Photo by Laura Crosta.
Josh Bruckerhoff is swiftly making a name for himself in the world of financial litigation, as he brings fresh eyes and novel theories to the bankruptcy and insolvency space. Most notably to date, he built a crucial argument for FTI Consulting regarding fraudulent transfers that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court clarifying an often-used section of the Bankruptcy Code. Bruckerhoff credits the non-traditional billing structure at his firm, Reid Collins, as fostering collaboration between the attorneys and encouraging out-of-the-box thinking across their spectrum of cases. Naturally, the addition of this rising star to our 500 Leading Plaintiff Financial Lawyers was a no-brainer.
Lawdragon: Will you please give our readers an overview of the types of cases you handle?
Josh Bruckerhoff: I appear in federal and state courts across the country representing bankruptcy trustees, offshore liquidators, companies, and hedge funds in litigation against directors and officers, law firms, banks, auditors, and recipients of fraudulent transfers.
The majority of my cases arise out of bankruptcies or offshore liquidations. My firm often gets retained to investigate the cause of the company’s collapse and pursue those responsible. I also devote a significant portion of my practice to bringing legal-malpractice claims.
Almost all of my representations are on the plaintiff’s side of the docket and involve some form of contingent or success fee.
LD: You recently had an incredible result in the U.S. Supreme Court. Will you talk a bit about that case, the arguments you developed, and what the experience was like?
JB: I’d be happy to. One of the greatest achievements in my career so far was developing the arguments that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Merit Management Group, LP v. FTI Consulting, Inc. When we got the Merit Management case, we crafted arguments that had not been previously advanced by plaintiffs in any prior case concerning application of the “safe harbors” in section 546 of the Bankruptcy Code. The arguments the firm and I developed ultimately resulted in the Supreme Court overruling decades of precedent from numerous circuit courts on an issue that frequently arises in multimillion-dollar, and sometimes multibillion-dollar, fraudulent-transfer cases.
Of course, it was also exciting to sit at the counsel table in the Supreme Court. I never expected to have that experience as an attorney.
LD: Not many do! Are there any other recent cases of interest that you can tell us about?
JB: I recently handled two matters that related to the Mueller investigation. These matters were resolved on a confidential basis prior to any claims being filed. But the cases were incredibly interesting, particularly since one involved a unique federal claim that I have not previously pursued in my practice.
LD: What do you enjoy most about your practice?
JB: I enjoy the fact that each case presents a different puzzle to solve, particularly when we are assessing why a company collapsed. Moreover, given the complexity of a lot of our cases, we often have to the opportunity to “think outside of the box,” and to try new or creative strategies. In fact, some of my and the firm’s notable successes were achieved after other lawyers told our clients they had no claims.
The firm also fosters a great collaborative environment. Because our compensation is tied to the success of our cases, as opposed to just hourly fees, everyone at the firm is willing to take time out of their day to strategize on matters, even those that they are not directly working on.
LD: How did you first become interested in developing this type of practice?
JB: In what I believe is becoming increasingly rare in the legal world, I have been working with the same set of attorneys since I graduated law school. I joined Bill Reid, Jason Collins, and Lisa Tsai [the founders of Reid Collins & Tsai] in 2007. And I’ve been working with the same core set of attorneys who graduated with me — Nate Palmer, Craig Boneau, and Greg Schwegmann —basically since then as well. The firm and our practice have obviously grown over the years, but we continue to focus on the same type of financial fraud and insolvency cases that drew me to the firm out of law school.
LD: How did you originally decide to come to Reid Collins?
JB: When I was in law school, all I really knew was that I wanted to find a firm where I could get experience early in my career and make an actual difference on cases. Of course, because law school is geared toward big firms, it was difficult trying to find a boutique that was the right fit. I am lucky that I found Bill, Jason, and Lisa. They all gave young attorneys an opportunity to meaningfully participate in cases. And because they included me in all aspects of a case from the very beginning of my career, it made the transition from associate to partner easy.
I’ve now been practicing with them for 13 years, and I could not imagine working anywhere else. The firm’s cases are interesting, and the work is never dull. And because we work on a success-fee, our interests are aligned with those of clients. But, most importantly, I’ve formed great friendships with the attorneys at the firm, many of who, like myself, have basically been with Reid Collins since its founding.
LD: That speaks a lot to the culture there. It sounds like a tight-knit group with a pretty flat structure, which can be a great opportunity for an ambitious young lawyer.
JB: I think I owe my growth as an attorney to Lisa and Bill. Lisa taught me the basics of litigation. I was fortunate to start a case with her when I joined the firm and to take that case all the way through trial. I learned from her how to draft and respond to discovery, how to take and defend depositions, how to prepare a case for trial, and everything in between. Perhaps most importantly, she taught me how to be an effective and persuasive writer.
Bill was a different kind of mentor, but one who was equally important. It was from him that I learned how to look at the big picture of a case. While this seems like something easy to do in theory, it is much more difficult in practice. It was my experience working with Bill that taught me how to think creatively to solve the major problems in a case, as well as how to focus on the equities and use themes to tell a compelling story.
LD: What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
JB: I enjoy spending time with my family, both in Austin and traveling around the country. We enjoy being outdoors and are planning on visiting all the major national parks in the United States. I also coach my older daughter’s soccer team and am learning to paint with my younger daughter.