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SMU Dedman School of Law Registers Back-to-Back Wins at Annual Conrad B. Duberstein National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition

Alexandria, Va. The Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law won the 28th Annual Conrad B. Duberstein National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, held Feb. 29-March 2 in New York. The SMU team also won the Duberstein Moot Court Competition last year. The competition is co-sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute and St. John’s University School of Law. Baylor University Law School took second place in the competition, and third-place honors were shared by teams from the University of Notre Dame Law School and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. Baylor University Law School won for the Best Brief, and Destiney Thompson from Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law won the Best Oralist award.

The competition consists of eight rounds of oral arguments, and the final rounds are held at the Duberstein Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y. Many of the teams are coached by ABI practitioners or academic members, and nearly 200 lawyers and federal judges donated their time and expertise to help judge the event. The fact pattern for the competition focused on two key developments stemming from chapter 11 case law. The first issue looked at whether 11 U.S.C. § 365(c)(1) permits a debtor in possession to assume an executory contract over the objection of the nondebtor party to such contract when applicable nonbankruptcy law excuses the nondebtor party from accepting performance from or rendering performance to an entity other than the debtor or the debtor in possession. The second issue focused on whether, in a case where a class of claims is proposed to be impaired under a joint multi-debtor plan, 11 U.S.C. § 1129(a)(10) requires acceptance from at least one impaired class of claims of each debtor or, alternatively, acceptance from one impaired class of claims of any one debtor.

Final-round judges for the 2020 competition included Chief Bankruptcy Judge Carla E. Craig (E.D.N.Y., Brooklyn), Chief Bankruptcy Judge Cecilia G. Morris (S.D.N.Y., Poughkeepsie), Judge Michael J. Melloy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) and Judge Robert Summerhays of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana (Lafayette). Bankruptcy Judge John T. Gregg (W.D. Mich.; Grand Rapids) and Paul Hage of Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss (Southfield, Mich.) drafted this year’s fact pattern.

The Duberstein Competition, named for the late Judge Conrad B. Duberstein, a St. John’s alumnus and former ABI director, has grown into the largest appellate moot court competition in the nation. ABI’s Endowment Fund awarded $12,000 in cash prizes for the winners during the final night gala reception at Gotham Hall in New York City on March 2, which was attended by more than 500 members of the New York restructuring community.

For more information on ABI's Conrad B. Duberstein National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, please go to 


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 11,000 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