Ann Smith Photo

Ann Ustad Smith



Ann Smith has retired from Michael Best effective December 31, 2019. For any matter inquiries or assistance, please contact Partner Joseph Brydges at or 608.283.2262.


Ann works with business owners, investors, and lenders, establishing and navigating their financial relationships and resolving matters relating to financial distress. Her practice is focused on commercial transactions, commercial litigation, bankruptcy, and other insolvency situations, and she is known for:

  • Structuring and closing complex financial transactions
  • Practical, effective solutions to distressed financial situations
  • Resolving (including through litigation) difficult and adversarial financial disputes
  • Facilitating strategic acquisitions from distressed sellers in and outside of bankruptcy

Ann has held a number of management and other leadership positions in the firm, including serving as a member of the Management Committee and Chair of the firm’s Ethics Committee. She speaks frequently to trade and business groups on lending, bankruptcy, and restructuring issues. 


Noteworthy engagements include:

  • Represented lender in negotiating and documenting $28 million credit facilities for dairy and crop farmer, and to facilitate buy out of business partners
  • Represented lender in negotiating and documenting term loans and line of credit aggregating $31 million for multi-state gravel pit operator and road builder
  • Represented lender in $25 million and $16 million credit facilities to media companies, with diverse collateral including FCC licenses
  • Represented lender in multi-stage, multi-borrower workout of $50 million troubled agricultural credit including crop farming and grain elevator operations, returning credit to good standing
  • Represented lender in $50 million multi-borrower, multi-facility foreclosure, receivership, and guarantor recovery proceedings involving resort condominium complex, several shopping centers, retail/residential mixed use buildings and a construction company
  • Represented secured lenders in various out of court workouts, foreclosures, receivership proceedings and bankruptcy proceedings in various jurisdictions around the country
  • Represented creditors’ committee members, unsecured creditors, subdebt and bondholders in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, including 360 Networks (S.D.N.Y.), Fresh & Easy (D. Del.), TriValley Growers (N.D. Calif.), Valeo Electrical Systems (S.D.N.Y.), Dana Corp. (S.D.N.Y.), Musicland (S.D.N.Y.), Malden Mills (D. Mass.), NordicTrack (D.Mass.), CML Group (Smith & Hawken) (D. Mass.)
  • Represented bidders and purchasers of assets in bankruptcy, receivership, Article 9, and insolvency proceedings, including Golden County Foods, Inc. (D. Del.), Supreme Specialties (S.D.N.Y.), MacKenzie-Childs (N.D.N.Y.), Allis-Chalmers (S.D.N.Y.), Grede Foundries (W.D.Wis.), Tak Communications (W.D.Wis.), MC Precast (N.D.Ga.)
  • Represented defendants in preference, fraudulent transfer, other avoidance and contract breach actions against debtors, creditors’ committees and trustees, including Golden Guernsey (D. Del.), Traffic Control and Safety Corporation (D. Del.), Petters (D. Minn.), Linens ‘n Things (D. Del.)

Honors & Recognitions

  • “Lawyer of the Year," The Best Lawyers in America®, 2012-2013, 2015-present
  • Top 10: Wisconsin Super Lawyers List, 2017, 2018
  • Top 25: Women Wisconsin Super Lawyers List, 2017, 2018
  • Top 25: Madison Super Lawyers List, 2017, 2018
  • Top 50: Wisconsin Super Lawyers List, 2017, 2018
  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation - Banking and Finance and Litigation – Bankruptcy, 2005-present
  • Leading Banking & Finance Lawyer, Chambers USA, 2016-2017, 2019
  • Women in the Law, Wisconsin Law Journal, 2015
  • Top 25 Women in “Wisconsin Super Lawyers,” 2006-2010, 2013-2014
  • Top 25 Madison Area “Wisconsin Super Lawyers,” 2014
  • Top 50 “Wisconsin Super Lawyers,” 2014
  • Fellow, American College of Bankruptcy, 2011
  • Super Lawyers (National) Corporate Counsel Edition, Bankruptcy and Creditor/Debtor Rights, 2009-2010
  • “Top Lawyers,” Bankruptcy, Madison Magazine, 2003; 2005; 2009
  • “Wisconsin Super Lawyer” in the area of Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights, 2005-present
  • Wisconsin Leaders in the Law, inaugural class, Wisconsin Law Journal, 2003
  • Fellow, Wisconsin Law Foundation, 2001

Professional Activities

  • Member, Dane County, American and Wisconsin Western District Bar Associations
  • Member, State Bar of Wisconsin, Bankruptcy, Insolvency & Creditors' Rights Section, Litigation Section
  • Member, Western District Bankruptcy Bar Association, former Secretary, Vice-Chair, Chair and Executive Committee Member
  • Member, American Bankruptcy Institute
  • Member, Board of Attorneys Professional Responsibility District 9 Grievance Committee (1991-1998), Co-Vice Chair (1994), Chair (1995-1998)
  • Member, Wisconsin Attorney Regulatory System, Board of Administrative Oversight Committee, Vice Chair (2000-2007), Chair (2007)
  • Member, Turnaround Management Association
  • National Instructor, Association of Certified Turnaround Professionals Body of Knowledge-Law Course, 2006-present



Community Involvement

  • Member, Wisconsin Bankers Association, Agricultural Bankers Section
  • Past Member, Board of Directors and Vice President, Madison Repertory Theatre
  • University of Wisconsin Law School LEO Program Mentor
  • Class F Soccer Coach
  • Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Ethics, Lobbying & Election Laws, staff (1989)
  • Past Member, Board of Directors, Rape Crisis Center
  • Former City of Madison Rent Abatement Hearing Examiner
  • Judge, State Bar of Wisconsin High School Mock Trial Competition
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