Karol K. Denniston, a bankruptcy and restructuring lawyer for more than 30 years, has extensive experience representing debtors, creditors, bondholders and other parties in a wide variety of litigated bankruptcy cases and out of court transactions. Karol has a strong interest in mediation and has been a mediator since 1992. She has deep experience working with all asset types: real estate, intellectual property, regulated industries including banks, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, gaming and nonprofits.

    Karol has been working with distressed governmental entities since 2009 and has represented cities, special districts, indenture trustees, bondholders, taxpayers and monoline insurers in a variety of municipal restructuring engagements. Karol appreciates the critical importance of delivering essential services and the need to address increased and unfunded labor and pension costs.

    Understanding that consensual negotiated restructurings can avoid protracted litigation, prevent prolonged delay, reduce professional fees and costs and help avoid limited access to capital markets, Karol has assisted clients with many out of court restructurings. When necessary, Karol has represented clients in municipal bankruptcy proceedings with a focus on implementing a negotiated resolution. Karol is a frequent speaker on the importance of mediation as part of the municipal restructuring process. Karol authored and worked with the California legislature to adopt AB 506, which requires mediation before a municipal bankruptcy filing.

    Karol was recognized by The Daily Law Journal as one of California’s Top 100 Lawyers for 2012 for her legislative work on municipal mediation.

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    • Counsel to chapter 9 debtor in Southern Inyo Healthcare District in connection with establishing compliance with the California statute and eligibility to be a chapter 9 debtor.
    • Counsel to German bank in consensually negotiated early redemption of pension obligation bonds.
    • Counsel to taxpayer working group in Stockton chapter 9 bankruptcy proceeding responding to proposed increase in sales tax and the impact of not adjusting pensions and projected post-bankruptcy budget imbalance.
    • Counsel to California city regarding out-of-court process addressing financial matters related to budget imbalance, unfunded pension liabilities and increase in operating expenses.
    • Counsel to California sanitary district regarding out of court process for addressing unfunded pension liabilities.
    • Counsel to ACA Financial Guaranty in Synagro Technologies chapter 11 bankruptcy to avoid impairment to ACA and to maintain services to waste water districts during bankruptcy process and in connection with sale of the company pursuant to the plan.
    • Counsel to new investor in restructuring and investment Daughters of Charity Hospitals now known as Verity Health System.
    • Counsel to the Dormitory Authority for the State of New York in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Federation Employment and Guidance Service, Inc.
    • Counsel to a California Civil Grand Jury investigating pension reform and producing written report.
    • Counsel to bond insurer in connection working with restructuring and large US city to avoid bankruptcy proceeding and to provide government relations of large city experiencing cash flow challenges for proposed state legislation.
    • Counsel to bond insurers on a variety of legal issues relating to California hospital districts and redevelopment successor agency matters including surveillance, restructurings, refundings and reissuance.


    • West Virginia University, J.D., 1985
    • West Virginia University, M.A., 1982
    • Concord College, B.A., 1980


    • Texas, 1985
    • California, 1988
    • Recognized by Northern California Super Lawyers for 2015 in IP/Business and Corporate
    • Recognized by The Daily Law Journal as one of California’s Top 100 Lawyers for 2012

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    • Author, “A Big Haircut for Indenture Trustee Counsel Fees,” National Law Review, March 30, 2017.
    • Author, “Marblegate’s Lost Marbles and Why Bondholders and Indenture Trustees Should Care,” National Law Review, January 18, 2017. 
    • Author, “Stormy Seas for Indenture Trustees and Bondholders Settling Claims in Bankruptcy”, eSquire Global Crossings blog, November 21, 2016.
    • Co-author, “Behind Sabine’s Curtain Lies Negotiation” with Michael Cuda, eSquire Global Crossings blog, March 11, 2016.
    • Author, “New Wormhole in Chicago’s Pension Black Hole,” eSquire Global Crossings blog, April 19, 2016.
    • Co-author, “Back to the Future: This Plummeting Oil & Gas Market is Unlike Any Prior Crisis” with Stephen Lerner, eSquire Global Crossings blog, January 26, 2016.
    • Author, “New Developments in Chapter 11 and Chapter 9 Filings,” chapter in Inside the Minds: Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and Restructuring Strategies – Leading Lawyers on Navigating Recent Trends, Cases and Strategies Affecting Chapter 11 Clients, Thomson Reuters/Aspatore, 2016.
    • Author, “Equal Treatment for Chapter 9 Creditors,” Daily Journal, April 2015.
    • Author, “Pensions, Legislatures and the Judicial System: What Just Happened in Illinois?” eSquire Global Crossings blog, May 14, 2015.
    • Author, “Jefferson County: State Rate Setting Authority vs. The Bankruptcy Code”, eSquire Global Crossings blog, May 11, 2015.
    • Author, “Chicago Update: What Inquiring Minds What to Know? Who is Going to Be Mayor?” eSquire Global Crossings blog, March 16, 2015.
    • Author, “Showdown in Stockton: Calpers Needs Dentist and Everyone Else Needs to Talk,” eSquire Global Crossings blog, February 19, 2015.
    • Co-author, “Illinois and Chapter 9: The Update,” with Stephen Lerner, eSquire Global Crossings blog, February 12, 2015.
    • Co-author,“Is Illinois the Next Frontier for Chapter 9?”, with Stephen Lerner, eSquire Global Crossings blog, January 29, 2015.
    • Co-author, “Detroit’s Road Map,” with Stephen Lerner, eSquire Global Crossings blog, January 12, 2015.
    • Author, “Chapter 9: Bondholders B – It’s Not Business as Usual,” Bankruptcy Law Reporter, June 2012.

    Speaking Engagements

    • Speaker, “Growing Faster than Debt: Pension Liabilities,” California Public Finance Conference, La Jolla, California, September 2017.
    • Speaker, “Court Cases in Play that could Change the Pension Landscape,” California Society of Municipal Analysts, San Francisco, California, May 10, 2017.
    • Speaker, “Stakeholder Risks in the Restructuring Process,” National Federation of Municipal Analysts Advanced Seminar of Local Governments in Crisis, Salt Lake City, Utah, January 2017. 


    • Speaker, “Fiscal Fitness: Women Working Out,” Women in Public Finance, 20th Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, September 30, 2016.


    • Speaker, “Public Pensions, OPEB’s Insights from the Field,” California Society of Municipal Analysts Conference, Napa, California, November 2015.
    • Speaker, “The Changing Law of Pensions,” Smith’s High Yield Conference, Old Greenwich, Connecticut, October 2015.
    • Speaker, “Tailor Made Restructuring: Group of Companies and Listed Enterprises,” The Week of Law and Business, Bucerius Law School, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, June 2015.
    • Speaker, “Fiscally Challenged Municipalities – Can Infrastructure Assets Be Part of The Solution?”, P3 Summit, San Francisco, June 2015.
    • Speaker, “Tackling Municipal Distress,” Women in Public Finance, Los Angeles, California, May 2015.


    • Speaker, “The Challenge: Create a Program That Will Protect and Preserve Value When an Issuer Gets into Trouble,” Smith’s High Yield Conference, Greenwich, Connecticut, October 2, 2014.
    • Panelist, “International Dispute Resolution: Look Before You Lead,” American Bar Association Fall Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, September 2014.
    • Speaker, "Municipal Bankruptcies: Lessons from the Front Lines," American Bankruptcy Institute 22nd Annual Southwest Bankruptcy Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, September 5, 2014.
    • Speaker, "Municipal Bankruptcy v. City Pension Plans," San Francisco Economic Roundtable, San Francisco, California, June 25, 2014.
    • Speaker, California County Pension Reform Conference, San Raphael, California, May 10, 2014.
    • Speaker, “The Role of Mediation Pre- and Post-Filing in Chapter 9 Municipal Bankruptcies,” CPR Banking & Financial Services Committee, New York, New York, April 10, 2014.
    • Speaker, “Pensions Critical Issues,” Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University, California, March 14, 2014.
    • Participant, “California Public Pension Solutions Post-Conference Report,” The Hoover Institution Leadership Forum, Stanford University, California, February 2014.


    • Panelist, “California Public Pension Solutions,” The Hoover Institution Leadership Forum, Stanford University, California, October 9, 2013.
    • Speaker, “California Chapter 9 Rulings Impact on Muni Market,” Smith’s High Yield Municipal Bond Conference, Greenwich, Connecticut, September 19, 2013.
    • Speaker, “The Future of Public Pensions,” The Bond Buyer’s California Public Finance Conference, Los Angeles, California, September 2013.
    • Panelist, “Boom & Bust: California Cities,” 21st Annual Bankruptcy Battleground West, American Bankruptcy Institute, Los Angeles, California, March 22, 2013.
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