It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve ABI as the Robert M. Zinman Scholar from September through December 2002. The fall term as scholar was unusually hectic because of the combination of legislative activity and record bankruptcy filings. I am very proud of all that we were able to achieve and would not have been able to accomplish so much without the support and assistance of ABI’s professional headquarter’s staff and the energy and vision of its executive director, Sam Gerdano. It is clear that ABI has succeeded in building a reputation with Congress and the media as the premier source for unbiased bankruptcy information.
In addition to the perennial battle over the bankruptcy reform legislation, which culmin-ated in an “edge-of-the-seat” House vote in November, the Enron and WorldCom filings generated a spate of proposed bills addressing concerns about employee issues in bankruptcy and excessive executive compensation. As scholar, I prepared summaries of each proposed bill and analyses of particular aspects of the reform legislation and the Sarbanes–Oxley Act for the ABI Journal, the ABI World web site and e-mail membership alerts. As a testament to ABI’s status on the Hill, I was consulted by both Republican and Democratic staffers for technical advice on a variety of proposed bankruptcy legislative initiatives.
The legislative activity, record level of consumer filings and record corporate cases both in size and complexity generated several hundred press inquires about the bankruptcy system. It was not unusual to conduct several interviews in a single day, ranging from media organizations like The Wall Street Journal, NBC and National Public Radio to small-town newspapers and radio stations.
During my four months as scholar, I attended numerous conferences as ABI’s representative and delivered eight speeches or panel presentations on a range of bankruptcy issues. I also assisted ABI staff on a number of ABI projects and conferences, including numerous current development alerts, the forthcoming First Day Orders Manual, and a reception for bankruptcy law professors at the annual convention of the Association of American Law Schools. I worked closely with Sam Gerdano and former ABI Scholar Margaret Howard to complete the planning for ABI’s upcoming academic symposium commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Bankruptcy Code. The symposium, scheduled for October, promises to be the decade’s most significant academic bankruptcy conference, with papers and presentations from more than a dozen leading bankruptcy scholars.
I followed in the footsteps of the first two scholars—Prof. Jack Williams and Prof. Howard—and tried to build upon the solid foundation they established for the program. I am pleased to leave the scholar position in the extremely capable hands of Prof. David Epstein, who is the spring 2003 scholar, and Prof. Marianne Culhane, who will join the program next fall. n
Prof. G. Ray Warner