The Talent

June 11, 2009 12:51 PM

Baker Donelson Lawyer Files for Personal Bankruptcy

Posted by Brian Baxter

Some of this country's most powerful companies have succumbed to bankruptcy over the past few months, so perhaps it's little surprise that a prominent lawyer from a notable firm has followed the same path.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that Robert Worthington, Jr., of counsel with Am Law 200 firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last week.

Worthington focuses his practice on general corporate, public utilities, and governmental relations work. According to a ten-page filing with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Knoxville, Worthington estimated assets between $500,000 and $1 million, and liabilities between $1 million and $10 million. (Most of the debt was to credit card companies and banks; a home at the address listed for Worthington on the filing is estimated to be worth $732,500.)

In an interview with the Knoxville paper, Worthington blamed the Chapter 7 filing on "financial investments which have not come through, primarily, I guess, because of this economic climate."

Baker Donelson traces its roots to the Knoxville firm of Baker, Worthington, Crossley & Stansbury, which was founded in 1888 and shortly thereafter employed the grandfather of former U.S. senator and ambassador to Japan, Howard Baker, Jr., currently of counsel at Baker Donelson. (The American Lawyer presented Baker, known around the Beltway as the "Great Conciliator," with a Lifetime Achievement Award last year.)

Both juniors Baker and Worthington were partners at Baker Worthington in 1994 when the firm merged with Memphis's Heiskell, Donelson, Bearman, Adams, Williams & Caldwell, one of the latest in a series of mergers that created the largest law firm in Tennessee.

According to Am Law 200 financial data, 475-lawyer Baker Donelson had gross revenue of $206 million and profits per equity partner of $425,000 in 2008.

Notable Baker Donelson alumni include David Addington, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and former secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger, who served as a foreign policy adviser to the firm. (Lobbying is a bread-and-butter practice for Baker Donelson.)

Chapter 7 court filings show that Worthington has paid $7,201 to his bankruptcy lawyer, Thomas Lynn Tarpy of Knoxville's Hagood, Tarpy & Cox.


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