St. John’s Law and ABI Host Nation’s Premier Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition

St. John’s Law and ABI Host Nation’s Premier Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition
March 11, 2019

A little bit of snow can produce some major travel snarls in and around the Big Apple. But snow-slicked runways, roads, and sidewalks were no match for the 59 teams from 43 law schools who came from around the country to compete in the 27th annual Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition held in New York City on March 2-4, 2019.

Sponsored by St. John’s Law and the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), 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.

Each year, the competition problem focuses on two sophisticated, cutting-edge issues of bankruptcy law. This year, the competitors considered whether a secured creditor’s refusal to turn over repossessed collateral violates the automatic stay and whether a creditor can be granted an administrative expense for making a substantial contribution in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

Successfully arguing through the succession of rounds, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law edged out University of Miami School of Law in the finals to win the overall competition. University of Mississippi School of Law and University of Texas School of Law shared third-place honors. The winning team received a $5000 prize from the ABI Endowment Fund, which also provided the second- place team with a $3000 prize. The teams that ties for third place split a $3000 prize.

The following schools and individual competitors received special recognition for their outstanding performance at the Duberstein competition:

Best Brief 

  • Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law

Outstanding Briefs

  • Stetson University College of Law
  • The University of Texas School of Law
  • University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law
  • University of Michigan Law School

Best Advocate

  • Kathryn Trent, Hugh F. Culverhouse Jr. School of Law

Outstanding Advocacy

  • Grant Krag. Mississippi College School of Law
  • Stephen Kish, University of Nevada Law Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law
  • Nathan Simpson, The University of Mississippi School of Law
  • Brenton Thompson, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University

Practicing lawyers and sitting judges helped to judge the competition, which included seven rounds of arguments. The panel of distinguished federal jurists presiding over the final competition round at the Conrad Duberstein United States Bankruptcy Courthouse in Brooklyn included:

  • Hon. Michael J. Melloy, U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Cir.
  • Hon. Pamela Pepper, U.S. District Court, E.D.Wis.
  • 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.

“We had an impressive group of students participate in this year’s competition,” says Professor Christine Lazaro, who helped to organize the event. St. John’s Law students ensured that the entire competition ran flawlessly, and we appreciate the help of our alumni and friends who graded briefs and judged the oral arguments over the weekend.

The competition days culminated with a gala awards reception at Gotham Hall. The guests, including many of New York’s leading 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.