Fall 2019 Course Schedule

Bankruptcy & Creditors' Rights (LAW-627-001)
Walter Effross

Meets: 10:30 AM - 11:50 AM (TuTh) - Warren - Room N101

Enrolled: 9 / Limit: 22

Administrator Access


There are no notices at this time.


This course focuses on the legal strategies of individuals and companies to collect what they are owed as lenders, sellers, licensors, or successful plaintiffs; and then, on how these efforts can be disrupted by the personal/consumer bankruptcies (federal Bankruptcy Code Chapters 7 and 13) and corporate bankruptcies (Chapters 7 and 11) of borrowers/buyers/licensees/defendants.

Often, the respective rights of those owed versus those owing cannot be resolved simply by plugging numbers into mathematical formulas. Instead, they implicate a wide and complex variety of policy and social justice concerns; introduce practical techniques of client counseling, business planning, statutory interpretation, and legislative and transactional drafting; and invoke deep and far-reaching issues of (and tensions among) trust, responsibility, honor, shame, fairness, stability/continuity, flexibility, predictability, forgiveness, redemption, self-renewal, and (both legal and business) ethics.

Bankruptcy and creditors’ rights are among today’s most intellectually exciting and most “portable” (among firms and states) practice areas. They offer opportunities both of specialization (as separate and intricate legal fields) and universality (in their interactions with a wide variety of other areas of law); provide occasions to engage not only in transactional work but also in litigation; and enable counsel in any practice to protect themselves and their clients from their own and others’ financial distress. In addition, Creditors’ Rights is tested on bar examinations of Virginia, Delaware, and Michigan, among other states.

We will review and re-examine some elements of the Contracts/UCC Article 2 course, which is tested on the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE); explore an overview of Secured Transactions/UCC Article 9, which appears on many states’ bar examinations; and discuss in detail the federal Bankruptcy Code and Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Our materials will include caselaw, commentaries (such as law review articles, and recent proposals to revise the Bankruptcy Code), official forms, and filings from actual bankruptcy proceedings.

The examination will be an open-book, anonymously-graded take-home paper (with sources restricted to the materials studied during the semester) of 3,000 to 3,500 words, on an assigned topic to be distributed in our final class session on Thursday, November 21. It will be due by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 5 (the second day of exam period).

There are no course prerequisites to this course.

Learning Goals: To understand the goals, processes, dynamics, and relevant provisions of the laws of creditors’ rights and of bankruptcy, as well as related issues of professional ethics, business planning, and transactional and legislative drafting.

Outcome: In the final paper, students will be able to analyze and respond critically to a general statement about the topics identified above.

*Auditing Option:
Class audits are charged the same amount of tuition as classes taken for credit. Auditing students do not receive credit for the course toward graduation requirements, but it will appear on their transcript with a grade of “L” to indicate auditing. To request permission to audit a course, please contact the Office of the Registrar at registrationservices@wcl.american.edu.

Textbooks and Other Materials

The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.

Our casebook will be Tabb & Brubaker, Bankruptcy Law: Principles, Policies, and Practice (LexisNexis- 4th ed. 2015), ISBN #9781630430818. I have contributed to the Pence Law Library three used copies of this book, which will be available on closed reserve.

You will also need the Federal Bankruptcy Code and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the latest versions of which are available at no charge online, and previous (and still mostly current) versions of which are included in such statutory supplements as Chomsky et al., Selected Commercial Statutes, which you might have retained from a previous course.

Material that supplements our readings in these books will be posted on the course page periodically during the semester. The supplements will contain (mostly for “browsing only”): diagrams; newspaper and magazine articles; recently-issued opinions; model and actual bankruptcy documents; excerpts from law review articles; and other material to illustrate and illuminate the situations, statutes, caselaw, and documents with which we work.

First Class Readings

Not available at this time.