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A Look Back and Our Plans for the Future

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Thank you for the opportunity to serve as ABI president. ABI benefits from an incredible synergy of volunteers and a world-class professional staff.

This year, we celebrate ABI's 25th anniversary. From an entity without members, assets or staff 25 years ago, we have grown to 11,500 members, an annual budget of $8 million and an outstanding professional staff of almost 30. We put on a seminar or meeting somewhere in the United States about every three weeks. Our educational programs are outstanding. Our Internet site and e-mail distribution are the best sources of bankruptcy information in the United States.

This year we will publish a new book or monograph, on average, nearly every month. We publish the ABI Journal 10 times each year, which has more information than anyone can absorb. And that information is unique in combining professional analysis with practical suggestions and recommendations.

Our Law Review has been cited by the Supreme Court. We have donated more than $500,000 to support research and publishing; currently we are spending an additional $350,000 for a statistical study of professional fees in bankruptcy cases. We sponsor a moot court competition for law students and a case competition for MBA students, providing an unparalleled educational opportunity for future leaders in law and business.

Building this incredible enterprise is the result of inspired vision and very hard work. I come to the presidency after the hardest work has been done. In this 25th anniversary year, we recognize and thank those who have done the heavy lifting. We honored some of our early leaders with a video presentation and personal awards at our Annual Spring Meeting. A museum display highlighting our accomplishments was unveiled, which will travel to our regional seminars. Each ABI Journal for the coming year will include articles about the important achievements of the past, how they were accomplished, and those who were instrumental in conceiving and in carrying out the projects.

To help new members find a place in the ABI, we have instituted the ABI Ambassador program. Experienced ABI members meet with new members at each regional and national meeting to welcome them to the ABI, answer any questions they may have and help them get involved. We have also embarked on a number of new initiatives to expand our programs and member benefits.

First, we will work to improve an already close relationship with bankruptcy judges. Next year, for example, the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges will hold its mid-year Board of Governors meeting in New York during the Duberstein Memorial Moot Court Competition. About 20 judges will extend their stay to judge part of the quarter-final, semi-final and final rounds. We also plan to present joint educational programs with the NCBJ at its meeting in Orlando in 2007. I hope that there will be other opportunities for judicial cooperation.

Second, we plan to partner with the Federal Judicial Center (FJC) on an Annual Institute for bankruptcy court law clerks. Funding restraints have not allowed the FJC to provide as much support for judicial law clerks as it would like. ABI proposes to sponsor the Annual Training Institute in cooperation with the FJC to welcome new bankruptcy law clerks to the federal judiciary with educational programs and improved communication channels.

Third, we have launched an initiative to work on the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, which are as important to your practice as the Bankruptcy Code. Those Rules are written by a very dedicated committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference that makes enormous effort to get input from the bench and bar. It holds public hearings, maintains a Web site and requests written comments. Unfortunately, the committee typically receives very little input. This year, we will work to establish a vehicle for ABI members to provide balanced, thoughtful comments to the Rules Committee, both on desirable rule changes and on proposed Rules that have been published for comment.

Finally, ABI is already the "go-to" source in the press for accurate, unbiased information about bankruptcy issues in the United States and in the world. The ABI staff handles daily inquiries from the media and even gets media referrals from government agencies. We will continue to develop ABI as the absolutely essential source of information for the media. We are studying the creation of an ABI Media Center that would engage experienced media professionals not only to enhance information resources for the press, but also to give ABI leaders and members the training they need to work effectively with the press.

If you want to "Get Involved," if you want to get to know and work with your fellow ABI members, and if you don't know how to make that happen, contact ABI's Membership Department. We want you to have every opportunity to write, speak, serve on a committee or undertake some other important project to get the most out of your membership and to become our next generation of leaders.

Journal Date: 
Friday, September 1, 2006

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