College Columns May 2015 Issue - Page 3

Chair's Column

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Pro Bono

Our Pro Bono Committee, chaired by Jim Baillie, awarded $326,000 over the past year to 35 pro bono programs in 21 states. In addition to providing seed money for start-up programs, the Committee provides grants of up to $10,000 per recipient for the providing of bankruptcy-related legal services to indigent consumer debtors. The Committee also provides educational resources for these programs (e.g., how to represent a consumer debtor; practitioner forms).


Our 70-member Education Committee, previously chaired by Rick Mikels of Boston, and now led by Rick Mason of Chicago, provides high-quality educational programs in every judicial circuit. One of the most novel programs, started in the Ninth Circuit during the past two years, is a law student negotiation competition. Members of the Education Committee and other Fellows acted as judges and team coaches. The program has been so successful that the Committee intends to replicate it in other circuits over the next several years. Other programs have included a First Circuit program on Ponzi schemes; a Second Circuit program to educate state court judges on bankruptcy issues; and a high-level program in the Fourth Circuit devoted to the recently issued American Bankruptcy Institute report on bankruptcy reform. Our International Committee has also reorganized the College's successful cross-border bankruptcy courses taught by Fellows at twelve law schools, with the intention of reaching 20 law schools. Finally, we are targeting 2016 for an update of the College's invaluable business bankruptcy Circuit Review, and are soliciting contributing authors.


Preserving the legacy of restructuring and insolvency professionals is a high priority for the College. Over the past 15 years, the College has maintained the National Bankruptcy Archives at the University of Pennsylvania Law School Library. The College has funded half of the project’s cost, with additional funding from a major legal publisher. Although the publisher was unable to continue funding the Archives in 2015, the College was fortunate, through the leadership of our indispensable general counsel, Bill Perlstein, to secure a funding proposal from Bloomberg BNA, Inc. for 2015. We are in the final stage of negotiations with Bloomberg and hope to secure funding for the next year and to develop a longer-term relationship. Among other things, Bloomberg contemplates funding a Supreme Court review of upcoming bankruptcy rulings next September with College participation.

New Senior Fellow Project

The board authorized the possible formation of a new Senior Fellow Committee to keep senior professionals engaged in College activities and to enhance the College's work. Paul Singer, former chair of the College, Dan Cohn and I will present an agenda for such a committee to the board at its September meeting. Among other things, we contemplate committee members providing mentoring advice to younger Fellows; plus pro bono financial and consulting advice to distressed not-for-profit entities.

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