From Duberstein to BigLaw: Andrew Butler ‘17LL.M. Builds a Rewarding Career in Bankruptcy Law

Andrew Butler '17LL.M.
June 12, 2019

When he and his teammates from Regent University School of Law arrived in New York City for the Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, Andrew Butler had no idea that it was going to be a life-changing experience.

Hosted annually for over 25 years by St. John’s Law and the American Bankruptcy Institute, Duberstein 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.

“Duberstein was my introduction to bankruptcy practice,” Butler says, recalling how he learned about the Bankruptcy Code and bankruptcy courts as he prepared with his team. “The issues we briefed were really interesting, and definitely piqued my interest. But it wasn't until I engaged with the community of professionals at the competition that I became convinced that I wanted to be a bankruptcy attorney and focus my practice on financial restructuring.”

Over the course of the Duberstein Competition, Butler also learned that St. John’s offers the only LL.M. program in the country devoted exclusively to bankruptcy law. “With its location in New York City, the hub of bankruptcy practice, and its wide array of specialized bankruptcy courses taught by leading practitioners, judges, and academics, I knew that St. John’s LL.M. in Bankruptcy program was the right next step for me,” Butler says, noting that program graduates go on to work at top law firms and clerk for influential judges throughout the United States.

Butler was accepted into the LL.M. program and, over the next year, he excelled in his studies at St. John’s Law. “Sales and Executory Contracts, taught by Judge Shannon and Judge Carey, respectively, were my favorite classes,” he shares. “My classmates and I benefited from their experience in private practice and on the bench overseeing some of the largest and most complex bankruptcy cases in history. The real-world anecdotes and examples they offered only deepened our learning experience.”

With encouragement from his LL.M. professors and advisors, Butler applied for one-year clerkships and was hired by Hon. Laurie Selber Silverstein in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. “It was a dream job for my first year out of the LL.M. program,” says Butler. “The clerkship enabled me to hone my research and writing skills while learning firsthand about the inner workings of bankruptcy courts.”

Today, Butler continues to build a rewarding career in bankruptcy law as an associate in the Business Restructuring & Reorganization group at the international law firm Jones Day. “I enjoy my work tremendously,” he says. “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 Duberstein. 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.”