Michael J. Small



Michael J. Small has been a partner with Foley & Lardner LLP since 2000. As a restructuring attorney and litigator, Michael focuses his practice on bankruptcy, creditors’ rights, and commercial litigation. He represents 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 Group. He is also a member of the firm’s Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) Team, as well as the firm’s Food & Beverage, Sports & Entertainment, and Healthcare Industry Teams. He continues to be a member of the Trial Bar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Representative Experience

Michael's notable engagements include:

  • In re Loves Furniture, Inc. (creditors committee)
  • In re GenCanna Global USA, Inc. (creditors committee)
  • In re The Financial Oversight and Management Board Puerto Rico (infrastructure creditor)
  • In re Art Van Furniture (committee member)
  • In re Sears Holdings Corporation, et al (sale-leaseback counterparty)
  • 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)

Thought Leadership

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

  • Co-authored, “Limited Options for Cannabis-Related Company Liquidations,” Foley's Coronavirus Resource Center (April 3, 2020)
  • “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)


  • Recognized, Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the practice area of Bankruptcy/Restructuring (2014-2018, 2021-2022)
  • Recognized, AV Preeminent®, 5.0 out of 5 Peer Review Rated, the highest performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ system
  • Recognized by the Legal 500 for his work in the area of finance – corporate restructuring (including bankruptcy) (2013)
  • Recognized, The Best Lawyers in America© in the fields of:
    • Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law (2011-2023)       
    • Litigation - Bankruptcy (2011-2023)
  • Selected for inclusion to the Illinois Super Lawyers lists (2007-2020)*

*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.


  • University of Chicago Law School (J.D., 1991)
  • Jewish Theological Seminary of America (M.A., 1988)
  • Brown University (B.A., magna cum laude, 1985)


Michael has taught chapter 11 trial advocacy as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University's Pritzker Law School and at Washington University in St. Louis.


Michael is admitted to practice in Illinois; before the United States Court of Appeals for the First, Fourth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits; the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Illinois; the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan; the Eastern District of Missouri; 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, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, and Massachusetts.