School of LawQueens Campus
Located in New York, the center of bankruptcy practice, St. John’s is at the center of bankruptcy education. Our Bankruptcy LL.M. is the nation's only LL.M. degree program devoted to bankruptcy law. This highly successful program offers a wide array of specialized bankruptcy courses taught by leading practitioners, judges and academics. Our graduates practice with top firms and clerk for influential judges throughout the country. The LL.M. program is only one part of the nation's most extensive bankruptcy program -- a program that also includes the leading bankruptcy journal and the national bankruptcy moot court competition. The ABI Bankruptcy Case Blog and the St. John’s Bankruptcy Research Library offer current research on bankruptcy’s most cutting edge cases and issues.
This degree is suitable for students who have already earned a J.D. from an American law school, or who have international experience in bankruptcy/insolvency and a base of knowledge of the U.S. legal system. Internationally trained attorneys with appropriate experience who want to also prepare for the New York Bar exam should apply for the dual degree LL.M. in U.S. Legal Studies + Bankruptcy Law.
The Bankruptcy LL.M. program is intensive and rigorous. It requires the completion of 24 credits. The program combines academic rigor with a practice-oriented approach that is designed to produce bankruptcy attorneys with the skills, the ambition and the knowledge to become leaders in the insolvency field. Students can begin in either the fall or spring semesters. U.S. citizens and permanent resident can enroll part-time, and have up to 48 months to complete the degree.
The required courses are listed below. For the remaining hours of elective credits, students can select from a wide array of specialized LL.M.-level bankruptcy courses. Although nearly all LL.M. students limit their coursework to bankruptcy LL.M. courses, additional electives may be available from both the regular J.D. curriculum and the M.B.A. curriculum of St. John’s Peter J. Tobin College of Business, depending on availability and approval of relevant academic administrators.
Bankruptcy Procedure (two credits)
This course will include simulation and exercises in practice under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. The students will also draft pleadings, discovery requests, orders and judgments in bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy Taxation (two credits)
This course will examine the tax aspects of bankruptcy practice. Taxation is a major aspect of many bankruptcy cases and an emerging sub-specialty in the bankruptcy field. The course will consider such areas as the post-confirmation carry forward of losses, and tax planning for entities in financial difficulty.
Business Bankruptcy Reorganizations (two credits)
The course will examine the reorganization of financially distressed enterprises under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code and the theoretical and economic underpinnings of reorganization. The course will consider all aspects of Chapter 11 from filing to confirmation of a plan of reorganization, conversion or dismissal. The following topics will be covered: good faith; venue; retention and compensation of professionals; the extent of the court’s equitable powers; use, sale and lease of the debtor’s property; successor liability; post-petition financing.
Consumer Bankruptcy (two credits)
This course will examine Chapter 7 and 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, including the principles of the fresh start and equality of distribution; the roles of the case trustee and United States Trustee; good faith and substantial abuse; the automatic stay; property of the estate; discharge, challenges to discharge and dischargeability; rights to convert and dismiss; bankruptcy petition preparers; and recent research concerning trends and developments in consumer bankruptcy filings.
(Students must take at least one writing course to satisfy the writing requirement or the optional Thesis.
Drafting Bankruptcy and Commercial Agreements and Documents (two credits)
This is a practice-oriented course intended for students interested in transactional work. Students will learn how to draft documents such as agreements pertaining to cash collateral, loans, asset purchases, disclosure statements, reorganization plans and post-petition loans. The students will be required to submit various drafting exercises throughout the semester.
Thesis: Advanced Bankruptcy Research Seminar (one - three credits) AND Bankruptcy Master's Thesis (three credits)
This seminar will be devoted entirely to the preparation by the student of a Master’s thesis. The professor will be able to work closely with each student in selecting the topic, performing the research, and writing the thesis.
Bankruptcy Clerkship Seminar(one credit)
This seminar examines the role of bankruptcy law clerks with the goal of preparing students to be effective bankruptcy law clerks. Discussion topics will include advice to the new law clerk, an overview of the CM/ECF docketing system, calendar notes and “bench memos,” judicial ethics, opinion writing, reviewing motions, including a discussion of certain common motions, checking service, reviewing and drafting proposed orders and judgments, the adversary proceeding process, and selected issues in chapter 11 and chapter 13. Students will be required to read and write weekly case summaries of decisions written by their respective judges and become familiar with the local rules and standing orders for their respective districts. The seminar grade is based on class participation and a written bench memo assignment. Schedule permitting, the class will visit the chambers of a bankruptcy judge to view oral argument and meet with the judge.
Bankruptcy Sales (one credit)
This course examines the bankruptcy sale process. The course will cover the basic rules governing bankruptcy sales and will explore the motivations of the parties and creative uses of the sale process. Evaluation will be based on an examination, but class participation or a paper may be factored into the final grade. Pre-requisite for J.D. students: Creditors’ Rights.
Complex Bankruptcy Litigation Seminar (two credits)
This course will examine litigated aspects of fraudulent conveyances, equitable subordination, substantive consolidation, preference proceedings and contested proceedings for confirmation of chapter 11 reorganization plans, and civil RICO, lender, and CERCLA liability. The course will also address ethical issues such as conflicts of interest.
Executory Contracts in Business Bankruptcy (1 Credit)
This course examines the treatment of executory contracts in bankruptcy. The course will cover the basic rules governing assumption, rejection and assumption and assignment, and the course will explore the motivations of the parties. Evaluation will be based on an examination, but class participation may be factored into the final grade. Pre-requisite for J.D. students – Creditors’ Rights.
International Bankruptcy (2 Credits)
This course covers all aspects of international bankruptcy. The comparative insolvency law component of the course will cover the major bankruptcy systems used around the world. Then students will study how those systems interact in the component devoted to managing cross-border cases. Finally the course will review the European Union regulation on cross-border insolvency and the use of the U.S. Chapter 11 procedure by foreign companies. The course will be taught by a variety of guest lecturers from around the world who are leading experts on these topics. The lectures will be offered in real-time interactive audio/video format. In addition, a St. John’s professor will be on-site to supervise each session and answer questions students may have. Evaluation will be based on an examination. Class participation may be factored into the final grade. Pre-requisite for J.D. students – Creditors’ Rights (Business Bankruptcy Reorganizations is a recommended pre- or co-requisite).
Real Estate Workouts and Bankruptcy (two credits)
This course will examine the consequences of real estate defaults, emphasizing major current problems faced by real estate mortgagees, landlords, tenants and partners in default situations and mitigating drafting techniques that may be employed in the documentation stage. Among the areas covered will be: negotiating and drafting a workout agreement; lender liability; cramdown of bankruptcy plans; and the effect of bankruptcy of a real estate partner.
Representing Trustees in Bankruptcy (one credit)
This course examines current issues that arise in the representation of trustees in the bankruptcy process. Among other issues, the course will examine the powers and duties of a trustee, the process of appointment and compensation of a trustee, the role a trustee plays in different contexts, and the relationship between a trustee and the Office of the United States Trustee. The differing powers, duties, & roles of a trustee in Chapter 7, 11, 12 & 13 cases will be explored.
Securitization, Structured Finance and Capital Markets (two credits)
This course will examine the legal structure of securitization, a trillion-dollar industry. Securitization is the process by which a company sells its receivables (debts owed to it) to a special purpose entity (SPE) created specifically for that purpose. This form of financing can realize lower interest rates to the company selling the receivables than if the company borrowed against its receivables and kept title. The most common securitization is GNMA certificates, representing collections of promissory notes secured by home mortgages. In recent years, car loans, consumer receivables and bank loan portfolios have been securitized in this manner. Indeed, even entertainers such as David Bowie have securitized their music royalties. The course will touch on various legal issues raised by this industry, including secured transactions, bankruptcy, corporate finance, securities regulation, corporate governance, and the role that legal opinions play throughout the deal process.
Selected Topics in Bankruptcy (one credit)
This course will be offered in the LL.M. Bankruptcy program periodically to explore a topic of major significance to the insolvency community that is not covered or covered sufficiently in some other course. It will be a thorough, in depth, review of the issue and the problems arising there from. It will be taught by an expert or experts in the area involved. Students may enroll for multiple “Selected Topics” course offerings but may not take the same offering for credit more than once.
Small Business Bankruptcy (one credit)
This course will address and discuss the problems encountered by, and the possible solutions for small business entities (corporations, partnerships, and LLC’s) in financial distress. In addition to facing all the same inherent problems that large businesses have in reorganizing and restructuring, small businesses face added burdens with regard to the inherent costs of successful reorganization and access to quality financial and legal advice. Likewise, small business creditors often look at huge write-offs that might be mitigated by a successful reorganization process. The goal is for the students to obtain a thorough understanding of the many issues involved in small business and agricultural bankruptcies.
Students may elect, subject to approval, a limited number of the following group of designated existing courses offered at St. John’s provided they have not taken similar courses in seeking their J.D. degree and meet any necessary prerequisites for the courses. Students may take other J.D. courses with permission where the course is necessary in connection with the student’s thesis or contemplated area of expertise.
Advanced Real Estate Transactions (two credits)
This course is designed to acquaint the student with current real estate concepts and trends. It studies institutional lending practices, sale and leaseback financing, real estate investment trusts, syndication, air rights projects, and cooperatives and condominiums. The income tax ramifications of various legal arrangements are studied in conjunction with an analysis of the legal framework of the transaction.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (two credits)
This course is designed to give both the theoretical and practical approaches to the various forms of the dispute resolution process including mediation, conciliation, fact-finding, court-annexed arbitration and hybrid combinations of these processes. The course is concerned with the factors underlying these methods of dispute resolution and the ethical issues arising in the ADR context. Simulated ADR situations will be videotaped and critiqued. Grades will be based on a written paper.
Business Planning (three credits)
This course is designed to coordinate several areas of business-related law and to sensitize students to the constant practical interplay of these areas. Students will be assisted in verbalizing and drafting responses to the problems encountered. Significant emphasis is placed on out-of-class drafting of legal documents.
Consumer Protection (three credits)
This course explores the laws governing a variety of oppressive sales practices, including unfair and deceptive advertising, bait and switch transactions, and referral sales. The course also examines the law governing credit cards and other consumer credit transactions, including credit reporting, credit discrimination, abusive collection practices, and usury, and covers relevant federal and state statutes.
Corporate Finance (three credits)
The course consists of a detailed study of legal, business, economic, corporate and accounting aspects of corporate valuation and of capital structure, issuance and reacquisition of various types of securities (including new financial instruments and financing techniques), dividend policy, interplay with financial markets, and the use and legal regulation of commodity and financial futures, options and markets. It will also deal with financing in connection with corporate mergers and acquisitions and related issues in contemporary corporate finance.
Federal Corporate Income Taxation (four credits)
This course applies the principles of federal income taxation to problems arising from the use of the corporate form. The tax consequences to the corporation and to the shareholders are considered. Major topics covered in the course include what entities are considered corporations for tax purposes, tax-free incorporation, the treatment of dividends and Section 306 stock, redemptions, partial and complete liquidations, and mergers, divisions and other corporate reorganizations.
Federal Securities Regulation (three credits)
The course focuses on the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Particular emphasis will be placed on the public distribution process, registration, proxy regulation, regulation of tender offers and corporate repurchases, short-swing trading by corporate insiders and the anti-fraud provisions (including Rule 10b-5 and civil liability). The course will also examine the professional responsibilities of securities lawyers and other professionals and will touch upon regulation of securities exchanges and the over-the-counter market and regulation of brokers and dealers.
Secured Transactions (two credits)
In this course, the history, structure and operation of Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (secured transactions) are studied in detail. The course material is supplemented by problems designed principally to familiarize the student with the terminology and basic concepts of Article 9.
Students may elect, subject to approval, a maximum of six credit hours of graduate level courses offered by the Peter J. Tobin College of Business. (Students in the joint J.D./LL.M. degree program are permitted to apply such M.B.A. course credits to the LL.M. degree even if the M.B.A. credits are received prior to completion of the J.D. degree.) The following designated courses generally would be allowed as LL.M. electives. Students may take other M.B.A. courses with permission where the course is necessary in connection with the student’s thesis or contemplated area of expertise.
ECO 600 Managerial Economics and Forecasting
Prerequisite: ECO 506. This course focuses on applied microeconomics. It addresses practical business problems, including analysis of industries within national and international contexts. The course also analyzes the problem of forecasting as an integral part of decision-making. Credit: 3 semester hours.
FIN 634 Investment Analysis
Prerequisites: FIN 633. This course covers the microstructure of the securities markets, trading mechanisms, investment processes, investment objectives, risk analysis and security valuation. The course examines the applicability of fundamental analysis, efficient market theory and technical analysis. Hedging and alternative investments are also covered. Credit: 3 semester hours.
FIN 635 Capital and Money Markets
Prerequisite: FIN 507. The course focuses on structure, operation, instruments and players of the capital markets in the United States, Japan, Europe and emerging markets. The course also discusses impact of government policy on interest rates, exchange rates, market practices, development of securities design, financial risk management and international monetary policies. Credit: 3 semester hours.
FIN 655 Financial Risk Management
Prerequisite: FIN 633. Topics include risk identification, risk measurement, risk monitoring and risk management/control. The primary objective is to expose students to primary areas of risk management and enable them to understand risk reports and data and their implications to the institution. (Overlaps with Rmi. 614, students may take only one.) Credit: 3 semester hours.
MGT 640 Entrepreneurship
Students learn how to plan and implement a new venture. Entrepreneurial processes are
examined in the context of organizing a planning team, isolating key planning premises and establishing objectives, strategies and policies to achieve planning and operational success. Planning and control are examined and practiced from the perspective of entrepreneurs who develop ideas for new ventures, then marshal and manage the resources to bring their ideas to reality. The course uses case studies, application projects and oral and written reports. Credit: 3 semester hours.
RMI 614 Risk Funding Tools
Derivatives, swaps, hybrid securities, indexed debt, contingent financing and insurance. Results in students able to hedge pure and financial risk singularly and jointly. (Overlaps with Fin. 655, students may take only one.) Credit: 3 semester hours.
RMI 614 Risk Funding Tools
Derivatives, swaps, hybrid securities, indexed debt, contingent financing and insurance. Results in students able to hedge pure and financial risk singularly and jointly. (Overlaps with Fin. 655, students may take only one.) Credit: 3 semester hours.
By counting courses in Bankruptcy Law taken while earning a J.D., St. John's students can earn both the J.D. and Bankruptcy LL.M. degree in as few as seven semesters. Earning the Bankruptcy LL.M. adds a competitive advantage in the job market with just a single additional semester of coursework. Many Bankruptcy LL.M. students are hired as federal bankrupcty court interns or law clerks, whether duirng their final semester or after completion of the degree.
Up to 12 credits of Bankrupcty coursework taken while enrolled as a J.D. can be counted towards the 24 credits required for the LL.M. degree. Interested students should visit the J.D./LL.M. page.
Apply through the St. John's admissions portal or via LSAC. See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.
Student Selection Standards:
The student body will be limited to outstanding candidates who have the capacity to handle a rigorous academic curriculum. Acceptance will be based on the individual’s performance at undergraduate and law schools, experience in practice (where applicable), published and unpublished written work, and other relevant factors. Particular emphasis will be placed on the applicant having achieved an outstanding academic record in obtaining a Juris Doctor from an accredited A.B.A. law school and on the applicant’s employment history and documented promise in the practice of bankruptcy law. The evaluation of applicants will be conducted by an appropriate LL.M. program faculty committee in concert with the law school Faculty Admissions Committee and the Dean of Admissions.
Rolling Admissions and Application Deadline:
Students may commence the program either in the Fall or Spring terms. We use a rolling admissions process and consider applications as they come in and make every effort to inform you of our decision as soon as possible after receipt of your completed application.
Notes on Application Materials: See the full list of application materials on the Frequently Asked Questions page. Additionally, please note the following.
Two letters of recommendation - applicants will be expected to submit at least two letters of recommendation with the application, directed to the student’s capacity to handle the intensive program contemplated. Current students and recent graduates should submit at least one letter from a faculty member. Practitioners should submit at least one letter from a practicing bankruptcy/insolvency professional with whom the applicant has worked.
Personal statement - In addition to explaining why the applicant desires to enroll and how the applicant believes the program will advance his or her career goals and objectives. the statement should address any bankrupcty/insolvency related coursework and/or relevant professional experience.
Writing Sample - Ideally, applicants should submit a writing sample on a bankrupcty/insolvency law topic, or related
International Applicants: Internationally educated applicants should have demonstrated education/work experience in bankruptcy/insolvency law in their home country. Additionally, in order to suceed in the program, students need a foundation in American law topics such as civil procedure, contracts, and businesss organizations.
Students who still need to build this foundation can apply for the joint degree in U.S. Legal Studies and Bankruptcy Law. In this path, students complete two semesters of coursework in U.S. Legal Studies, and then can begin the specialized Bankrupcty LL.M. coursework. This path will also help internationally educated students qualify for the NY Bar Exam, where the Bankruptcy LL.M. alone does not. This path can be completed in four semesters of full-time study.
See tuition and scholarship information here. All students are automatically considered for scholarships. No separate application is needed.
Christopher F. Graham
Henry E. Hildebrand, III
Alec P. Ostrow
Hon. Karen Owens
Hon. Brendan Linehan Shannon
Hon. Alan S. Trust
The Annual Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition is widely recognized as one of the nation’s preeminent moot court competitions. The competition promotes and recognizes the finest oral and written advocacy on significant issues in bankruptcy practice. Approximately 60 law school teams participate, making this the largest single site appellate moot court competition.Learn more about the competition
Andrew Butler '17 LL.M.
I enjoy my work tremendously. I represent a variety of parties—debtors, lenders, and others—as they navigate in-court and out-of-court financial restructurings. And it all started with the Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition. I couldn’t have charted this professional path without St. John’s Law, and I’m very grateful for all the opportunities it has afforded me.
Justin G. Brass
Jeffries & Company
"My experience in the LL.M. program has given me the ability to join our bankruptcy department ready to handle numerous responsibilities for which most second year associates would be unprepared. The LL.M. program has served as a difference maker not only as far as helping me find a great job with a top rated bankruptcy group, but has made me a better bankruptcy attorney."
Douglas E. Deutsch
(First LL.M. American Bankruptcy Institute Scholar)
Chadbourne & Parke LLP
"[I]t was a great year for me. As the professors were well-known bankruptcy practitioners, scholars, judges and former judges, it was exciting to participate in classes and hear their views on bankruptcy law. . . . Approximately nine months after completing the program, I continue to use the teachings from the LL.M. program daily and find myself frequently reviewing class notes for guidance on specific issues. The experience was extraordinary."
Francis E. Goodwyn
Mr. Goodwyn, an expert in environmental law, came to the program from an established practice (over 20 years) in Kentucky, to which he returned.
"Having returned to my practice, I find that I am now considered something of an expert on bankruptcy among local lawyers. I have been asked to give CLE programs . . . and the local County Attorney's office has retained me to help collect property taxes due from a large coal company that is currently in Chapter 7 (converted from a Chapter 11). I'm getting a lot more individual bankruptcy business than I did previously, to the point of having to hire more staff. I have no regrets about spending a year in the program and knowing what I know now, I would do it again."
Peter J. Lahny, IV
Emmett Marvin & Martin LLP
"The knowledge imparted by the program combined with the writing of a publication quality thesis and the quality and reputations of those well-respected practitioners who chose to teach each of the courses make it very easy for the students to choose quality law firms in which to continue their legal careers. The program is already well known throughout the community of insolvency related attorneys here in New York. Not only have I been very well received for my having obtained the LL.M. in Bankruptcy, but many of my colleagues have expressed an interest and desire to continue their own legal education by pursuing the same degree."
Paul A. Rachmuth
"To summarize my experience with the Bankruptcy LL.M., I would use the term 'life changing'. I received my J.D. in 1995. Since then I had been practicing bankruptcy and family law on Long Island . . . . Although I wanted to work in a firm doing 'higher end' corporate work, because I was not already working in a known firm in New York City, no firm would have been interested in me. As a direct result of the LL.M. program, I obtained the exact position I was looking for. I now represent major creditors in bankruptcy reorganizations and litigation (I also over doubled my salary)."
Graham H. Stieglitz
Burr and Forman, LLP
"An obvious factor in my satisfaction is the quality of education I received at the LL.M. program. I was lucky to be one of the four full-time students who started in 1999.
The LL.M. program is truly an exceptional experience. The attention to [the] individual student . . . represented a heartfelt desire to both teach and nurture each and every student . . . [E]ach and every member of the class went above and beyond the call of duty. It was typical for a student to research issues that came up in our prior discussions and present their finding at the next class. The motivation of this extracurricular activity was a sign of mutual appreciation that we were all there for one purpose -- to learn as much as possible about bankruptcy in the amount of time given."
Jeffrey D. Vanacore
Perkins Coie LLP
"The St. John's LL.M. degree is the credential of which I am most proud and which has garnered the most attention from potential employers. Indeed, the firm whose offer I eventually accepted . . . confided that they would not have hired me had it not been for the LL.M. degree. In the weeks and months since I began work, I have yet to be faced with an issue that I was not exposed to during my courses at St. John's. Further, I had the opportunity to develop long-lasting relationships with several of my colleagues in the program. Months after graduation, we still confer frequently via phone and e-mail, sharing our life experiences and deliberating over complex bankruptcy issues. The colleagues and distinguished faculty I met during the LL.M. program remain valuable professional and personal contacts."