Reinforcements are being sent in to assist Chicago's bankruptcy judges.
Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced Friday that three new judges have been appointed to serve on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bruce Black said the judges would be the first new members of the court in nine years.
One appointee, Donald R. Cassling, took the bench last week.
Janet S. Baer of Baer, Higgins, Fruchtman LLC will join the court on March 5 and Timothy A. Barnes of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP in New York will join it on May 16.
Cassling said he was pleased to have the opportunity to serve the public.
"I'm excited to join the wonderful group of judges here and to be on the other side of the bench," Cassling said today.
Immediately before taking the bench, Cassling worked as a partner at Quarles & Brady LLP who handled bankruptcy and commercial litigation.
Cassling, 61, earned an undergraduate degree at Duke University and a law degree at the University of Chicago Law School.
After finishing law school, Cassling served as a law clerk to the late Chief Judge John R. Brown of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Cassling previously was a partner at Jenner & Block LLP.
Cassling fills the vacancy created when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jack B. Schmetterer took the status of a recalled judge, the equivalent of a senior judge.
Schmetterer continues to carry a full caseload.
Baer said serving on the bankruptcy bench has been a longtime goal.
She handled bankruptcy and restructuring because that area of the law is challenging, Baer said.
"I've been a bankruptcy lawyer since Day 1," she said. "I've always found it incredibly interesting because there's always something new."
Baer, 54, earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin and a law degree at DePaul University College of Law. Baer received the DePaul College of Law Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
After earning her law degree, Baer served as a law clerk to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert L. Eisen, who has since retired from the bench.
Baer worked as a partner in a number of law firms before forming her own. She is a member of The Chicago Bar Association's Bankruptcy and Reorganization Committee.
She also is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the Turnaround Management Association and the International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation.
Baer was selected to fill the vacancy created when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John H. Squires retired.
Barnes said he looks forward to returning to Chicago. "This is a wonderful opportunity to do what I love in a way I love in a place that I love," he said.
Barnes, 44, earned an undergraduate degree at Miami University and master's and law degrees with honors at Ohio State University.
He served as a law clerk to Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge William A. Clark of the Southern District of Ohio and to Judge Joseph Clark of the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas.
Barnes worked for various law firms in Ohio, Illinois and New York, specializing in bankruptcy and debt restructuring.
He also taught bankruptcy law at DePaul and the University of Dayton School of Law.
He is a member of bar groups that include the International Association of Restructuring, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Professionals and Law Society of England and Wales.
Barnes is admitted to practice in Illinois, Ohio, New York, England and Wales.
He will fill the vacancy on the bench that will be created when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan Pierson Sonderby retires.
The 7th Circuit judges seek applicants to fill a vacancy on the bench in Rockford that will be created when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Manuel Barbosa retires at the end of the year.
Bankruptcy judges serve 14-year terms and currently earn $160,080 a year.