Areas of Practice
- Texas, 1982
- Supreme Court of the United States
- United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit and Second Circuit
- United States District Court Northern, Southern, Western and Eastern Districts of Texas
- University of Houston Law Center, J.D., cum laude, 1981
- The University of Texas at El Paso, B.A., with honors, 1977
- Board Certified in Business Bankruptcy Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
- American Board of Certification, American Bankruptcy Board of Certification
Deborah Williamson has practiced insolvency and restructuring law for over 30 years. Ms. Williamson is regularly called on by clients in a variety of industries for her bankruptcy experience and advice regarding counter-party risk. She currently serves as one of the 19 members of the American Bankruptcy Institute’s (ABI) Bankruptcy Reform Commission. In 2011, she was awarded the ABI’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which has been presented only twice in the ABI’s nearly 30-year history. Based in San Antonio, she travels frequently around Texas, the United States, and the world to address colleagues and counsel clients on bankruptcy issues and trends.
In 2012, Williamson co-authored When Gushers Go Dry, a guide to oil and gas bankruptcy. She had previously co-authored Bankruptcy Litigation for the Commercial Litigator. Ms. Williamson has been named a leader in her field by Chambers USA since 2003, selected for inclusion by Texas Super Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Texas (regardless of practice) and as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas and one of the Top 50 Lawyers in Central Texas since the honor’s inception. Named one of The Best Lawyers in America© consecutively for over two decades, she was recently included for the second time in Texas Lawyer’s Go-To Guide as one of the top five bankruptcy attorneys in the state of Texas, which is compiled by the magazine’s editorial department and published only every five years. She served as Co-Chair of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Litigation Committee of the Litigation Section of the American Bar Association. Prior to the May 1, 2015 combination, Ms. Williamson served as Managing Director of Cox Smith and was responsible for guiding and shaping the firm's business and client service strategies. She is currently a member of Dykema's Executive Board.
TXCO Resources Inc. v Peregrine Petroleum, LLC, Adversary Case No. 09-05125-rbk, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division.
Trial counsel to post confirmation TXCO Resources, Inc., a publicly traded exploration and production (E&P) company in successful prosecution of trade secret misappropriation claims against Peregrine Petroleum, LLC. Following a 41-day trial, the Court awarded judgment in favor of RTXCO (Reorganized through Chapter 11) on its claims for misappropriation of trade secrets and entered a multi-million dollar damage award.
In re The Heritage Organization, Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case No. 04-35574, pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division
Cox Smith is special litigation counsel to the chapter 11 trustee, Dennis Faulkner, in this adversary proceeding. The trustee retained us to prosecute avoidance actions, fraud actions and various D&O actions against the former officers and professionals who worked for The Heritage Organization. In January 2009, Deborah was co-counsel in a two-week trial which ultimately resulted in a Judgment in favor of the Trustee for $61 million. Faulkner v. Kornman (In re Heritage Org. L.L.C.), 413 B.R. 438 (Bankr. N.D. Tex. 2009)
Bankruptcy and Restructuring
In re TXCO Resources Inc., Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case No. 09-51807, pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division
Lead counsel to an exploration and production company who were Debtors in jointly administered chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Cox Smith began to assist TXCO’s management in negotiations with their lenders beginning in March 2009. Once a commitment for post-petition financing was obtained in an amount sufficient to avoid the need for immediate liquidation, Chapter 11 was filed on May 17, 2009. Cox Smith played an instrumental role throughout the bankruptcy case, including obtaining approval of the $32,000,000 in debtor-in-possession financing over numerous objections, putting in place a sale process, introducing potential purchasers, and ultimately negotiating the terms of a sale for approximately $310,000,000 of significantly all of the assets of debtors, which provided for the payment in full of the creditors’ claims with interest and a multi-million dollar return to equity.
In re Flying J Inc., et al., Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case No. 08-13384 (MFW), pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware
Counsel to a member of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors.
In re Aloha Airlines, Inc., Case No. 08-00337; Chapter 7 bankruptcy case pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Hawaii, Honolulu Division
We represented a multi-national maintenance, repair and overhaul company in connection with its claims against Aloha Airlines.
In re Fort Worth Osteopathic Hospital, Inc., dba Osteopathic Medical Center of Texas, Case No. 05-41513, Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division
We represented MBIA Insurance Corporation (“MBIA”) in connection with the default, foreclosure and chapter 7 bankruptcy of the last osteopathic hospital in the state of Texas. MBIA was the insurer of over $70,000,000 in unsecured bond obligations. This case involved issues related to the bankruptcy of a not-for-profit corporation and related for-profit affiliates, some of whom were co-debtors. Other issues included potential liability of former officers, directors and advisors to the not-for-profit corporations and analysis of potential claims, and defense of a third party claim brought against MBIA ultimately resulting in a dismissal of the claims against MBIA.
In re Hardwood P-G, Inc., Custom Forest Products, Ltd., and Customer Forest Transportation, Inc., Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases jointly administered under Case No. 06-50057, pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division
The Firm was counsel to the secured lender, Webster Business Credit Corp.
In re Joseph D. Milanowski, Case No. 07-13162, Involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy case pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Nevada
We are lead counsel in the representation of the Chapter 11 Trustee, Ford Elsaesser in the case of Joseph Milanowski. Mr. Milanowski was a principal in three entities which brokered commercial mortgages and/or acquired commercial properties around the United States. Contingent and liquidated liabilities exceed $300,000,000 million.
Investor Oversight Board (“IOB”) for I.G. Services, Ltd. (“IGS”) and IWG Services, Ltd. (“IWG”) pursuant to the Joint Plan of Liquidation proposed by Len B. Blackwell for IGS and IWG which filed for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division and in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands
We represented the post-confirmation Investment Oversight Board (“IOB”) which consisted of Mexican investors. We advised the IOB with regard to the pursuit of claims and causes of action.
In re Villaje Del Rio, Ltd., Case No. 06-50797, Chapter 11 bankruptcy case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division
The Firm represented Colina Del Rio, LP in connection with its role as an assignee of a non-recourse note secured by an uncompleted, multi-million dollar, mixed-use development property. Issues involved liability of assignee for alleged claims and causes of action asserted against the original holder of the note in connection with construction of property, including the ability to offset, prohibit or limit rights of secured creditor’s credit bid and opposition to attempts by the secured lender to foreclose the property. Representation included defending an appeal to the Fifth Circuit on an issue of first impression. Villaje Del Rio, Ltd. v. Colina Del Rio, LP (In re Villaje Del Rio, Ltd.), 283 Fed.Appx. 263 (5th Cir. June 25, 2008).
Representation of a multi-state nursing and assisted living company in connection with its re-structuring of secured obligations.
Counsel to a Chapter 11 trustee, a non-bank trustee, of an Austin-based e-commerce company and multi-state mortgage originator.
Representation of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy estate in sale and licensing of intellectual property assets.
Creditors’ Committee counsel in the Austin bankruptcy case of the parent company of multi-national restaurant chains.
Creditors’ Committee counsel in the Corpus Christi bankruptcy case of an international distributor.
Creditors’ Committee counsel in the Fort Worth bankruptcy cases of an international generator and marketer of electricity.
Liquidating Trustee and Creditors’ Committee counsel in AgriBioTech, Inc., a Las Vegas bankruptcy case of an international developer and distributor of turf and forage seeds.
Debtor’s counsel for Avado Brands, Inc. in the Dallas case of two multi-state restaurant chains.
Debtor’s counsel for a multi-state pharmacy franchisee in a pre-packaged bankruptcy.
Representation of a publicly traded regional retailer in all real estate matters, including permanent financing of an office/distribution center, negotiation of new lease agreements and developing and implementing exit strategies for stores in abandoned markets.
Dee Howard Aircraft
Our client, a Singapore-based aviation maintenance company, acquired leasehold interests and assets out of a bankruptcy estate. We assisted our clients in the initial bid proposal, negotiation through auction and closing of this transaction. We also guided our client through the complex regulatory and national-security related requirements.
Acquisition of Assets from Financially Distressed National Retailer of Computer Equipment and Software
We assisted our client, an international telecommunications/media company, in its acquisition of certain assets from a financially distressed national retailer of computer equipment and software used in its computer services division. We worked closely with company counsel to evaluate insolvency risk and structure the transaction to reduce the risk to our client.
Lead counsel for the Buyers in the acquisition of the various assets, including a commuter aircraft manufacturer and airline maintenance, repair and overhaul facility.
In re Physicians Specialty Hospital of El Paso East, LP, Case No. 07-30633, Chapter 11 bankruptcy case pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division
Our client was the purchaser of a hospital in El Paso.
Professional fee examiner in El Paso Refinery.
Plan Mediator for Cordillera, a golf resort and development in Colorado.
Seminars & Speeches
- “Business: The Future of Chapter 11,” panelist Deborah D. Williamson, 11th Anniversary, Texas Bench/Bar Bankruptcy ConferenceMay 29, 2015
- May 27, 2015
- “How to Manage a Large Legal Practice Panel,” speaker Deborah D. Williamson, Moms-In-Law San AntonioMay 20, 2015
- “Ethics: Chapter 11 Commission Recommendations on Professional Fees and Expenses,” speaker Deborah D. Williamson, American Bankruptcy Institute 33rd Annual Spring MeetingApril 16, 2015
- “Energy Cases,” speaker Deborah D. Williamson, American Bankruptcy Institute Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy ConferenceJanuary 22, 2015
- “Recent Developments in Bankruptcy 2014,” speaker Deborah D. Williamson, University of Texas at Austin – 33rd Annual Jay L. Westbrook Bankruptcy ConferenceNovember 20, 2014
- “How the Women of Cox Smith Broke the Sound Barrier,” speakers Deborah D. Williamson and Donna K. McElroy, Bexar County Women's Bar Foundation – Annual RetreatJune 13, 2014
- “How to Communicate with Clients,” speaker Deborah D. Williamson, Starting Out Right, State Bar of Texas – Bankruptcy Law SectionMay 2, 2014
- ABI Spring Meeting "18th Annual Great Debates-Past Presidents' Debate," speaker Deborah D. Williamson, Washington, DCApril 25, 2014
- November 21, 2013
- “Hot Topics-Escape from Bankruptcy Court, New Defenses and Developments for the non-Bankruptcy Litigator” at ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference in Washington, DC (DDW panelist or possible moderator)April 18, 2012
- “Hot Topic” for ABI Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy Conference in Denver, ColoradoJanuary 19, 2012
- ABA Winter Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, NevadaJanuary 12, 2012
- “Life After (Bankruptcy) Death” for 31st Annual Seminar of the Mississippi Bankruptcy Conference in Jackson, Mississippi (DDW will be seminar speaker)December 15, 2011
- “The Inaugural ‘Past Presidents Debate’” for the ABI 23rd Annual Winter Leadership Conference in La Quinta, CaliforniaDecember 1, 2011
- “Recent Developments” program panelist Deborah Williamson for 30th Annual Jay L. Westbrook Bankruptcy Conference in Austin, Texas (DDW panelist)November 17, 2011
- "Hot Issues Not Addressed by the Rules or the Code" for the Business Bankruptcy Section of ABA 2011 Business Bankruptcy Conference, held in conjunction with the 2011 National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges in Tampa, FloridaOctober 12, 2011
- Best Practices for ABA Fall Leadership Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (DDW was presenter)September 22, 2011
- "I'm Gonna Pump Ya' Full of Lead," speaker Deborah Williamson, TexasBar CLE 29th Annual Advanced Business Bankruptcy Course, Houston, TxSeptember 9, 2011
- "City Slickers, ABI Past Presidents Panel," panelist Deborah Williamson, ABI 16th Annual Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy ConferenceJanuary 27, 2011
- “How Bankruptcy Firms Stay Afloat During Ch. 11 Slump,” Deborah D. Williamson Interviewed by Law360March 12, 2015
- January 22, 2015http://www.law360.com/articles/611240/austin-legal-market-comes-of-age-as-tech-drives-growth
- November 22, 2014http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20141122/ISSUE01/311229995/the-bill-collector
- September 22, 2014http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/a0f9a13d#/a0f9a13d/1
- “Leading Law Firm into the Future,” Deborah Williamson interviewed by San Antonio Express NewsMay 28, 2014
- April 19, 2014https://soundcloud.com/#the-list-podcast/sat-apr-19-2014-wbirdy-properties-guest-deborah-williamson-man-dir-cox-smith-law-firm
- November 19, 2013http://texaslawyer.typepad.com/texas_lawyer_blog/2013/11/another-legal-leaders-adds-her-voice-to-the-future-of-the-legal-profession-discussion.html
- October 4, 2013San Antonio Business Journalhttp://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/print-edition/2013/10/04/longtime-bankruptcy-attorney-is.html
- Jump Into the Pool: What it Takes to Lead - By Deborah WilliamsonSeptember 23, 2013
- Women Take Top Roles at Two Texas Law FirmsSeptember 6, 2013
- August 15, 2013http://www.freep.com/article/20130815/NEWS01/308150029/Detroit-bankruptcy-Rosen-mediator
- Deborah Williamson Interviewed on “Judge Gerald Rosen viewed as ideal negotiator in Detroit bankruptcy,” by Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free PressAugust 15, 2013http://www.freep.com/article/20130815/NEWS01/308150029/Detroit-bankruptcy-Rosen-mediator
- August 21, 2012
- When Gushers Go Dry - A Guide to Oil and Gas Bankruptcy, by Deborah D. WilliamsonJanuary 1, 2012
- "Lessons from Energy Bankruptcies and Workouts" by Deborah Williamson, Texas LawyerNovember 28, 2011
- "Mover of the Week: ABI Honors Former President, Prolific Columnist with Awards," by Rachel Feintzeig, Dow Jones DBR Small CapJuly 29, 2011
- "A Test for Determining Whether a Claim is Derivative or Direct," by Deborah D. Williamson, ABA Section of Litigation, Bankruptcy and InsolvencyJuly 14, 2011http://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/bankruptcy/articles/summer2011-derivative-direct-claim-test.html
- Bankruptcy Litigation for the Commercial Litigator, by Deborah D. WilliamsonJanuary 1, 2007
Memberships & Involvement
- State Bar of Texas, Bankruptcy Law Section, Chair, 2006-2007
- American College of Bankruptcy, Fellow (1998) and Director, 2013-present
- American Bankruptcy Institute, President, 1997-1998
- US Mexico Bar Association, Board of Directors, 2008-2013
- American Board of Certification, Treasurer, 2007
- Texas Board of Certification, Bankruptcy Law Commission, Chair, 2003-2006
- American Bar Association Litigation Section, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Litigation Committee, Chair, 2010-2013
- Cox Smith Managing Director
- Cox Smith Management Advisory Committee
- San Antonio Public Library Foundation, former Director and Member of the Executive Committee
Awards & Recognition
- Martindale-Hubbell® AV® PreeminentTM Peer Review Rating, 1993-present
- Finalist in Bankruptcy for the "Go-To-Guide," Texas Lawyer, 2007 and 2012
- American Bankruptcy Institute, "Lifetime Achievement Award", 2011
- Named "San Antonio Bankruptcy & Creditor-Debtor Rights Lawyer of the Year," The Best Lawyers In America®, 2011
- Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America®, 1995-2015
- Selected for inclusion as a "Texas Super Lawyer," Law and Politics Magazine, 2003-2013
- Selected for inclusion in the "Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas," Law and Politics Magazine, 2003-2013
- Selected for inclusion in the "Top 50 Lawyers in Central and West Texas," Law and Politics Magazine, 2003-2013
- Selected for inclusion in the "Top 100 Lawyers in Texas," Law and Politics Magazine
- Selected for inclusion as a "Top Lawyer," Corporate Counsel® - January 2010 Annual Guide
- Named a Leading Bankruptcy/Restructuring Lawyer by Chambers USA, 2006-2015
- Chambers USA, America's Leading Business Lawyers, Insolvency/Corporate Recovery - Texas, 2003-2013
- "Texas Super Lawyer," Texas Monthly, 2014
- Euromoney Guide to Leading U.S. Insolvency Lawyers
- Scene in SA, "San Antonio's Best Lawyers," 2005-2013
- Strathmore's Who's Who
- Who's Who in America
- Who's Who in American Law
- Who’s Who Legal: Texas