Over a more than 35-year career in bankruptcy law, Natalie Ramsey has helped shape the discipline, working on prominent cases and sharpening her own skill set en route to becoming partner and co-chair of the bankruptcy and reorganizations group at Robinson+Cole.
Natalie Ramsey believes in playing the long game. As a partner and co-chair of the bankruptcy and reorganizations group at Robinson+Cole, having such a perspective is necessary, as earning agreeable resolutions for clients takes time, patience and plain hard work. In addition, Ramsey says that thinking beyond the case in front of you is how you can build your reputation.
“Trying to take the high road, trying to remember that your adversaries are professionals who are doing their job and treating them with respect,” Ramsey says. “Taking a very strict view of your ethical responsibilities and making sure that courts and your adversaries know that they can rely on what comes out of your mouth.”
The Very Best
Ramsey’s leading roles in a string of noteworthy cases has earned her plenty of respect in the commercial litigation world. In addition to her primary responsibilities at Robinson+Cole, she is has been a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy for nearly a decade and is currently serving as the College’s Third Circuit regent.
Over the course of her career, Ramsey has maintained a steadfast devotion to her clients, which means she is always working hard to get them the results they want. “Clients hire you with a very heavy responsibility,” Ramsey says. “If you’re going to accept that responsibility, I think you have to accept it with a full understanding of what you’re accepting. And that means that you have to be prepared to do everything that you can to provide the service and the representation that is the very best.”
Bankruptcy proceedings are often stressful experiences, but Ramsey’s ability to maintain focus in panic-intensive situations and to learn and adapt quickly has made her a sought-after attorney in the bankruptcy and restructuring space. But what brought Ramsey to the sector itself?
“I like the fact that it’s constantly evolving and the issues that we see are cutting edge,” Ramsey says. “And there’s an opportunity to be a part of developing and creating law, and an opportunity for creativity that I’m not sure really exists in other practices.”
Ramsey graduated from law school at Villanova University, where she was first introduced to bankruptcy law, in 1984, so she’s seen the discipline change quite a bit during her career, especially with an increase in what she calls “mega cases” going to venues outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Along with seeing how bankruptcy has changed, Ramsey has taken part in some of the most prominent Chapter 11 cases of the last 30 years, getting her start working on mass tort bankruptcy cases when asbestos insulation manufacturer Celotex Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 1990. In the Celotex case, Ramsey also got more experience working in creditor representation and committee representation, which has become a large part of her practice in the last decade. Elsewhere, Ramsey’s representation of a group of non-settling cancer claimants in the Combustion Engineering bankruptcy led to a groundbreaking Third Circuit reversal of bankruptcy and district court decisions confirming a pre-packaged bankruptcy plan that prejudiced the rights of her clients. The decision is foundational on the role of Bankruptcy Code section 524(g) in mass tort cases and is cited regularly.
Ramsey’s experience with the intricacies of international creditors’ rights laws expanded even more when she represented the debtors in the O.W. Bunker cases, which received the International Restructuring Deal of the Year and Energy Deal of the Year awards, both in the $500 million to $1 billion category, from M&A Advisor in 2017. Ramsey says the O.W. Bunker cases had “very complicated intercreditor relationships” and served as her first foray into maritime bankruptcy. She says the real highlight of the process, which involved multiple groups from nine countries, including the United States, was getting all parties together to address the intercompany relationships as a group to reach consensus.
Although Ramsey’s current role means she is often reviewing and assisting colleagues, hiring new attorneys, assigning projects and managing her team members’ workloads, she still runs her own active practice, which requires her to develop strategies and direct implementation on cases. Several of her current cases involve the complicated issue of the so-called “Texas two-step,” something that is becoming more common today, according to Ramsey, and her firm also represents the official committee of talc claimants in the bankruptcy of Imerys Talc America, a bankruptcy filed to address asserted mass tort liability arising from talc personal injury claims.
Regardless of how the bankruptcy discipline has changed, Ramsey continues to take a client-centric approach to the business. “I’d like for my reputation to be that I gave every case my best shot, that I served my clients well and honestly,” Ramsey says. “That I was regarded as ethical and honorable and professional by my colleagues and that I made some good friends along the way.”