What is a bankruptcy professional

Bankruptcy Law: Not Word, but Excel

The economic crisis shows that professionally conducted insolvency proceedings save companies, not destroy them. The Anchor law firm swears by the art of business continuity even for young professionals. Bankruptcy law is 'just' the framework.

It's not a pleasant truth, but: some companies don't stand a chance in the market. The costs are too high and the income too low, sometimes for years, but sometimes a few bad months are enough to end. Donors become believers who no longer give money and no longer believe a word. The company has to file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court creates a file, the lawyers should take the helm.

However, during the corona crisis, the legislature pushed insolvency professionals into business - insolvency applications did not have to be filed for half a year if a company owed its crisis solely to the virus. Despite a few large cases such as Karstadt-Kaufhof, Esprit or Vapiano, the bankruptcy courts became increasingly silent. The insolvency administrators reported summer idleness. That will probably change dramatically this autumn. A feast for specialized lawyers?

Quality under time pressure: For Florian Harig from Anchor, the focus is always on continuation.

“You don't win the battle to rescue a company with law”, contradicts Vincenz von Braun (47), partner of the bankruptcy law firm Anchor. “You gain it with clear communication, efficient project management with interdisciplinary teams and a high understanding of numbers. This is the only way to raise the considerable values ​​for the creditors that lie in the business models of the companies themselves. ”The aim of raising money would also be confirmed by an old-school insolvency administrator - the principle of insolvency law strives for the collective satisfaction of all creditors . But opinions differ on how to achieve this goal.

Everything listens to my command.

For a long time administrators were reincarnations of the Sun King - 'l’état c’est moi ‘, I am the procedure, everything listens to my command. Your appointment by an insolvency court was somewhat pathetically viewed as a “question of fate” for the company concerned. But various changes in bankruptcy law and a new generation of restructuring experts have made absolutism at least a parliamentary monarchy. Today something else counts: "The networking of all our business and legal professionals and above all our entire partner group with the various stakeholders is the key to our success," says von Braun. "We win the big and important cases as a team." The acquisition of new mandates is a team effort, and coping with the following tasks even more.

Many battles were fought.

Anchor has almost 40 lawyers and around 70 other employees. In recent years, the firm has had several headline-grabbing cases to prove itself as a team: for example, the kitchen manufacturer Alno, who filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and had previously become a plaything for shareholders, board members, suppliers and financiers. The work-up continues, this summer anchor partner Prof. Dr. Martin Hörmann, as Alno administrator, files a lawsuit against former board members. At the top a dozen anchor experts were simultaneously employed with Alno. In 2019, the book wholesaler KNV went bankrupt, whose continued existence was a blessing for German book publishers as well as for the book trade.

Success is a team effort: Vincenz von Braun is a lawyer, but he also takes on the management role in crises.

So that these battles can be fought, Anchor relies on a so-called rapid reaction force, which is on site from the beginning in the major continuation cases. Continuation means: Do not deal - do not pull the plug and call the auction house to monetize the vehicle fleet and office equipment. Lawyers, business economists and business lawyers quickly and with concentrated competence ensure that an exact picture of the corporate crisis and the reorganization opportunities emerges - saturated with figures. "We get the important information from pivot tables rather than from contracts, because in the end it is always about money, or rather the fairest possible distribution of too little money for too many creditors," explains von Braun. "That is why all team members are equal for us, regardless of whether they bring legal or economic qualifications."

This also applies to pay - the structure for salaries and bonuses at Anchor is transparent and the same for all professions. Compensation among the partners is regulated according to a so-called lockstep system. The winnings are linked to the partners having different points, but they are paid out much more evenly than is usual for many insolvency firms - the Sun King often sends his regards there. Anchor relies on the overall responsibility of all partners, explains von Braun: “We are dependent on the entrepreneurial initiative of all partners. In our industry there are hardly any permanent mandates, our fire brigade missions cannot be planned in the long term. "

However, the establishment of the law firm should be sustainable. To this end, Anchor is now relying on a three-year training program for young professionals - a kind of continuation academy, because continuation is the key word for the planned training modules. “The goal is to get close to practical experience in addition to technical knowledge and to map the entire cycle of a company crisis and how to deal with it,” describes the Hanoverian partner Dr. Florian Harig (37) the concept.

This distinguishes the internal Anchor training from purely legal-oriented courses, which are, for example, the basis for the title of specialist attorney in insolvency law. "However, we also offer our young colleagues the opportunity to gain practical experience and take responsibility on a day-to-day basis," explains Harig. "You should learn right from the start to make external contacts or to present them in larger groups." Harig specializes in crisis advice, self-administration and insolvency plans. After his first professional experience in the management firm Eckert, he came to Anchor seven years ago and felt comfortable with his role as an employed lawyer. The law firm offers both permanent employment and the partner track - based on Harig's life planning, the decision was initially made in favor of the salaried position. But the partners asked him whether he would rather switch to partner status in view of his commitment. That happened in early 2020.

Better to reject than bad.

Incidentally, Anchor grants permeability not only between partner and employee status, but also between the law firm and the Anchor management branch: If a lawyer is primarily interested in management consulting, he could switch there - and would end up in the same interdisciplinary one again Team work. If the consequences of the coronavirus actually cause the mandate volume to skyrocket in autumn, there is still a limit, according to Harig: "We have high quality standards and therefore may not be able to accept everything that comes."