Rebecca DeMarb

My day job is being an insolvency lawyer at DeMarb Brophy.

Half the time I’m serving as the receiver for an operating business—which means the business owner assigns the business to me and I run it until it’s sold.

The other half I’m representing a company that’s going through a restructuring.

It’s very hard to explain what I do: People hear the word “bankruptcy” and they shut down. There’s a very negative relationship with the word and people don’t understand that it’s an incredibly powerful tool.

Huge companies use bankruptcies strategically all the time. Many times our efforts focus on negotiating with creditors, doing forbearance agreements, selling portions of a business. Only about 10 percent of our companies actually file for bankruptcy; the rest get worked out in the reorganization process. It’s amazing how often the creditor, the bank, the landlord and the vendor will all fall in line with the threat of bankruptcy.

Few people go to law school with the thought they’ll work in bankruptcy. My first job out of law school was with Murphy Desmond. They had a well-known and powerful bankruptcy department. I knew almost nothing about bankruptcy, but they needed an associate to write for them. They liked my work and I liked them.

I really lucked into a great opportunity because that department was unique in that out of probably eight lawyers, two were women—and they were both partners. That was virtually unheard of then and would still be unusual now. Those two women were my first mentors; they really went above and beyond.

I stayed with bankruptcy because, as one of my former bosses said, it’s the last dilettante’s paradise. It touches on so many practice areas all the time, which is not very common anymore. Plus, I’m an adrenaline junky and there are times when this work is very adrenaline driven.

Working in bankruptcy is appealing because it’s always evolving. In the best cases, you’re dealing with a live business and everything you’re doing is impacting things now. In litigation, everything has already happened and you’re just trying to figure out whose fault something is and who’s going to pay. With bankruptcy, things are evolving in real time. I very much enjoy the business aspect—the operational elements, the liquidity, dealing with the people.

I had a case where a company went into receivership—it was a papermill up north. We had to shut down and sell the company, but the new buyer reopened the mill and a lot of the former employees got their jobs back. I fight hard to do the work that will save those jobs. I come from a blue-collar background—I know those people, they’re in my family. I fight hard for them.

My most memorable caffeine experiences would be hard to pick—I’ve been a caffeine addict since I was 12. One would be the chemical symbol for caffeine that’s part of our firm’s logo. My friend always teases me about the strength of my coffee, so I incorporated it in the logo and “caffeinated” has become a running theme.

The other would be those times, before COVID, when my husband and I would go out to dinner. If we had coffee at the end, that was my cue that we were going to stay out and make a full night of it!

My current caffeine of choice usuallydark roast with cream—I always hated it when the person in front of me at a coffee shop had a long, complicated drink order—but then I discovered miel with oatmilk.  It’s my favorite treat coffee.

My favorite place for caffeine pre-COVID was to get a miel at Ancora at take it with me shopping. I loved walking around Target with a coffee in my hand.

The people I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with are my sister, who died when I was 16, my husband, parents and my kids. I’d like us all to be together.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine:  getting the vaccine rolled out. I want my parents—and every parent—to get this vaccine as soon as possible.