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What to Be Proud Of as a Bankruptcy Lawyer

posted by Buce

I know nothing except what I see in the newspapers about the Diocese of Spokane settlement (link), but let me offer one passing thought: this is the sort of thing bankruptcy courts (and good bankruptcy lawyers) are supposed to be good at—wading into a complex and polycentric mess, getting everyone to simmer down, and finding a cost-effective global solution. Sometimes it’s the judge; sometimes it’s the debtor's lawyer; more often than people might guess, it is the bank’s lawyer (“there is nobody more reasonable,” the great Jack Stutman used to say, “than an undersecured bank”).  One of my own mentors succinctly explained to me the logic of bankruptcy practice: if everybody is looking at 20 cents on the dollar and you find a way to get 25, they may leave a penny or two on the table for you. Ron Gilson and Bob Mnookin made this sort of thing famous as “what business lawyers do.” See Gilson and Mnookin, Business Lawyers and Value Creation for Clients, 74 Or. L. Rev. 1 (1995), and other stuff there cited. I would amend: it is what business lawyers might do, and sometimes do, and could their heads high when they do do.

I scarcely know Greg Zive (=the judge who superintended the settlement), and I’ve never appeared before him (nor do I expect to) but I do know he has had a top-of-the-chart rep as a judge since the day he hit the bench. With publicity like this, it may be tough to keep him in Palookaville. I wonder what he knows about Shi’ites and Sunnis?

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  • As a public service, the University of Illinois College of Law operates Bankr-L, an e-mail list on which bankruptcy professionals can exchange information. Bankr-L is administered by one of the Credit Slips bloggers, Professor Robert M. Lawless of the University of Illinois. Although Bankr-L is a free service, membership is limited only to persons with a professional connection to the bankruptcy field (e.g., lawyer, accountant, academic, judge). To request a subscription on Bankr-L, click here to visit the page for the list and then click on the link for "Subscribe." After completing the information there, please also send an e-mail to Professor Lawless (rlawless@illinois.edu) with a short description of your professional connection to bankruptcy. A link to a URL with a professional bio or other identifying information would be great.

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