Alper-Pressman lured to Lathrop's creditor practice

ST. LOUIS BUSINESS JOURNAL

By Rick Desloge

Friday, November 28, 2008

Veteran bankruptcy attorney Wendi Alper-Pressman has joined the Lathrop & Gage law firm, a move that comes as Lathrop & Gage is expanding its creditor rights practice in St. Louis.

Ben Keller, a partner in charge of Lathrop & Gage's Clayton office, said he expects Alper-Pressman's clients to follow her to Lathrop & Gage.  Keller also said he expects to add additional attorneys to the creditor rights practice in the coming weeks.  "Unfortunately for the economy, it's an emerging area," Keller said.

Currently, Randy Scherck is Lathrop's sole creditor rights attorney in St. Louis, where the firm has 31 attorneys in two offices.  The 300-attorney firm has 11 lawyers in the practice group, including seven at the firm's headquarters in Kansas City.  The Lathrop firm has 10 offices nationally.

Alper-Pressman comes from the 75-attorney Gallop, Johnson & Neuman law firm, which she joined in 2001 as bankruptcy cases grew during that down economic cycle.  She had represented many of Gallop's financial and banking clients, including National City Bank, as well as creditors in higher profile cases, including the collapse of Capital Title Co. nearly three years ago.

She declined to discuss her clients or business that might move with her but said the downturn in the economy has led to a growth in her practice.  By joining a larger firm, Alper-Pressman said she expects to handle more work for Lathrop & Gage clients in western Missouri and have the ability to tap into the firm's Kansas City creditor rights attorneys for help in St. Louis.

Gallop Johnson Managing Partner Tom Campbell said his firm has expanded its creditor rights representation as client work demands.  Gallop, Johnson & Neuman has two attorneys who practice in the field full time, including Peter Kerth, who leads Gallop's bankruptcy practice, Campbell said.

Most law firms here will be ramping up their creditors rights practices if they have not done so already, said Aaron Williams, president of Aaron Consulting, Inc., a national attorney search firm in St. Louis.