Nick is a trial lawyer. He has tried more than 30 jury trials, bench trials and arbitrations, including nine jury trials as lead attorney. He splits his time between the Firm's Chicago and Minneapolis offices.
Nick's practice is national. In recent years he has handled cases in 15 states and appeared in proceedings conducted abroad. Clients often come to him when needing assistance with disputes involving finance, accounting, valuations, securities, real estate, corporate governance and shareholder claims, merger and acquisition claims (both pre- and post-closing), bankruptcy litigation, and internal and government investigations. He regularly presents Continuing Legal Education classes to other lawyers on these topics.
Nick's clients range from publicly-traded companies and large investment funds to individuals, and he represents them in cases ranging from bet-the-company class actions to smaller disputes. Many of those he advises are in the financial industry, including banks, private equity firms, hedge funds, mortgage companies and investment advisers.
For jury trials first-chaired by Nick, many times jurors have ranked Nick the highest rating of "excellent" in all categories on anonymous juror questionnaire forms supplied by the court, and wrote-in comments like the following:
- "He was really good."
- "Was prepared, passionate, energetic"
- "Solid closing argument; pulled together well"
Nick rejoined the Firm in 2015 and helped open its first satellite office, which is located in Minneapolis, his hometown where he had moved several years before. He is married with three young kids who, like him, are loud. When his kids are older he plans on resuming hobbies he used to enjoy: international travel, attending outdoor music shows, scuba diving and spontaneous adventures.
- Representation of a defendant bank in a putative class action filed in state court. The putative plaintiff class had invested approximately $10 million in a Ponzi scheme through self-directed IRAs for which the bank had acted as custodian; favorably argued several motions, including opposing a motion by the plaintiff who sought costly discovery from the bank before the court ruled on the bank's motion to dismiss the lawsuit (motion to dismiss granted by trial court and affirmed on appeal).
- Representation of an investment firm that specializes in purchases of notes involving distressed borrowers. The dispute related to the investment firm's right to proceeds from a multimillion dollar recovery in a separate lawsuit filed by a borrower entity that it had foreclosed on. Favorably argued a motion for summary judgment on the complaint filed on behalf of client and then favorably petitioned an out-of-state court to remove the principal of the borrower entity and replace them with a receiver proposed by the client.
- Representation of banks in a number of lawsuits concerning personal guarantees by real estate developers for commercial real estate loans in amounts as high as eight figures.
- Representation of lenders seeking replevin of borrowers' collateral.
- Representation of outside directors of a failed bank regarding potential civil and criminal claims against them and in interviews conducted by the FBI, FDIC and U.S. Department of Justice. Ultimately no charges or claims filed.
- Representation of a defendant bank in a lawsuit relating to another bank's breach of its presentment warranty under the UCC; argued a motion to dismiss the complaint against his client, which the court granted.
- Representation of bank in malpractice arbitration against Big 4 accounting firm regarding its valuation services. Resolved with substantial payment to bank client.
Private Equity Firm-Related Litigation
- Representation of a SEC-appointed receiver of a registered investment adviser that managed several private equity funds, who was appointed after the embezzlement by a principal of the adviser of over $50 million of client assets, in various lawsuits and claims pursued by the receiver. Ultimately obtained judgments in amount exceeding $50 million.
- Representation of group of investors in private equity fund who challenged wind up of fund and distributions by the general partner. Resolved with confidential settlement by which clients received 50x the final distribution originally provided to them.
- Representation of a real estate private equity firm in a lawsuit filed against it by an investor regarding the accounting and allocation of investment losses. After a week-long trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff approximately 1/4 of the total amount lost on his investments in several funds managed by the private equity firm, which was only a fraction of his demand. On appeal, the state appellate court reversed the jury's award and granted judgment for private equity firm client on all counts and directed trial court to determine how much client was entitled to recover for attorneys' fees spent in litigation.
- Advised European private equity firm in various US law matters regarding its various portfolio companies.
- Representation of the plaintiff in an accounting malpractice lawsuit filed against an accounting firm in connection with the accounting firm's audit of several private equity funds. Favorably settled on the eve of the arbitration hearing.
- Representation of group of investors in private equity fund who challenged wind up of fund and distributions by the general partner. Resolved with confidential settlement by which clients received 50x greater amount than original final distribution.
- Representation of a private equity firm sponsor and its officers who were sued for tens of millions of dollars under a variety of contract and tort theories by a hedge fund and foreign bank that entered into a joint venture with an affiliate of the PE sponsor, after many of the asset based loans made by the joint venture defaulted during the 2008 economic crash.
Shareholder & Partnership Disputes
- Representation of an industrial company and its majority shareholder sued by a minority shareholder. With client's motion for summary judgment pending, favorably settled with buy-out of minority shareholder.
- Representation of an investment company against lawsuits filed by its limited partners in a fund after the fund collapsed in the 2008 economic crisis.
- Representation of a minority shareholder of real estate company who sued majority shareholder for breach of fiduciary duty. Majority shareholder agreed to settle dispute by selling their ownership interest to Nick's client for only half of the market value of those shares.
- Representation of a group of investors who had sold shares in company to majority owner. Later found out owner had misrepresented the value of company. Clients fired the New York law firm that had represented them in initial negotiation and on the recommendation of an East Coast accounting firm hired Nick to represent them. After assertion of securities fraud and other claims against majority owner, majority owner agreed to settle dispute by doubling price previously paid for shares.
- Representation of a manufacturing company and its officers who were sued by long-time minority shareholder (who had previously been officer and director of company) for alleged unlawful termination and alleged shareholder oppression. Court granted summary judgment in favor of clients and no payment made to plaintiff.
- Representation of group of investors in private equity fund organized as an LLC who challenged wind up of LLC and distributions by the managing member. Resolved with confidential settlement by which clients received 50x greater amount than original final distribution.
- Representation of publicly traded financial institution in class action lawsuits filed against it to enjoin merger approved by the bank's board of directors. Court granted motion to dismiss the various class action firms' complaints, and shareholders voted in favor of proposed merger.
- Representation of the subsidiary of a Fortune 50 company in arbitration demand against the sellers of a company it purchased, seeking indemnification for a post-closing settlement with regulators relating to the acquired company's billings to the government and also seeking partial repayment of an earn-out. Arbitrator awarded to client some of the damages it sought and prevailing party attorneys' fees.
- Advised a company that had purchased a large business in response to the seller's claim the client had suppressed the earn-out due under the purchase agreement by improper accounting and failure to use best efforts during the earn-out period.
- Representation and/or counsel to companies relating to claims for breach of representations and warranties in purchase or merger agreements.
- Representation of a real estate investment trust sued by the potential buyer of an industrial property for alleged breach of a letter of intent for a deal that was never consummated. Motion to dismiss granted in favor of Nick's client on two counts. Court later granted summary judgment in favor of Nick's client on remaining two counts. Plaintiff never appealed.
- Representation of REITs in a variety of cases regarding: deals that fell apart where substantial escrow deposits are in dispute, where buyers are making claims for indemnification or breach of reps, and lease renewal provisions in dispute.
- Representation of both plaintiffs and defendants in dozens of bankruptcy avoidance claims (i.e., preference and fraudulent transfer claims).
- On behalf of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, negotiated dozens of settlements of preference claims and fraudulent transfer claims against former insiders of the debtor company and its subsidiaries.
- Representation of defendants in lawsuits filed in state court asserting contract, fraud and state law-based avoidance claims.
- Representation of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee of a private holding company and its multiple subsidiaries that had generated more than $1 billion in annual revenue before bankruptcy in multiple avoidance actions seeking tens of millions of dollars. The primary disputed issue in the cases was the dates of insolvency of the various debtors. In a consolidated hearing involving the major defendants, both sides moved to exclude the other's experts. Among the various firms representing the Chapter 7 trustee, Nick was chosen to serve as the primary brief writer on these motions and handle all oral arguments. The federal trial court agreed with Nick and excluded most of the valuation and solvency opinions offered by the defendants' expert, and denied in full the motion filed by the defendants to exclude the testimony of the Chapter 7 trustee's expert. Cases settled shortly thereafter.
Real Estate Litigation
- Representation of REITs and real estate investment companies in a variety of cases regarding deals that fell apart and where substantial escrow deposits are in dispute.
- Representation of REITs where buyers are making claims for indemnification or breach of reps or warranties.
- Representation of REITs in several disputes regarding lease renewal provisions where tens of millions of dollars are at issue.
- Representation of REIT against securities fraud lawsuit by group of medical industry tenants who alleged they were defrauded by false promise of opportunity to purchase ownership interest in medical office building once certain milestones were achieved. Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed lawsuit after being served with discovery focused on their personal finances and whether they would qualify as accredited investors, and depositions of certain plaintiffs.
Other Representative Experience
- Representation of plaintiffs and defendants in various industries in litigation involving alleged breaches of contracts.
- Representation of trustees of trusts and personal representatives of estates in litigation with beneficiaries.
- Representation of manufacturers sued for alleged violations of the Minnesota Termination of Sales Representatives Act.
- Representation of a foreign manufacturer of automobile parts against breach of warranty and other contractual claims alleged by its former American distributor.
- Representation of automobile manufacturers in litigation relating to manufacturers' terminations of auto dealers.
- Representation of a defendant insurance agent sued for several million dollars in connection with the plaintiff's alleged inability to sell a seven figure life insurance policy on the life settlement market.
Professional Activities & Honors
- Member, American Bar Association
- Member, Chicago Bar Association
- Member, Federal Bar Association
- Member, Hennepin County Bar Association
- Member, Illinois State Bar Association
- Member, Minnesota State Bar Association
- “North Star Lawyers,” Minnesota State Bar Association, 2012
- Jessup International Law Moot Court Team
- Intern, Federal Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier, Northern District of Illinois
- Phi Beta Kappa
Charitable & Community Organizations
- Board Member, Minneapolis-St. Paul Lawyer Chapter, American Constitution Society for Law and Public Policy
- Volunteer Attorney, Neighborhood Justice Center
- Volunteer Attorney, Volunteer Lawyers Network
Speaking Engagements & Presentations
Articles & Publications
- 1/4/2017 – Barack Ferrazzano Client Alert
- Client Alert: Federal Banking Regulators Expand Banks Eligible for Extended 18-Month Examination Cycle12/20/2016 – Barack Ferrazzano Client Alert
- 12/15/2016 – Barack Ferrazzano Client Alert
- 2/11/2016 – Barack Ferrazzano Client Alert
- 4/22/2015 – Barack Ferrazzano Client Alert
- 3/18/2015 – Barack Ferrazzano Client Alert
- Barack Ferrazzano Congratulates Partners Nicholas Callahan, Joshua Mahoney & Jessica Heckinger Nowak1/2017
Northwestern University, J.D., cum laude, 2009
University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.S., with distinction, 2005
Bar & Court Admissions
- State of Illinois
- State of Minnesota
- U.S. Tax Court
- U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs