Kim Martin Lewis, Partner, Dinsmore & Shohl, Cincinnati, OH by LawCrossing


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   LAW STAR                                                                                       1. 800.973.1177

                                Kim Martin Lewis, Partner, Dinsmore & Shohl,
                                Cincinnati, OH
                                [by Regan Morris]
                                Attorney Kim Martin Lewis recently made an “explosive” appearance in the U.S. Supreme Court.
                                LawCrossing talks with Martin Lewis about the case and her career as one of Ohio’s top bankruptcy

Ms. Martin Lewis was midway through                  Bernard Katz, the liquidating supervisor of      $9.6 billion in assets and asserted claims in
arguing a case on state sovereignty and              a bankrupt bookstore in Virginia, wants to       excess of $60 billion.
bankruptcy before the U.S. Supreme Court             collect money owed to it by four state schools
on Halloween when Justice Ruth Bader                 so that the money can be used to pay the         Martin Lewis, who is from Pennsylvania,
Ginsburg asked her a question. Suddenly a            bookstore’s creditors.                           said working on that case as a third-year
“bang” reverberated through the hallowed                                                              associate launched her career.
court, causing Justice Ginsburg to jump from         The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit,
her seat and confusion all around.                   based in Cincinnati, ruled in favor of Katz,     “When we came out of that case, I had made
                                                     and the schools appealed to the Supreme          significant contacts throughout the country.
Martin Lewis initially thought something had         Court. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on      That was really the start of my professional
exploded or a gun had been shot. She saw a           the case.                                        career after that case,” she said, adding that
fiery ball fall from the ceiling above Justice                                                        she felt lucky to have so much responsibility
Ginsburg’s head, and there was a minute of           A Cincinnati-based partner with Dinsmore &       so early in her career. “The best thing
chaos in the court. Something had exploded,          Shohl, Martin Lewis said arguing before the      you can do is train yourself on the job, be
but it was only a light bulb.                        Supreme Court was a dream come true, but         confident, and love what you do. Because
                                                     not something she had actively pursued.          at the end of the day, you’ll be incredibly
“It sounded like an explosion. I can’t really                                                         successful.”
describe the noise, other than it was really         “Lawyers dream about arguing before the
loud and it did sound like a shot,” Martin           Supreme Court, but it wasn’t something that      Martin Lewis became an attorney after
Lewis said. “I realized at about the time that       I went out searching for,” she said. “It was     studying to become a speech pathologist. She
Justice [Stephen] Breyer said the light bulb         just something that happened in one of my        took the LSAT on a whim and did so well that
exploded. I guess I never expected a light           cases. It was a wonderful thing to happen.       she ended up with a full-tuition scholarship
bulb to explode. I don’t know how common it          I’m glad that I did it, and it’s an experience   to Southwestern University School of Law.
is for a light bulb to explode. But I don’t think    that I will never forget.                        She graduated in 987, cum laude.
it’s a common thing.”
                                                     Martin Lewis’ practice focuses on business       Martin Lewis, who has five children, said
The Justices “made light” of the situation,          reorganization and corporate bankruptcy.         it’s important for attorneys to find what they
with Chief Justice John Roberts cracking             Early in her career, while working as an         love and specialize as soon as possible.
jokes before Martin Lewis continued. It was          associate in Los Angeles, she worked on the      In law school, her favorite classes were in
the Ohio attorney’s first case before the            bankruptcy of Federated Department Stores        secure transactions and bankruptcy. After
Supreme Court.                                       with attorney Rick Cieri, now with Kirkland      law school, she joined a boutique firm that
                                                     & Ellis.                                         specialized in bankruptcy and commercial
“It happened right dead in the middle of the                                                          transactions.
argument, but I think I kept my cool,” she           The Federated Department Stores, Inc./
said.                                                Allied Stores Corporation and 65 affiliated      For attorneys preparing for a Supreme Court
                                                     corporations—including Bloomingdale’s,           argument, Martin Lewis said preparation and
Martin Lewis’ case, Central Virginia                 Inc.; The Bon, Inc.; Burdine’s, Inc.; Jordan     moot courts are the way to go.
Community College v. Katz, questions                 Marsh Stores Corporation; Rich’s, Inc.; and
whether federal bankruptcy laws trump                Stern’s, Inc.—was at the time the second-        “I did two moot courts, one before the Public
states’ sovereign immunity.                          largest Chapter  case in history, involving    Citizens in Washington, DC, and then one I

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   LAW STAR                                                                                     1. 800.973.1177

did was in Georgetown. You learn a lot from       replacement is confirmed. If Samuel Alito’s       “It was exciting, obviously. It’s not such a
doing those, and you get great feedback,” she     nomination is confirmed and he joins the          terrible prospect to have to go back,” she
said, adding that several of the participants     Court before the Justices have decided on         said. “But the reality is for my client, it’s
were former Supreme Court clerks. “And            Martin Lewis’ case, he will not be permitted      certainly costly to get ready for a Supreme
you get a lot of feedback from people who         to vote on the case. Justices can only vote       Court argument. I wouldn’t want to go
have seen a lot of Supreme Court cases, and       on cases that they personally heard. The          through that entire process again, because it
they say, ‘Hey, I’m not sure you really want to   situation opens the possibility of a tie, which   was a tie vote.”
argue it this way,’ or ‘I’m not sure you want     could mean the attorneys will have to argue
to start out with this argument.’ They were       their cases again.
really very helpful.”
                                                  Martin Lewis said she hopes she doesn’t
Martin Lewis said she hopes the Supreme           have to reargue her case. During her
Court decides on her case sooner, rather          argument, most of her family, four of her five
than later, especially because Justice Sandra     children, and several high school teachers
Day O’Connor intends to retire once her           were there for support.


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