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University of Alabama School of Law Wins 26th Annual Conrad B. Duberstein National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition

Alexandria, Va. The University of Alabama School of Law won the 26th Annual Conrad B. Duberstein National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, held March 3-5 in New York. This year’s competition, co-sponsored by the American Bankruptcy Institute and St. John’s University School of Law, featured 53 teams competing. The George Washington University Law School took second place in the competition. Third-place honors were shared by teams from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. UCLA School of Law won for the Best Brief of the competition, and Ashley Venegas, a student from Florida Coastal School of Law, won the Best Advocate 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 a bankruptcy court may approve a sale of real property “free and clear” of a leasehold interest in such property held by an objecting lessee pursuant to Section 363(f) of the Bankruptcy Code notwithstanding the protection that exists for lessees in Section 365(h) of the Bankruptcy Code. The second issue focused on whether a bankruptcy court may approve a contested “gift” settlement involving a payment by a Section 363 purchaser in connection with the acquisition of the debtor’s assets when the settlement proceeds are not distributed in accordance with the Bankruptcy Code’s priority scheme.

Final Round judges for the 2018 competition included Judge Kent Jordan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Chief Bankruptcy Judge Carla E. Craig (E.D.N.Y.), Chief U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon (S.D.N.Y.) and Chief Bankruptcy Judge Cecelia G. Morris (S.D.N.Y.). Special thanks also go to Bankruptcy Judge John T. Gregg (W.D. Mich.; Grand Rapids) and Paul Hage of Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss (Southfield, Mich.), who helped formulate 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 competition’s final night gala dinner on March 5, which was attended by more than 600 members of the New York restructuring community.

For more information on ABI's Conrad B. Duberstein National Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, please go to http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/law/academics/llm/duberstein. 

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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 www.abi.org. For additional conference information, visit http://www.abi.org/calendar-of-events.