Welcome to the Blog

Welcome to the NCBJ Annual Conference Blog

As part of the website for this year’s annual meeting in Chicago, the NCBJ is pleased to launch its first Blog.  The Blog will cover a wide range of topics that we think you’ll find interesting and informative.  Some of the first posts to the Blog will deal with

  • this year’s education programs;
  • secrets of putting on an NCBJ annual meeting;
  • the impressionism and post-impressionism art that can be privately viewed at a reception during the conference at the Art Institute of Chicago;
  • Chicago’s own Second City, which will perform at the final night dinner;
  • and other features of the NCBJ’s new annual conference website.

We welcome all bankruptcy professionals to submit posts for this Blog (you can find a link to the guidelines for posting on the Blog home page).

I’m really excited that the NCBJ is hosting this year’s annual conference in Chicago, my hometown.  It’s one of my favorite cities, and fall is its best time of year.  As usual, some of the finest educators on bankruptcy issues in the country have been tapped for this year’s conference, and our educational programs will be enhanced by programs put on by the ABA, the American College, ABI, AIRA, CLLA, INSOL, IWIRC, and other groups.  But—as you’ll be hearing about in other posts—we’ve got some special non-education treats in store.

So please check back periodically for new postings to the Blog.  We look forward to seeing you at the Conference.

Index to Blog Posts

The index categories correspond to the categories listed in the right side bar of the blog site. To view a post, click on the title of the article.

General

Socials

Education

Chicago’s Population-1840 to 2010

Within The City Limits

Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837. Its population increased at a rapid rate from 1840 (pop. 4,470) through 1930 (pop. 3,376,438). In 1890 (pop. 1,099,850), Chicago became the nation’s second most populous city, behind only New York City (pop. 1,515,301). Chicago remained second until 1990, when its population was eclipsed by Los Angeles. Chicago’s population peaked in 1950 at 3,620,962. Chicago’s population in 1920 (pop. 2,701,705) was greater than in 2010 (pop. 2,695,598). New York City’s 2010 population was 8,175,133.

The Metro Area

By contrast, the Chicago metropolitan area has continued to grow, from 1,698,575 in 1900 to 3,905,974 in 1920 to 6,011,816 in 1950 to 10,138,379 in 2010. The population of the metro area was essentially flat from 1970 (pop. 8,089,421) to 1990 (pop. 8,387,387) and then increased more than 20% over the next two decades. By contrast, from 1990 to 2010, while the metro population increased by about 1,750,000 the population in the city limits decreased by about 90,000.

Source: All population numbers came from United States Census Bureau Decennial Census Population counts.

Don’t Miss the ABA Business Bankruptcy Committee’s Education Programs

Don’t Miss the ABA Business Bankruptcy Committee’s Education Programs

Here is the slate of excellent programs the American Bar Association’s Business Bankruptcy Committee is putting on at NCBJ:

Pro Bono Service on a Board of a Not for Profit in Crisis/Fulfilling Your Not for Profit’s Mission During Financial Distress. In memoriam of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Nancy Dreher, District of Minnesota.

Moderator:   Andrew Troop, Partner, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, New York, NY
Speakers:      Deborah Gutfeld, Senior Counsel, Perkins Coie, Denver, CO; Martha E.M. Kopacz, Senior Managing Director, Phoenix Management Services, Boston, MA; Raymond T. Lyons, Counsel, Fox Rothschild LLP, Princeton, NJ;
Kenneth J. Young, Member, Buerger, Moseley, & Carson, PLC, Franklin, TN;
Parvathy Sree, RPLU, AIM, CIPM, First Nonprofit Group, an AmTrust Financial
Company, Chicago, IL

Description: Not-for-profit organizations, including charities, are often under enormous financial pressure and frequently face numerous challenges in order to keep their doors open. This panel will discuss corporate governance issues faced by the board members of a distressed non-profit, what happens to non-profits in bankruptcy, director and officer insurance issues from the viewpoints of a D&O insurer, and the roles and perspectives of the financial advisor and attorney trying to assist the non-profit through its crisis, a bankruptcy trustee, and the judge presiding over a non-profit’s bankruptcy case.

 

(Almost) Everything You Wanted to Know About…Executory Contracts.

Moderator:  Christopher Combest, Partner, Quarles & Brady LLP, Chicago, IL
Speakers:     Honorable Carol A. Doyle, Judge, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Chicago, IL; Lisa M. Schweitzer, Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, New York, NY; Andrea Coles-Bjerre, Associate Professor, University of Oregon School of Law, Portland, OR; Paul R. Hage, Partner, Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss P.C., Southfield, MI; Ashley Champion, Judicial Law Clerk to Bankruptcy Judge Katharine M. Samson, Southern District of Mississippi

Description: Virtually every bankruptcy requires parties to resolve competing rights and claims under “executory contracts,” a term encompassing agreements as varied as supply contracts, service agreements, leases, licenses, options, and rights of first refusal. From diverse perspectives, the panel will thoroughly review the basic rules for identifying, treating, and disposing of such contracts in bankruptcy; the surprising ways in which contract rights can remain uncertain, even unenforceable, in bankruptcy, and practical strategies for protecting those rights. The panel will also probe more deeply into problems peculiarly associated with certain types of contracts, including intellectual property licenses, real estate leases, and contracts with governmental units.

 

The Uniform Voidable Transactions Act

Moderator:  Bruce Borrus, Principal, Riddell Williams P.S., Seattle, WA
Speakers:     Patricia A. Redmond, Shareholder, Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A., Miami, FL; Edwin E. Smith, Partner, Bingham McCutchen LLP, Boston, MA and New York, NY

Description: This panel will discuss the proposed amendments to the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act.

 

It’s Not about the Money! (Or is it?): Garnering Support for Bankruptcy Sales without Increasing the Purchase Price

Moderators:   Steven N. Cousins, Partner, Armstrong Teasdale LLP, St. Louis, MO
Marc J. Carmel, Of Counsel, Paul Hastings LLP, Chicago, IL
Speakers:       Honorable Timothy A. Barnes, United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois; Robert A. Klyman, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP, Los Angeles, CA; David M. Schulte, Managing General Partner, Chilmark Partners, Chicago, IL; Suzanne S. Yoon, Managing Director, Transaction Development, Versa Capital Management, LLC, Philadelphia, PA; Adam C. Maerov, Partner, McMillan LLP, Calgary, Canada

Description: This highly-entertaining and energized panel boasts experience in all aspects of bankruptcy purchases and sales—Bankruptcy Judge, Attorney, Financial Advisor, and Principal Investor. The panelists will share their real world experiences as they discuss and debate what purchasers can do to increase the likelihood of being the successful bidder for assets in bankruptcy sales and how to execute on a winning strategy, all without increasing the purchase price.

 

What Every Distressed Investor Should Ask When Venturing Offshore. Are Chapter 11 Skill Sets and Experience Alive and Well (and Relevant) in Europe?

Speakers:    Jay Goffman, Partner and Practice Leader Global Restructuring, Skadden Arps, New York, NY; Simon Granger, Senior Managing Director, FTI Consulting, London, UK; Alan Carr, Partner and Founder, Drivetrain Advisors, NY;
Eckart Budelmann, Partner, Bryan Cave LLP, Hamburg, Germany; Honorable Shelley Chapman Bankruptcy Judge, S. D. N. Y., New York, NY

Description: US based investors are very comfortable with U.S. Bankruptcy Courts, Chapter 11 proceedings and restructuring professionals. How has this perspective impacted on the expectations and experiences of distressed investors when they venture offshore? What happens when principles fundamental to U.S. bankruptcy law, such as favoring debt over equity in insolvent situations, are not universally applied? This program will explore recent developments in offshore restructurings, including how the experience and mindset of U.S. investors and their advisors are playing a vital role in changing the face of distressed investing in Europe and elsewhere and the challenges that every U.S. investor should be aware of when investing outside of the U.S. so as not to be caught by surprise.

 

Take the First Exit! – Defenses That Can Win a Case Early

Moderators:   Sandra A Riemer, Partner, Phillips Nizer LLP, New York, NY; John C. Weitnauer, Partner, Alston & Bird LLP, Atlanta, GA
Speakers:       Patrick Darby, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Birmingham, AL; Hon. Martin Glenn, Bankruptcy Judge, United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York; Jonathan M. Landers, Member, Scarola Malone & Zubatov LLP, New York, NY; Catherine L. Steege, Partner, Jenner & Block LLP, Chicago, IL

Description: The distinguished panel will discuss the strategic and tactical benefits that can be gained by an early focus on “procedural” and affirmative defenses that could be dispositive in an adversary proceeding, such as the “plausibility standard” enunciated in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, standing, res judicata, estoppel and waiver.

 

Is there Room in the Chapter 11 Ark for Trustees, Examiners, Receivers and CROs?

Moderator:  Rafael X. Zahralddin-Aravena, Shareholder and Director, Elliott Greenleaf, P.C., Wilmington, DE
Speakers:     Judith W. Ross, Shareholder, Law Offices of Judith W. Ross, Dallas, TX; Benjamin I. Finestone, Partner, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, New York, NY; William K. Harrington, United States Trustee, Region I and II (invited), Boston, MA; Katherine R. Catanese, Senior Counsel, Foley and Lardner LLP, New York, NY; Sheila T. Smith, Americas Restructuring Services Leader, Deloitte, New York, NY

Description: This panel will discuss the underlying common law surrounding receiverships (including federal receivers), case law and statutory authority relating to the appointment of trustees and examiners, and the use of crisis restructuring officers in chapter 11. The panel will focus on recent trends including cases resulting from the use of foreign subsidiaries to access the U.S. market through reverse mergers, cross border fiduciary duties, fraud cases, and cases related to gross mismanagement. Special attention will be paid to the practical limitations of using receivers, CROs, trustees and examiners.

 

Restaurant Bankruptcies–Should I Make a Reservation Now?

Moderators:   Ryan T. Schultz, Partner, Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, Chicago, IL
Speakers:     Bobby Guy, Partner, Frost Brown, Nashville, TN; Phillip Martino, Partner, Quarles & Brady, Chicago, IL; Mario Ponce, Principal, Partners in Hospitality, Chicago, IL; Patricia Rynn, Partner, Rynn & Janowsky, Newport Beach, CA; Jennifer Scuher, Executive Counsel Restructuring Bankruptcy, GE Capital, Chicago, IL

Description: Industry reports project an increase in the number of restaurants filings, especially by casual dining restaurants. Restaurant bankruptcies raise a number of complex issues that are not found in the typical manufacturer case or in cases involving other service businesses.

 

Discovery and Judicial/Legislative Developments in Mass Torts and Asbestos Trusts
Moderators:   Hon. Judith K. Fitzgerald (Ret.), Professor of Law, Indiana Tech Law School, Fort Wayne, Indiana; Of Counsel, Tucker Arensberg, P.C., Pittsburgh, PA
Speakers:     Leslie A. Davis, Counsel, Crowell & Moring LLP, Washington, DC; Charles H. Mullin, PH.D., Partner, Bates White LLC, Washington, DC; Trevor Swett III, Member, Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered, Washington, DC

Description: Asbestos trusts established pursuant to confirmed plans of reorganization currently hold in excess of $30 billion in assets. They resolve and process large numbers of asbestos personal injury tort claims. Asbestos claims filed with an asbestos trust, unlike claims filed in the tort system, are not publicly filed, and there is an issue as to whether lack of transparency in the trust system has led to abuse of the trusts and of the tort system–as recently illustrated by the Garlock bankruptcy court decision on claim estimation. In Garlock it was found that claimants gave materially different work histories to trusts from which they recovered payments, on the one hand, and to Garlock, in connection with the bankruptcy, on the other–which the court found to show a “startling” “pattern of misrepresentation.” 504 B.R 71, 86 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. 2014). The panel will focus on the need for trust discovery in asbestos bankruptcies, legislative proposals as to trust transparencies, and judicial and rule responses to the issue.

 

Herding Clients: Working with Multiple Secured Creditors
Moderators: Susan M. Freeman, Partner, Lewis Roca Rothgerber, LLP, Phoenix, AZ
Speakers:    Bryant D. Barber, Partner, Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP, Phoenix, AZ;
Jeanne P. Darcey, Partner, Sullivan & Worcester, Boston, MA; Jennifer C. Hagle, Partner, Sidley Austin LLP, Los Angeles, CA; William P. Smith, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Chicago, IL

Description: Panelists regularly representing indenture trustees, hedge funds and financial institutions will discuss issues arising in restructurings and Chapter 11 cases when secured creditor clients have constituent groups, including communications with participants and beneficiaries, driving consensus on interim and exit strategies, obtaining direction from majorities and meeting rights of minorities, funding bridge or DIP financing, decision-making on credit bidding, and plan voting logistics.

 

Current Developments

Moderators:   Martin J. Bienenstock, Partner, Proskauer Rose LLP, New York, NY
Speakers:       Michael R. Enright, Partner, Robinson & Cole LLP, Hartford, CT; Martin J. Bienenstock, Partner, Proskauer Rose LLP, New York, NY; Robert B. Millner, Partner, Dentons, Chicago, IL; Monique D. Hayes, Associate, Genovese Joblove & Battista, PA, Miami, FL; Jennifer R. Hoover, Partner, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, Wilmington, DE

Description: This popular panel, led by Martin Bienenstock, will discuss current developments in the areas of claims, exemptions, priorities and Chapter 11.

Next Generation Program Flourishes

The Chicago meeting of NCBJ marks the fourth time the “Next Generation” program will be held.  Participants in the “NextGen” program are practitioners with five to ten years experience in practices that are primarily bankruptcy. Each participant has demonstrated the potential to be  a distinguished member of the bankruptcy bar in the future.

Selection for the program is on a first-come, first-eligible basis and is limited to one participant per firm. There were more than 100 applicants in the first five minutes for the 2014 program. This years forty participants represent an outstanding cross section of lawyers from consumer and business practices, large and small firms and a broad geographic diversity. Thanks to the NCBJ Endowment, six qualifying participants will be afforded assistance in attending the conference in Chicago.

Judge Janet Baer chairs with current Next Generation Committee. In addition to nine bankruptcy judges, she recruited lawyers who were former NextGen participants for the committee. Their perspective on past programs and the portions of the program they found most valuable have greatly assisted in the planning and organization for the 2014 program. The NextGen program promises to be an ever better program with each group of attendees!

Following an informal lunch organized in small groups with similar practice focus, there will be an educational program on Wednesday October 8. The education program will feature a presentation by Judges Gregg Zive and Cate Furay focusing on effective advocacy. The participants will then have a unique opportunity to meet with judges and senior lawyers in small groups to discuss courtroom behavior, the “dos and don’ts” of effective advocacy, the practice of law, the generation of business, and how to be a better lawyer.

Networking opportunities for the participants will continue following the formal educational program. A reception for all current and past NextGen participants will be held at 6:30 on Wednesday. The contact information for all 160 of the past and current participants shared among the participants provides a great starting place for connections in our next generation of practitioners.

Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones’ NCBJ Party

Since 1999, Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones has hosted the official NCBJ “After Party.”  The nation’s leading corporate restructuring boutique is well known in the bankruptcy and restructuring community for its standing room only themed parties, and this year expect nothing less than the best.  Large parties like ours are intimate, and gives attendees a chance to socialize at the end of the conference.

As the Hon. David Thuma and Hon. Rebecca Connelly state below “All work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull children,” and we gladly bear the responsibility of bringing some fun to Chicago.  Live music, great food, drinks and all of the accoutrements you have come to expect from PSZJ.

More posts to come!

Here are some pics from last year’s PSZJ “After Party” in Atlanta…

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Don’t miss the CLLA’s annual luncheon and education program

Both programs provide opportunities to engage with other bankruptcy professionals, learn and earn CLE credit.

The CLLA’s annual luncheon features the presentation of the Lawrence P. King Award for excellence in bankruptcy and a presentation from William Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor in the economic research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He produces the monthly Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index and organizes the Bank’s Economic Outlook Symposium and Automotive Outlook Symposium. In addition, he conducts several economic workshops and industrial roundtables throughout the year.

The CLLA’s Honorable Frank W. Koger Memorial Education Program, “Current Developments in Hot and Emerging Areas of Bankruptcy” will cover emerging trends in bankruptcy law. The first panel, “Bankruptcy and the Markets – The Uneasy Relationship Between Debtors, Traders and Judges,” will examine key issues impacting secondary market purchases of claims, including whether a claim purchaser takes the claims subject to the same infirmities as the original claim holder, whether a transfer of a claim could result in reclassification, and how claims purchased from insiders are treated.

The second panel “363 Sales: What You Get – And What You Are Stuck With,” discusses sec. 363 sales intersection and resulting issues with intellectual property issues, cross-border contracts and successor liability issues. The panel will report the latest developments and analyze longer-range impacts.

Our programming is some of the most popular at the NCBJ conference!

NEW ! The Huddle: A Post-Seminar Place to Continue the Conversation with Speakers

Have you ever wanted to talk to a seminar presenter but been thwarted by a lack of space and opportunity? With time constraints and audience size, it’s usually not possible to have meaningful audience participation during the conference sessions. To deal with that issue, the 2014 conference will introduce a new feature: post-seminar “huddles.” After presentations in the Grand Ballroom, speakers and audience members can make their way to the adjoining foyer, where chairs will be set up for a dialog between the speakers and their audiences.

Jeanne Sleeper, the Executive Director of the NCBJ, says that asking questions and being able to talk to speakers and fellow audience members is very important to conference attendees. “Regardless of the industry, participants enjoy conferences much more if they can talk to each other and to the speakers.” This year, with the huddles, speakers and interested audience members can continue the conversation for as long as they’d like. Ms. Sleeper says that speakers also welcome the opportunity to meet and talk to audience members after a presentation. “Speakers tell me they really enjoy the one-on-one interaction after speaking to a large audience, and that they often learn from post-seminar discussion with audience members.”

The huddle area will have seating for about 20 people, located in the middle of the large foyer next to the Chicago Hyatt’s Grand Ballroom. It should be a great way to get the most out of each presentation.

Chicago – The Jazz Capital of the World

By Hon. Robert H. Jacobvitz,  Former President of the New Mexico Jazz Workshop

Chicago is a city with a rich jazz history and a vibrant jazz scene. In fact, during much of the 1920s, Chicago was the jazz capital of the world. In the early 1920s, the focal point for jazz shifted from New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, to Chicago. Louis Armstrong played a key role in this shift. In the twenties, Chicago was home not only to jazz great Louis Armstrong, but also to King Oliver, Earl Hines, Bix Beiderbecke, Kid Ory, and Johnny Dodds. Most jazz clubs were on the south side of Chicago in a tough part of town.

During the first decade of the twentieth century, Joseph Nathan (“King”) Oliver and Kid Ory co-led New Orleans’ best and hottest jazz band. Starting in the late 1910’s, there was a great migration of black people from the south to the north, including to Chicago. In 1918, King Oliver and his band left New Orleans for Chicago. Several years later, King Oliver invited Louis Armstrong to leave New Orleans to join him. Between 1925 and 1928, Armstrong made his first recordings as a band leader. These recordings, made in Chicago, are known as the Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings. They helped usher in a transformation of New Orleans traditional ensemble jazz improvisation to improvisation featuring soloists. Many of Louis Armstrong’s improvised solos in these recordings are brilliant and are punctuated by tonally beautiful high notes. The Hot Five recording of Heebie Jeebies in 1926 is the first recording of Armstrong’s scat singing, something he invented. Armstrong’s early recordings of Potato Head Blues, Struttin’ With Some Barbeque, Hotter Than That and West End Blues are particularly noteworthy. The Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings, made in a studio, are of surprisingly good audio quality for the time and are readily available today. Many of the songs can be heard on YouTube, including West End Blues.

Jazz music scholar Gunther Schuller says this about Armstrong’s West End Blues:

“Louis’s West End Blues introduction consists of only two phrases. As has already been intimated, these two phrases alone almost summarize Louis’s entire style and his contribution to jazz language. The first phrase startles us with the powerful thrust and punch of its first four notes. We are immediately aware of their terrific swing, despite the fact that these four notes occur on the beat, that is, are not syncopated, and no rhythmic frame of reference is set (the solo being unaccompanied). These four notes should be heard by all people who do not understand the difference between jazz and other music, or those who question the uniqueness of the element of swing. These notes as played by Louis – not as they appear in notation – are as instructive a lesson in what constitutes swing as jazz has to offer. The way Louis attacks each note, the quality and exact duration of each pitch, the manner in which he releases the note, and the subsequent split second silence before the next note – in other words, the entire acoustical pattern – present in capsule form all the essential characteristics of jazz inflection.”

“By whatever definition of art – be it abstract, sophisticated, virtuosic, emotionally expressive, structurally perfect – Armstrong’s music qualified. Like any profoundly creative innovation West End Blues summarized the past and predicted the future.”

Early Jazz: Its Roots and Early Development (Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 89, 116.

Gunther Schuller explains what distinguished Armstrong from other musicians in the early years of jazz:

“There are four salient features [that make an Armstrong solo stand out] . . . : (1) his superior choice of notes and the resultant shape of his lines; (2) his incomparable basic quality of tone; (3) his equally incomparable sense of swing, that is, the sureness with which notes are placed in the time continuum and the remarkably varied attack and release properties of his phrasing; (4) and, perhaps – his most individual contribution, the subtly varied repertoire of vibratos and shakes with which Armstrong colors and embellishes individual notes.”

Id. at 91.

Some years ago I attended an NCBJ annual conference in Chicago. One of the highlights of that trip was listening to a hard driving bebop band called the Timeless All-Stars, comprised of saxophonist Harold Land, trombonist Curtis Fuller, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson and pianist Cedar Walton. It was a truly memorable experience. Perhaps we will be blessed with an opportunity to hear some great jazz during this year’s NCBJ conference in Chicago.

Entertainment at the NCBJ Conference in Chicago

By Hon. David T. Thuma and Hon. Rebecca Connelly

All work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull children, so each year the NCBJ aims to provide plenty of entertainment at the annual conference. This year is no exception, and could be the best ever. Judge Janet Baer (N.D. Ill), a long time Chicago-area resident, is the unofficial chair of the equally unofficial entertainment committee, in charge of all aspects of R&R for Chicago 2014. Working with President Gene Wedoff and Executive Director Jeanne Sleeper, Judge Baer spent many off-duty hours over the last two years planning the conference’s opening reception; judges’ dinner; attorney reception (with the reception committee); closing dinner; and various tours for attendees and spouses.

The opening reception, on Wednesday, October 8, will be at the hotel. It will be hosted by the NCBJ and the Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Advisors (AIRA). Plans have not been finalized, but an Oktoberfest theme is being considered. There also will be a number of private events Wednesday evening.

On tap for Thursday night is an attorneys’ reception, affectionately known as the “bar party”. Planning for the bar party began in 2012. Judge Wedoff was blessed with a diverse and energetic committee of volunteer professionals, including Judge Baer as an ex officio member and judicial liaison. The committee was able to book a portion of the contemporary wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. The galleries containing the Institute’s Impressionist and American collections will be open for viewing by all party guests. Additionally, guests will be able to enjoy part of the evening outside, delighting in the extraordinary autumn in Chicago.

Next up is the closing dinner, to be held at the hotel. Judge Baer, Judge Wedoff, and Jeanne Sleeper are working hard to make sure the food is characteristic of Chicago cuisine. Rather than typical hotel banquet fare, they anticipate a menu serving as a tribute to Charlie Trotter or other well-known Chicago chefs. That effort is ongoing; stay tuned.

In a departure from the tried-and-true “Rock Bands of Our Youth” approach, the featured entertainment for the closing dinner this year will be a one-hour comedy performance from Second City. Second City’s varsity squad will be on hand, with material written designed for the conference. Judge Baer has provided Second City’s writers with a list of bankruptcy terms, including several susceptible to double entendres. We can only guess what these improv artists will do to us! After the show, dance music will be provided by a band at Pachulski Stang, Zeihl & Jones’ annual party.

The planners have also managed to provide entertainment throughout the conference for attendees and their spouses or significant others. Among available options will be a tour of the Dreyer House museum (with lunch at a restaurant resembling a speakeasy); an architectural tour by motorboat, cruising the downtown section of the Chicago, coupled with a Chicago-style pizza lunch; and an expedition to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and the surrounding Wright district, which has many examples of his Prairie Style, with lunch at a delightful little French restaurant. These private tours are only offered at the NCBJ Annual Conference and are open to judges, attendees, and their guests. In addition, a bicycle tour for judges and spouses is planned. See the website for more information about these events.

The NCBJ will certainly want to hear from you about the entertainment offerings this year. We think you’ll like them!

A Stellar Education Program Lineup for the 2014 NCBJ Annual Conference

 The NCBJ Annual Conference attracts a wide variety of bankruptcy professionals who gather to learn, network, and have fun.  The heart of the Conference is the education programs, sponsored not only by the NCBJ but also by the ABA, ABI, ACB, AIRA, CLLA, and IWIRC.  The education programs at the NCBJ Annual Conference provide a useful and important bridge between bankruptcy theory and practice.  I got a peek at the education programs the NCBJ Education Committee will present at this year’s Conference.

One of the highlights at the 2013 Conference was the mock United States Supreme Court oral argument.  It was a treat listening to esteemed, skilled orators, lyrical presentations, and feisty responses to pointed questions from the jurists.  The adrenaline was infectious; the subject matter, bankruptcy court jurisdiction, was important and timely.  I found the mock oral argument to be one of the best learning experiences to elucidate the nuances of this complicated topic, far better than hearing another lecture about Stern v. Marshall.  From all reports, the mock oral argument was the educational highlight for many of those in attendance. 

Responding to roundly positive feedback, this year’s NCBJ Education Committee has planned another U.S. Supreme Court dialogue but in a slightly different format.  Attorney Eric Brunstad will return to give another stellar performance, joined by Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California-Irvine Law School.  Stay tuned for more information about this program after the Supreme Court issues its decision.

Other noteworthy education programs the NCBJ Education Committee has planned for this year’s Conference include:

A Tale of Two Cities:  This panel of experts, including Hon. Steven Rhodes, presiding judge in the Detroit Chapter 9 case, and Hon. Elizabeth Perris, one of the mediators in the case, will discuss the thorny issues involved in municipal bankruptcies and their impact on various constituencies.

Consumer Potpourri:  What’s Sizzling, What’s Fizzling?  Judge Bill Brown and Professor Katie Porter will cover the waterfront of “hot” consumer topics, as well as discussing those that issues that appear to have been resolved.

All in the Family:  Advising the Closely-Held Company.  A panel of professionals will discuss the problems attorneys face in providing bankruptcy and insolvency advice to a closely-held company, including the question of how to identify the client.

Retirement Assets in Bankruptcy:  Protecting, or Tarnishing, a Debtor’s Assets in the Golden Years.  The past couple of years have seen a series of court decisions addressing what retirement assets debtors may keep when they file for bankruptcy.  This panel will discuss some of those cases, as well as other issues facing debtors dependent on retirement assets.

Assuring eDiscovery Does Not Become eDisaster.  While e-discovery has been a hot topic in the district courts for some time, it is arising with more frequency in bankruptcy courts as well.  This panel will provide tips to help counsel manage e-discovery.

Watching the Hedges Grow:  Inside the Minds of Distressed Investors. Retired Bankruptcy Judge James Peck (S.D.N.Y) will moderate a panel of hedge fund managers, exploring how those financial professionals make investment decisions, and how the decisions are impacted by bankruptcy and insolvency.

All the Courtroom’s A Stage:  Honing Courtroom Performance Skills.  A team of rising young insolvency lawyers will conduct a mock examination of an expert witness, and will be “judged” on their performance by a panel composed of judges, lawyers and performers.

Whose Case Is This Anyway?  Should a Chapter 11 Case Be Run Solely for the Benefit of the Secured Creditors?  Bankruptcy and insolvency professionals at all levels debate this question.  Our panelists, who represent a range of constituencies, will give their views and perspectives.

Minding Your Business:  Maintaining Focus in Modern Law Practice.  This panel of legal professionals will discuss methods and techniques for helping lawyers to achieve greater focus and presence of mind in their increasingly hectic practices.

Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!  An Ethics Game Show.  A fun way to learn the ins and outs of ethics, this panel of judges and lawyers will answer ethics questions in the style of the popular National Public Radio game show, “Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!”

May You Live in Interesting Times:  The Supreme Court’s Year in Bankruptcy.  Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California-Irvine Law School, a nationally-recognized constitutional law scholar, and Attorney Eric Brunstad, who has argued frequently in the Supreme Court in such cases as Stern v. Marshall, Marrama v. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, and Arkison v. Executive Benefits Insurance Agency, will discuss and debate the Supreme Court’s decisions in such pivotal bankruptcy cases as Arkison, Law v. Segal, and Rameker.

In addition, the NCBJ, in conjunction with the NCBJ International Committee and INSOL, will present Born in the USA; Grown Up Abroad ― How Different Foreign Jurisdictions Restructure Major Corporate Groups.  A panel of international insolvency professionals will consider how an American Chapter 11 case might have looked had it been filed in countries such as China, South Africa, or Australia.

Nearly every bankruptcy professional organization has a presence at the NCBJ.  Most host panels, roundtables and lectures.  Sessions occur throughout each day:  from breakfast until evening, from small group discussions to large lectures.  You just cannot find these programs anywhere else.  This is one of the reasons I look forward to the NCBJ annual conference.

Chicago Eats !

Chicago’s home to famous chefs and great restaurants. Travel & Leisure Magazine recently published a list of hot spots, that locals in the know are frequenting. Start planning the culinary side of your NCBJ Conference on the conference website – Pre- Conference – About Chicago – Chicago Eats!