Skip to main content

Michael Bernstein is a partner in the firm's Bankruptcy and Restructuring practice. He is consistently distinguished as one of Washington's top bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers by Chambers USA, which has described him as bringing "an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bankruptcy Code, an unbelievably tireless energy level, and a practical results-oriented approach to bankruptcy issues," noting that clients describe him as a "fierce and zealous advocate and skilled negotiator," and a "creative and loyal advocate whose knowledge of the Bankruptcy Code makes him incredible at getting the best results for his clients."

He represents secured and unsecured creditors, committees, bondholders, investors, asset purchasers, private equity funds, debtors, directors, and other parties in a wide variety of bankruptcy and restructuring matters, and in related litigation throughout the United States. He also advises clients concerning corporate governance and fiduciary duty issues arising in the insolvency context.

Mr. Bernstein is a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy, a former Director of the American Bankruptcy Institute, a published author and a frequent lecturer. He has been interviewed by major newspapers and on television and radio, and has been invited on several occasions to testify as an independent expert, before Congress, concerning proposed bankruptcy legislation. For more than a decade, Mr. Bernstein served as chair of the firm's national Bankruptcy and Restructuring practice and as a member of the firm's Policy Committee.


  • ACAS, LLC in the Boston bankruptcy case of New England Confectionary Company, Inc., a Massachusetts-based candy company.
  • Republic of Colombia in the Southern District of New York bankruptcy of Avianca Airlines.
  • Crocs, Inc. in the Nevada bankruptcy case of U.S.A. Dawgs, Inc.
  • Equity Security Holders in the Southern District of New York bankruptcy of Lakeland Tours, LLC (WorldStrides Travel).
  • Las Vegas Raiders in the Nevada bankruptcy case of Double Jump, Inc., et al.
  • Andreessen Horowitz in the Delaware bankruptcy case of Jumio, Inc., an online and mobile credentials authentication company.
  • First Investment Bank AD, a Bulgarian financial institution, in the Texas bankruptcy case of Ayr Logistics Limited.
  • Landlords in the Houston bankruptcy case of Sorrento Therapeutics Inc.
  • Largest investors and creditors in the Zetta Jet bankruptcy case in the Central District of California.
  • Machine Zone, Inc. in the Oregon bankruptcy case of Peak Web LLC, a cloud service provider.
  • Welltower, Inc., in the West Virginia bankruptcy case of Passage Healthcare Property LLC, et. al, and in related litigation in the Northern District of Ohio.
  • Former CEO in connection with the Delaware bankruptcy case of Essar Minnesota.
  • PMI Mortgage Insurance Company in connection with its Arizona receivership and the Delaware Chapter 11 proceeding of its parent company, The PMI Group, Inc.
  • Derivatives counterparties in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy case.
  • Chrysler National Dealers Council in Chrysler bankruptcy.
  • The Republic of Panama as creditor in the Chapter 11 cases of Electric Machinery Enterprises, Inc., Nations Energy Corporation and Jaime Jurado, and in related litigation.
  • Debtors, investors, creditors, and other parties in airline bankruptcy cases, including US Airways, United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, TWA, and Continental Airlines.
  • American Capital in the Delaware bankruptcy case of AFA Foods.
  • Health Care REIT in the LandAmerica bankruptcy; obtained $137 million recovery on an expedited basis.
  • Office of the People's Counsel for the District of Columbia in Mirant bankruptcy, including appeals to the District Court and Fifth Circuit.
  • Debtor as special counsel in the G-1 Holdings Chapter 11 case.
  • Defendants in various preference and fraudulent conveyance cases, including a $100 million + fraudulent conveyance action related to an LBO transaction.
  • Private equity funds in bankruptcy and workout matters and related litigation throughout the United States.
  • Major League Baseball in Adelphia bankruptcy and related litigation.
  • Significant creditor and potential investor in Asarco bankruptcy.
  • A Norwegian multinational corporation in acquiring assets of a US defense contractor through a state law insolvency proceeding.
  • Bank groups and individual lenders in real estate workouts, foreclosures, and real estate bankruptcy cases.
  • Creditors' committees, including Criimi Mae and Ardent Communications.
  • Major pharmaceutical company as creditor in FoxMeyer Drug bankruptcy case, and in related litigation.
  • Officers and directors of bankrupt companies, including advising on responsibilities and defending litigation.
  • Debtors and investors in litigation concerning rejection or modification of collective bargaining agreements.
  • Lenders in deepening insolvency, equitable subordination, recharacterization, and breach of duty litigation.



Chambers USA
Bankruptcy/Restructuring (Washington, D.C.) (2005-2024)
"Leading Global Lawyer" Bankruptcy & Restructuring (2020, 2022)
BTI Client Service
"All-Star" (2016)



  • J.D., Northwestern University School of Law, 1989
  • B.A., Brandeis University, 1986


  • District of Columbia
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit


  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, The Honorable Judith N. Keep


  • Fellow, American College of Bankruptcy and Member of the College's Bankruptcy Policy Committee
  • Member, Board of Directors, American Bankruptcy Institute
  • Treasurer and Member, Executive Committee, American Bankruptcy Institute
  • Co-Chair, Labor and Benefits Advisory Committee, American Bankruptcy Institute Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11
  • Member, Advisory Board, "Views From the Bench" program, co-sponsored by Georgetown University Law School and American Bankruptcy Institute
  • Master of the Bench, Walter A. Chandler American Inn of Court
  • Co-Chair, American Bankruptcy Institute's Diversity Working Group