Leonard Rosen, bankruptcy lawyer, dies at 83

Leonard M. Rosen, a founding partner of the

Leonard M. Rosen, a founding partner of the prestigious New York City law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, died Wednesday, April 16, 2014. He was 83. (Credit: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz)

Leonard M. Rosen, an influential bankruptcy lawyer who lived on Long Island for decades, represented New York City when it was on the verge of economic collapse in 1975, helping secure critical financing.

In the early 1980s, he forged an agreement between Chrysler and each of its more than 400 bank lenders that enabled the struggling automaker to survive.

Rosen, a founding partner of the prestigious Manhattan law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, died Wednesday. He was 83.

"He was a very gentle man who had this ability to solve problems without a lot of hysterics," said Harvey Miller, Rosen's friend for 54 years and a senior partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

Rosen was born on Nov. 19, 1930, in the Bronx. He graduated from the College of the City of New York with a business administration degree in 1951. He went on to New York University School of Law, graduating in 1954.

Rosen met his law firm's co-founders, Martin Lipton, Herbert Wachtell and George Katz, at NYU. In 1965, they launched the firm, where Rosen worked until his retirement in 1997.

"He was the glue that cemented a group of hardworking and talented attorneys into a leading law firm that has served as a model for other firms," the firm said in a statement. "He was not only admired and respected by his colleagues; he was beloved."

He continued to assist on legal cases until his death from complications related to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, his family said.

Rosen was also an adjunct professor at NYU, contributed to the drafting of the federal bankruptcy code in the late 1970s and chaired the National Bankruptcy Conference from 1984 to 1992, according to his firm.

In 2008, during the mortgage crisis, Rosen was involved in the implementation of the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the firm said.

Leonard Rosen and his wife, Phyllis, were married for 56 years. They moved to Roslyn Heights from the city and lived there for 30 years while raising their children. They moved back to Manhattan after their children were grown, the family said.

"Beyond his work, he was a tremendous father and exemplified the best qualities in a human being," said his son David Rosen, of Chicago.

Survivors include two other sons, Adam Rosen, of Port Washington, and Steven Rosen, of Manhattan; a daughter, Carol Lieber, of Westchester County; a sister, Pauline Pollack, of New Jersey; and nine grandchildren.

Funeral services were held Thursday at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in Manhattan.

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