Debra A. Riley


Debra Riley is a partner in the firm's San Diego office, concentrating in the area of bankruptcy, creditors' rights, municipal and public financing, debt restructurings, and distressed asset acquisition and disposition. Debra has served as counsel for debtors-in-possession, municipalities, special districts, developers, creditors' committees, secured and unsecured creditors, and institutional investors in complex out-of-court restructurings and chapter 11 proceedings throughout the country, including California, Delaware and New York. Debra also counsels municipalities, special districts, bondholders, and developers in connection with municipal bond issues, including out-of-court restructuring of community facilities district and assessment district bonds, the use of chapter 9 proceedings to restructure public bonds, the refunding/refinancing of public bonds, and the purchase and sale of defaulted public bonds. In addition, she has handled numerous related issues involving defaulted development agreements, subdivision improvement agreements, surety bonds, and lien contracts. Her experience covers a wide array of industries, including real estate, manufacturing, dietary supplements, subprime lending, technology, and healthcare.

Debra has handled all aspects of a bankruptcy case from pre-bankruptcy planning through plan confirmation, as well as post-confirmation matters. Debra has significant experience in pre-negotiated, pre-planned bankruptcy cases resulting in efficient, effective, and timely restructurings. Debra has drafted plans of reorganization, disclosure statements and related plan implementation documents, and has handled contested matters involving debtor-in-possession financing, asset sales, plan confirmation, claim objections, and the assumption and assignment of executory contracts and unexpired leases and license agreements.
Debra also has commercial and real estate litigation experience, including prosecuting judicial and non-judicial foreclosures and guaranty actions, and handling pre and post-judgment enforcement and collections matters.

Prior to joining Allen Matkins, Debra was a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago where she was involved in many nationally prominent bankruptcy cases and out-of-court restructurings of public and private debt.

Before embarking on the practice of law, Debra was a certified public accountant in Connecticut and maintained an audit and consulting practice with a predecessor to Ernst & Young.


  • American Bankruptcy Institute (advisory board member for various conferences (2007 current) and co-chair of Battleground West Conference (2007-2010)) 
  • National Association of Bond Lawyers 
  • Women in Public Finance, San Diego Chapter 
  • International Women's Insolvency Restructuring Confederation (board member San Diego Chapter 2008-2010) 
  • Association of Insolvency & Restructuring Advisors 
  • California and San Diego Bankruptcy Forums 
  • Turnaround Management Association 
  • California Women Lawyers Ernst & Young Alumni Group


  • AV® Preeminent™ Martindale Hubbell Rating 
  • Selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers (2007)
  • Top San Diego Attorney (2012-2014)


Debra graduated, summa cum laude,  from Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut, with a B.S. in accounting and computer science.  She received her M.B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut.  Debra obtained her J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law.

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • Illinois
  • Connecticut