Claims Filing and Noticing from a Claims Agent s Perspective. Jennifer M. Meyerowitz, Esq. P: M: - PDF

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Claims Filing and Noticing from a Claims Agent s Perspective Jennifer M. Meyerowitz, Esq. P: M: Claims Filing and Noticing from a Claims Agent s Perspective
Claims Filing and Noticing from a Claims Agent s Perspective Jennifer M. Meyerowitz, Esq. P: M: Claims Filing and Noticing from a Claims Agent s Perspective Presentation to: October 31, 2013 Atlanta, Georgia Hilton Atlanta Crystal Ballroom Who Am I? Jennifer M. Meyerowitz, Esq. Vice President, Senior Consultant & Director of Business Development Jennifer Meyerowitz is a Vice President, Senior Consultant and Director of Business Development at Epiq Systems, a leading provider of comprehensive claims management, legal noticing, balloting, tabulation, and related advisory services in large and complex restructuring matters. Ms. Meyerowitz has extensive experience advising clients in all aspects of the Chapter 11 process including preparation for a bankruptcy filing, schedules and SOFA preparation, creation of communications packages, claims reconciliation and general case management. While at Epiq, Ms. Meyerowitz has worked on large and small cases including Chrysler, Lehman, AbitibiBowater, Smurfit-Stone, Journal Register, Sea Launch, Swoozie s, TLC Vision, among others. In addition, Ms. Meyerowitz has significant experience in cross-border insolvencies. Ms. Meyerowitz is instrumental in implementing marketing and business development initiatives for Epiq. PREVIOUS PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE Prior to joining Epiq, Ms. Meyerowitz spent ten years as an attorney in the Bankruptcy, Reorganizations and Workouts Practice Group of Alston & Bird, LLP, where she represented debtors, secured and unsecured creditors, creditors committees and trustees in complex and out-of-court workouts, debt restructurings and Chapter 11 proceedings. Ms. Meyerowitz served as Debtors counsel in cases such as South Fulton Medical Center, HomeBanc Mortgage Corporation, Bill s Dollar Stores and Southwest Recreational Industries. In addition, Ms. Meyerowitz represented debtors, creditors and committees, in all aspects of the restructuring process. Ms. Meyerowitz represented companies and boards of directors in connection with numerous Chapter 11 filings, financings, asset dispositions, and out of court restructurings. EDUCATION/PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: Ms. Meyerowitz received her J.D. from Emory University School of Law, where she was Executive Notes & Comments Editor of Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal, and her B.A., with distinction, from the University of Michigan. She is admitted to practice in Georgia and she is the Chair of the Bankruptcy Section of the Atlanta Bar Association. She is currently the Chair of the International Women s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation and the Co-Founder, Past Chair and past Board Member of its Georgia Network division. She also serves on various committees of the Turnaround Management Association and the American Bankruptcy Institute. PUBLICATIONS AND ACCOLADES: Ms. Meyerowitz has participated in numerous panel discussions regarding bankruptcy and restructuring for the American Bankruptcy Institute, the Turnaround Management Association, International Women s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation, as well as other organizations. In addition, Ms. Meyerowitz co-authored a number of bankruptcy related articles. Ms. Meyerowitz has received a number of accolades, including the M&A Advisor Recognition Awards 40 Under 40 Award. She has been named multiple times as a Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Star by Law & Politics Magazine. In addition, Ms. Meyerowitz has been named as one of the Legal Elite by Georgia Trend Magazine (December 2006 Volume 22, No. 4). Ms. Meyerowitz is also the recipient of the F.M. Bird Award for exemplary pro bono and community service, which was awarded in 2007 by the partnership of Alston & Bird LLP. She was also honored as volunteer of the year in 2009 by the Truancy Intervention Project of Georgia and she now serves on its Board of Directors. What Do Claims Agents Do? The Basics Claims agents are often hired to provide the basic administrative services for Debtors in Chapter 11 cases -- in lieu of the Clerk s Office of the United States Bankruptcy Court. Noticing Manage all debtor-side noticing via print mailing or electronic noticing (e.g., blast or facsimile). Publication noticing. Have extensive printing capabilities. Claims Management Maintain database including all Schedule records and proofs of claim filed. Intake, data enter, quality control and other processing of proofs of claim filed in case. Manage claim transfers. Maintain Official Claims Register to accurately reflect all claims and related status. Maintain physical copies of proofs of claim. Maintain noticing lists. Assist with publication requests. Beyond the Basics Over the years, service offerings of Claims Agents have expanded beyond basic claims processing and noticing to include: Pre-Filing Services, including website development, crisis communications and call center assistance, preparation of the creditor matrix Schedules/SOFA Preparation Claims Management Noticing (Print, Electronic, Publication) Balloting & Tabulation (including Public Securities) Claims Reconciliation Virtual Data Rooms Distribution Agent Services Schedule/SOFA Preparation Can include on-site guidance, collection and assimilation of data, data entry services, etc. Regular interface with client, financial advisors and law firm representing Debtor. Epiq can produce final versions for filing with Court via proprietary software. Schedules & Sofa get reconciled with Official Claims Register. Claims Reconciliation Assist with substantive and non-substantive claim review. Assist with custom noticing of claims objections. Preparation and analysis of claims register. Call Center Some of the claims agents have call centers equipped with live operators to handle questions from creditors, lawyers, parties in interest, employees. Operators are trained on specific questions and answers that are provided by the Companies to be sure the proper messaging is delivered. Call Centers have foreign language operators available, as needed. Virtual Data Rooms Many Claims Agents provide clients with access to customizable virtual data rooms (VDR), where multiple audiences can share and access sensitive data from a single, secure document repository site. This is especially useful for Debtors engaging in an auction and sale process. Clients can easily manage permissions, and real time reporting lets you track document access statistics. The best VDR s are designed to be end user friendly, with drag and drop capabilities that make it simple to organize documents without additional downloads or plug ins. VDRs come with 24/7 technical service and support. Disbursement Agent Work with counsel, consultants and the Company to coordinate the disbursement of proceeds (either cash and/or issuance of new stock) to creditors after a plan has been confirmed. Monitor all distributions made and regularly reports payment activity to clients. Also assist with the delivery of tax forms to disbursement parties, as needed. Information Agent In some situations, Claims Agents are hired by the Creditors Committee to serve as the Information Agent. Usually, this means the Claims Agent is setting up a website for creditors that is separate from the Debtors restructuring website. Claims Agents will also assist counsel to Creditors Committees with noticing and other administrative tasks. Technologies Claims Agents Use Websites Technology Mobile Applications (Apps) Technologies Claims Agents Use Websites Most claims agents have websites listing all of their active cases The websites show all the relevant case information for interested parties. Most importantly, the websites provide the public with free access to the case docket. Technologies Claims Agents Use Electronic Claims Filing Many claims agents now have the capability to do Electronic Claims Filing. This has been approved in some courts. New technology provided by the claims agents is helping counsel and advisors to reconcile claims faster, prepare sofas and schedules faster and help with case management. Technologies Claims Agents Use Mobile Applications Many Claims Agents now have mobile applications that allow parties to search dockets, search claims, and access relevant case information from their mobile phones and tablets. This capability is especially beneficial to providing easy access to all interested parties. It also makes the lawyers and advisors lives easier by being able to access important case information quickly from their phones. Pros and Cons Benefits of Using a Claims Agent Ability to manage large volumes of data accurately and efficiently. Professionals are less expensive hourly rates significantly lower than counsel and turnaround professionals. Directs administrative details away from Debtors so Debtors can put resources to better use. Noticing deadlines are later and volume discounts have been negotiated. Takes costs away from clerks office. Pros and Cons Disadvantages of Using a Claims Agent Some say too expensive BUT... Additional professionals on case can cause duplication of effort Creates a separate matrix/claims register/service list outside of ECF Some Courts/Clerks offices not used to using Claims Agents When Do Claims Agents Get Started? As early as possible The earlier in the case, the more helpful they can be In reality at the last minute! How Are Claims Agents Paid? Paid by Debtors Retained on first day of the case Services are provided pursuant to Section 156(c) of the Bankruptcy Code Viewed as an arm of the Clerk s Office Paid in the ordinary course Fees are administrative claims of the Debtors estate How are Claims Agents Paid? In SDNY and DE, Claims Agents are required to be retained under 327 and 156. Claims Agents are required to file Fee Applications for Advisory Work. Must be approved by the Court before payment can be made.
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