Weil Says Farewell to King of Bankruptcy Harvey Miller

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 12:21

Former Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner Harvey R. Miller died April 27 after a courageous battle with ALS. He was 82 years old.

Mr. Miller joined Weil in 1969 as the firm’s 14th partner. He was a leading force in the evolution of Weil into one of the world’s preeminent law firms and is responsible for making the bankruptcy, restructuring and reorganization practice an integral practice group of most major law firms.

“Harvey was the premier bankruptcy law practitioner,” said Weil executive partner Barry Wolf in a statement issued by the firm.  “He was a trailblazer and set the standard for how to approach, develop and expand the practice. He leaves an unparalleled and indelible impact on the field of bankruptcy law and on Weil, and we will miss him greatly.”

Mr. Miller created Weil’s bankruptcy practice and developed it into a restructuring powerhouse. He played a pivotal role in nearly every landmark bankruptcy case, including Lehman Brothers, General Motors, American Airlines, Texaco, WorldCom, Enron, Eastern Airlines, Continental Airlines and R. H. Macy. His impact on the reorganization practice and restoring distressed companies to economic health and preserving employment is unequaled.

During his first 20 years at Weil, Mr. Miller, along with three other partners, managed the firm until it elected its first executive partner in 1989.

“His leadership and vision had a significant impact on Weil’s transformation from a small, two-office law firm to one of the world’s major full-service corporate law firms,” Mr. Wolf continued. “We will remember Harvey with the utmost respect and thank him for the vast contributions he made to Weil’s success over the years.”

Lauded with countless awards over the course of his career, Mr. Miller was named one of the Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the Last 50 Years by The American Lawyer in 2013. In that special report, he was highlighted as one of 10 lawyers who created practice specialties and was recognized for transplanting bankruptcy from boutiques to the large-firm environment.

Described by colleagues as a gifted tutor and teacher, Mr. Miller spent a number of years teaching at several institutions, including Columbia Law School, Yale Law School, and New York University School of Law. In addition, he was a member of the National Bankruptcy Conference, a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a Trustee of the Committee on Economic Development. Mr. Miller loved the opera, and he was a long-time advisory director of The Metropolitan Opera.

Mr. Miller was born in Brooklyn in 1933. He earned his bachelor of arts degree at Brooklyn College in 1954 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959. He worked at two small law firms in New York before joining Weil in 1969. From September 2002 to March 2007, he was a managing director and vice chairman of the independent investment bank Greenhill & Co.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Ruth Miller.