Hamline University School of Law, J.D., 1985, With Honors
 - Top Five Percent
 - Silver Gavel Honor Society

University of New Hampshire, M.A., 1982, Cum Laude

College of St. Thomas, B.A., Cum Laude

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court District of Minnesota
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit
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John McDonald is a member of the firm’s Finance & Restructuring Section and chairs its Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring Practice Group. He practices principally in the areas of (i) bankruptcy, workouts and creditors rights, (ii) distressed transactions, and (iii) financial litigation.

John has represented virtually all types of clients in large Chapter 11 bankruptcies, cross-border proceedings, receiverships, and insolvency-related litigation across the country, including secured and unsecured creditors, real estate and equipment lessors, financial contract counterparties, insurers, official and unofficial committees, railroads, trustees, business debtors, boards of directors, post-confirmation entities, and numerous other interested parties. He has also represented both plaintiffs and defendants in complex litigation involving a range of commercial matters—including class action defense work for national leasing companies and multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme clawback litigation—in both federal and state courts throughout the U.S., and before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

In the community, John has been member of the advisory board to the Business Law Institute of Hamline University School of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law), and a board member of the Saint Paul Sales Tax Revitalization Board (appointed by Mayor Coleman). He also chaired a $6 million capital campaign for his local parish and has served as a Crisis Nursery foster parent for Children’s Home Society of Minnesota.

John is published in various publications, including the Hamline Law Review and the National Law Journal, is a frequent lecturer on bankruptcy, creditors’ rights and commercial topics, and is often quoted locally on bankruptcy and turnaround topics. He joined Briggs in 2006 after 17 years with Robins Kaplan, a national "A-List" law firm.

Honors & Awards

  • The Best Lawyers in America©
  • America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®
  • Minnesota's Best Lawyers©, Minnesota Monthly
  • Leading American Attorney, American Research Corporation


Bankruptcy, Workout and Creditors’ Rights
Representative current and recent engagements include:

  • Asset-based lender in multiple workouts and bankruptcies across the U.S.;
  • National bank and affiliates as creditors in receivership involving $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme and in related Chapter 11 bankruptcies in Minnesota;
  • Administrative expense claimant in Chapter 11 case in Delaware involving large ethanol/bio-fuel conglomerate;
  • Second-lien lender with $25 million claim in automotive-related Chapter 11 in Delaware;
  • Agent bank in $100 million syndicated loan workout involving large national lumber company;
  • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in Chapter 11 bankruptcy of map manufacturer/distributer in Michigan;
  • Regional bank in $110 million workout involving real estate developer with residential projects throughout U.S.;
  • Chapter 11 debtor in Minnesota-based reorganization of first air carrier to file bankruptcy post-9/11, resulting in sale of airline;
  • DIP lender/lessor in Tampa-based Chapter 11 bankruptcy of a marketer/vendor of electronic advertising display equipment, and as defendant in related multi-district litigation involving hundreds of individual, class and mass actions;
  • Business interruption insurers holding $500 million claim in contested confirmation on behalf of Chapter 11 case of a major interstate pipeline company venued in Seattle;
  • Outside directors of large utility company in out-of-court workout involving over $10 billion of debt, with ongoing representation in Chapter 11 cases of energy trading subsidiary and its 25 affiliates in Southern District of New York; and
  • Sole shareholder/co-plan proponent in Chapter 11 of national home health care conglomerate and its nearly 60 affiliates venued in Minnesota.

Distressed Transactions

  • Founder/sole shareholder in distressed sale of national IT consulting firm;
  • Leading electronics and appliance retailer in bankruptcy acquisitions throughout U.S.;
  • Mixed-use and residential developer in Bankruptcy acquisition of hospital in Washington, D.C.;
  • Physician-owned seller in sale of largest private practice clinic in South Dakota;
  • Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in GOB sale involving large retail clothing chain;
  • Leading regional hotel franchisee in sales of numerous hotels;
  • Scheduled-service airline in unprecedented going-concern Article 9 sale of airline;
  • Large multi-national bank in recapitalization of national scheduled-service bus company; and
  • Multi-bank lender group in sale of manufacturer/retailer of optical equipment.

Financial Litigation
His representative work includes current or recent representation of:

  • Asset-based lenders in various collection matters in state and federal courts across the country;
  • National bank in litigation against large student loan finance company;
  • National equipment lessor as co-lead counsel in multi-district litigation involving hundreds of individual, class and mass actions containing breach of contract and deceptive trade practice claims;
  • Private lender in fraudulent transfer/debt recharacterization litigation stemming from UCC Article 9 disposition;
  • Leading agricultural conglomerate in business-to-business non-compete case against competitor; and
  • Fortune 500 company and one of its leasing subsidiaries in class actions throughout the country.

Professional Affiliations

Minnesota State Bar Association, Member, Bankruptcy Section

Hennepin County Bar Association, Member

Ramsey County Bar Association, Member

American Bar Association, Member

Turnaround Management Association - Upper Midwest Chapter, Founding Board Member

American Bankruptcy Institute, Member