Summer 2016 • Issue 58, page 12

Eric Pezold: From Ranch Hand to Receiver's Counsel

By *

Eric grew up in Mesa, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. He comes from a family of 11 siblings, a combination of two families. While there are many things he misses about home, including attending Arizona Cardinals games (although one of his sons is a rival Eagles fan), the heat is not one of them. Eric originally moved west seeking a cooler climate and found it in Southern California. Since settling in Orange County he has found the weather so ideal he rarely leaves the state, generally preferring to vacation in his own backyard around the pool with his family.

As a young man, Eric spent his weekends and summers running cattle with his grandfather on the family ranch. In the late 1800s, the federal government patented large sections of Arizona to ranchers in order to shore up the Southwest border with Mexico. Eric’s family was given land in northeast Arizona, near the city of Show Low, to ranch. On the property, the family raised and continues to raise beef cattle. Working as his grandfather’s ranch hand essentially meant that Eric handled all of the hard work while his grandfather watched disapprovingly from the cab of his climate controlled pickup truck.

From round ups on horseback, to branding and horn clipping, breaking colts, delivering calves, dropping hay and salt blocks, retrieving eggs from angry chickens and repairing fences, windmills and the old ranch house – Eric did it all. The best part was driving his grandfather’s pickup trucks on beat up dirt roads beginning at age 12. When it rained and the roads turned to mush, Eric loved getting stuck, though he always had to “pretend” it was an accident, because his grandfather had to push the truck out of the mud.

When Eric wasn’t working the ranch, he enjoyed water skiing in the lakes surrounding the Valley. Later, when he moved to California, he bought a ski boat in an effort to re-live his days on the water. After realizing that skiing in the Pacific Ocean comes with certain dangers that are not present in the lakes of Arizona, (i.e., sharks and other sea life that are generally considered shark bait) he sold the boat without much regret.

Eric graduated from Arizona State University. During his senior year, he ran for and was elected a senator of the student senate for his college. That year, he also studied abroad in the United Kingdom, Scotland and Ireland. It was experiencing the moderate climates of those countries that led to Eric’s determination to leave home and look for “greener” pastures.

Upon graduating, he moved to Washington, D.C. to take a job as a research analyst at the Advisory Board Company, a healthcare consulting firm. The job was transformative for Eric. He honed his research, writing and advocacy skills in preparation for law school. Before heading to graduate school, he took one last stop, in San Diego, where he worked in the biotechnology space for a public relations and investor relations firm. It was here that Eric discovered the climate he was after. He resolved that after finishing law school in New Jersey he would find some way of returning to California.

That opportunity came in 2007 when Snell & Wilmer, the firm Eric joined straight out of law school, was looking to expand its bankruptcy, insolvency and creditor’s rights practice group in Orange County. The timing was perfect. The location was even better. With his wife’s family already living in Orange County, convincing her and their two boys to relocate to California was not very difficult.

While Eric had done some receivership work in Arizona, his real introduction to the practice came shortly after he was admitted to the California bar. He represented Bank of America, NA who needed a receiver to monetize in excess of $100 million of developed real estate located in California, Arizona and Colorado that served as the Bank’s collateral. Taylor Grant was selected as the receiver who promptly retained Richard Ormond as counsel. Together, Taylor, Richard and Eric sought receivership appointments in 3 states and promptly liquidated the credit for the Bank. They successfully navigated mechanic lien issues, title company concerns and judges’ unfamiliarity with receivership law and reluctance to enter free and clear sale relief.

Since then, Eric has been involved in receiverships of all types – limited, rents and profits, equity, etc. – representing lenders, servicers, receivers, buyers, and in a handful of cases, the targets of the receivership. Eric is a board member, co-chairs the education committee of the California Receiver Forum (LA/OC chapter), and has been a panelist and moderator at California Receiver Forum events.

In addition to his receivership work, Eric also provides U.S. and international restructuring and insolvency advice. He represents debtors, trustees, committees, lenders, and buyers in bankruptcy proceedings throughout the country.

He serves as a board member of the Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County and co-chairs the career forum committee that plans and hosts approximately 1,000 high school students at an annual career fair. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, running, snow skiing, practicing yoga, and watching his two sons play water polo (including in the Junior Olympics tournament).