Thomas G. Kelch

Thomas G. Kelch

Outside Counsel
Irvine, California
Mr. Kelch has substantial practical and academic experience in the areas of bankruptcy, financial restructuring and commercial law. He began his career as a business litigator in Los Angeles, but quickly gravitated to bankruptcy and commercial law. Most recently, he was of counsel to the bankruptcy firm, Peitzman, Weg and Kempinsky in Los Angeles, and prior to that practiced with Rutan and Tucker in Orange County and Gendel, Raskoff, Shapiro and Quittner in Los Angeles.

During his career, Mr. Kelch has represented debtors, creditors, creditors' committees and asset purchasers in chapter 11 cases, including representing major creditors in cases like Enron, PG&E and Mirant Energy. Mr. Kelch is also a Professor of Law at Whittier Law School, where he has taught Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization classes, as well as Corporations, Contracts, Commercial Law, Real Estate Finance and Professional Responsibility. He has published extensively on bankruptcy, real estate and animal law, and has lectured on bankruptcy and animal law issues. Among his publications are the book, Real Property Issues In Bankruptcy, co-authored with Michael Slattery, and numerous articles on business restructuring and bankruptcy, including articles on corporate governance and fiduciary duties in chapter 11 cases, and on derivatives contracts in bankruptcy.

Mr. Kelch graduated with a Bachelor of General Studies with high distinction from the University of Michigan and received his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School. He also has an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California and a Masters Degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Irvine. Mr. Kelch is admitted to practice in California and is a licensed real estate broker in California.

Areas of Practice

  • Bankruptcy
  • Financial Restructuring
  • Commercial Law
  • Debtors
  • Creditors
  • Chapter 11 Cases

Bar Admissions

  • California, 1981
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California, 1981


  • The University of Michigan Law School, Ann Arbor, Michigan
    • J.D. magna cum laude
  • University of California
    • Masters Degree
    • Major: Philosophy
  • University of Southern California
    • M.B.A.
  • University of Michigan
    • Bachelor of General Studies
    • Honors: With High Distinction

Published Works

  • Toward Universal Principles for Global Animal Advocacy, TRANSNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW 81, 2016
  • Cultural Solipsism, Cultural Lenses, Universal Principles and Animal Advocacy, 31 PACE ENVTL. L. REV. 403, 2014
  • A Short History of (Mostly) Western Animal Law Part I, 19 ANIMAL LAW 23, 2013
  • A Short History of (Mostly) Western Animal Law Part II, 19 ANIMAL LAW 347, 2013
  • The WTO Tuna Labeling Decision and Animal Law,, J. ANIMAL &NAT. RESOURCES L.121, 2012
  • GLOBALIZATION AND ANIMAL LAW, Kluwer Law International, 2011
  • Forward Contracts, Bankruptcy Safe Harbors and the Electricity Industry,, 51 WAYNE L, REV. 49 (Co-authored with Howard J. Weg), 2005
  • Animal Experimentation and the First Amendment, 22 WESTERN NEW ENGLAND L. REV. 467, 2001
  • The Role of the Rational and the Emotive in a Theory of Animal Rights, 27 BOSTON COLLEGE ENV. L. REV. 1, 1999
  • The Mythology of Waivers of Bankruptcy Privileges, 31 IND. L. REV. 897 (Coauthored with Michael K. Slattery), 1998
  • Toward a Non-Property Status for Animals, 6 N.Y.U. ENV. L.J. 531, 1998
  • REAL PROPERTY ISSUES IN BANKRUPTCY, New York: Clark Boardman Callaghan (Co-authored with Michael K. Slattery), 1995
  • An Apology for Plain Meaning Analysis of the Bankruptcy Code, 10 BANK. DEV. J. 289, 1994
  • Disassembling a Withering Mirage: Shareholder Control Rights in Chapter 11,, 38 WAYNE LAW REVIEW 1323, 1992
  • Representing a Committee of Unsecured Creditors in a Chapter 11 Case, Chapter 19 in BANKRUPTCY PRACTICE AND STRATEGY A. Resnick ed. (Co-authored with Robert J. Moore), 1987
  • The Integrity of Commodity Futures Contracts under the Bankruptcy Reform Act, ANNUAL SURVEY OF BANKRUPTCY LAW pp. 297-340, 1982


  • Not Just in the U.S.: The International Puppy Mill Problem and Efforts to Address It, Animal Law Guild of Los Angeles, at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, California, September 2015
  • Toward Universal Principles for Global Animal Advocacy and the Idea of Personhood for Animals, for the NGOs, Animalia and the Center for Animal Welfare in Finland, at the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, July 2014
  • Toward Universal Principles for Global Animal Advocacy, for The Global Animal Law Conference II, at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona Spain, July 2014
  • Globalization and Animal Law and Advocacy, for The Animal Turn and The Law, University of Basel, Switzerland and the Max Plank Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, in Basel, Switzerland, April 2014
  • A Global Perspective on Animal Law: The Role of Constitutions, for the Animal Law Section of the AALS Conference at the 2013 AALS Conference in New York City
  • Recent Developments in Comparative and International Law on the Treatment and Impact of Farmed Animals, for the Animal Law Section of the AALS Conference at the 2011 AALS Conference in San Francisco
  • International Trade and Animal Law, for the Animal Law Section of the AALS at the 2009 AALS Conference in San Diego
  • Guest Speaker, September 2007 on “Voiceless Law Talk” at (Speaking generally on Animal Law issues)
  • Transnational Insolvency Issues, at the ILS West Conference at Whittier Law School 2005
  • Insolvency Regulation in USA, presented at an International Law Conference sponsored by the University of Cantabria in Laredo, Spain 2005, entitled El Derecho Como vía de Solución de Conflictos: Experiencias Diversas en EE.UU. y Europa [“The Legal Solutions for Conflicts and Diversity between the U.S. and Europe”]
  • Classes Taught: Animal Law, International and Comparative Animal Law, Bankruptcy (focusing on Chapter 7 and the generally applicable provisions of the Bankruptcy Code), Corporate Reorganizations in Bankruptcy (focusing on Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code), Commercial Law (UCC I, dealing with UCC Articles 2 and 3, and UCC II, dealing with UCC Articles 3, 5, 7 and 9), Business Associations, Contracts, Real Estate Finance and Professional Responsibility

Past Employment Positions

  • Whittier Law School, Costa Mesa, California (Professor of Law, 1989-Present) (teaching Animal Law, International and Comparative Animal Law, Bankruptcy, Corporate Reorganizations in Bankruptcy, Business Associations, Commercial Law, Contracts, Real Estate Finance and Professional Responsibility)
  • Burkhalter, Kessler, Clement and George, Irvine, California, Of Counsel, 2003 - 2008
  • C. B. Richard Ellis, (Vice President Commercial real estate sales), 2007 - 2008
  • Peitzman, Weg & Kempinsky, Los Angeles, California, (Of Counsel to Bankruptcy Law Firm, representing primarily energy-related clients), 2001 - 2007
  • Rutan and Tucker, Costa Mesa, California, (bankruptcy practice involving representation of secured and unsecured creditors, as well as purchasers of assets in chapter 11 cases), 1989 - 1990
  • Gendel, Raskoff, Shapiro and Quittner, Los Angeles, California, (bankruptcy practice including representation of chapter 11 debtors in possession, creditors' committees, secured creditors, unsecured creditors and purchasers of assets in chapter 11 cases), 1983 - 1989
  • Nossaman, Guthner, Knox and Elliott, Los Angeles, California, (civil and bankruptcy litigation), 1981 - 1983