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    12.04.17 Joseph Smolinsky ’88, an Alumni Association Director, Dies at 54
    Joseph Smolinsky ’88

    Joseph Smolinsky ’88, who served as a director on the Brooklyn Law School Alumni Association Board, has died at age 54.

    Smolinsky played an active role in the helping to advance the Law School and in lives and careers of many students. He also was a vital part of the Commercial Law Fellowship program and the Barry L. Zaretsky Roundtable Steering Committee, and he contributed to the Zaretsky fund, which furthers the scholarship and legacy of the late Professor Barry Zaretsky, a luminary in bankruptcy and commercial law.

    Smolinsky was a giant in the bankruptcy world. He was a partner at Weil Gotshal & Manges in the Business Finance and Restructuring Department, focusing on restructuring and strategy for borrowers, lenders, investors, and creditors. Some of his biggest clients included General Motors in its historic Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, Reader’s Digest Association, UNO Restaurants Corp., Harvard Industries, Inc., Orange County, Calif., and Days Inns of America, Inc. He also worked with agents and lenders such as Nautilus Shipping, New Century Mortgage Corp., MoneyGram, and Tyco, among others.

    His most recent work was focused on the oil and gas and mining sectors, in which he represented Vanguard Natural Resources, Ultra Petroleum, and Emerald Oil.

    Smolinsky was highly ranked by Chambers USA and Best Lawyers in America, and was an accomplished author and speaker on bankruptcy and restructuring issues. He was a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Turnaround Management Association.

    As a student at the Law School, Smolinsky stood out thanks to his “intellect, wit, and complete grasp of material that was at times bewilderingly complex,” said Professor Michael Gerber, who taught him advanced corporate restructuring.

    Gerber said Smolinsky was always generous with his time. Each year for the last 15 years, including just a few weeks before he died, he returned to the Law School with Robert Schmidt ’89, a partner at Kramer Levin, to serve as a guest instructor. Smolinsky also served as a mentor to dozens of students, providing career advice and opening professional doors whenever possible.

    “Inevitably, his mentees, in addition to expressing awe at his professional accomplishments, would quickly add, ‘But he’s a really nice guy,’” said Gerber. “They didn’t need to tell me—or anyone who knew him—that about Joe.”

    Smolinsky was known to many in the Law School community and beyond for his enthusiasm for life and for his work.

    “Joe approached life with passion, seamlessly integrating his love for family, the bankruptcy bar, and golf,” his family wrote in an obituary published Dec. 2 in The New York Times. He is survived by his wife, Jigisha, his daughters, Shana and Alana, and his mother, Suad. He was predeceased by his father, Benard Smolinsky.