Jay M. Sakalo

Partner, Business Finance & Restructuring Practice Group Leader
Area of Focus: Business Finance & Restructuring
"An outstanding attorney with a knack for getting issues resolved."
- Chambers USA 2016
Jay represents clients throughout the financial spectrum, from structuring and restructuring complex financings on behalf of lenders, to representing secured creditors and purchasers in bankruptcy proceedings. He focuses on the representation of private equity funds, hedge funds, alternative lenders, borrowers and issuers.

As the Business Finance & Restructuring Practice Group Leader, Jay has extensive experience in the real estate finance, hospitality, healthcare, aviation, and gaming industries.
Q & A
How did you get into your practice area?
I majored in finance during college and knew heading into law school that I wanted to utilize that background in my legal career. During law school, I had the incredibly fortunate experience to clerk in the treasury department for JM Family Enterprises, one of the largest privately-held companies in the country.  While there, I had the opportunity to work on sophisticated financing deals and "it clicked" for me. Once I started practicing full time, I was in a practice group that combined finance work with bankruptcy and restructuring work (a cradle to grave approach). Working in that multifaceted group allowed me to develop the dual-headed practice I continue to have to this day. 
What kind of relationship do you have with your clients?
I think it is important to get to a point with your client where you can practically finish each other’s sentences -- in other words, know what they are thinking before they tell me. I strive for my clients to view me as their trusted advisor and an integral part of their team, not just their lawyer.
How does the collaborative environment at Bilzin Sumberg benefit your clients?
I have worked with virtually every attorney in our office at some point in time. When I am assembling a team for a matter, I can do so immediately, confidently, and with the knowledge of an individual attorney’s strengths and client chemistry to arrange the best group for a particular client’s needs.
Debtors' counsel to Fontainebleau Las Vegas Holdings, LLC, and two of its affiliates in their chapter 11 cases in the Southern District of Florida. The debtors had over $2 billion of funded debt, had used $500 million of equity, and were prosecuting claims for $800 million in unpaid additional financing. Until it ceased construction, the Fontainebleau debtors were actively developing the "Fontainebleau Las Vegas," a signature "Tier A" casino hotel resort. We handled cash collateral negotiations, created a process for the numerous outstanding mechanic's lien claims, resolved litigation against certain lenders, and prepared and implemented an exit strategy. With Court approval, we conducted a "363" sale of the hotel to the highest bidder. A stalking-horse auction ensued in open court between a publicly-traded casino company and Carl Icahn, with Mr. Icahn ultimately being chosen as the successful bidder. In January 2010, Mr. Icahn closed on the sale of the hotel.
Representation of diversified automotive company and long-standing client of the firm, in various financing matters including the securitization of retail and lease installment contracts, negotiation of working capital lines of credit, creation of land trusts, and conduit lending facilities.
Counsel to three investment funds that lent hundreds of millions of dollars to entities known as the "Banyon entities" which, in turn, used those proceeds to acquire structured settlements from Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler P.A. ("RRA"). These loans were guaranteed by the principals of the Banyon entities, George and Gayla Sue Levin. Unbeknownst to our clients, the settlements were actually part of the billion dollar Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Scott Rothstein, RRA's founder. When the Banyon entities' loans defaulted, the principals' guarantees became due. After failing to pay on the guaranty, we commenced involuntary chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings in the Southern District of Florida against the Banyon principals, asserting over $150 million in claims on behalf of our clients. In December 2010, our clients were sued for approximately $420 million in a "clawback" lawsuit filed by the RRA Trustee. We successfully defended our clients, obtaining a settlement with the RRA Trustee for less than 10% of the amount originally sought. We also successfully obtained a $200 million judgment against Gayla Sue Levin and reached an agreement with George Levin to consent to entry into bankruptcy.
Defense of Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Washington University at St. Louis, and the University of Michigan in a fraudulent transfer lawsuit in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida. The claims arose out of our clients' position as limited partners in a real estate fund that invested in certain Florida real estate projects in the mid-2000s. In the lawsuit, the chapter 7 trustee sought to recover approximately $148 million from all of the defendants, including approximately $24 million collectively from our clients. In pre-trial motions, we successfully obtained dismissal of the claims against the University of Michigan on sovereign immunity grounds. Thereafter, we filed a motion to dismiss all other claims against our clients. The Bankruptcy Court granted our motion, dismissing our remaining clients with prejudice from the entire case.
  • University of Florida, J.D., Levin College of Law, with honors, 1998
    University of Florida, B.S.B.A., in Finance, with honors, 1995
  • American Bankruptcy Institute
    Bankruptcy Bar Association of the Southern District of Florida
    The Florida Bar
    Business Law Section
  • Florida
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
    U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit
    U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
    U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
  • Band 2, Chambers USA, Restructuring & Bankruptcy, 2007 - present

    The Best Lawyers in America, Bankruptcy & Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency & Reorganization Law, Litigation - Bankruptcy, 2010 - present

    Florida Super Lawyers, Top 100 Miami Super Lawyers, 2013, 2016

    Daily Business Review, Most Effective Lawyers - Bankruptcy, Finalist, 2013

    Florida Super Lawyers, 2010 - present

    Florida Trends Legal Elite, 2005 - present

    South Florida Legal Guide, Top Lawyers, 2011 - present

    Daily Business Review, Top Dealmakers of the Year, Finalist, Distressed/Restructuring, 2010

    Law360, Rising Stars, 2010

    South Florida Business Journal, 40 under 40 Honoree, 2010

    Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 40 Under 40 Outstanding Lawyers of Miami-Dade County, 2011

    South Florida Legal Guide, Up & Comers, 2004, 2009

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