Just about any chance he gets, Austin Crabtree will tell law students and practitioners that, if they’re serious about a career in restructuring and bankruptcy, they should enroll in the Bankruptcy LL.M. program at St. John’s Law. It isn’t an empty endorsement, but one that Crabtree gives as a very proud and successful graduate of the nation’s only LL.M. program devoted to bankruptcy law.
Crabtree's interest in bankruptcy and restructuring sparked when, as a 2L student in Houston, he decided to write his journal note on Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp, a U.S. Supreme Court case holding that corporations in bankruptcy proceedings cannot agree to settlements that disadvantage certain groups of creditors without the approval of those creditors. “Through the process of researching and writing on Jevic, I became more familiar with the basic principles of bankruptcy,” Crabtree says. “By the time I completed my case note, I was absolutely fascinated with the practice area.”
Setting his sights on a U.S. Bankruptcy Court clerkship, Crabtree applied, but didn’t get any offers. “I wasn’t about to give up on my dream,” Crabtree shares. “I read about St. John’s Bankruptcy LL.M. program and realized it was the best career move I could make. I would learn complex bankruptcy concepts and case law in a rigorous academic setting and position myself for a competitive clerkship which, in turn, would set me up for a job with a bankruptcy giant.” Crabtree enrolled in the LL.M. program, moved to New York City, and never looked back.
At St. John’s Law, he found a wide array of specialized bankruptcy courses taught by leading practitioners, judges, and academics. He also had access to other offerings, including the:
“Learning from top-notch instructors was a tremendous benefit,” says Crabtree. “The courses ranged from broader subjects like Restructuring, Consumer, and International Bankruptcy, to narrower topics like Sales and Executory Contracts. There was even a Bankruptcy Clerkship Seminar.”
As he navigated the clerkship process for a second time, Crabtree got invaluable support from Laura Schwartz, a counselor in the Law School’s Career Development Office. “She was extremely helpful,” he says of Schwartz. “I met with her often, sometimes multiple times a week, seeking advice on my resume, cover letter, and overall application strategy. She was always welcoming and willing to answer my never-ending questions.”
All his hard work and determination paid off when Crabtree received an offer to clerk in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. “It’s been an amazing experience to continue learning from some of the brightest minds in bankruptcy,” he shares as he completes his one-year clerkship and prepares to start his dream job at a top international law firm.
“I’m truly grateful for my St. John’s Bankruptcy LL.M. experience,” Crabtree says. “Without it, I wouldn’t have the career path I do now. That’s why I recommend the program so highly to others. I want them to fulfill their dreams, like I’m fulfilling mine.”