation, you tend to know the outcome you are driving at; whereas in bankruptcy, it is not always clear what the “right” outcome is. Many times it is not about winning or losing as in an adversary-type proceeding, but rather about maximizing value all around, and it is a challenge to figure out what that outcome looks like and then how to get there. There are many paths to a restructuring resolution, not just one. Bankruptcy is like an escape room with lots of puzzles along the way. There isn’t always a simple answer, but if it were easy, it would not be as much fun.
What do you like best about your practice area?
Bankruptcy is fast paced and high stakes and is always different from case to case. When you work with a client in the bankruptcy context, you really need to learn the ins and outs of their business and industry, and partner closely with them on what their goals and objectives are and how to optimize the process for the business going forward. And the law is constantly changing as well. So I really enjoy how this practice area keeps you on your toes and allows you to learn continuously throughout the years.
What is unique about your practice area at your firm?
We are a small group. We do not have hundreds of people devoted to this practice area, where it might be possible to get lost in the shuffle. Our group meets weekly and discusses together all of the matters we have going on and discusses strategy as a team. The other unique aspect of our bankruptcy practice is that we treat it as a completely cross-disciplinary practice area. Paul Zumbro, the head of our Financial Restructuring & Reorganization practice, is completely devoted to bankruptcy work, but Jed Zobitz, the Managing Partner of our Corporate Department, is also a member of our team and Omid Nasab and I, both litigation partners, also are members of the team and we bring all of those areas of expertise to bear on each matter. Our associate team gets to learn from each of us as well. Teamwork is one of the tenets of Cravath’s culture, and there is no better representation of that than how we come together in service of our clients.
What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?
Cravath is set up to give young associates meaningful, hands-on experience and feedback while ensuring the work is done to the highest standard. I experienced this when I came to the firm as an associate, and I experience this now as a partner guiding and working with our first years: junior attorneys truly do get earlier experience here. There are not many layers between me and the associates with whom I work, so I am able to give direct feedback and invest in and oversee their development in the time I have them on my team. Our unique training system not only ensures that our associates are exposed to a wide range of practice areas as they rotate from one partner group to another—it also builds natural, close mentorships between attorneys of all seniority levels. Thinking back on my own career, as a young associate I was sent in to argue motions at court, take depositions, conduct calls with clients, run negotiations with an adversary, and many other tasks—all with partner supervision, of course, but I was really allowed a sense of ownership on the matters I staffed and encouraged to contribute early and often. The same is still true for junior lawyers now at the firm, and at every step during their time here. While that can seem nerve-wracking starting out, we know that our people can handle it, and that is why they are given those opportunities.