Richard J. Cooper is one of the preeminent cross-border bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers in the United States and is the recognized leader in cross-border and sovereign restructurings involving companies and countries in Latin America and other emerging markets.

His practice focuses on domestic and international corporate, municipal, and sovereign restructurings, and he is known for his innovative work on behalf of governments, state-owned entities, creditors, institutional investors, creditor committees, and others in connection with in and out-of-court insolvency proceedings and complex financings (including rescue financings). He has advised clients involved in some of the most prominent and noteworthy restructurings in the U.S. and Latin America over the last 20 years.

Rich is regularly recognized as a leading lawyer by Chambers Global, Chambers Latin America, Chambers USA, Latinvex, Latin Lawyer, Financial Times, Global M&A Network, The Legal 500 Latin America, The Legal 500 U.S., IFLR1000, and others. Law360 named him a “Bankruptcy MVP,” and Turnarounds & Workouts named him an “Outstanding Restructuring Lawyer” three years in a row.

Rich joined Cleary in 1986 and became a partner in 1995.

Notable Experience


  • LATAM Airlines Group and its affiliates in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and the United States in the voluntary reorganization and restructuring of their debt under Chapter 11 protection in the United States.

  • The Mexican Government in connection with the Mexico City airport restructuring.

  • The Government of Puerto Rico in connection with the restructuring of over US$73 billion of debt and the enactment of PROMESA, the Puerto Rican oversight and bankruptcy act.

  • The DIP lender and largest creditor in the M&G Chemicals cross-border restructuring, involving restructurings in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and Brazil.

  • The Puerto Rico Public Private Partnership Authority in connection with Puerto Rico’s efforts to reorganize and transform its electric sector.

  • The steering committee of an ad hoc group of bondholders of the Oi Group in the successful completion of Oi S.A.’s judicial reorganization, the largest private sector emerging markets restructuring ever.

  • An ad hoc group of secured project finance lenders in connection with the restructuring of over $1.67 billion in total indebtedness of Constellation Oil Services Holding S.A. and its subsidiaries (Constellation Group).

  • The governments of Mexico, Colombia, and Indonesia in connection with the restructuring of various state-owned enterprises.

  • In Brazil, debtors and creditors in the largest and most complex cases over the last 10 years, including in the restructuring of Oi S.A., Odebrecht Oil and Gas, Tonon Bioenergia, GVO, Mirabela Nickel, Embratel, IMPSA, OSX-3, and Odebrecht Engineering and Construction.

  • In Mexico, the restructurings of Empresas ICA, Corporación GEO, Grupo R, CEMEX, Oceanografía, and Oro Negro.

  • In Chile, Alsacia and Express and Automotores Gildemeister.

  • Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority in connection with the restructuring of over US$9.5 billion of municipal bond and bank indebtedness for prior Government of Puerto Rico.

  • In the U.S., the restructurings of Aleris, America West Airlines, Circle K, Color Tile, Continental Airlines, Foxwoods Casino, Fruit of the Loom, Insight Healthcare, Lehman Brothers, Milagro Holdings, M&G Chemicals, Pan American Airways, Revco, and Van Camp Seafood, among others.

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  • Member, American Bar Association
  • Member, Association of the Bar of the City of New York


Chapter 11: An Increasingly Popular Tool for Foreign Companies Seeking to Restructure or Liquidate,” (co-author with John Veraja), Financier Worldwide, September 20, 2021

Sovereign Debt: A Critical Challenge,” (co-author with William R. Rhodes, John Lipsky, Terrence J. Checki, William C. Dudley, Gail Kelly, Joaquim Levy, Maria Ramos, Susan Segal, José Viñals, and Mark Walker), The Bretton Woods Committee, April 5, 2021

Addressing Treatment of Equity Under Foreign Law and the Code,” (co-author with Thomas Kessler and Kyle J. Ortiz) ABI Journal, April 1, 2021

Challenges Facing the Automotive Sector,” Financier Worldwide Magazine, March 1, 2021

Transocean’s Internal Restructuring Does Not Violate Indenture for Existing Notes, Court Rules,” (co-author with Jane VanLare and John Veraja) Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law, February/March 2021

SDNY Rules Transocean’s August 2020 Internal Restructuring Does Not Violate Indenture for Existing Notes,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero, Lisa Schweitzer, Duane McLaughlin, Sean O’Neal, Luke Barefoot, Adam Brenneman, Jane VanLare, and John Veraja) Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memorandum, December 23, 2020, republished by Law360, January 25, 2021

Americas Restructuring Review 2021, (co-author with Lisa Schweitzer, Kara Hailey, and John Veraja), Global Restructuring Review, December 2020

LATAM Market Development: Covid-19 and Its Implications on Private Sector Credits,” (co-author with Adam Brenneman and Francisco Cestero) Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memorandum, March 31, 2020

“Introduction,” (co-author with Lisa Schweitzer), in GRR’s Americas Restructuring Review 2020, December 2019

Implications of U.S. Court of Appeals Decision Affirming that Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. Is the Alter Ego of the Republic of Venezuela,” September 9, 2019; republished by the AIRA Journal, February 2020

Venezuela’s Restructuring: A Path Forward,” (co-author with Mark Walker), Social Science Research Network, March 28, 2019

Odebrecht Oil & Gas and the Use of Brazilian Extrajudicial Reorganization in Cross-Border Restructurings,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero and Jonathan Mendes de Oliveira), Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law, October 2018

No Registration? No Problem: Application of Bankruptcy Code’s Securities Registration Exemption in Chapter 15 Proceedings,” (co-authored with Luke Barefoot and Daniel Soltman), American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, October 1, 2018

Eleventh Circuit Holds That Equitable Mootness Is Alive in Chapter 9,” (co-authored with Sean O’Neal, Luke Barefoot and Dan Soltman), Cleary Gottlieb Alert Memo, August 21, 2018, republished by Law360, September 5, 2018.

Hitting the Brakes: How a Potential PDV Holding Bankruptcy Might Affect Venezuela and PDVSA Creditors,” (co-authored with Luke Barefoot and Thomas Kessler), Social Science Research Network, August 18, 2018

The State Of Creditor Recovery Efforts In Venezuela: Part 2,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Law360, June 5, 2018

The State Of Creditor Recovery Efforts In Venezuela: Part 1,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Law360, June 4, 2018

Start Your Engines: Are We Going to See More Creditor Recovery Efforts in Venezuela?” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, May 29, 2018 

The Many Challenges Facing Venezuela Bribery Suit: Part 2,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Law360, April 16, 2018

Update on PDVSA U.S. Litigation Trust V. Lukoil Pan Americas, et al.,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, April 10, 2018

PDVSA U.S. Litigation Trust: What Creditors Should Know About the Trust, Its Claims and Its Implications for Venezuela’s Restructuring,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, March 15, 2018

“Third Circuit Dismisses Crystallex’s Fraudulent Transfer Claim but Potential Liability Remains for PDVSA,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, January 5, 2018

Insolvency Reform In Brazil: An Opportunity Too Important To Squander,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero and Dan Soltman), Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law (January 2018)

Why Venezuela’s Bondholders Must Litigate, Not Arbitrate,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network and republished by Law360, December 15, 2017

Venezuela’s Imminent Restructuring and The Role Alter Ego Claims May Play in this Chavismo Saga,” (co-author with Boaz S. Morag), Social Science Research Network, November 9, 2017 

Venezuela’s Restructuring: A Realistic Framework,” (co-author with Mark A. Walker), September 19, 2017

Turning Bust to Boom: P3 Initiatives Under PROMESA,” (co-author with Luke Barefoot, Adam Brenneman and Antonio Pietrantoni), Law360, July 19, 2017

Disarming Puerto Rico’s Pension Time Bomb,” (co-author with Luke Barefoot, Daniel Soltman and Antonio Pietrantoni), Law360, April 19, 2017

What Should Puerto Rico Offer Its Creditors?” (co-author with Luke Barefoot and Jessica McBride), Law360, March 15, 2017

Issues To Expect In A Title III Puerto Rico Restructuring,” (co-author with Luke Barefoot, Jessica McBride and Antonio Pietrantoni), Law360, March 8, 2017

Why Puerto Rico Will Likely Rely On PROMESA Title III,” (co-author with Luke Barefoot, Jessica McBride and Antonio Pietrantoni), Law360, March 1, 2017

The Brazilian Insolvency Regime: Some Modest Suggestions—Part 2,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero, Jesse Mosier and Dan Soltman), Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law (April/May 2016)

The Brazilian Insolvency Regime: Some Modest Suggestions—Part 1,” (co-author with Francisco Cestero, Jesse Mosier and Dan Soltman), Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law (February/March 2016)

A New World for LatAm Creditors: Insolvency Reform in Latin America,” Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law (June 2015)

“Is Peru’s Insolvency System Ready for Foreign Creditors?” IFLR, January 6, 2015

Proceeding with Caution,” IFLR, July/August 2014

Six Restructuring Questions for LatAm Investors,” IFLR, May 2013

Inside Track: Cleary's Richard Cooper on Vitro,” Latin Lawyer, April 17, 2013

Experts Looking at U.S.-Mexico Cross Border Insolvency Issues,” ABI, October 23, 2012

Expedited Restructurings in the U.S. and Select Latin American and Caribbean Jurisdictions," Pratt’s Journal of Bankruptcy Law, vol. 7, no. 8, November/December 2011

“Holdouts in Syndicated Loan Rescheduling," in Global Financial Crisis: Navigating and Understanding the Legal and Regulatory Aspects (Globe Law and Business, 2009)

“Brazil’s New Recuperação Judicial Proceedings—New Hope for Brazilian Companies in Search of Relief Under the Section 3(A)(10) Registration Exemption?” in International Business Transactions with Brazil (Juris Publishing, 2008)

“The Durango Restructuring: A New Beginning in Mexican Restructurings?" Latin America Law & Business Report, October 31, 2005

Striking the Balance: Allocating Risk in a Long-Term Operation and Management Contract," American Water Works Annual Conference, June 19, 2003

“Asia Pulp and Paper: Lessons Learned," INSOL World, First Quarter 2003

“Cash Chameleon," ProjectFinance, December 2001

Latin American Water: Opportunities and Challenges for Private Investment," Latin American Law & Business Report, August 31, 2000

The New Wave: Private Sector Participation in International Water Projects," Project Finance International, February 2000

“How to Approach the Restructuring of Problem Project Financings with Multi-Sourced Lending Arrangements," Project Finance International, May 19, 1999

Outsourcing Projects: Lessons From Venezuela," Project Finance Yearbook 2000, March 1999

“Construction in Latin America," Special Supplement, April 1996