New York City, the heart of international law and commerce, is a fitting venue for the annual Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition. This year, the nation’s premier bankruptcy competition brought 59 teams from 46 law schools together from February 29 to March 2, 2020 to vie for top honors.
Sponsored by St. John’s Law and the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), the Duberstein competition is 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 competitors address two sophisticated, cutting-edge issues of bankruptcy law. This year, the competitors considered whether a debtor in possession can assume an executory contract over the objection of the non-debtor party to the contract when applicable non-bankruptcy law excuses the non-debtor party from accepting performance from, or rendering performance to, an entity other than the debtor or the debtor in possession. They also considered whether, in a case where a class of claims is proposed to be impaired under a joint, multi-debtor plan, section 1129(a)(10) requires acceptance from at least one impaired class of claims of each debtor or, alternatively, acceptance from one impaired class of claims of any one debtor.
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Successfully arguing through the succession of rounds, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law edged out Baylor Law School in the finals to win the overall competition for the second consecutive year. University of Notre Dame Law School 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 tie for third place split a $3000 prize.
The following schools and individual competitors received special recognition for their outstanding performance at the Duberstein competition:
Baylor Law School
Emory University School of Law
University of Alabama School of Law
University of Mississippi School of Law
University of Notre Dame Law School
Destiney Thompson, Campbell University School of Law
Cayton Chrisman, Emory University School of Law
Taylor McCullough, Baylor Law School
Clayton Schmitt, University of Miami School of Law
Jack Schultz, University of Mississippi School of Law
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. Robert Rees Summerhays, U.S. District Court, W.D. La.
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.
This year’s competition was one of our largest to date,” says Professor Christine Lazaro, the lead faculty event organizer for St. John’s Law. “Once again, students worked for months to compete in this elite competition. And our St. John’s students masterfully coordinated in the months leading up to the competition, and oversaw three days of intense oral advocacy.”
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.