Susan M. Freeman

Susan M. Freeman

Partner vCard
602.262.5756 office
602.734.3824 fax
201 East Washington Street
Suite 1200
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Susan Freeman is a partner who concentrates her practice on business bankruptcy and on appeals of all kinds. She is the only lawyer invited to membership (and leadership) in both the American College of Bankruptcy and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. Susan has briefed and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and she is frequently invited to present materials and speak at seminars in Arizona and nationally.

Business Bankruptcy. Susan is certified by the Arizona State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in bankruptcy law. With experience serving as individual counsel and as co-counsel, she helps in all aspects of business bankruptcy cases. From trustees to secured lenders to asset purchasers, Susan has represented a range of clients, including:

  • Purchasers of assets, including Pivotal Global Capacity as acquirer of a telecommunications and logistics business in the Global Capacity Chapter 11 case in Wilmington, and James Balsillie and PSE Sports & Entertainment as proposed buyer of the Phoenix Coyotes NHL hockey team in its Chapter 11 case in Phoenix. 
  • Indenture Trustees, including Wells Fargo Bank as Indenture Trustee for $450 million of senior industrial revenue bondholders, the principal secured creditors in the Las Vegas Monorail Chapter 11 case in Las Vegas, and also as Indenture Trustee for $75 million of Community Facilities District bondholders in the SunCor Development Company Chapter 11 cases. 
  • Litigants in Chapter 11 disputes, including Neil Gaiman in his copyright claims against Todd McFarlane Productions. 
  • Creditors Committees, including in the USA Commercial Mortgage case in Las Vegas and the Eurofresh and MicroAge cases in Phoenix. 
  • Secured creditors, including the principal lender owed $9.7 million by a sports memorabilia Chapter 11 debtor, CDC Mortgage Capital owed $20.5 million by a shopping center Chapter 11 debtor, $486 million of noteholders and bank lenders in the Crown Pacific Chapter 11 cases, and a life insurance company owed over $150 million in the Chapter 11 cases filed by 51 Trammell Crow entities. 
  • Debtor-in-possession lenders, including Pivotal Finance, LLC in the Utah 7000 cases in Salt Lake City (also the equity owner/management company). 
  • Debtors-in-possession including in the A-Title case of the largest Prudential Real Estate franchisee brokerage company in Las Vegas, and the All Star Gas multi-state propane company, in both of which successful reorganization plans were confirmed, and Mondrian TTL, LLC, where disputes between the owner of an apartment complex and its principal creditor were satisfactorily settled. 
  • Trustees and Liquidating Trustees, including the Liquidating Trustees in the USA Commercial Mortgage case in Las Vegas and the Nelson Bunker Hunt and William Herbert Hunt bankruptcy cases in Dallas. Ms. Freeman personally served as the Liquidating Trustee in the Oregon Arena Corporation Chapter 11 case in Portland.
  • Aircraft lessors and secured lenders in airline bankruptcy cases, having represented 14 aircraft financiers in the America West Airlines Chapter 11 case in Arizona and aircraft lessors in the Great American Airways Chapter 11 case in Nevada and the Western Pacific Airlines case in Colorado, where she took the lead role in appeals of Code section 1110 rulings, and CIT, Boullioun and Sunrock in the National Airlines case in Nevada.

Susan has also served as the mediator in complex bankruptcy disputes and as an expert witness on behalf of professionals or trustees in Chapter 11 cases, including disputes over professionals’ actions and qualifications.

Appeals of All Kinds. In the area of appeals, Susan has briefed over 300 appeals and argued many of them, primarily in Arizona appellate courts and the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but also in other jurisdictions across the country. She is listed as counsel of record in over 125 reported decisions, including complex bankruptcy cases, commercial, tort, ERISA, tax and employment cases. Some of those appellate cases include:

  • Metzler v. BCI Coca-Cola Bottlilng Co., 235 Ariz. 141, 239 P.3d 1043 (2014)
  • In re ProAlert, LLC, 314 B.R. 436 (9th Cir. BAP 2004)
  • Gunnell v. Arizona Public Service Co., 202 Ariz. 388, 46 P.3d 399 (2002)
  • Jinro America Inc. v. Secure Invs., 266 F.3d 993 (9th Cir. 2001)

Susan often assists counsel from other firms who were responsible for litigation at the trial level, and has presented the views of many entities as amicus curiae. She has served as a judge pro tem on the Arizona Court of Appeals and a faculty member of the Arizona and National Appellate Practice Institutes. In addition, Susan has assisted clients by observing and advising other lawyers during trial to present and preserve arguments for potential appeals.

U.S. Supreme Court Experience. Combining her expertise in appeals and bankruptcy, Susan represented prominent law professors as amici in presenting persuasive arguments to the Supreme Court in the Hood and Katz cases concerning sovereign immunity in bankruptcy.

Here’s access to more information about the Hall v. United States case, including copies of the briefs, the argument transcript, and a link to the original oral argument:

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Susan Freeman inducted into Maricopa County Bar Hall of Fame
Lewis Roca Rothgerber attorney recognized for lifetime achievements, contributions to legal profession


  • “Wellness and Post-Stern Jurisdictional Issues” State Bar of Arizona - Bar Convention, June 2015
  • “Guarding the Gates: the Expanding Liability of Gatekeepers of Insolvent Entities” International Bar Association, May 2015
  • “Chapter 11 Open Forum” and “Ethical Issues,” Norton Bankruptcy Law Institutes, February 2015, 2014, 2013
  • “Working with the Court of Appeals” State Bar of Arizona, November 2014
  • “Ethical Pitfalls for Bankruptcy Practitioners” State Bar of Arizona, October 2014
  • “Administrative Appeals” State Bar of Arizona Bar Convention, June 2014
  • “Bankruptcy Appeals” District Court Conference” U.S. District Court for District of Arizona, March 2014
  • “Valuation: Challenging Legal and Factual Issues” ABA Business Bankruptcy Committee, November 2013
  • "Ski Jumping: Ethics: Keys to Hitting a Good Landing on Professional-Liability Issues," Rocky Mountain American Bankruptcy Institute Conference, January 2014
  • Bankruptcy Appeals,” American Bankruptcy Institute Spring Meeting, April 2013
  • Revisiting RadLAX and Hall: Legal and Practical Impact of the Decisions,” American Bankruptcy Institute Winter Leadership Conference, November 2012 and webinar, February 2013 
  • Hot Topics,” ABI Rocky Mountain Institute, January 2013 
  • Ethics Issues for the Bankruptcy Insomniac,” 27th Advanced Oklahoma Bankruptcy Seminar, December 2012 
  • Surviving the Supreme Court,” Federal Bar Association, October 2012 
  • Hall v. United States: Chapter 12 Plaintiff’s Counsel Takes Tax Liability to the Supreme Court,” Iowa Advanced Procedures Bankruptcy Seminar, August 2012
  • "Bankruptcy Ethics," State Bar of Arizona Annual Convention, June 2012
  • "Bankruptcy Litigation Seminar," Norton Institutes on Bankruptcy Law Inc., February 2012
  • "Chapter 11 Update" and "Bankruptcy Ethics," Mid-South Commercial Law Institute, December 2011

Related Publications


  • The Best Lawyers in America - 2012, 2015 "Lawyer of the Year" Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law; 2013 "Lawyer of the Year" Bankruptcy Litigation - Appellate Law, Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law, Insolvency and Reorganization Law, and Bankruptcy Litigation, 1989-2017
  • Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel - Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights, 2009, 2010
  • Southwest Super Lawyers - Top 50 in Arizona; 2013, 2015 Top 25 Female Attorney - Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights, 2007-2015
  • New York University School of Law - Root-Tilden Scholar
  • Mount Holyoke College - Sarah Williston Scholar
  • Martindale-Hubbell - "AV/Preeminent Attorney" Rating
  • Lawdragon - Top 3000 in the United States, 2010
  • John P. Frank Advocate for Justice Award - Commitment to pro bono service
  • Benchmark Litigation - 2014 "Local Litigation Star" in Arizona - 2012 Top 250 Women in Litigation, 2012, 2014, 2016
  • AZ Business Magazine - Top 100 Lawyers - Bankruptcy, 2010, 2016

Other Info


J.D., New York University School of Law, 1975
B.A., Mount Holyoke College, 1972
Study Abroad, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1970-1971

Bar Admissions

Arizona, 1975

Court Admissions

Arizona Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. District Court, Colorado
U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

Memberships & Affiliations

  • City of Phoenix Committee appointed by the Mayor and City Council, Chair, Commission and the civil rights ordinances it enforces, 1984-1985
  • City of Phoenix Human Relations Commission, Vice chair
  • Charter 100, Member, 2012-2013 Director, 1981-present
  • Arizona Supreme Courts Committee on Character and Fitness, Former chair
  • Arizona Judicial Committees Appellate Case Processing Study Committee and Implementation Committee
  • Ninth Circuit Rules Advisory Committee
  • Ninth Circuit Judicial Council Merit Screening Committee, Bankruptcy Judges
  • ABA Council of Appellate Lawyers, Previous member and former Director
  • Arizona Supreme Court Judicial Performance Review Conference Teams, Member, 1994-present
  • Arizona Bankruptcy Inn of Court, Master
  • Norton Bankruptcy Law Institutes, Faculty Member
  • Arizona Appellate Handbook, Co-author, Civil Appeals section, 1978
  • Arizona Appellate Handbook Committee of the State Bar of Arizona, Member
  • ABI Advisory Committee on Executory Contracts and Leases, Member, ABI Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11
  • American Bankruptcy Institute, Member, ABI National Ethics Task Force
  • American Law Institute ALI, Member and former Advisor, Restatement of the Law Third, Restitution
  • American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, Board of Directors and Membership Committee Chair
  • American College of Bankruptcy, Member Participation Committee Chair, and former Vice President, Director
  • Professional Ethics Subcommittee, Former Chair
  • Chapter 11 Subcommittee and the Programs Subcommittee, Former Co-Chair
  • American Bar Association Business Bankruptcy Committee, Co-Chair, Secured Creditors Subcommittee
  • Maricopa County Bar Association, Hall of Fame