Christopher J. Azzara

Shareholder
P:(412) 281-5423   or   (412) 227-0271
F:(412) 281-8264
E:cazzara@smgglaw.com

Biography

Christopher J. Azzara has been part of the Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky (SMGG) team since 2007. In addition to being a shareholder, Mr. Azzara is a Member of the Executive Committee and Treasurer at SMGG.  He is the Chair of the Firm’s Banking, Creditors’ Rights and Insolvency Group and the Co-Chair of the Firm’s Real Estate Group. Mr. Azzara represents various companies in real estate, corporate, finance, construction, public sector, and litigation matters.

Mr. Azzara’s competency is in the areas of banking, bankruptcy, and creditors’ rights laws. He is one of only five board certified creditors’ rights specialist attorneys in Pennsylvania. Mr. Azzara routinely advises large and mid-market financial institutions, business owners, developers, institutional lenders, and real estate investors in a wide range of commercial financing transactions, including the preparation and negotiation of loan documents, workouts, and foreclosures. He also has extensive experience representing secured and unsecured creditors, as well as trustees, landlords, and small businesses, in all aspects of Chapter 11 business bankruptcy cases and Chapter 7 and 13 individual bankruptcy cases.

Mr. Azzara’s work as Co-Chair of SMGG’s Real Estate Group is renowned for his representation of clients in all aspects of commercial real estate, including complex issues related to buying, selling and leasing, negotiating and preparing transaction documents, commercial and residential developments, like-kind exchanges, contract disputes, foreclosures, landlord/tenant matters, and insurance and defense of title claims. Mr. Azzara is also a licensed Pennsylvania title agent for several national title insurance companies and oversees SMGG’s commercial and residential closing practices.

Known for his attention to detail and ability to learn, understand, and advocate for his clients’ businesses, Mr. Azzara is the face of SMGG with various corporate clients, representing them on matters of real estate, corporate, finance, construction, public sector, and litigation matters. He is also the author of the Mechanics’ Liens and Fraudulent Transfers Chapters of the treatise entitled Pennsylvania Commercial Litigation, which was published by American Lawyer Media’s The Legal Intelligencer.

Outside of his legal practice, Chris is an avid golfer and skier and enjoys live music, cooking, and traveling. A native of Watertown, Connecticut, Mr. Azzara now lives in the North Hills of Pittsburgh with his wife and two children.

Experience and Representative Matters

  • Successfully represented Fortune 500 company in collection matters involving the reclamation of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • Representation of regional property developer in all aspects of property management and leasing issues with an eye towards reducing legal expenses and exposure to litigation.

  • Successfully represented national real estate investment company in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy relating to leases with a national franchised restaurant resulting in the recoupment of lease termination damages.

  • Successfully negotiated settlement on behalf of a bankruptcy trustee against a national financial services company relating to the treatment of debtors during the pendency of their bankruptcy cases resulting in substantial credits and reimbursements to the debtors.

  • Successfully represented national title insurance underwriter in the collection of unpaid insurance premiums in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy totaling over $600,000 dollars.

  • Represented interested party/landowner in the successful formulation and prosecution of a Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization to facilitate the continued operation of a large scale printing facility.

  • Successfully negotiated a resolution for a gas station lessee regarding lease disputes with its landlord who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy resulting in a renegotiated lease to enhance lessee's profitability.

  • Reorganized corporate structure of local distributorship to enhance profit margins and profitability.

  • Successfully negotiated a settlement for gas station lessee whose right of first refusal was wrongfully terminated resulting in lessee's multi-million dollar acquisition of the underlying gas station.

  • Represented property developer in the development of a planned community including acquisition, formation, zoning, financing, permitting, public offering and declaration matters.

  • Represented client in the review and cleanup of title issues and issuance of title policy for a large scale car dealership allowing the client to refinance its debt obligations and expand its operations.

  • Successfully represented various mid-market lenders in foreclosure actions.

  • Represented lenders in the drafting and negotiating of loan documents for various commercial transactions including real estate acquisitions, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, equipment, facility, and inventory financing, and various other commercial loans.

  • Successfully negotiated a favorable settlement on behalf of a national construction company in bond litigation over multi-million dollar public projects recouping hundreds of thousands of dollars for the client.

  • Represented various construction companies in the successful establishment and enforcement of liens against real estate resulting in reimbursement of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

  • Represented national religious non-profit organization in its merger with its canonical entity and restructured its real estate portfolio to effectuate a large scale lease project with a regional health care provider.

Certifications

  • Board Certified in creditors’ rights law by American Board of Certification

Speaking Engagements

  • Collections and FDCPA Compliance: Defining Commercial vs. Consumer Collections, National Business Institute, 2014
  • Collections: Seeking and Collecting a Judgment - Identifying Fraudulent Conveyances, National Business Institute, 2012

Professional Affiliations

  • Allegheny County Bar Association - Member of the Construction Law, Real Estate, and the Bankruptcy and Commercial Law Sections
  • American Bankruptcy Institute
  • American Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association

Community Activities

  • Vincentian Collaborative Systems, Board of Directors
  • Traveler's Aid of Pittsburgh, Board of Directors
  • North Hills Community Outreach, Legal Consultant Volunteer

Publications

  • "Chapter 14: Mechanics' Liens." In Pennsylvania Commercial Litigation, by Harry F. Kunselman. Pittsburgh: The Legal Intelligencer, 2014.
  • "Chapter 16: Fraudulent Transfers." In Pennsylvania Commercial Litigation, by Harry F. Kunselman. Pittsburgh: The Legal Intelligencer, 2014.

From Our Blog

Recognition & Awards

Education

  • J.D., Duquesne University
  • B.A., Fairfield University

Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania