Ethan J. Birnberg

Tel 303.454.0534
Fax 303.573.1956

Ethan Birnberg represents corporate, institutional, and individual clients across several industries, from financial institutions and publicly traded and middle market energy companies to RV park owners and luxury cruise tour operators. His practice spans from transactional work with asset sales, acquisitions, and corporate governance, to complex commercial litigation and multi-day arbitrations or trials. Ethan's diverse experience includes defending financial services companies facing individual and class action consumer finance-focused litigation claims under federal and state consumer protection statutes, frequently negotiating, analyzing, and drafting complex agreements, leases, and contracts, and representing debtors, trustees, creditors, and receivers, including court-appointed receivers in Ponzi scheme cases. His insolvency expertise includes corporate restructuring under chapter 11, out-of-court workouts, advising management and officers regarding fiduciary duties, and all types of adversary proceedings.

Ethan enjoys assisting his community and has a passion for helping others. In 2018, he received the Donald E. Cordova Distinguished Service Award from the Faculty of Federal Advocates and Colorado's Chief Bankruptcy Judge Michael E. Romero for his pro bono efforts defending non-dischargeability bankruptcy cases for indigent debtors. Ethan currently leads one of Ballard Spahr's immigration pro bono projects, and works at his local detention center to prepare asylum seekers for credible and reasonable fear interviews with USCIS asylum officers.

Ethan's clients benefit from his experience and knowledge of emerging business trends and their day-to-day operational and financial issues. Recognized as a leader of the next generation of legal professionals, he is an elected board member for local and national organizations, holds executive positions for several committees, and frequently speaks at conferences and publishes articles. Ethan also is a frequent contributor to Ballard Spahr's blog, Consumer Finance Monitor.

Representative Matters

Recent Asset Sales and Acquisitions

  • Representation of private client in purchase of business operations and assets, including employment of key employees, from chapter 11 bankruptcy estate filed in District of Kansas
  • Representation of private client regarding $696 million acquisition of the nation's largest concrete pumping company

Chapter 11 Proceedings

  • In re D.J. Simmons, Inc. Representation of three debtors that engage in acquisition, exploration, and development of oil and gas properties, primarily focused on extracting proved hydrocarbon reserves from wells located in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Texas
  • Representation of creditor interests in oil, gas, and energy restructurings, including executory contract assumption and rejection, 546(b) lien notices, perfection issues, objections, and claims in Triangle USA Petroleum Corp. (Bankr. D. Del), Emerald Oil (Bankr. D. Del), Breitburn Energy Partners, LP (Bankr. D. Del), and American Standard Energy Corp. (Bankr. W.D. Tex.)
  • In re Luca Technologies Inc. Representation of biotechnology/energy company focused on extracting natural gas from coal seams, which resulted in court-approved structural dismissal after payment of almost all chapter 11 creditor claims
  • In re Valley Mortgage, Inc. Ponzi scheme involving several Valley Mortgage entities in Grand Junction, Colorado. Representation for court-appointed receiver in state court and Chapter 11 debtor-in-possession
  • In re Loveland Essential Group, LLC. Representation of Loveland, Colorado recreational vehicle park owner in single asset real estate case
  • In re EagleSpan Steel Structures. Representation of manufacturer of pre-engineered steel buildings and bridge structures in small business case
  • In re Storm Cat Energy, et al. Representation of oil and gas company/subsidiaries
  • In re Foresight Applications Systems & Technologies. Representation of debtor-in-possession and court-appointed receiver in bankruptcy of software developer and computer system designs

Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 Trustee

  • Representation of several chapter 7 panel trustees in Colorado and Wyoming cases regarding asset investigations and collections, objections to claimed exemptions, preference and fraudulent transfer avoidance litigation, retirement plans and ERISA issues, asset sales including real and personal property and partial interest in closely-held companies or LLCs, objections to claims, and all other aspects of chapter 7 liquidations and administration
  • In re Centrix Financial, et al. Representation for Chapter 11 liquidating trustee in subprime auto-loan business bankruptcy. Ethan's work included investigation of assets, objections and distributions on administrative, priority, and unsecured claims, and litigation of WARN Act claims
  • In re American Title Services Co. Representation of Chapter 7 trustee in liquidation of high-profile title insurance company where debtor's principal concealed fraudulent actions and transfers for several years before bankruptcy
  • In re Adam Aircraft Industries, Inc. Representation of Chapter 7 trustee in liquidation of aircraft manufacturer
  • In re Grassy Creek Holdings Co. Representation of Chapter 7 trustee in liquidation of real estate development company in and around Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  • In re High Country Club, LLC. Representation of Chapter 7 trustee in liquidation of luxury vacation club

Chapter 11 Official Unsecured Creditors' Committee

  • In re WestMountain Gold, Inc. and Terra Gold Corp. Representation of Committee in bankruptcy of exploration mining company focused on bulk sample mineral production in Alaska. Negotiated reorganization plan that included a secured carve out for unsecured creditors to receive distributions from mining operations.
  • In re Red Eagle Oil, Inc. Representation of Committee in bankruptcy of Cody, Wyoming based fuel distributor and owner of gas stations/convenient stores across Wyoming
  • In re Mountain City Meat Co., Inc. Representation of Committee in bankruptcy of meat processor company
  • In re Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Representation of Committee in bankruptcy of pharmaceutical company and its subsidiary
  • In re Western Biomass Energy, LLC. Representation of Committee in bankruptcy of company that owned the nation's first demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol facility, used to produce cellulosic ethanol from sugarcane bagasse

Judicial Externship

Hon. Barry Ted Moskowitz, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California

Board Service and Section Memberships

Turnaround Management Association, Board of Directors (Rocky Mountain Chapter), 2019

Wyoming State Bar Bankruptcy & Creditor's Rights Section, President-Elect, 2019

Faculty of Federal Advocates, Board of Directors, 2018-2021

American Board of Certification, Board of Directors, 2018-2021

Turnaround Management Association, Co-Chair, Global NextGen Membership Committee

Colorado Bar Association, Business Law and Bankruptcy Subsection, International Law and International Transactions Subsection

Faculty of Federal Advocates Pro Bono Bankruptcy Program

Wyoming Bankruptcy Court Local Rules Committee, Member, 2016-2018

Recognitions and Accomplishments

Donald E. Cordova Distinguished Service Award for pro bono service, 2018

Colorado Super Lawyers, Rising Star, 2013-present

Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist and Business Bankruptcy Specialist, certified by the American Board of Certification

Inducted to Class V of the Next Generation Program, International Insolvency Institute, Tokyo, Japan, 2016

Next Generation Program Participant, National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, 2015

Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Rated


Co-author, "Passive Debt Buyers Beware: Third Circuit Broadens FDCPA Liability Under the 'Principal Purpose' Definition," Ballard Spahr alert, March 13, 2019

"Plan Confirmation, Electronic Evidence, U.S. Supreme Court Decisions, and Procedures to Convert Cases," Faculty of Federal Advocates Newsletter, March 2019

Co-author, "Find the Cost of Opportunity," American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, October 2018

"Round A Back Circle, Round A Back Realized: The 2017 Faculty of Federal Advocates Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Retreat," Faculty of Federal Advocates Newsletter, March 2018

Co-author, "Supreme Court Scales Back Safe Harbor Protection for Some Pre-Bankruptcy Fraudulent Transfers," Ballard Spahr alert, March 2, 2018

"ABC Attorneys Key Players in Consumer Bankruptcy Commission," American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, August 2017

Co-author, "Transnational Insolvency: A Guide to Cross-Border Bankruptcy Proceedings," Vol. 2, Ch. 9A, pp. 91-131, The Law of Transnational Business Transactions, January 2016

"Giving Meaning to § 106(a): Will the EAR Decision Hold Up?" American Bankruptcy Institute Journal, August 2015

"Nevada Adopts the Doctrines of Claim Preclusion and Issue Preclusion," Nevada Lawyer, April 2010

Speaking Engagements

"It's Never Really Over, Even When It's Over: Analyzing the Limits of Bankruptcy Jurisdiction," American Bankruptcy Institute webinar, November 28, 2018

"The Net's Unbreakable, So Don't Worry About Falling: When Bankruptcy Enters the Estate Planning Picture," Colorado Bar Association Trust & Estate Fall Update, November, 2017

Co-Organizer "The Faculty of Federal Advocates 2017 Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Retreat, October, 2017

"Was it for This my Life I Sought? How to React, Prepare, and Handle the Increase of Wyoming's Consumer Bankruptcy Cases," Wyoming State Bar Annual Meeting & Judicial Conference, Cheyenne, WY, September, 2017

"A Fresh Start with Low Oil Prices, or Deja Vu All Over Again in Bankruptcy?," Wyoming State Bar Annual Meeting & Judicial Conference, Jackson, WY, September, 2015

"Protecting Creditors Rights and Problems for Secured Creditors in Bankruptcy," Protecting Creditors' Rights Seminar, Sterling Education Services, Inc., Cheyenne, Wyoming, October, 2013

"May 2013 Case Law Update," Bankruptcy Subsection, Colorado Bar Association, Denver, Colorado, May, 2013

"Bankruptcy: Minimizing Surprise and Maximizing Recovery," Advanced Lending Seminar, Lindquist & Vennum, Denver, Colorado, May, 2012

"When a Landlord or Tenant Files Bankruptcy," Landlord Tenant Law Update, Sterling Education Services, Inc., Reno, Nevada, May, 2010

Thomas Jefferson School of Law (J.D., summa cum laude)

University of California at Santa Barbara (B.A., Law & Society and Global Peace & Security minor; Honors Program; received Academic Award for Excellence)