Peter Califano

Contact Peter

Email: pcalifano@cwclaw.comPhone: 415-765-0363vCard: download vCard

Mr. Califano is a local practitioner having over 30 years of experience in representing creditors and debtors in all aspects of insolvency matters, in federal and state court litigation, alternative dispute resolution and workouts, along with related business transactions.  He has special expertise in bankruptcy, alternatives to bankruptcy and equipment leasing matters.  Mr. Califano has successfully represented a wide range of individuals and institutional clients in documentation, collateralization, litigation, enforcement and bankruptcy phases of the credit cycle.

Representative Engagements

  • Represented the successful bidder of a purchase and sale of the a golf course in a local Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.  In order to complete the transaction, various real estate, water rights and finance issues had to be addressed in a timely and coordinated fashion.
  • Enforced a large money judgment against an evasive debtor, including locating and executing on hidden assets, including the debtor’s stock broker and margin accounts, resulting in a favorable resolution of the creditor.
  • Facilitated a complicated forbearance and workout involving a high end real estate developer.  Stayed enforcement of a large judgment and avoided the need for a bankruptcy case.  By arranging for the completion of several projects, with interim payments to the creditor, the matter was resolved quickly and efficiently.
  • Represented a secured creditor in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy whose security interest was not properly perfected with the Secretary of State.  Secured partial adequate protection payments, avoided preference litigation and successfully settled and paid before a plan was confirmed in the case.
  • Sued a seller of two gas stations for breach of a purchase and sale agreement involving a multi-party transaction. Even though the full purchase price was paid, the buyer did not receive title to the gas stations. In addition, after the buyer had transferred the required monies, the seller attempted to reorganize his financial affairs in order to become judgment-proof. However, through the use of an application for a pre-judgment writ of attachment and requests for early discovery to prove various fraudulent transfers, buyer was able to reach a quick settlement for the immediate return of the purchase price.

Professional and Community Activities

Mr. Califano is active in several national and state bankruptcy organizations and is a frequent speaker and writer on bankruptcy and debtor-creditor topics. In September 2011, Mr. Califano has testified before the Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in support of H.R. 2533, the “Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Venue Reform Act of 2011″ that was introduced by Representatives Lamar Smith and John Conyers, Jr. Mr. Califano also co-chairs an ad hoc group of bankruptcy lawyers from across the country seeking fair bankruptcy venue reform and has led lobbying efforts for legislative change.  In June 2013, as President of the California Bankruptcy Forum he helped to develop and create the Pro Bono Project, a statewide program to assist indigent debtors with access to the courts. Mr. Califano continues to organize efforts for national bankruptcy venue reform and was instrumental in the introduction on January 8, 2018 of S. 2282 by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a further bipartisan venue reform proposal entitled the “Bankruptcy Venue Reform Act of 2018”.


Born – Buffalo, New York
B.A. – SUNY at Buffalo, magna cum laude
J.D. – Santa Clara University School of Law, with honors

Memberships and Appointments

Mr. Califano is a currently a member of the Commercial Law League of America (“CLLA”), the Executive Committee of the Business Law Section (“BLS”) of the State Bar of California,  its Insolvency Law Committee (“ILC”) and the California Bankruptcy Forum (“CBF”).  He is also a member of the Lease Enforcement Attorney Network (“LEAN”) and the American Bankruptcy Institute. Mr. Califano is admitted to practice before the US Supreme Court and is licensed to practice before federal and state courts located in California. He has held or holds the following positions and appointments:

  • 2016, President, CLLA
  • 2012 to 2017, Board of Governors, CLLA
  • 2013 to present, Co-Chair of CLLA’s Annual DC Hill Day
  • 2018, Government Affairs Committee of the CLLA
  • 2010 to present, the Chair of the CLLA
  • ILC and the BLS Executive Committee of the CaliforniaLawyers Association (“CLA”) and continuing Advisor
  • 2013 to 2014, President, CBF and continuing Advisor

Alternative Dispute Resolution Panels

  • 1997 to Present, Mediator for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California’s Bankruptcy Dispute Resolution Program
  • 2008 to Present, Early Neutral Evaluator for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Alternative Dispute Resolution Multi-Option Program

Reported Cases and Laws

  • Siemens Credit Corporation v. Allan E. Newlands, 905 F.Supp. 757 (N.D. Cal. 1994), a leading case upholding the rights of equipment lessors under Article 2A of the Uniform Commercial Code.
  • Co-author of  the Religious Liberty and Charitable Donation Protection Act of 1998 [Public Law 105-183] amended Section 548 of the Bankruptcy Code regarding the protection of charitable donations as fraudulent conveyances.

Recent Publications Articles

  • “Good News for Equipment Lessors:  Priority for Idle Equipment”, LEAN – News and Analysis, August 2018
  • “Why Do We Volunteer?”  Commercial Law World, Jul/Aug/Sep 2017, pp 11-12
  • “Bankruptcy Venue Reform Primer – Everything You Need to Know is in this Article,” Commercial Law World, October/November 2015, pp 8-15
  • California Assignments for the Benefit of Creditors Desk Guide, Insolvency Law Committee of the Business Law Section of the State Bar of California, Editor, June 2014
  • “Bankruptcy: The Essentials” Commercial Loan Documentation Guide, Chapter 21 (Matthew Bender, 2007, rev. 2011, 2014 and 2018
  • “Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Issues,” Commercial Finance Guide, Chapter 35 (Matthew Bender, 2005, rev. 2010 and 2015)
  • “Consensual Reorganization of Debtors,” Commercial Finance Guide, Chapter 34 (Matthew Bender, 2004 rev. 2011 and 2015)

Recent Panels

  • Alternatives to Bankruptcy – Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors and Receiverships, CLLA National Convention & Joint IACC Spring Meeting, June 7, 2018, Chicago, Illinois
  • “When a Bankruptcy Case is Filed:  How an Agency Can Turn Lemons Into Lemonade” 2nd Joint Conference of CLLA & IACC Mid-Year Collection Conference, July 16, 2017, Seattle, Washington
  • “Plotting the Course: What the Future Holds for Insolvency Professionals” (Moderator) CBF, 29th Annual Insolvency Conference, San Diego, California, May 2017
  • “Multi-Party Litigation Nightmares” CLLA – 2015 National Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 2015 (Part I), and 2016 National Convention, Chicago, Illinois, April 2016, (Part II)
  • “Bankruptcy:  The Changing Bankruptcy Caseload in the Northern District – Is It Something We Have Said Or Done?” Northern District 2015 Judicial Conference, Napa, California, March 2015


  • “AV” rated by Martindale Hubbell
  • 2012 to present, Northern California Best Lawyers; Super Lawyers, for excellence in Bankruptcy/Insolvency and Debtor’-Creditor’ Rights Law
  • 2015 to present, CBF Tennis Tournament Chair

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