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Karol K. Denniston


Karol K. Denniston has provided bankruptcy analysis and counsel to clients for more than 25 years. Currently, her practice is focused on municipal restructurings, including neutral evaluation designed to eliminate the need for a Chapter 9 filing or make a Chapter 9 filing more efficient. Ms. Denniston played a key role in the drafting and passage of Assembly Bill 506 (AB 506), which requires municipalities in California to participate in a neutral evaluation process before filing for bankruptcy.

Currently, Ms. Denniston is working with a large bond insurer in connection with the refinancing, restructuring and enforcement of several redevelopment agency bonds and special counsel to the City of Pacific Grove. Ms. Denniston frequently provides advice to issuers, underwriters, trustees, bondholders and insurers in connection with disclosure issues, new issuances, and restructurings.

Ms. Denniston appreciates the need to implement timely and cost-effective structures to resolve troubled transactions, and has a strong interest in how alternative dispute resolution can be used by municipalities to reduce restructuring costs. She is an experienced mediator and arbitrator, and on behalf of clients has utilized all forms of alternative dispute resolution to resolve matters arising in distressed multinational transactions. Ms. Denniston lectures frequently on municipal restructuring, pension obligations, and service insolvency, focusing on how parties can best reach agreement on establishing fiscal sustainability.


"There's only one way out for Stockton and San Bernardino," San Francisco Daily Journal (April 18, 2013)

"San Bernardino's creditors should work with, not against the city: Opinion", The San Bernardino County Sun (Feb. 21, 2013)

"Neutral Evaluation in Chapter 9 Bankruptcies: Mitigating Municipal Distress," California Bankruptcy Journal vol. 32 no. 2 (2012)

"Chapter 9: Bondholders Beware—It's Not Business As Usual," Bankruptcy Law Reporter (June 28, 2012)

"We Need More Time to Evaluate Bankruptcy Law," Stockton Record (June 3, 2012)

"Mammoth Lakes Provides a Lesson in Rationality," San Francisco Daily Journal (May 7, 2012)

"New Requirements for Municipal Bankruptcies," Client Alert (November 2, 2011)

"Cities Should Mediate Before Filing Bankruptcy," The Riverside Press Enterprise (June 14, 2011)
"Opinion: Why Bankruptcy is Not the Answer," Capitol Weekly (May 19, 2011)

"IP in Bankruptcy: Protecting Your Interests and Taking Advantage of Buy-Side Opportunities," Client Alert (Q4, 2009)

"Insolvency Issues in Commercial Leasing: Defaults, Workouts, Restructuring and Bankruptcy," Practising Law Institute (November 2009)

"Maximizing Value of Intellectual Property," ABF Journal (June 2008)

"Memo to Transactional Lawyers – Take a Shot at Resolving Disputes," ABA Business Law Section Newsletter (April 2006)

"Informal Out-of-Court Reorganizations," INSOL World (December 2000)

"ADR Basics at Home and Abroad," ABA Business Law Section Newsletter (Summer 2000)

"Distressed Debt Trading," Euromoney (2000)

Speeches and Presentations

"Case Study: Pacific Grove," California Public Pensions Solutions Conference, Stanford, Calif. (Oct. 9, 2013)

"California Chapter 9 Rulings Impact on Muni Market," SMITH's High Yield Municipal Bond Conference, Greenwich, Conn. (Sept. 19, 2013)

"Boom & Bust: California Cities," (panelist) 21st Annual Bankruptcy Battleground West, American Bankruptcy Institute, Los Angeles, Calif. (March 22, 2013)

“Reading Tea Leaves: Is Stockton’s Bankruptcy a Road Map for Restructuring Obligations to CalPERS?” Schiff Hardin LLP Webinar (Dec. 4, 2012)

“Avoiding the Worst-Case Scenario: Tools Municipalities, Creditors, Employees, Retirees and Insurers Need to Use to Avoid or Mitigate Bankruptcy Disasters,” (moderator) The Bond Buyer’s 22nd Annual California Public Finance Conference, San Francisco, Calif. (Oct. 18, 2012)

"State Oversight: Cure, Prevention or Endless Battle?" Distressed Credits & Fiscal Emergencies: A New Paradigm for the Municipal Market, National Federation of Municipal Analysts, Detroit, Michigan (October 4, 2012)

"Resolving California's Budget Crisis: Lessons from a New Six-State Study," Commonwealth Club of California Event, San Francisco, California (September 20, 2012)

"AB 506: Implementation and Change," California Society of Municipal Analysts (May 30, 2012)

AB 506: A New Path to Municipal Restructuring,” Presentation to Investment Community, San Francisco, California (November 17, 2011)

“The Impact of Bankruptcy on Clients & Their Intellectual Property,” ExecSense Webinar (June 16, 2011)

“Bank and Special Servicers: Needs and Opportunities in 2011,” Grubb & Ellis 2011 Deal Making Summit, San Diego, California (February 10, 2011)

“Finding Deal Flow: Securitization Structures,” CLE International Real Estate Restructuring Conference, Los Angeles, California (January 22, 2010)

“Negotiating Commercial Leases,” Practising Law Institute, San Francisco, California (December 2009)

“Basics of Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities Loan Workouts,” Grubb & Ellis REO Presentation, Denver, Colorado (June 2009)

“Anatomy of a Commercial Loan Workout I,” ABA Real Estate Law Webinar (April 2009)

“Anatomy of a Commercial Loan Workout II,” ABA Real Estate Law Webinar (April 2009)

“Finding Deals,” Grubb & Ellis REO Presentation, Los Angeles, California (March 2009)

“Workouts, Lender Negotiations and Bankruptcy Filings: What You Need to Know,” Hospitality Law Conference, Houston, Texas (February 2009)

“Outlook Strategies for Bank-Owned Commercial Real Estate and Loan Modification Programs,” Grubb & Ellis REO Presentation, Las Vegas, Nevada (February 2009)

“IP as an Asset Class-Raising Value, Minimizing Risk and Leaving Something to Restructure With,” The Financial Lawyers Conference, Los Angeles, California (November 2007)

“Designing and Managing Corporate Investigations,” Business Law Institute, State Bar of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia (October 2002)

“Contesting Confirmation: When and What Fight to Pick,” National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges and ABA Business Law Section, Chicago, Illinois (October 2002)

“From Taiwan to Tallahassee: E-Commerce and ADR,” ABA Dispute Resolution Section Fall Meeting, St. Petersburg, Florida (December 2000)

Awards and Honors

AV Rated — Martindale-Hubbell
Northern California Super Lawyers, Bankruptcy


West Virginia University College of Law(J.D., 1985)Order of the Coif
West Virginia University(M.A., Education, with honors, 1982)
Concord College(B.A., English and Speech Communication, cum laude, 1980)

Professional Memberships

American Bar Association
     Business Law Section
          Dispute Resolution Committee
               Former Vice Chair
          Dispute Resolution Section
          Task Force on E-Commerce and Alternative Dispute Resolution
               Former Vice Chair
California Society of Municipal Analysts
Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
Centre for Dispute Resolution
     Accredited Mediator
National Association of Bond Lawyers