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Bankruptcy

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Advising Contacts

Administration Faculty
Bankruptcy LL.M. Adjunct Faculty


Discover

Bankruptcy is a legal procedure for dealing with debt problems of individuals and businesses; specifically, a case filed under one of the chapters of title 11 of the United States Code (the Bankruptcy Code). The bankruptcy system governs the obligations and rights of creditors (lenders or others to whom a debt is owed) and debtors (borrowers or recipients of credit, goods or services).  It provides an orderly structure for addressing the inability of an individual or organization to meet its monetary obligations.  Bankruptcy laws help people who can no longer pay their creditors get a fresh start – by liquidating assets to pay their debts or by creating a repayment plan.  Bankruptcy laws also protect troubled businesses and provide for orderly distributions to business creditors through reorganization or liquidation.  Most cases are filed under the three main chapters of the Bankruptcy Code – Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. Some bankruptcy cases are filed to allow a debtor to reorganize and establish a plan to repay creditors, while other cases involve liquidation of the debtor’s property.

  • Liquidation Under the Bankruptcy Code (Chapter 7)
    Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation proceeding available to consumers and businesses. Those assets of a debtor that are not exempt from creditors are collected and liquidated (reduced to money), and the proceeds are distributed to creditors. A consumer debtor receives a complete discharge from debt under Chapter 7, except for certain debts that are prohibited from discharge by the Bankruptcy Code.
  • Reorganization (Chapter 11)
    A case filed under chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code is frequently referred to as a “reorganization” bankruptcy. The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing (generally) for reorganization, usually involving a corporation or partnership. People in business or individuals can also seek relief in chapter 11.) Chapter 11 bankruptcy provides a procedure by which an individual or a business can reorganize its debts while continuing to operate. The vast majority of Chapter 11 cases are filed by businesses. The debtor, often with participation from creditors, creates a plan of reorganization under which to repay part or all of its debts.
  • Individual Debt Adjustment (Chapter 13)
    The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income. (Chapter 13 allows a debtor to keep property and pay debts over time, usually three to five years.) Chapter 13, often called wage-earner bankruptcy, is used primarily by individual consumers to reorganize their financial affairs under a repayment plan that must be completed within three or five years.

Types of Practice

  • Private law firms – bankruptcy lawyers represent individuals, corporate debtors, corporate creditors, creditors’ committees and trustees.
  • Corporate counsel – bankruptcy attorneys work in-house at banks, corporations, where they are part of a larger corporate legal department.
  • Government – US Trustee’s office, judicial law clerks for bankruptcy judges, IRS, SEC, PBGC, municipalities and state governments.


LL.M. in Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy LL.M. Program

St. John’s offers the nation’s only LL.M. program devoted exclusively to bankruptcy law. This program offers a wide array of specialized bankruptcy courses taught by leading practitioners, judges and academics. J.D. students with an interest in bankruptcy law are in the unique position that they may also take upper level bankruptcy courses offered as part of the Bankruptcy LL.M program toward their J.D. degree (provided they have taken the pre requisite for the course and with approval from the administration).

Joint J.D./LL.M in Bankruptcy Degree

In addition, St. John’s offers a joint JD/LL.M. in Bankruptcy Program which can be completed in as little as seven semesters. The joint degree program can reduce by half both the time and expense of obtaining your LL.M.in Bankruptcy Degree. The LL.M. in Bankruptcy courses taken as a JD student will count toward the credits needed for the JD degree. In addition, up to 12 of those credits can also count toward the 24 credits needed for the LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree. Students pursuing the joint degree program will receive their JD degree upon completion of the JD degree requirements and their LL.M. in Bankruptcy degree upon the completion of the additional LL.M. degree requirements. (You must complete your J.D. degree and be formally admitted into the LL.M. program in order to receive the LL.M. degree.)


Learn

Foundation Courses
All are strongly recommended and should be taken early in the upper-level years.
Advanced Courses
Advanced coursework that will build your substantive knowledge in this pathway.
Writing Courses
Coursework to hone your writing skills and develop a portfolio of practicing writing in your field.
Skills Courses
Courses that will develop your oral advocacy, ADR, and other skills necessary for practice.
  • Business Organizations
  • Creditors’ Rights
  • Secured Transactions
  • Tax Basic Federal
JD Courses:

  • Real Estate Transactions
  • Advanced Real Estate Transactions
  • Consumer Protection
  • Corporate Finance
  • Federal Corporate Income Taxation
  • Federal Securities Regulation
  • Securitization, Structural Finance & Capital Markets


LL.M. Courses
:

  • Bankruptcy Procedure
    Bankruptcy Sales
  • Bankruptcy Taxation
  • Business Bankruptcy Reorganizations
  • Consumer Bankruptcy
  • Executory Contracts in Business Bankruptcy
  • International Bankruptcy
  • Real Estate Workouts and Bankruptcy
  • Representing Trustees in Bankruptcy
  • Small Business Bankruptcy
  • Valuation And Remedies In Bankruptcy
JD Courses:

  • Drafting: Contracts
  • Drafting: Litigation Documents and Contracts
  • Drafting: Federal Civil Practice


LL.M Courses
:

  • Drafting Bankruptcy and Commercial Agreements and Documents
  • Supreme Court Amicus Brief
JD Courses:

  • Business Planning
  • Negotiation (Intensive)
  • Trial Advocacy


LL.M Courses
:

  • Complex Bankruptcy Litigation Seminar
  • Bankruptcy Clerkship Seminar

Course Descriptions


Experience

Clinics
Students who participate in a clinic are exposed to a practice area through the representation of actual clients under faculty supervision. The following clinics are relevant to this pathway:
Externships
Externships place students in a wide variety of not-for-profit, government, public interest, and private organizations and firms, where they work directly under the supervision of a practicing attorney. The external placements are bolstered by an in-school seminar in which students analyze their practical experiences and gain skills necessary for the profession. Sample placements in this pathway include:
  • United States Bankruptcy Court
  • US Trustee
  • Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York, Litigation Bureau – Bankruptcy Division
  • Private law firm specializing in consumer or commercial bankruptcy
  • Legal Intern (Bankruptcy & Restructuring) – Practical Law Thomson Reuters
  • Bloomberg.Law (Bankruptcy section)


Network

Students should seek out connections with practitioners and other students, both internally and externally. Adjunct professors can be an excellent resource both for guidance and for employment opportunities. Professional bar associations also welcome student participation and offer reduced membership rates for students. Some bar sections and committees particularly seek students to provide research or other assistance on projects. St. John’s faculty are also an essential resource. Students should make an effort to get to know faculty who teach and have experience in their chosen areas. Finally, students should connect with other students who share similar interests through student organizations and attendance at Law School events.


Professional Organizations

American Bankruptcy Institute

The American Bankruptcy Institute is the nation’s largest association of bankruptcy professionals, made up of over 12,000 members in multi-disciplinary roles, including attorneys, auctioneers, bankers, judges, lenders, professors, turnaround specialists, accountants and others. ABI is committed to serving our members with high-quality conferences, comprehensive continuing education, effective legal research, and dynamic networking opportunities.

Nassau County Bar Association, Bankruptcy Committee

Reviews recent decisions on bankruptcy law and their implications for attorneys who represent debtors or creditors.

The NYC Bar Association Committee on Bankruptcy & Corporate Reorganization

The Committee on Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization focuses on issues relevant to corporate and individual bankruptcies and corporate out-of-court restructurings. Committee members include lawyers who specialize in representing debtors and creditors in restructurings involving large companies and lawyers who focus on bankruptcy cases for individuals as well as bankruptcy judges and other government representatives, scholars and financial advisors that work in these areas, all of whom help to provide additional and different perspectives to the topics addressed by the Committee.

New York County Bar Association, Bankruptcy Law Committee

The committee concerns itself with procedure and business of the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts, including the practice before bankruptcy judges. It also focuses on the particular problems and issues that arise in bankruptcies. The committee reviews Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code and other changes in rules that would have an impact on consumer debtors.

New York State Bar Associtaion

The Committee members comprise counsel for corporations, in house and outside, and individuals, as well as judges. The Committee reviews and distributes summaries and practice pointers regarding recent and trend setting case law from federal bankruptcy courts located in New York as well as new legislation of interest to Committee members.

The Bankruptcy Litigation Committee works to educate the members of the bar and bench on the rapidly expanding role of litigation in the bankruptcy courts as well as the role of non-bankruptcy litigation in the disposition of the various rights and interests present in the bankruptcy reorganization process. In addition, the Committee has an active role in proposed legislation that affects the administration of the bankruptcy process, both at the state and federal level.

The New York Institute of Credit

An educational not for profit organization that attempts to bridge the gap between business theory and business practice. The faculty of NYIC consists of educators who are primarily credit executives or prestigious accountants or lawyers. The NYIC holds annual networking receptions to present awards including the following awarded to Bankruptcy Judges and lawyers:

  • Conrad B. Duberstein Award For Excellence and Compassion in the Bankruptcy Judiciary
  • The Honorable Burton R. Lifland Mentor of the Year Award

The Turnaround Management Association (TMA)

TMA is the most professionally diverse organization in the corporate restructuring, renewal, and corporate health space. Members include turnaround practitioners, attorneys, accountants, advisors, liquidators, consultants, as well as academic, government employees, and members of the judiciary.


Student Organizations

American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review (“ABI Law Review”)

Regarded as the nation’s premier scholarly bankruptcy journal, the ABI Law Review contains articles and student notes on cutting edge issues of bankruptcy law and practice.  In addition to its biannual publication, the ABI Law Review helps organize and run the prestigious Hon. Conrad B. Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, the only bankruptcy moot court competition in the nation. As part of the ABI Law Review, student members are highly encouraged to author notes on major bankruptcy issues affecting various legal disciplines, as well as interact with ABI leadership in the topic selection for each issue. Student editors and staff have complete control over the editing process.

Hon. Conrad B. Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition

The Center for Bankruptcy Studies is proud to be a sponsor of the Law School’s annual Hon. Conrad B. Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, the only bankruptcy moot court competition and the largest single-site appellate moot court competition in the nation.

Bankruptcy Law Society (“BLS”)

BLS aims to provide students with practical knowledge of bankruptcy law. It co-sponsors the annual Hon. Conrad B. Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition with the ABI Law Review and the Moot Court Honor Society.  BLS also offers student membership in the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI).  The BLS holds regular meetings and presents special events where distinguished judges and practicing attorneys address current issues in the field of bankruptcy.

Pro Bono Bankruptcy Project via ABI Law Review

A pro bono project of the ABI Law Review and will likely accept non ABI volunteers who express interest.  The program, operated every other Friday, is typically held in the clinic suite.  Students meet with clients under the supervision of a paralegal from the NYC Bankruptcy Assistance Project and do initial intakes with clients.  The volunteers review the client’s documents and go through a set intake process and input information into an online system.  Students are required to undergo training before volunteering and then must sign up for various volunteer dates.


Suggested Path

Part-time students should spread out the suggested path below to account for their expected date of graduation.

Year Fall Spring Summer
1L
  • Required courses
  • Pro bono
  • Required courses
  • Pro bono
  • Internship
2L
  • Business Organizations
  • Electives (Creditors’ Rights or Secured Transactions)
  • Continue pro bono work
  • Clinic or externship
  • Tax
  • APWR course
  • Electives ([Creditors’ Rights or Secured Transactions, whichever you have not taken yet], additional electives may include BK LL.M courses provided you have taken prerequisite)
  • Continue pro bono work
  • Clinic or externship
  • If interested in post-grad Bankruptcy clerkship, register on the On-line System for Clerkship Application and Review (“OSCAR”) and request letters of recommendation
  • Summer associate position with a law firm
  • judicial internship with a bankruptcy judge
  • begin applying for post-grad clerkships with US Bankruptcy judges via OSCAR
3L
  • Electives (BK LL.M courses)
  • Complete SWR paper on bankruptcy law topic
  • Continue pro bono work
  • Clinic or externship
  • Continue to apply for post-grad clerkships with US Bankruptcy judges via OSCAR
  • Electives
  • Continue pro bono work
  • Clinic or externship
  • Graduation
  • Bar Exam

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