John R. Rizzardi

Firm: Cairncross & Hempelmann, P.S.
Location: Seattle - WA

  • 524 Second Avenue, Ste 500
    Seattle, Washington 98104
  • Tel : 206.587.0700
  • Fax : 206.587.2308

As the leader of the firm’s Bankruptcy practice group, John provides strategic, general business planning and dispute resolution assistance to a wide range of companies and their owners. He is nationally recognized for his commercial bankruptcy and creditors’ rights skills and also focuses on providing advice concerning potential or actual insolvency proceedings, including receiverships, forbearance negotiations and related litigation. John also cochairs the firm’s Agriculture industry group, focusing primarily on the needs of agricultural lenders with accounts affected by threatened or actual insolvency. Together with CH&’s litigation, corporate finance, banking, insurance and real estate attorneys, he is able to provide comprehensive solutions for commercial insolvency, recovery and restructuring matters. John distills complicated situations so that they are digestible to his clients, allowing them to efficiently make decisions to get their businesses back on track.

John is certified by the Hudson Institute of Coaching and utilizes his deep understanding of business to provide executive and leadership coaching and facilitation services under the firm’s subsidiary, Pioneer Square Solutions. A frequent mediator of commercial disputes, he is known for his ability to offer creative solutions to resolve expensive disagreements and litigation. John earned the prestigious “Lawyer of the Year” award in Litigation-Bankruptcy by Best Lawyers in 2022. Only one lawyer per year receives “Lawyer of the Year” recognition for each practice area. John is a leader in his field and speaks frequently at local, regional and national conferences and events.

Honors & Recognition

  • Named Exclusive Featured Attorney for Seattle by Premier Bankruptcy Lawyers 2022
  • Top Ranked in Washington State by Chambers USA in the area of Bankruptcy/Restructuring since 2010
  • Named Best Lawyers in America® Litigation – Bankruptcy “Lawyer of the Year” in Seattle (2022)
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law since 2011
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in Corporate Law since 2011
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® in Litigation – Bankruptcy since 2011
  • Top Lawyer – Bankruptcy Award Recipient, Seattle Magazine
  • Top Lawyer – Bankruptcy Award Recipient, Seattle Metropolitan Magazine
  • Named on the Washington Super Lawyers – Bankruptcy list by Super Lawyers® Magazine since 2000
  • Named on the Top 100 Washington Super Lawyers list by Super Lawyers® Magazine
  • Top Business Lawyer – Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law Award Recipient, Seattle Business
  • Honorary Turnaround, Restructuring, and Distressed Investing Industry Hall of Fame Award Recipient, 2008, Turnaround Management Association
  • Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rated AV® Preeminent 5.0 out of 5

Experience & Results

  • Provided representation to the family owners of a commercial ship chartering company for over two years as the company and guarantors attempted to negotiate a resolution to over $40 million in defaulted loans. Negotiations resulted in the filing of a “pre-packaged” Chapter 11 restructuring plan that was confirmed by the court. With more favorable restructuring terms, the company successfully complied with the plan requirements.
  • The firm acts as general insolvency counsel to a U.S.-based shipbuilding and chartering enterprise operating more than 300 oil and gas supply and service ships world-wide. We frequently defend the client when it has been alleged to have received an avoidable transfer. To date, over $2 million in alleged claims have been withdrawn or favorably resolved.
  • Representation of senior secured lender in a complex and contentious Chapter 11 proceeding for a dairy in Washington State.  Prior to a contested confirmation hearing, the Debtors proposed acceptable treatment for the client’s secured claims. The plans for the operating entity and owners were then confirmed.
  • Ongoing representation of national agricultural lender, assisting with managing troubled borrow accounts ranging in size from $5,000,000 to $150,000,000
  • Represented senior secured lender owed over $100,000,000 with successful debt realization issues on significant urban condominium tower project
  • Assisted major national transportation firm with complex issues associated with insolvency of related party including valuation, claims resolution and eventual sale of enterprise
  • Represented 75% equity owner of regional grocer as to all issues arising within grocer’s multi-store Chapter 11
  • Assisted multi-family property management enterprise with complete out-of-court restructuring of over $200,000,000 of secured debt involving 73 apartment buildings
  • Assisted regional investment advisory firm with services associated with involuntary bankruptcies of several related investment funds
  • Active mediator in commercial insolvency and litigation matters


  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • US District Court, Western District of Washington
  • US District Court, Eastern District of Washington
  • US Bankruptcy Court, Western Washington
  • US Bankruptcy Court, Eastern Washington
  • US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon
  • US District Court for the District of Oregon

Cairncross & Hempelmann, P.S.

Cairncross & Hempelmann’s Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights practice stands apart as a recognized leader in the Pacific Northwest.  Our team is renowned for its experience, expertise, and ability not only to react deftly to financial urgencies but also to prepare clients to avoid them altogether.  Additionally, as part of a full-service law firm, we are able to assemble integrated, project-specific teams tapping into deep experience from other practice groups.

We represent creditors, including financial institutions, landlords, pension funds, small to mid-sized private lenders, as well as commercial debtors, creditors’ committees, receivers, strategic buyers, and other companies and their owners from a wide range of industry groups.