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St. John’s and ABI Host 25th Anniversary Duberstein Competition

2017 Duberstein Competition finalists and final round judges.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The University of Florida School of Law fended off a tough challenge from the University of Miami School of Law, and bested a field of 46 teams from around the country, to win the 25th annual Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition held in New York City on March 4-6, 2017.

Sponsored by St. John’s Law and the American Bankruptcy Institute, the Duberstein competition is the nation’s only moot court competition devoted to bankruptcy law. It’s named for distinguished St. John’s alumnus and former ABI Director Hon. Conrad B. Duberstein '41, '91HON, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 90.

The ABI Endowment Fund provided the first place team with $5,000 and the second place team with a $3,000 prize. SMU Dedman School of Law and Baylor Law School each received $1,500 for their third place tie.

Baylor Law School also took home the Best Brief award, while the University of Florida School of Law, the University of Miami School of Law, the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, and Wayne State University School of Law earned recognition for Outstanding Briefs. Recognition went to Nekketta Archie of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Barrett Armbruster of SMU Dedman School of Law, Morgan Kemp of the Mississippi College of Law, and Aitya Patel of Emory University School of Law for their Outstanding Advocacy. Alexander Cohen of SMU Dedman School of Law came away with the competition’s Best Advocate award.

Practicing lawyers and sitting judges helped to judge the competition, which included eight rounds of arguments. In addition to New York area bankruptcy judges, the ABI brought in a dozen bankruptcy judges from around the nation. The panel of distinguished federal jurists presiding over the final competition round at the Conrad Duberstein United States Bankruptcy Courthouse in Brooklyn included:

  • Hon. R. Guy Cole, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Cir.
  • Hon. Laura Taylor Swain, U.S. District Court, S.D.N.Y.
  • Hon. Cecelia G. Morris, Chief Judge, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, S.D.N.Y.
  • Hon. Carla E. Craig, Chief Judge, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, E.D.N.Y.

Each year, the competition problem focuses on two sophisticated, cutting-edge issues of bankruptcy law. This year, the competitors considered whether a chapter 11 plan may provide a release of creditor claims against non-debtor third parties and whether the doctrine of equitable mootness prevents appellate review of a confirmed plan where innocent third parties have relied on the confirmation order. 

The judges, lawyers, and students all agreed that the fact pattern and the competitors were outstanding. “This year’s problem presented some extremely difficult issues, especially for law students who may not have taken a bankruptcy course,” says G. Ray Warner, a Professor of Law at St. John’s and a faculty advisor to the competition. 

The competition culminated with a special 25th anniversary gala awards banquet at the Sheraton in Times Square. The 600 guests, including many of the leading New York bankruptcy judges and practitioners, enjoyed an evening in celebration of the competition’s contributions to the field.

For more information on the annual Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, please visit the competition website.