Michael J. Small



Michael J. Small is a partner and litigation attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP. Michael focuses his practice on bankruptcy, creditors’ rights and commercial litigation. He has represented financial institutions, creditors’ committees, trustees, secured and unsecured creditors, asset purchasers and debtors in reorganization cases, liquidations, workouts, transactions, and a variety of federal and state court litigation. Michael is a member of and has led the firm’s Bankruptcy & Business Reorganizations Practice. He also practices with the firm’s Food & Beverage and Sports Industry Teams.

Representative Experience

Michael's notable engagements include:

  • In re Velocity Holding Company, Inc. et al (creditors committee)
  • In re Esplanade HL LLC (secured lender)
  • In re SquareTwo Financial Services Corporation (acquisition by plan sponsor)
  • In re Universal Cooperatives, Inc., et al (debtors’ counsel)
  • In re AgFeed Industries, Inc. et al (special counsel to the debtors)
  • In re Los Angeles Dodgers LLC (acquisition of L.A. Dodgers)
  • In re Chicago National League Ball Club, LLC (acquisition of Chicago Cubs)
  • In re Texas Rangers Baseball Partners (acquisition of Texas Rangers)
  • In re Borders Group, Inc. and In re Blockbuster, Inc. (landlord representations)
  • In re McEnery (sale of public golf course)
  • In re Giordano’s Enterprises, Inc. (largest ingredient supplier)
  • In re Gas City, Ltd. (secured lender)
  • In re General Growth Properties (representation of Las Vegas lessee)
  • In re Standard Forwarding (DIP lender)
  • In re Pilgrim’s Pride (secured lender)
  • In re Commissary Operations, Inc. (503(b)(9) claimant and preference defendant)
  • In re Grede Foundries (supplier and pension trustee)
  • In re Kaiser Aluminum et al (subsidiary distribution trustee)
  • In re Murray, Inc. (creditors committee)
  • In re Farmland Industries (bondholder committee and liquidating trustee)
  • In re Bridge Information Systems, Inc. (creditors committee)
  • In re River West Plaza (equity holders)
  • In re Corcoran Hospital District (chapter 9 debtor)


Michael is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School (J.D., 1991), received a master’s degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (M.A., 1988), and earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University (B.A., magna cum laude, 1985).


Michael teaches Chapter 11 Trial Advocacy as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University Law School and has taught previously at Washington University in St. Louis.

Thought Leadership

Michael has lectured and participated in panels at conferences throughout the United States and in Europe and Japan. His publications include:

  • “7th Circ. Does The Math, Settlement Upheld,” Bankruptcy Law360 (January 6, 2012)
  • "Learning From Recent Insider Preference Cases," Bankruptcy Law360 (October 2011)
  • Co-authored, "‘Unequivocal And Specific’ Claim Preservation," Bankruptcy Law360 (July 2011)
  • Co-edited "Involuntary Bankruptcy" as a chapter within Business Bankruptcy Practice for Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (2011 and 2013 Editions)
  • Co-authored "Protecting the Value of Potential Tax Refunds for Secured Creditors" Bankruptcy Law 360, (June 8, 2010)
  • Co-authored, "Financing Renewable Energy," Commercial Lending Review, Volume 23, Number 2 (March – April 2008)
  • "A Bankruptcy and Restructuring Conversation: From Alchemy to Taxidermy," chapter in The Roles and Motivations of Key Players in Bankruptcy Cases, Aspatore Books (2006)
  • "Healthcare and Insolvency: The Lender’s Perspective," Commercial Lending Review (Winter 1999–2000)
  • Co-authored, "Key Issues in Chapter 11 Retailer Inventory Sales: The Lender’s Perspective," Commercial Lending Review (Winter 1997–98)


Michael is admitted to practice in Illinois, before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth, Seventh and Ninth Circuits, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where he is a member of the Trial Bar, and the United States Supreme Court. He has also appeared in federal and state courts in Delaware, Wisconsin, California, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Missouri, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Colorado, Texas, and Massachusetts.


Michael was recognized in Chambers USA for his bankruptcy/restructuring work (2014 - 2017). He has been Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system. Michael was recognized in 2013 by the Legal 500 for his work in the area of finance – corporate restructuring (including bankruptcy). He has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© since 2011 and the 2007 – 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers® lists.*

*The Illinois Supreme Court does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and no award or recognition is a requirement to practice law in Illinois.

Representative Matters

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Foley represented Guggenheim Baseball Management in its acquisition of the Los Angeles Dodgers, marking the single largest transaction ever for a professional sports franchise. The new ownership group is led by Mark Walter, Chief Executive Officer of Guggenheim Partners, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Peter Guber, and Stan Kasten, the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, among others. The transaction, valued at over $2 billion, closed as of April 30, 2012, per an agreement between owner Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball (MLB) that was approved by the Delaware Bankruptcy Court, with funding occurring on May 1, 2012. This complex transaction was a unique and highly competitive sale process and tight timeline that required closing within 30 days of being selected as the winning bidder and special consideration to matters related to mergers and acquisitions, tax, bankruptcy, financing, real estate and land use, and media rights, among other areas. Overall, more than 60 Foley attorneys from 11 offices and 12 different practice groups assisted on the transaction, demonstrating both the breadth and depth of Foley’s capabilities in assisting clients to navigate such complex and high-profile transactions. The Dodgers transaction follows on the heels of Foley's successful recent representations of Wayne Weaver in his sale of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Rangers Baseball Express LLC in its acquisition of the Texas Rangers, and the Ricketts Family in its acquisition of the Chicago Cubs, which previously held the record price for an MLB franchise sale at $845 million.
Represented a major US bank as indenture trustee for the 10.5% Senior Secured Notes due 2012 issued by American Airlines and secured by more than 140 aircraft, aircraft engines and cash. The client has received $570 million from AMR, representing payment in full plus interest to bondholders and payment of legal fees relating to the 10.5% bonds. The second tranche, approximately $1 billion representing payment in full to cure the 7.5% bonds, including interest and fees, is expected when AMR’s Plan goes effective.
Foley represented Rangers Baseball Express LLC, the investment group led by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Hall of Fame pitcher and Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan, in its acquisition of the Texas Rangers, a long and complex transaction that culminated in the sale of the Rangers through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy auction on August 4, 2010. Initially, Foley represented Rangers Baseball Express in the competitive bidding process for the Rangers and the real estate surrounding Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in January of 2010. Foley's representation continued as the transaction was challenged by creditors of the holding company of the Texas Rangers and the club was eventually voluntarily placed into bankruptcy. In the court-ordered bankruptcy auction, Rangers Baseball Express outbid an investment group led by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Houston businessman Jim Crane in a $590 million deal to become the club's sixth owner. Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved the deal and the new ownership group on August 12, 2010.