Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
1201 Third Avenue, Suite 3400
Seattle, WA 98101-3034
Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
1201 Third Avenue, Suite 3400
Seattle, WA 98101-3034

Ryan Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC
1201 Third Avenue, Suite 3400
Seattle, WA 98101-3034

Joe Sakay
Driving clients’ realization efforts through complex bankruptcies, state court receiverships and commercial litigation.

Joe is the Chair of Ryan Swanson’s Corporate Bankruptcy, Receivership & Finance Group.

He has a lender and banking industry focused insolvency and bankruptcy litigation practice, representing creditors in both Oregon and Washington. For more than two decades Joe has provided common-sense advice and no-nonsense representation to financial institution clients. He currently represents lenders and secured creditors on matters ranging from workouts and state court receiverships to active participation in complex litigation and bankruptcy cases.

Joe has successfully represented clients in a full range of litigation settings including arbitrations, bench and jury trials. Over his 25-year career Joe has appeared as creditor counsel in over 500 bankruptcies up and down the West Coast and across the U.S. His cross-border insolvency work has spanned the globe associating with co-counsel in countries including Japan, China, United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, and the Cayman Islands.

Representative Experience

  • Successfully represented creditor in one of the largest bitcoin cryptocurrency bankruptcies to date.
  • Represented various creditors in bankruptcy cases nationwide, including: Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, Michael Mastro, Eddie Bauer, Enron North America, Mirant, and NextWave Wireless.
  • Handled adversary proceedings in bankruptcies as well as expedited evidentiary hearings in state court. For instance, the bankruptcy court appointed Joe Special Litigation Counsel to the Debtor-in-Possession – In re Partners Mortgage Corporation, where he recovered several million dollars for creditors.
  • Assisted banks with internal investigations, including chairing special board committees, crisis management, leading internal investigations and advising clients on corporate governance and regulatory/compliance issues.
  • Represented the plaintiff in a multi-week jury trial involving allegations of harassment and invasion of privacy. We prevailed at trial and successfully collected the client’s judgment.
  • Led the trial defense of a secured creditor in a title insurance and lien priority action, involving a prominent mixed-use development, where claims exceeded $4,000,000.

Publications and Speaking Engagements

  • Co-presenter, “Where’s My Rent? Commercial Leasing and Insolvency During the Pandemic,” King County Bar Association Bankruptcy Section (November 2020)
  • Presenter, “Issues with Intercreditor Agreements and Cross Collateralization,” HCMP Lender Services Seminar (March 2018)
  • WorkSmart Seminar, Realizing on Security Interests in Collateral
  • WorkSmart Seminar, Mechanics Liens
  • WorkSmart Seminar, Cash Collateral and Cramdowns, Chapter 11 Bankruptcies

Professional Activities

  • American Bar Association, Litigation Section
  • American Bankruptcy Institute
  • Washington State Bar Association
  • Oregon State Bar Association
  • Federal Bar Association for the Western District of Washington
  • King County Bar Foundation, Future of the Law Institute – Volunteer Mentor
  • Cooperating Attorney A.C.L.U. of Washington
  • University of Washington School of Law, Professional Mentorship Program
  • MAVIN, Past-President and Former Member – Board of Directors
  • Seattle Youth Lacrosse Club, Founding Member and Youth Lacrosse Coach


  • University of Washington School of Law
    (J.D., 1993; Executive Comments Editor, Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal)
  • Whitman College
    (B.A., with honors and distinction, 1990; Awarded College Founder's Award)
Admitted to Practice
  • Washington State Supreme Court
  • Colorado State Supreme Court
  • Oregon State Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Western and Eastern Districts of Washington
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Oregon
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western and Eastern Districts of Washington

Hobbies & Interests

Joe is a proud native of South Seattle, loves calling the Emerald City his hometown and is a diehard Seahawks fan. When not practicing law, Joe enjoys seemingly disparate pursuits such as working under the hood of his truck or studying classical chess history. When he is able Joe enjoys returning to the Big Island, where his grandparents once worked sugar cane for $18.00 per month, to paddleboard and snorkel.