Professor Margaret Howard, Resident Scholar, Spring 2002

Prof. Margaret Howard is the Law Alumni Association Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va. She has also served on the faculties of Vanderbilt and St. Louis Universities, and has visited at Duke, Emory, UNC and Washington University. During the spring of 2001, Prof. Howard was the Bruce W. Nichols Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and in the fall of 2005 she was the Charles E. Tweedy, Jr. Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Alabama. Prof. Howard served as ABI's resident scholar in the spring of 2002. A member of the Order of the Coif and the American Law Institute, she is a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy and is listed in Who's Who of American Women. One of her articles, "Shifting Risk and Fixing Blame: The Vexing Problem of Credit Card Obligations in Bankruptcy," 75 Am. Bankr. L.J. 63 (2001), won the Editors' Prize for the best article published in the Journal in that year, and she has written chapters in two treatises: "Bankruptcy and the Real Estate Lessor" in Bankruptcy Reorganization (Hendel, Hillinger & Queenan, eds.), and "Exemptions" in Norton Bankruptcy Law and Practice. Prof. Howard is a former vice-chair of the ABA Business Bankruptcy Committee's Avoiding Powers Subcommittee and is past chair of the section on Creditors' and Debtors' Rights of the Association of American Law Schools. She has served on the faculties of the American Board of Certification and the Association of Certified Turnaround Professionals. She currently serves as ABI's Vice President-Research Grants. Prof. Howard received her undergraduate degree from Duke University, her J.D. and M.S.W. from Washington University in St. Louis and her LL.M. from Yale Law School.
Resident Scholar Letter

My tenure as Scholar in Residence ran from Jan. 1-May 24, 2002. My duties included preparing materials for conferences, presenting at conferences, responding to media requests, doing interviews for newspaper stories and for radio programs both taped and live, responding to ABI members' various questions, as well as bankruptcy questions raised by non-member attorneys and members of the public, assisting the Endowment Committee on the review of research grant proposals, and rewriting ABI publications.

During my tenure at ABI, I completed the following tasks:

  • Participated as a faculty member at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Conference in Philadelphia. This program required leading a discussion of a hypothetical with several different groups of conference attendees.
  • Presented a program on recent developments regarding dischargeability, with an emphasis on credit card obligations and willful and malicious injuries. This program, sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center, was for bankruptcy judges and was given twice-in San Diego and Cleveland.
  • Prepared substantial materials for, and participated on a panel at, ABI's Rocky Mountain Bankruptcy Conference in Denver. The panel's overall topic was dischargeability, and my assignment was a discussion on education loans.
  • Attended the Spring Meeting of the ABA Business Law Section in Boston, and moderated a panel on preference issues for the Avoiding Powers Subcommittee of the Business Bankruptcy Committee. I am the vice-chair of that subcommittee.
  • Participated on a panel at ABI's Annual Spring Meeting dealing with dischargeability. I assisted in the preparation of substantial materials for the panel, and discussed the issue of willful and malicious injuries.
  • Presented a keynote address to the Northwest Bankruptcy Institute in Portland, Ore., sponsored by the Oregon and Washington Bar Associations. My topic was the contract and property theories underlying the Supreme Court's analysis of the rights of secured creditors in bankruptcy.
  • Prepared materials and presented a program on the intersection between revised Article 9 and bankruptcy for the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference in Cleveland.
  • Participated in ABI's Northeast Bankruptcy Conference this summer on Cape Cod, speaking on the ethical implications of pre-bankruptcy planning.
  • Appeared twice on a live radio talk show in New Orleans-the "Ed Clancy Show". Both times, we discussed consumer bankruptcy and the pending amendments.
  • Taped an interview for a syndicated radio program, "The Wizards of Money", out of Atlanta.
  • Accompanied Judge Erwin I. Katz to the Federal Judicial Center and met with staff members there in an effort to collect materials for the ABI web site on mediation and alternative dispute resolution techniques useful in bankruptcy cases.
  • Attended a hearing of the House-Senate Conference Com-mittee that is attempting to resolve the last of the issues regarding the pending bankruptcy amend-ments.
  • Reviewed and edited ABI's publication on preference law.
  • Reorganized and completely rewrote ABI's Bankruptcy Over-view.

Began, with the assistance of Prof. G. Ray Warner, the in-coming scholar in residence, to organize a scholarly program to mark the 25th anniversary of the Bankruptcy Code. This program, which will be held in October 2003, will be targeted at law professors specializing in bankruptcy. We now have commitments for major papers from four of the top people in the field-Barry Adler, Elizabeth Warren, Douglas Baird and James J. White. I will continue to work on this project despite leaving the position as scholar in residence.

Continued flexibility is the key to the success of this program. Sam Gerdano, ABI's Executive Director, was understanding of the fact that I came in with several commitments that required me to take time for preparation of materials and presentations. I also continued to teach one course at the law school, which occasionally required my attention while I was physically at ABI. Nonetheless, the opportunity to deal with the media and with developments in Congress, and to work on an ABI publication, is very attractive and should continue to draw professors to this position.

This semester has gone by incredibly quickly, probably because it has been such a wonderful opportunity. I echo the sentiments of my predecessor, Prof. Jack F. Williams, regarding the terrific staff at ABI and its executive director, Sam Gerdano. The organization is top-notch, largely because of its leadership. I have learned an enormous amount-so much that I fear I may have gotten more than I've given.

I never seem to accomplish as much as I would like, and this semester has been no exception. However, my major contributions, the Bankruptcy Overview and the forthcoming symposium, were done and are being done right. I also have a great deal of confidence in Prof. Warner, who will succeed me as scholar in residence. He will certainly raise the bar for the future.

Prof. Margaret Howard

Washington & Lee University; Lexington, Va.