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Sean Kelly Wins ABI's Tenth Annual Law Student Writing Competition

Alexandria, Va. Sean Kelly of St. John’s University School of Law (New York) won the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Tenth Annual Bankruptcy Law Student Writing Competition. Kelly’s paper, “SEC v. Creditors: Why SEC Civil Enforcement Practice Demonstrates the Need for a Reprioritization of Securities Fraud Claims in Bankruptcy,” received the highest overall score from a panel of judges that included top bankruptcy practitioners and a bankruptcy judge. Kelly will receive a $2,000 cash prize, publication of the paper in the June ABI Journal and a one-year ABI membership.

T.J. Li of Cornell Law School (Ithaca, N.Y.) won second place for his paper, “From Sunbeam to In re Tempnology: Solve the Trademark Puzzle with a Burden Shifting Framework.” Li will receive a cash award of $1,250, publication of the paper in a future ABI committee newsletter and a one-year ABI membership. Nicholas A. Binder of Michigan State University College of Law (East Lansing, Mich.) received third place for his paper, “Spanish Peaks’ Reinvigoration of the Precision Industries Debate: Rejection in the Context of a § 363 Sale Free and Clear of Commercial Leasehold Interests.” He will receive a cash award of $750, publication of the paper in a future ABI committee newsletter and a one-year ABI membership.

Law students submitted papers from January 1 to March 1 for the competition, which focused on current issues regarding matters such as bankruptcy sales, plan confirmation and other topics that involve jurisdiction, litigation or evidence in the bankruptcy courts. The panel of judges assembled to review the papers included Ira Herman of Blank Rome LLP, Vincent Lazar of Jenner & Block LLP and Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey (D. Del.). All papers were judged on substance, style and relevance. Blank Rome LLP sponsored the first-place prize, Jenner & Block LLP sponsored the second-place prize and Wolcott Rivers Gates sponsored the third-place prize.


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 nearly 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 For additional conference information, visit