Municipal bankruptcy lawyer Bill Smith has died at 68

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William P. “Bill” Smith, a municipal restructuring maestro whose career spanned 40 years, died March 17 at age 68 following a long illness.

Smith, who headed the restructuring practice at Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery, worked in some capacity on nearly every major muni bankruptcy of the past 20 years, including Puerto Rico, Detroit, San Bernardino, and Jefferson County.

He was a longtime friendly rival of Jim Spiotto, for whom he worked at Chapman and Cutler at the start of his career and who preceded him in death by less than a month.

Municipal restructuring attorney William P. "Bill" Smith died March 17. He was 68.

“Bill really was a giant in the restructuring industry having worked as a trusted counsel to financial institutions, borrowers, bondholders, bond insurers, debtors and trustees in cases across the United States,” McDermott Will & Emery Partner David L. Taub said in a tribute published by Smith’s Research and Gradings. “We will miss him dearly, but we are better — and certainly wiser — for having had the privilege to call him our partner, colleague and friend for so many years.”

The Smith’s tribute recounts that Smith and Spiotto stopped speaking when Smith left Chapman to begin a long and successful career at McDermott, but that each man maintained a deep respect for the other right until the end. During his 24 years at the firm, Smith was recognized with numerous awards and placements on top lawyer lists.

Information about services for Smith was not immediately available.

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