Jennifer Hagle is a member of the Executive Committee, and firmwide co-chair of SidleyWomen. Based in Los Angeles, Jennifer is a transactional bankruptcy lawyer with over 30 years of experience representing clients in bankruptcy and out-of-court restructurings.
“…my appointment to the Sidley Executive Committee…showed that we ‘walk the walk’ when it comes to supporting our attorneys in promoting flexibility throughout our careers…”
What attracted you to the practice of law and what aspect of your practice do you enjoy the most?
I initially became interested in law from one of my UCLA undergraduate communication studies professors who also taught at the law school. He set me up with a government internship at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington D.C. the summer before my senior year in college—and I was hooked. To this day, I love the communication angle in my practice the most—the art of receiving, processing and succinctly conveying complex legal information and strategy to and with colleagues, clients and courts. Typically, I am working with large bank syndicates where the end goal is to “herd the cats,” and my communication skills are as key a factor in that endeavor as my knowledge of the law.
Tell us about a professional goal you are proud of achieving, and what (or who) inspired you to go for it.
I am particularly proud of my appointment to the Sidley Executive Committee (EC) 12 years ago, especially after having taken three six-month maternity leaves and working on an 80% reduced-hour basis for several years (I have been at Sidley my entire legal career) also showed that we “walk the walk” when it comes to supporting our attorneys in promoting flexibility throughout our careers, taking a long-term view on that investment. I have had many role models who have inspired me along the way (male and female) but Anne Rea, a former member of the Management Committee (now retired) and Laurie Kleiman, former firmwide co-chair of the Committee on Retention and Promotion of Women, were both critical in helping me envision and then execute on achieving that goal.
What is the most memorable deal that you led and what made it so memorable?
I recently finished one of my most memorable deals. We got hired on the Chesapeake Energy case by MUFG Union Bank after a very competitive pitch process on April 1, 2020 just as the pandemic was effectively closing down the world. Chesapeake was the largest energy company ever to file bankruptcy, with the goal of restructuring over $9 billion in total debt. The case took off like a rocket given the extreme distress caused by the energy markets, compounded by the pandemic. MUFG and the other syndicate lenders already had a $3 billion RBL facility in place with Chesapeake, and then provided a new-money debtor-in-possession loan of $925 million and a $2.5 billion exit facility. We conquered the technology challenges imposed by the pandemic and worked with countless professionals around the clock on this extraordinarily complex and multi-faceted deal enabling Chesapeake to emerge with a healthy balance sheet and a strong operational path forward. Throughout the course of the deal, I worked with an exceptionally talented Sidley team that crossed offices and practice groups, demonstrating what truly makes this firm great—the ability to deliver terrific results for our clients with phenomenal lawyers who happen to be really nice and genuine people.
On a personal note, what has been your go-to self-care activity in this remote work environment?
Working out! Those who know me know that Pilates reformer class is my #1 obsession, and I am so fortunate to live within a mile of my Pilates studio where I can work out and be back in my home office to take a call within ten minutes after class! In early 2021 (during the pandemic), I upped my game by also getting hooked on Peloton – and have had a lot of fun bonding with other Sidley Peloton devotees through our hashtag “#SidleyPeloton”. We also have a house in Mammoth where we can get away for skiing during the winter and hiking during the summer – the opportunity to escape LA and change gears in my “happy place” enables me to decompress. As I have learned over time, the practice of law is a marathon not a race!
Can you share with us a saying or quote that gives you inspiration or helps you stay centered?
I have two favorites (ask my kids): “Attitude is EVERYTHING” and “Hope is not a strategy!”