Jennifer Hagle is a member of the Executive Committee, and firmwide co-chair of the Committee of Retention and Promotion of Women and the Diversity Committee. 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) 10 years ago, especially after having taken three six-month maternity leaves and working on an 80 percent reduced-hour basis for several years. My appointment demonstrated the firm’s commitment not just to diversity on the EC but importantly 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 think I just finished my most memorable deal—and I promise you it is not because it is the most recent one I’ve closed! We got hired on the Chesapeake Energy case by MUFG Union Bank after a very competitive pitch process on April 1, 2020. 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 around the clock on this extraordinarily complex and multi-faceted deal from April until February when Chesapeake emerged 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 in So Cal where – when the pandemic going got rough – my studio simply moved the reformers and spin cycles outside. I have taken classes (under a canopy) through heat waves, ash and windstorms, rain, fog and everything in between (except snow)! We also live in a beautiful neighborhood where I spend a lot of time walking when I am on conference calls that I can take untethered to my laptop. Not having stepped on a plane or changed time zones in a year hasn’t hurt either!
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!”