Professor Laura Beth Bartell, Resident Scholar, Fall 2010

Laura B. Bartell is a Professor at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan, where she teaches Bankruptcy, Secured Transactions and Property. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School (where she served on the Harvard Law Review), she clerked for The Hon. Alvin B. Rubin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans before beginning practice in New York City. She was a partner at Shearman & Sterling before she began teaching. Laura is a member of the American Law Institute and the American Bar Foundation, and serves on the Boards of the American Board of Certification and the Institute of Continuing Legal Education.

Resident Scholar Letter

As the 17th resident scholar for the American Bankruptcy Institute during the fall semester 2010, on sabbatical from my teaching duties at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, I was involved in all aspects of the ABI's activities.


I edited new editions of three of the ABI publications, ABI's Bankruptcy Appeals Manual: Winning Your Bankruptcy Appeal (written by Samuel R. Maizel and Jessica D. Gabel); Getting Paid: Retention and Compensation in Bankruptcy Cases - A Guide for Non-attorney Professionals and the Attorneys Who Represent Them (written by C.R. "Chip" Bowles, Jr.); and When Worlds Collide: Bankruptcy and its Impact on Domestic Relations and Family Law (written by Michaela M. White, Marianne B. Culhane and Nathalie Martin).


I was privileged to attend three programs during my tenure, the Bankruptcy 2010: Views from the Bench program at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; the Detroit Consumer Bankruptcy Conference in Sterling Heights, Michigan; and the 22nd Annual Winter Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition, I reviewed the materials and biographical information for all other programs during fall of 2010, driving communications director Carolyn Kanon and her assistant Traci Van Buren crazy with my proofreading suggestions. Although I was not asked to speak on any of the conferences, I tried to make myself useful in other ways, from assisting with registration to helping load up the truck with boxes of materials.


An important part of the job for an ABI resident scholar is fielding questions from reporters about bankruptcy topics. Because the fall is not the time of year when the Supreme Court decides bankruptcy cases, most of the questions I received involved the most recently-released quarterly bankruptcy statistics. Those calling included reporters from national news services and local papers, from all around the country.


The ABI's website, at, provides a broad range of resources to ABI members. I wrote a headline on the grant of certiorari in Stern v. Marshall immediately sent to all ABI members. I also prepared descriptions of the bankruptcy implications of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and of S. 3675 (the proposed Small Business Jobs Preservation Act), which were both posted on the website and published in the ABI Journal under "Legislative Highlights."

When the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Ransom v. FIA Card Services, N.A., I provided a summary of the arguments and my analysis of the likely outcome. Another brief article, published in the ABI Journal, summarized the amicus brief filed on behalf of a group of 13 law professors (including me) by Professor Richard Lieb and the LL.M. bankruptcy students at St. John's University School of Law, in Stern v. Marshall.

The website launched a new service called "Volo", a Latin word for speed, or more rapidly. The Volo Project provides ABI members with summaries of new appellate bankruptcy opinions, prepared by editors for each circuit and posted at the Volo website within 24 hours after the opinion is released. I have become an editor for the Sixth Circuit (my own circuit) and summarized a number of decisions in that circuit and in others for which no other editor had volunteered on a timely basis (the so-called "orphan" opinions).

I also provided comments to Karim Guirguis, IT director, with respect to the new interactive Bankruptcy Code and Bankruptcy Rules on the website, and came up with some suggested Quick Poll questions for that section of the website.


I conducted four podcasts during my time at the ABI, with the able assistance of media technology specialist Matthew Lukban. In the first, I interviewed Professor Katherine Porter and Professor Deborah Thorne on their recent jointly-authored legal studies research paper on Debtors' Assessments of Bankruptcy Financial Education. Next, I spoke with Andy Winchell, an ABI member, and a restructuring, insolvency and bankruptcy attorney for commercial and consumer clients at the Law Offices of Andy Winchell in Summit, New Jersey, on the current foreclosure crisis. My third podcast was with a former ABI resident scholar, Professor David Skeel of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, who discussed his soon-to-be-published book on the Dodd-Frank Act. Finally, I interviewed Professor Richard Lieb of St. John's University Law School about the LL.M. program in bankruptcy there, and his recently-filed amicus brief in Stern v. Marshall.

Media Teleconferences 

ABI held two media teleconferences during the fall, organized with great skill and insight by Public Affairs Manager John Hartgen, both of which I moderated. The first was a look at consumer and business bankruptcy on the fifth anniversary of BAPCPA. The second examined trends in business bankruptcy filings at the end of 2010, looking forward to 2011.

My thanks to Sam Gerdano for giving me the opportunity to serve as ABI resident scholar and to Kathy Sheehan for making all the arrangements for my housing. I particularly enjoyed my interactions with the superb ABI staff, both professionally and at birthday lunches and baby showers and rides to the airport. They are a wonderful and talented group of people, and it was my pleasure to join them for these few months.

I will miss you all!

Laura Beth Bartell