Career Highlights: Jessup heads up the firm’s bankruptcy and insolvency practice. Throughout his career, the Michigan Law School graduate has represented secured creditors, unsecured creditors, committees, equity holders, debtors, and trustees in federal bankruptcy cases in more than 35 states.
Power Play: In 1996, Jessup was appointed the examiner in the Megafoods Stores and related cases and was selected as the estate representative in 1998 under the plan confirmed in those cases.
Deryck A. Palmer
Weil, Gotshal & Manges
New York, NY
Career Highlights: Palmer concentrates his practice in the representation of debtors as well as creditors under Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has handled a wide variety of workout and corporate restructuring matters. The Michigan Law School graduate also chairs Health Watch, the only organization in the country devoted exclusively to minority health improvement.
Power Play: Palmer represented AK Steel in its bid to acquire National Steel Corp. He is currently serving as counsel to Doctors Community Healthcare, a conglomerate of five hospitals located in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., which is in Chapter 11 restructuring.
Michael H. Reed
Career Highlights: Reed has specialized in the field of bankruptcy and insolvency law since his admission to the bar in 1972. He is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy. A Yale University Law School graduate, Reed is president-elect of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, making him the first African American to lead the 108-year-old organization.
Power Play: From 1987 through 1993, he served as special bankruptcy counsel to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources in the multibillion dollar bankruptcy of LTV Steel Co.
Reed’s legal successes include a landmark 1991 case that limited the ability of companies to use bankruptcy as a way to circumvent environmental cleanup liability.
President and Director-Counsel NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Elaine Jones grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, when Jim Crow was law and order. As a little girl, she witnessed early on America’s exclusionist policy toward African Americans and was inspired to become a lawyer. She was convinced that by studying law, she could turn adversity into an advantage.
In 1972, only two years out of the University of Virginia School of Law, Jones served as counsel of record in the landmark Supreme Court case Furman v. Georgia, which abolished the death penalty in 37 states. During that time, she also argued numerous employment discrimination cases, including the 1972 class-action suit Patterson v. American Tobacco Co.
In 1989, Jones became the first African American elected to the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors and broke another barrier four years later when she became the first female president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Under her leadership, LDF has undertaken, among others, cases demonstrating that the high incarceration rates of African Americans impact the community at every social and economic stratum.
A poignant example was LDF’s push for clemency for Kemba Smith, who, at 24 years old, was sentenced to 24-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to distributing cocaine. At the time, Smith was a