FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
Jill L. Nicholson

Jill L. Nicholson

Foley & Lardner LLP

Chicago, IL, USA

Jill Nicholson is a partner and trial lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP and chair of the firm's national Bankruptcy & Business Reorganizations Practice. She concentrates her practice in commercial bankruptcy and insolvency matters, creditors’ rights, out-of-court workouts and restructurings, and complex multidistrict financial services litigation. She is also a member of the firm’s Real Estate Practice.

Ms. Nicholson has represented a broad array of clients in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, including secured lenders, special servicers, creditors’ committees, SIPA trustees, bondholder committees, foreign representatives, unsecured creditors, Chapter 11 debtors, indenture trustees, commercial landlords, governmental agencies, and federally chartered entities. Ms. Nicholson has also served as a court-appointed receiver for the Securities & Exchange Commission. Her experience encompasses all facets of bankruptcy and insolvency, including Chapter 11 plan restructuring and related litigation, 363 sales, valuation disputes, single asset real estate, debtor-in-possession financing, tax credit bond finance deals, adversary actions, bankruptcy appeals, assignments for the benefit of creditors, broker-dealer liquidations, and receiverships.

Ms. Nicholson counsels a number of Fortune 500 companies regarding best practices with respect to bankruptcy and insolvency issues, including distressed real estate, commercial lending, special servicing, and automotive restructuring.


In 2015, Ms. Nicholson was recognized by Super Lawyers® as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Illinois and also one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Illinois. In 2014 and 2013, Global M&A Network selected Ms. Nicholson as one of the top 100 restructuring professionals in the world, which recognizes the 100 most influential and innovative consultants, investment bankers, lawyers, and providers from the restructuring, distressed M&A and insolvency communities. In 2014, Ms. Nicholson was featured by Law360 as a Female Powerbroker in the legal industry. In 2013, Ms. Nicholson was named by Turnarounds & Workouts magazine as one of twelve Outstanding Young Restructuring Lawyers under the age of 40 in the United States. Ms. Nicholson was selected for inclusion in the 2015 and 2014 Illinois Super Lawyers® list and has been named to the list of Illinois Super Lawyers–Rising Stars® (2008 – 2013) for her work in the field of bankruptcy. She was selected as a Leading Lawyer, Finance – Corporate Restructuring, by Legal 500 US (2015, 2014, 2013 and 2010) and is Peer Review Rated as AV® Preeminent™, a mark of excellence in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system. Ms. Nicholson is board certified as a business bankruptcy specialist by the American Board of Certification. She is a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, an invitation-only trial lawyer honorary society composed of less than one half of one percent of American lawyers.*


Ms. Nicholson received her juris doctor degree, with honors, from the University of Illinois College of Law, where she served as an editor of the University of Illinois Elder Law Journal. While in law school, she received the American Bankruptcy Institute's Medal for excellence in bankruptcy and the American Bankruptcy Law Journal Prize and was named the Rickert Scholar for excellence in trial advocacy, legal writing, and legal publications. Ms. Nicholson received her undergraduate degree, with honors, from the University of Chicago, where she was selected as a Norman Maclean scholar. She also served as president of the University of Chicago Debate Team.


Ms. Nicholson serves as an adjunct professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis where she teaches a course on advanced commercial bankruptcy and corporate restructuring (2007-2015). She is a past vice director of North American Programs for the International Women's Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC), is a past chair of the board of directors of the Chicago Network of IWIRC, and is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the National Association of Federal Equity Receivers, the Turnaround Management Association, the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Executives' Club of Chicago, and the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago. Ms. Nicholson serves on the University of Chicago Women’s Board’s Grants Selection Committee as well as the Board’s Urban Education Institute Committee, which is dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities in urban settings.


Ms. Nicholson is admitted to practice in Illinois and New York and before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Courts of Appeals and is a member of the Trial Bar of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Representative Engagements

  • Appointed as Receiver for the Securities & Exchange Commission in SEC v. Illinois Stock Transfer Company 
  • Lead national counsel to Fannie Mae in over fifty class action cases in 23 states and the District of Columbia involving real estate transfer taxes
  • Lead national counsel to government-sponsored enterprise in multidistrict litigation involving Mortgage Electronic Registrations Systems
  • Lead national outside bankruptcy counsel to Fortune 150 manufacturing company
  • Lead counsel to member of Unsecured Creditors Committee - In re Chrysler LLC
  • Lead counsel to member of Unsecured Creditors Committee - In re Federal Mogul Corp.
  • Lead counsel to member of Unsecured Creditors Committee - In re Monaco Coach Corp.
  • Lead counsel to member of Unsecured Creditors Committee - In re Motor Coach Industries, Inc.
  • Lead counsel to member of Unsecured Creditors Committee - In re Sentinel Management Group Inc.
  • Lead national counsel to government-sponsored enterprise in commercial and residential mortgage-backed securitization litigation
  • Lead counsel to largest commercial special servicer in over $2 billion of defaulted and distressed loans
  • Lead counsel to secured lender in connection with $700 million senior living portfolio
  • Lead counsel to secured lender in connection with $300 million multi-jurisdictional commercial loan portfolio
  • Lead counsel to Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and SIPA Trustee in In re John Dawson & Associates Inc.

Recent Decisions

  • Boyd County v. Merscorp, Inc., --- F.3d --- (6th Cir. 2015)
  • City of Spokane v. Fannie Mae, et al., --- F.3d --- (9th Cir. Dec. 2014)
  • Town of Johnston v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 765 F.3d 80 (1st Cir. 2014)
  • In re Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) Litigation, 754 F. 3d 772 (9th Cir. 2014)
  • Delaware County v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 747 F.3d 215 (3d Cir. 2014)
  • Hennepin County v. Fannie Mae, 742 F.3d 818 (8th Cir. 2014)
  • Montgomery County v. Fannie Mae, 740 F.3d 914 (4th Cir. 2014)
  • County of Oakland v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 716 F.3d 935 (6th Cir. 2013)
  • Dekalb County v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 741 F.3d 795 (7th Cir. 2013)
  • Figueroa v. Merscorp, Inc., 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 9574 (11th Cir. 2012)
  • Cervantes v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 656 F. 3d 1034 (9th Cir. 2011)
  • Griffith v. Fannie Mae, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77863 (S.D. W. Va. 2014)
  • City of Bridgeport v. Fannie Mae, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55509 (D. Conn. 2014) County of Erie v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25492 (W.D.N.Y. 2014)
  • Spoonamore v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6210 (E.D. Ky. 2014)
  • Bd. of County Comm'rs v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 956 F. Supp. 2d 184 (D.D.C. 2013)
  • City of Providence v. Fannie Mae, 955 F. Supp. 2d 83 (D.R.I. 2013)
  • McNulty v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 954 F. Supp. 2d 294 (M.D. Pa. 2013)
  • Athens-Clarke County Unified Gov't v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 945 F. Supp. 2d 1401(M.D. Ga. 2013)
  • Nicolai v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 928 F. Supp. 2d 1331(M.D. Fla. 2013)
  • In re NNN Cypresswood Drive 25, LLC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177717 (N.D. Ill. 2013)
  • Bd. of Comm'rs v. Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152241 (S.D. Ohio 2013)
  • Comm'rs of Bristol County v. Fannie Mae, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113411 (D. Mass. 2013)
  • Randolph County v. Fannie Mae, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106927 (M.D. Ala. 2013)
  • City of Spokane v. Fannie Mae, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92342 (E.D. Wash. 2013)
  • Montgomery County v. Fannie Mae, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61822 (D. Md. 2013)
  • Collins v. Wickersham, 862 F. Supp. 2d 649 (E.D. Mich. 2012)
  • Dalton v. Citimortgage, Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. Lexis 6108 (D. Nev. 2011)
  • In re Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) Litigation, 744 F. Supp. 2d 1018 (D. Ariz. 2010)


  • Member of Law360 Bankruptcy Editorial Advisory Board (2014, 2015)
  • Bloomberg Bankruptcy Treatise, Chapters 544 and 545 of the Bankruptcy Code (contributing author)
  • "Lender and Originator Bankruptcy," Mortgage and Asset Backed Securities Litigation Handbook, Thomson West Publications 2014 (contributing author)
  • “Inside the Minds: Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and Restructuring Strategies – Guiding Clients Through the Chapter 11 Process,” Aspatore (2012) (contributing author)
  • “Knowing When to Pull the Plug Prior to Plan Confirmation,” American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, November 2012 (author)
  • "Involuntary Bankruptcy," Chapter 8 in Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s 2011 edition of Business Bankruptcy Practice (contributing author)
  • "Weighing Chapter 11 For Nonprofits In The 5th Circuit," Bankruptcy Law360, March 2, 2011 (author)
  • "Key Considerations for Commercial Landlords When Faced With a Tenant's Bankruptcy," The Real Estate Finance Journal, Fall 2007 (author)
  • "The Importance of Full Disclosure in Seeking Success Fees under § 328(a): How Engaging is Your Engagement Letter?" American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, April 2007 (co-author)
  • "Seventh Circuit Addresses Chapter 7 Trustee's Ability to Serve as Class Action Representative," American Bankruptcy Institute's Cracking the Code, August 22, 2003 (author)
  • "Fraudulent Transfers Under the Bankruptcy Code," the Illinois State Bar Association’s The Challenge, August 2002 (author)
  • "Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Holds Burden of Proof Remains with Taxpayers," American Bankruptcy Institute's Cracking the Code, August 2, 1999 (author)
  • "Promises Made, Promises Broken: Securing Defined Benefit Pension Plan Income in the Wake of Employer Bankruptcy. Should We Rethink Priority Status for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation?" 6 University of Illinois Elder Law Journal 77 (author)

Speaking Engagements

  • "Big Data Analytics," Panelist, Illinois CPA Fraud & Forensic Symposium (Chicago, IL) (2014)
  • "Solvency, Restructuring and Bankruptcy," Panelist, Pocket MBA: Finance for Lawyers, Practicing Law Institute (Chicago, IL) (2013)
  • "Collection Techniques for Landlords," Lorman Education Services (2012)
  • "The Care and Feeding of Corporate Employees as Witnesses," Panelist, Association of Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting (Denver, CO) (2011)
  • "The Nuts and Bolts of Single Asset Real Estate," IWIRC Chicago Network (2011) 
  • "Commercial Tenant Bankruptcies: Understanding Rights, Remedies, and Strategies," Lorman Education Services (2010)
  • "The ABC's of the FDIC, SIPC & SEC: All You Wanted to Know About Non-Traditional Insolvency Proceedings," Moderator, IWIRC International Fall Conference (Las Vegas, NV) (2009) 
  • "Branding the Cattle: Executory Contracts – How to Keep the Ones You Want," American Bankruptcy Institute Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy Conference (Denver, CO) (2009) 
  • "Strategies for Surviving the Depressed Home Construction Market," Lorman Education Services (2008) 
  • "The Fallout from the Subprime Lending Crisis," Suffolk University College of Law (Boston, MA) (2008) 
  • "Case Studies in Financial Market Insolvency," Eleventh Annual Conference on Corporate Reorganizations (Chicago, IL) (2008) 
  • "The Subprime Lending Crisis, Impending Recession, and the New Rules for Environmental Properties in Bankruptcy," American Bar Association's Environment, Energy, and Resources Law Summit (Phoenix, AZ) (2008)

* The Illinois Supreme Court does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and no certificate, award or recognition is a requirement to practice law in Illinois.


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