Senior Partner and Chairman, Bankruptcy and Restructuring Department, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
Some relationships are just fated from the start. When Brad Scheler '77 walked into his very first class on his very first day of law school, he had no idea that his professor, Alan N. Resnick, was also walking into his very first class on his very first day as a member of the Hofstra Law faculty. What neither of them knew was that this was the beginning of a nearly 40-year friendship and legal partnership that would reshape the study and practice of bankruptcy law.
Scheler, now a senior partner with Fried Frank and the chairman of the multinational firm's bankruptcy and restructuring department, didn't have a clue about bankruptcy law — which was still a "boutique" field — when he started at Hofstra Law in 1974. Resnick, now the Benjamin Weintraub Distinguished Professor of Bankruptcy Law, had just received his LL.M. from Harvard and was years away from attaining icon status with his 17-volume history of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978.
By fluke, the person whom Resnick replaced at Hofstra Law, Michael Cook, left to become a junior partner at the New York City offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. When Scheler interviewed for a second-year summer placement, he used this Hofstra Law connection to land a spot at Weil, which had just been appointed to represent the trustee in the largest Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in the country.
"The firm was awash with bankruptcy and restructuring work that summer, and I received a number of assignments," remembers Scheler, who got his first taste of an area of the law that would become his life's work.
When he returned to Hofstra Law for his third year, Scheler signed up for Resnick's debtor-creditor course. As Scheler recalls, Resnick wouldn't let him answer a question unless nobody else knew the answer, "because he thought I had an unfair advantage."
The professor-student relationship soon became a close mentorship. After graduation, Scheler was hired by Weil as a bankruptcy attorney before he got the call in 1981 from Fried Frank to be the second member of its fledgling bankruptcy department.
When Scheler became a partner in 1988 — after only seven years at the firm — he called his former professor, who had recently been appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to draft and consult on amendments to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Scheler asked Resnick to join Fried Frank as an "of counsel" advisor and mentor to the firm's growing ranks of young bankruptcy lawyers. Resnick accepted immediately.
"The last 24 years have just been a remarkable partnership," says Scheler. With Resnick's continual expert guidance, Scheler has turned Fried Frank's bankruptcy practice into one of the largest and most sought-after in the world, helping billion-dollar companies restructure and creditors retain value in high-profile Chapter 11 cases.
"Alan is one of my closest friends in the world," says Scheler. "He's family to me."