Robert J. Labate

  • T 312.715.5751
  • T 312.715.5751

For more than two decades, Robert J. Labate has maintained an active litigation practice in corporate restructuring and transactional media and entertainment law. Mr. Labate has been an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University School of Law for many years, where he teaches two courses reflecting his practices: "Corporate Workouts and Restructuring" and "The Law of Film and Television Production."

Mr. Labate previously served as chair of the Public and Charitable Service Committee for the Chicago office of Holland & Knight, which supervises dozens of pro bono and community service representations and projects in the Chicago metropolitan community.

As a corporate restructuring and bankruptcy attorney, Mr. Labate represents parties in complex Chapter 11 and consensual out-of-court “workout” agreements. As part of the financial restructuring portion of his practice, Mr. Labate advises clients on creditor and creditor committee issues, debtor restructuring, and asset sales and acquisitions, including Section 363 sales. Recent restructuring engagements include:

  • In re Platinum Oil Properties, LLC, Case No. 09-10832, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, D. N.M. Representation of the Jicarilla Apache Nation in opposition to attempts by the debtor to assume operating rights for oil and gas wells located on tribal land.
  • In re Ridgeland Apartment Holdings, LLC, Case No. 12-35417, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Utah. Representation of secured lender in successful litigation to modify the automatic stay to allow lender to take possession of a 17-building, 264-unit, residential apartment complex located in Ridgeland, Miss.
  • In re The Clare at Water Tower, Case No. 11-46151, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, N.D. Ill. Representation of purchaser in $53.5 million acquisition of a 50-story senior residential tower located in the Water Tower district of Chicago.
  • In re Clare Oaks, Case No. 11-48903, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, N.D. Ill. Representation of debtor-in-possession lender to debtor that owned a continuing care retirement community consisting of 154 residential apartments, 10 cottage units and a 33-unit licensed assisted living facility.
  • In re Fairview Ministries, Inc., Case No. 11 B 04386, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, N.D. Ill. Representation of Hinsdale Bank & Trust Co., as pre-petition and debtor-in-possession lender to continuing care retirement community debtor in which substantially all of debtor’s assets were sold pursuant to a 363 sale. 
  • In re SSK Partners, LLC, Case No. 11-49091, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, N.D. Ill. Representation of primary secured lender to commercial office building located on the west side of Chicago. which was sold consensually pursuant to a 363 sale.
  • Freedom Broadcasting of New York, Freedom Broadcasting of Michigan, Inc. and Freedom Broadcasting of Florida, Inc., jointly administered as Case No. 09-13046, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Del. Representation of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation regarding program licensing.
  • ImagePoint Inc. vs. BFS Retail & Commercial Operations, LLC, Adv. Pro. 09-03080 U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Tenn. Representation of Bridgestone retail operations in a defense of breach of contract action.
  • In re J.M. Products, Inc., Case No. 09 bk 12828, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, E.D. Ark. Representation of Chapter 11 trustee in the sale of substantially all assets.
  • Out-of-court representation of Opus Northwest, LLC, a real estate development company, in the restructuring of $300 million in participant bank obligations.
  • Out-of-court representation of A.C. Houston Lumber Company, a Nevada-based building products manufacturing and lumber company, in the restructuring of facilities and operations in three states.

Mr. Labate works with major media companies on a variety of copyright, licensing, acquisition, program production and music issues. Mr. Labate collaborated with other media team members to develop and implement a comprehensive copyright clearance program for use by dozens of television stations throughout the country. The program includes standard clearance procedures, fair-use guidance, agreements and licensing, webinars with station news directors and producers, and procedures for use of third-party materials such as images, photos and videos. He also advises media and corporate clients regarding network advertising, as well as use of social media and websites for marketing and promotion. Recent media and entertainment engagements include: 

  • Responsible for the successful "delivery" of a music video released in connection with a #1 selling album released in November 2012.
  • Production counsel for documentary film initially broadcast on the Fox Network in May 2013 concerning a series of concerts on seven continents by one of the world’s top recording artists.
  • Lead production and financing counsel to Life Itself LLC, the producer of a documentary film based on Roger Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself (in production for 2014 release).
  • Financing and production counsel for Three Oaks Theater Festival in its highly successful inaugural 2013 season, which brought Chicago productions previously seen at Steppenwolf and the Goodman Theaters to a summer resort community located in Three Oaks, Mich.
  • Financing and production counsel for a Washington, D.C., documentary film project on the life of civil rights icon, Congressman John Lewis.
  • Negotiated and drafted one of the first film licensing agreements executed by CNN Films for broadcast on CNN.
  • Production and distribution counsel responsible for negotiation of licensing agreement with cable network for broadcast of documentary television series in 2015.
  • Negotiated and prepared product integration agreements for a product to be advertised on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
  • Negotiated and prepared celebrity promotional agreements for the national launch of an advertising campaign for an air purifier product for Akida Holdings, a Jacksonville-based company.
  • Financing and film production counsel in the creation of a series of documentary films for a Colorado-based client.
  • 102 Minutes That Changed America and Louder Than a Bomb. Production counsel for producers, Siskel/Jacobs Productions, of this documentary film that premiered on the History Channel in September 2008. This documentary film attracted 5.2 million viewers.
  • Motel. Production counsel for this feature-length film starring Robert DeNiro and John Cusack (in post-production).
  • A Good Man (for PBS American Masters broadcast in 2011). Production counsel for Kartemquin Films.
  • Head Games (in production for completion in 2012). Representation of producer, Bruce Sheridan, chair of the Film & Video Department at Columbia College Chicago, the largest film school in the United States.
  • The Interrupters (premiered at Sundance Film Festival, January, 2011). Production counsel for Kartemquin Films.
  • The Last Rites of Joe May (released November, 2011, Tribeca Films). Representation of producer Steppenwolf Films LLC.
  • Stetson Kennedy. Representation of Stetson Kennedy and his estate in film matters, which included the acquisition of his life and literary rights for the feature film and documentary.
  • Welcome to Shelbyville (initial broadcast on PBS in May 2011). Production counsel to The BeCause Foundation.

Honors & Awards

  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Entertainment Law - Motion Pictures and Television, 2007-2017
  • Illinois Super Lawyers magazine, 2007-2017
  • New City Film 50: Chicago’s Screen Gems, 2015
  • Holland & Knight Public and Charitable Service All-Star, 2014
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Media & Entertainment: Transactional, 2009-2016
  • Corporate Counsel Edition, Super Lawyers magazine, November 2009
  • Top Bankruptcy Lawyer, The Deal, 2007
  • Chicago Law Bulletin Leading Lawyer


  • Lawyers for the Creative Arts, Board of Directors
  • Chicago Bar Association, Chair, Media and Entertainment Committee 2007-2008
  • Chicago Bar Association, Nominating Committee, 2008
  • American Bankruptcy Institute