Jeffrey C. Toole, Partner

“My biggest strength is my ability to analyze a complex legal problem from different angles, develop options and practical strategies to address it, and then explain it to the client in a straightforward, understandable way.”
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Bernstein-Burkley partner Jeffrey Toole is adept at breaking down complicated ideas, whether it’s to advise clients facing legal challenges or to instruct future attorneys at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. No matter the audience, Jeff puts care and respect into explaining concepts so no one feels like they’re left in the dark. Through his years of experience as a transactional attorney and a commercial litigator, Jeff has developed and honed his abilities to help borrowers and lenders alike to achieve their objectives, mitigate their risks, and maximize their outcomes. His negotiation skills and work on large restructuring transactions have enabled his clients to navigate through the intricacies of business bankruptcy cases and receiverships with confidence.


Jeff’s practice focuses on commercial debt restructuring and insolvency matters, primarily in the following industries:

  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Real estate development
  • Health care
  • Hospitality
  • Transportation

He Represents:

Jeff has vast experience successfully representing:

  • Debtors
  • Leasing companies
  • Banks, insurance companies, and other secured lenders
  • Creditors’ committees
  • Unsecured trade creditors – in, among other areas:
    • Corporate reorganizations
    • Going-concern sales and other transactions
    • Lending and leasing matters
    • Receiverships
    • Complex commercial litigation in state and federal courts


  • Kenyon College (B.A. Psychology, summa cum laude, 1982)
  • Cornell Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1985)


  • Ohio State Bar
  • Indiana State Bar
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

Affiliations and Memberships:

  • American Bankruptcy Institute – Member
  • Turnaround Management Association – Northern Ohio Chapter
  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association – Bankruptcy and Commercial Law Section
  • Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law – Adjunct Professor, Bankruptcy
  • Executive Committee of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Bankruptcy and Commercial Law Section – Member


Jeff has been recognized by Chambers USABest Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers for his work in bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights, among other areas:

  • Best Lawyers in America® – Banking and Finance Law; Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights/Insolvency and Reorganization Law; Commercial Transactions / UCC Law; Litigation – Bankruptcy – Recognized since 2012
  • Ohio Super Lawyers – Business & Corporate Attorney; 2006 – 2008; 2010 – present

Notable Cases:

  • Jeff enabled a national bank client and its participant lender to recover full repayment of a distressed, $29 million loan secured by multiple nursing homes. He helped achieve this by working cooperatively with the borrower (while also aggressively and successfully motivating it) to effectuate multiple sale and refinancing transactions that gradually paid down and ultimately satisfied the debt.
  • Jeff navigated a borrower through a hotly-contested Chapter 11 reorganization, which included convincing the court to approve the client’s use of the lender’s cash collateral (despite the lender’s opposition). Ultimately, the court confirmed a Chapter 11 plan where the client’s business was sold as a going concern, which maximized its creditors’ recoveries, preserved its employees’ jobs, and allowed the business to continue.


  • “Harry Greenfield and Jeffrey Toole of Bernstein-Burkley are two of the best bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers I have had the pleasure to work with over the past 20 plus years. Not only are they both very smart and knowledgeable about the law, they also bring a unique creativity and business sense to the table in their cases.” – Best Lawyers U.S. News review


  • “The In Pari Delicto Defense: Exceptions, Limitations, and Potential Workarounds for Chapter 7 Trustees” (Author, American Bankruptcy Trustee Journal Vol. 36, Issue 1, National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees, Spring 2020)
  • “Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends: The Supreme Court Visits the Bankruptcy Briar Patch Again (Author, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal, September 2018)
  • “Clarifying Officers’ Fiduciary Duties and Mitigating LLC Members’ Liability Risks: Senate Bill No. 181 Fills Some Gaps and Patches Some Holes (Author, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal, January 2017)
  • “Pre-Filing Advice for Individual Chapter 11 Debtors: Practical Tips and Pitfalls” (Author, ABA Business Law Today, April 2015)
  • “Law Firm Bankruptcies: Partners May Run, But They Can’t Hide” (Author, American Bankruptcy Institute, April 2015)
  • “Law Firm Dissolutions…Is The ‘Unfinished Business Doctrine’ Finished?” (Co-Author, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal, September 2014)
  • “Credit Bidding at Bankruptcy Sales: A Powerful Tool, But Not Absolute” (Co-Author, ABF Journal, May/June 2014)
  • “Expanding Role of State Court Receivers in Rebirth of Distressed Commercial Properties” (Author, Properties Magazine, January 2014)
  • “This Land Isn’t Your Land” (Co-Author, Commercial Law World, January/February 2012)
  • “UCC Article 9: More Than Ten Years Later Traps for the Unwary Still Linger” (Author, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Journal, January 2012)
  • “What Do You Mean the Lessee Sold My Equipment? It’s Mine!” (Co-Author, Lease Enforcement Attorney Network, July 2011)


  • Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 – Presenter, 9th Annual Bankruptcy and Turnaround Update (Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Bankruptcy & Insolvency Section & Turnaround Management Association – Ohio Chapter, October 2019)
  • Co-Chair (UCC Panels, William J. O’Neill Great Lakes Regional Bankruptcy Institute, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, 2018)
  • Turning the Page to the Next Chapter: Individual Chapter 11 Cases (Co-Presenter, American Bankruptcy Institute, Mid-Atlantic Bankruptcy Workshop, August 2017)
  • Preference and Fraudulent Transfer Updates (With a Few Unusual Asset Issues Thrown In) (Presenter, William J. O’Neill Great Lakes Regional Bankruptcy Institute, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, June 2016)
  • Righting the Sinking Ship: Working Out Problem Loans and Troubled Clients Before It Is Too Late (Co-Presenter, The Commercial Law League of America National Convention, April 2016)
  • Advising the Company’s Board of Directors: Fiduciary Duties in Good Times and Bad (Presenter, Ohio State Bar Association, September 2015)
  • Receiverships: Everything You Need to Know About Ohio’s New Receivership Law (Presenter and Moderator, William J. O’Neill Great Lakes Regional Bankruptcy Institute, Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, May 2015)
  • Working with Financially Troubled Companies (Presenter, Ohio State Bar Association, September 2014)
  • When Receiverships and Bankruptcy Collide: How Can You Use the Pre-Petition Appointment of a Receiver to Your Advantage? (Co-Presenter, The Commercial Law League of America Annual Convention, April 2014)
  • What Happens in a Workout? – Forbearance, Restructuring and Other Alternatives to Work Out Defaulted Commercial Loans (Presenter, Ohio State Bar Association Webinar, August 2013)
  • Financial Stress and Distress – What Are Your Options? (Co-Presenter, Ohio CPA Not-for-Profit Leadership Symposium, October 2011)