Lorraine McGowen

Lorraine McGowen

Class of 2016

Lorraine McGowen is a senior bankruptcy lawyer and a well-known leader of the international dialogue on diversity in the legal profession.  A partner in the global law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, she served two terms on the firm’s 11-member Board, and before that was the practice group leader of Orrick’s bankruptcy and debt restructuring practice group.  As a Board member, Ms. McGowen was responsible for oversight of the firm’s $1 billion business, with 2,500 employees in 25 markets worldwide.  She worked with other Board members to develop and implement the firm’s long-term strategy and execution priorities, consider and approve mergers and practice group acquisitions, the opening and closing of offices, the admittance of new partners, to determine partner compensation, approve and oversee budgets and the firm’s financial affairs, and to adopt and implement firm policies, and ensure effective leadership transitions and succession planning.  She helped guide a period of unprecedented growth and innovation at the firm, including the opening of the first global insourcing center of a U.S. law firm.

She has chaired Orrick’s award-winning diversity & inclusion committee for a decade, and was instrumental in developing and launching, among other innovative programs and initiatives, the nation’s first legal career fair focused exclusively on veterans and military spouses who are lawyers.  Savoy Magazine recognized Ms. McGowen as one of the nation’s most influential black lawyers and the New York City Bar Association named her its 2012 Diversity & Inclusion Champion.  Ms. McGowen is described by colleagues, clients and others as ”tireless,” “ubiquitous,” “driven, determined, dedicated and devoted” and “a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, multi-successful person on so many levels.” 

For over 30 years, Ms. McGowen has advised leading financial institutions, syndicated lender groups, creditor committees and other parties from the U.S., Europe, Asia and Africa seeking to maximize their recovery or reduce their exposure.  She has been the lead bankruptcy lawyer advising companies (including their boards) seeking to acquire financially distressed companies or assets.  Ms. McGowen interfaces with auditors, government regulators, investment bankers and others, and develops and implements mediation and litigation strategies, and negotiates reorganization plans and complex corporate and finance documents.  Recent notable engagements include representing  multinational bank syndicates in connection with the restructuring of major toll roads, the acquisition of a $6 billion toll road by an Australian firm, representing financial institutions, municipalities and others in the global Lehman insolvency proceedings, representing a South African company in connection with its  $3.4 billion acquisition of a mineral sands business, and representing financial institutions in connection with the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s $72 billion indebtedness.

Ms. McGowen is a frequent speaker and author on bankruptcy and insolvency matters and serves as an Editor of the newly launched Bloomberg Bankruptcy Treatise.

Ms. McGowen has served as an industry leader and speaker on issues relating to enhancing diversity in the legal profession and also has a long history of community and civic service.  She serves on the Board of Trustees of the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, where she also sits on its Executive Committee and Finance Committee.  She recently completed serving on the Board of Trustees of Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, where she created and served as chair of its audit committee, chaired its financial aid committee and serves on its Finance Committee.  She also serves on the Boards of Advisers for the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (an organization focused on increasing diversity in the legal profession through comprehensive outreach and educational programming and research), the Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar Association (legal services firm for international human rights organizations), and Legal Outreach (a non-profit legal education and college prep organization for urban youth from junior high to high school from underserved communities in New York City).

Ms. McGowen received her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law and her B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University.  Ms. McGowen is a member of the New York and District of Columbia Bar.