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Research Grants

Support for Scholars on Important Research

A Research Grant Committee, chaired by ABI Vice President - Research Hon. Barbara Houser, seeks out proposals and makes decisions on projects for funding. Other committee members include Hon. Mary Grace Diehl, Prof. Michelle M. Harner, Hon. Laurel M. Isocoff and Prof. Lois R. Lupica. Scholars seeking funding should consult the ABI Web site for guidelines and procedures on the grant application process.

Recent Grants of Note:

New ABI Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy

The Anthony H.N. Schnelling Endowment Fund is supporting a newly appointed 15-member expert panel that will examine the consumer bankruptcy system and issue a report with recommended improvements that can be implemented within the existing structure. The ABI Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy aims to modernize the system with practical and cost-effective recommendations, building on the framework established by Bankruptcy Code of 1978 and Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. This Commission will employ an open, information-gathering model that will allow interested parties across the consumer bankruptcy spectrum to provide input.

For more information on the Consumer Commission click here.

Endowment-Funded Study to Look at Effect of ACA

An empirical study to examine if the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has had a correlative effect on the rate of consumer bankruptcy filings across the country. The study, “Consumer Bankruptcy and The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Placebo or Panacea?” is a ground-breaking look at these issues and will take place over 2-3 years with the results published in the ABI Law Review.

The principal researchers for the study are Prof. Brook E. Gotberg of the University of Missouri School of Law and Prof. Michael D. Sousa of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. “Finding a preliminary answer to this question may have great ramifications on the perceived success or failure of the nation’s health care system as well on the bankruptcy system’s social insurance function to thousands of consumer debtors who suffer under the weight of medical debt,” according to Gotberg and Sousa.

ABI Funds Study to Test Effectiveness of Financial Education on Distressed Consumers

The American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) Anthony H.N. Schnelling Endowment Fund has commissioned a study to test whether original, re-conceived consumer education materials have a positive effect upon the financial health of struggling individuals. Profs. Lois R. Lupica of the University of Maine School of Law, D. James Greiner of Harvard Law School and Dalié Jiménez of the University of Connecticut School of Law will be conducting the research. The empirical study “allows us to link the dollars spent on various legal interventions and the incidence of bankruptcy filings,” according to the researchers. Read more.

ABI Endowment to Fund Study of Why Individuals Choose to File for Chapter 11

The American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) Anthony H.N. Schnelling Endowment Fund recently commissioned an empirical study to examine how and why individuals decide between chapter 11 and chapter 13 when filing for bankruptcy. The "ABI Individual Chapter 11 Study" is going to explore the reasons behind individuals filing for bankruptcy under chapter 11, which is generally more expensive and more complicated than filing under chapter 13. 

Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11

ABI and the Endowment Fund are supporting a two-year comprehensive study of how to reform and modernize the process in complex corporate cases. The 20-member commission of noted experts is assisted by more than 130 experienced professionals from the fields of law, turnaround management, finance, the judiciary and academia. Follow the commission's work and public outreach at commission.abi.org.

Ethics Task Force

In 2011, the ABI Endowment Fund awarded $40,000 over two years to fund the work of the ABI Ethics Task Force regarding national standards of practice for bankruptcy professionals. The final report was published in April 2013 and can be read here: Final Report of the ABI National Ethics Task Force.

 

Distributions to Unsecured Creditors in Consumer Bankruptcy Cases

In 2012, the ABI Endowment awarded $20,500 to the University of Maine School of Law (Lois Lupica, investigator) for an empirical study of whether BAPCPA has resulted in decreased distributions to unsecured creditors.

The new study follows and builds on earlier work by Prof. Lupica.

Fees in Consumer Cases

The ABI Endowment Fund awarded a $155,000 grant in 2009 to Professor Lois R. Lupica at the University of Maine School of Law for a comprehensive study of whether the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) has substantially increased the costs of bankruptcy for consumer debtors and their creditors. Many experts and advocates have expressed concern that BAPCPA has significantly raised costs for consumer debtors and their creditors since its enactment in October 2005 because of the additional fees and conditions that must be met for a consumer to file and receive a discharge.

Prof. Lupica, a former ABI Resident Scholar, released her final report in December 2011, following the results of a pilot study presented at ABI’s 2009 Winter Leadership Conference. Click here to read the report. Her study is also supported by a grant from the NCBJ Endowment.

Bankruptcy Pro Bono Legal Service Provider Database

A grant in the amount of $26,950 was awarded in 2008 to the Institute for Financial Literacy to develop a bankruptcy pro bono legal service provider resource database.  The online database is a vital long-term resource for consumers, social service agencies, credit counseling agencies and others who need to contact pro bono, or free, legal service providers that offer bankruptcy services. The database is available at bankruptcyresources.org.

Chapter 11 Professional Compensation Study

The ABI Endowment Fund awarded $346,000 in 2005 for a ground-breaking study which revealed that numerous factors, such as the presence of creditors' committees, influenced the total professional costs of chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. Study reporter Stephen J. Lubben, the Daniel J. Moore Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law, looked at more than 1,000 chapter 11 bankruptcy cases that were filed in 2004. The findings were released at ABI's 2007 Winter Leadership Conference. Click here to read the report.

"The fee study represents the most comprehensive set of data of a large sample of chapter 11 cases ever compiled by an independent empirical study," said Chip Bowles Jr. of Greenbaum Doll & McDonald PLLC (Louisville, Ky.), the chairman of ABI's professional fee study advisory board. "It constitutes a vital source of information about both the implications of the compensation of professionals in chapter 11 as well as the practice of chapter 11 cases in general. The high quality and vast quantity of data gathered by the fee study shows that ABI's faith in the project and the reporter was well-placed."

In 2008, the ABI Endowment provided $50,000 in support of a major academic conference on the causes and consequences of debt. An international galaxy of scholars, including Prof. Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School, addressed debt from a variety of perspectives such as law, finance, history, psychology, philosophy and neuroscience. The resulting papers will be published in 2010 by Oxford University press.

(Photo Credit: Terry Neutz Hayden, University of Illinois College of Law)

Endowment Fund Grant PresentationThe Endowment's first grant was awarded in 1998 to Prof. Marianne Culhane and Prof. Michaela White of Creighton University School of Law. Culhane and White produced an empirical study of the repayment capacity of chapter 7 debtors under the means test then under consideration by Congress. The widely cited study provided critical guidance to Congress as it considered "needs-based" bankruptcy. The success of the first grant launched the ABI Endowment Fund as a significant source for academic funding on important research topics.

 

Law, Business School Competitions

The Endowment financially supports both the ABI Chief Judge Conrad B. Duberstein Memorial National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition for law schools and the ABI Corporate Restructuring Competition for graduate business schools. These competitions will help form the next generation of skilled professionals.

Other Grants on Consumer and Business Bankruptcy Topics

Utah State University (Dr.Jean Lown, Ph.D.) A financial and demographic study of serial bankruptcy filers in 10 bankruptcy districts to determine (a) incidence of serial filings pre-BAPCPA and (b) a predictive model of serial filers using logistic regression analysis.
University of Miami Law School. (Prof. William Widen)
An empirical study of the use of substantive consolidation in chapter 11 cases.
Rise Foundation, Memphis, Tenn. (Dr. Phyllis Betts, Ph.D.)
Study of 1,000 bankruptcy filers in the Memphis area to determine the profile, causes and consequences of consumer bankruptcies in America's busiest bankruptcy district.

 

Creditors' Committee Study ( Prof.Michelle M. Harner)
The research study empirically measures the effectiveness of creditors' committees in serving the positive role intended by the Code.
Coalition for Consumer Debtor Education. (Dr. Richard Wiener and Prof. Susan Block-Lieb)
The study compares the efficacy of credit counseling as a precondition to filing under BAPCPA with traditional counseling not in connection with bankruptcy.
University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce (Prof. David C. Smith)
An examination of claims trading in chapter 11 cases. The study documents the extent to which ownership of claims changes hands and the impact that claims transfer has in Chapter 11.
Harvard Law School (Jeanne Charn)
Studies of the impact of BAPCPA on ProBono, LowBono, ProSe and Petition Preparer filings.