CLLA Recent Events - Recap
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The 2015 National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (NCBJ)

CLLA @ NCBJ 2015 Recap

The Commercial Law League of America hosted its annual program at the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges' 89th Annual Conference in Miami Beach, Florida on September 28, 2015.

The program included CLLA’s annual luncheon, which featured the presentation of the Lawrence P. King Award for Excellence in Bankruptcy and a CLE presentation on “Bankruptcy and the Supreme Court – 1801 through 2014”.

Each year, the Executive Council of the Commercial Law League's Bankruptcy Section presents the Lawrence P. King Award to recognize a lawyer, judge, teacher or legislator who exemplifies the best in scholarship, advocacy, judicial administration or legislative activities in the field of bankruptcy. The award was designed to recognize the lifetime achievements of Professor King, which include contributing to the practice of bankruptcy law through teaching and working to elevate the profession through bankruptcy-related legislative activities.

The 2015 award was presented to Honorable Steven W. Rhodes (retired) by Honorable Judith Fitzgerald (retired). “Judge Rhodes exemplifies the person envisioned by this award. He is knowledgeable, personable, and highly respected by his peers.”, said Judge Fitzgerald.

Judge Rhodes, who has taught Bankruptcy classes at the University of Michigan Law School, has been active on the national education scene for decades, both as a skilled writer and a polished presenter. He served on the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Sixth Circuit. His research and publication highlighting the deficiencies in bankruptcy schedules was a leading work and The Ponzi Book: A Legal Reference for Unravelling Ponzi Schemes, which he co-authored with Kathy Bozoian Phelps, is the go-to reference on the subject. He is an author, educator and distinguished judge who spearheaded the resolution of the City of Detroit bankruptcy through plan confirmation. His innovative technique - using, among others, a U.S. District Judge as a mediator while reserving the ability to approve any settlements - was one of the many parts of the Detroit case that facilitated his rise to national prominence in the bankruptcy community. His effort to keep the citizens aware of and involved in the case reflected his commitment to an open process and an effort to control the natural hostility that occurs when pensions, business opportunities and other resources may be taken away through a bankruptcy case. Prior to his service on the bankruptcy bench, Judge Rhodes served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge and since his retirement has returned to the practice of law in Michigan. Congratulations to Judge Rhodes!

Following the award presentation, the Educational portion of the luncheon received rave reviews. Renowned bankruptcy authors and scholars Kenneth Klee and Whitman Holt discussed Supreme Court cases and their import in the insolvency arena, based on their book “Bankruptcy and the Supreme Court – 1801 through 2014”. Copies of their book were available for purchase throughout the conference, and the authors held a book signing prior to Monday's program.

In the afternoon, additional CLE programs are presented as part of the CLLA’s Honorable Frank W. Koger Memorial Education Program, “Current Developments in Hot and Emerging Areas of Bankruptcy” which covers emerging trends in bankruptcy law.

The first panel, "White Collar Crime, Asset Forfeiture and Business Bankruptcy", overviewed forfeiture law, emphasizes complex tensions with bankruptcy law, and highlights recent developments. Attendees learned how creditors assert claims against forfeited assets and recovery funds, how judges navigate case management and communication among criminal, regulatory, civil and bankruptcy proceedings, and how holders of disparate interests coordinate toward common purposes. The panel was made up of three speakers; Hon. Steven W. Rhodes (Ret.), U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of Michigan, Ronald R. Peterson, Jenner & Block, and Mark Redmiles, U.S. Department of Justice, and was moderated by Professor Karen Gebbia, Golden Gate University School of Law.

The second panel, "Vaccinations! Helping Clients Enhance Rights and Minimize Risk during the Bankruptcy Lull – Drafting and Negotiating Default, Rights Enforcement, Inter-creditor and Other Provisions in Transactional and Litigation Documents-Why They Matter!" covered important topics in documentation, taking a shot at protecting the transaction when litigation ensues. They discussed preventative measures regarding default, ipso facto, acceleration and termination provisions; stay waivers; default interest and make whole premiums; inter-creditor and subordination provisions; enhancing settlement agreements; escrows and deposits; section 365(n) rights; authorization to file and bankruptcy remote issues; and choice of forum and arbitration clauses. The speakers were Mark Berman, Nixon Peabody, Leyza F. Blanco, Gray Robinson, Hon. Clifton R. Jessup, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Alabama, and Joseph Samet, Baker & McKenzie (retired). The panel was moderated by Hon. Carlota Bohm, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Pennsylvania.

Both panels presented valuable programs and received outstanding reviews from conference attendees. The CLLA would like to thank all of the speakers, moderators, and program organizers for their time and hard work in putting these excellent programs together. If you would like to view the educational materials from these programs, please visit the member only section of the CLLA website,, or click here (member login required). The League also thanks Judge Judy Fitzgerald and the 2015 NCBJ Coordination Committee for their work in planning these events. Without our volunteers, the League could not produce the high quality programs the industry has come to expect. The Commercial Law League of America also relies on the generous support of our sponsors. Without them, none of these events would be possible.


    Commercial Law League of America

    1000 N. Rand Rd., Suite 214
    Wauconda, IL 60084

    Phone: (312) 240-1400    |   Fax: (847) 526-3993