ABI Announces Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy

ABI Announces Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy

Alexandria, Va. The American Bankruptcy Institute today announced the creation of a Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy. The 15-member expert panel will examine the consumer bankruptcy system and issue a report with recommended improvements that can be implemented within the existing structure. The Commission aims to modernize the consumer bankruptcy 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. The Commission will employ an open, information-gathering model that will allow interested parties across the consumer bankruptcy spectrum to provide input.

The Commission is co-chaired by retired Bankruptcy Judges William Houston Brown and Elizabeth Perris. Judge Brown retired in 2006 after serving for 19 years as a bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Tennessee, during which time he also served a four-year term on the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Sixth Circuit. Judge Perris served for over 30 years as a bankruptcy judge for the District of Oregon, where she twice served as a member of the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Ninth Circuit. Judges Brown and Perris will supervise the overall activities of the Commission.

Judge Brown, who served as a bankruptcy judge in a district with a high volume of consumer cases, said that he was excited about the opportunity for working with the experienced group of individuals serving as Commissioners and Committee members, and “I expect the final Commission report to represent consensus recommendations for improvements in the consumer bankruptcy system.”

Judge Perris, who had extensive consumer experience as both a trial and appellate bankruptcy judge and a seven-year member of the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, stated that she "is looking forward to working with the diverse group of stakeholders on the Commission and its Committees to produce recommendations that will modernize and improve the consumer bankruptcy system for all who participate."

The Commission Reporter is Robert Lawless, the Max L. Rowe Professor of Law and co-director of the Program on Law, Behavior & Social Science at the University of Illinois College of Law. Prof. Lawless specializes in bankruptcy, consumer credit and business law. As Reporter for the Commission, Prof. Lawless will assist in operations and draft the final report. “As a long-time ABI member, it was a privilege to be asked to play a role in this Commission,” Lawless said. “I look forward to a vigorous, open and respectful process that I hope will lead to a report around which there is a broad consensus.”

The Commission will be comprised of fifteen experts that broadly represent the various stakeholders in the consumer bankruptcy system. Commissioners include Michael Bates of JPMorgan Chase Bank (Lewisville, Texas), Alane Becket of Becket & Lee (Malvern, Pa.), Edward Boltz of the Offices of John T. Orcutt (Durham, N.C.), Rudy Cerone of McGlinchey Stafford (New Orleans, La.), Bankruptcy Judge Randall Dunn (ret.) (Portland, Ore.), chapter 13 trustee Henry Hildebrand (Nashville, Tenn.), Ariane Holtschlag of FactorLaw (Chicago), David Houston of Mitchell, McNutt & Sams (Aberdeen, Miss.), Richardo Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick & Associates (Auburn Hills, Mich.), Prof. Bruce Markell of the Northwestern University School of Law (Chicago), Ronald Peterson of Jenner & Block (Chicago), Prof. Katherine Porter of the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, John Rao of the National Consumer Law Center (Boston), attorney Wendell Sherk (St. Louis) and Tara Twomey of the National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center (Carmel, Calif.). Ex officio (non-voting) Commissioners are Edward T. Gavin of Gavin/Solmonese (Wilmington, Del.), ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano, ABI President-Elect Eugene Wedoff, and Clifford White, director of the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees.

The Commission will be supported by three committees:

•    Committee on General Administration and the Bankruptcy Estate

•    Committee on Chapter 7 Issues

•    Committee on Chapter 13 Issues

Each committee will be comprised of five commissioners and 10 non-commission members. All commissioner will serve on one of the committees. For each committee, Members’ Advisory Groups will be formed to receive input and provide perspectives from a wide variety of stakeholders. Any member of ABI can join a Members’ Advisory Group, and a Commission website will be launched soon for any interested individuals or groups to submit information, and to post committee meeting information and drafts of committee materials.

The first public meeting of the ABI Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy will take place at the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., on May 4-7. Announcements of future meetings, the forthcoming launch of the Commission website and other activities and information will be provided by ABI.  Later this month, the Commission will make active its website and social media account, so interested persons can learn more about the Commission’s work. The final report of the Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Commission will be released at ABI’s Winter Leadership Conference in December 2018.


ABI is the largest multi-disciplinary, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues. The ABI membership includes more than 12,000 attorneys, accountants, bankers, judges, professors, lenders, turnaround specialists and other bankruptcy professionals, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. For additional information on ABI, visit www.abi.org. For additional conference information, visit http://www.abi.org/calendar-of-events.