Keith J. Shapiro
Copyright © April 1, 2001, American Bankruptcy Institute.
his month marks the conclusion of my term as ABI President, and the culmination of an incredibly gratifying labor of love that began nearly two decades ago.
When I signed on as an ABI member as a first-year lawyer, the organization looked a lot different than it does today. We counted our members in the hundreds, and our annual meeting could be held in a conference room. Today we are the strongest and most influential insolvency organization in the world, with nearly 8,000 members from the United States and around the globe. We educate more bankruptcy industry participants annually than any other organization in the world and we are the objective eyes and ears of the federal legislature and the press.
ABI's Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., and our Winter Leadership Conference (WLC) on the West Coast continue to provide an amazing forum for the exchange of ideas and networking with colleagues. We achieved record attendance in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the 2000 WLC and expect to do likewise for this month's event in Washington. Special thanks go to Robert Swan for the breathtaking and thought-provoking presentation he gave at the WLC on his treks to the North and South Poles. Special thanks also go to my incredibly busy and in-demand partner Barry Richard, who will regale us with stories of his role as lead counsel to President Bush in the Florida vote-counting litigation last year.
Our endowment is already funding critical non-partisan research. This work has already played a central role in the debate over legislative change in recent years. Your continued support will make us an even bigger player in the years ahead.
On the cross-border scene, I am particularly proud of the strides we have made in the past year toward creating strong alliances with similar organizations around the world.
Another significant achievement over the past year is the development of our new scholar-in-residence program. This academic will be in residence at ABI headquarters during the coming year, conducting critical insolvency research and writing. With the likely passage of the bankruptcy reform legislation, our prominent scholar will make ABI membership more valuable than ever.
The Annual Meeting will certainly be special in that we will be welcoming ABI's new president, Richardo Kilpatrick. Richardo, like me, started as a young member of ABI. He has worked hard to build ABI, and his ascension is richly deserved. It is also exciting to be welcoming a president whose primary practice focus is consumer bankruptcy, demonstrating the diversity of our organization and positioning us well to address the issues we will face with the likely overhaul of the nation's consumer bankruptcy laws this year.
I never fully realized how time-consuming the job of ABI President would be. My gifted predecessors Ford Elsaesser, Deborah Williamson and Bob Fishman made it look so easy before I stepped into the role. I quickly learned that which they know only too well: That ABI functions at the level it does because of our Washington staff, which makes us all look good every day.
My Executive Committee this year showed great vision and judgment in all of their activities. Special mention goes to those whose terms have expired and who will be leaving the committee this spring: Jim Goodman, Leif Clark, Rick Meth, Tom Salerno and Grant Newton.
I want to also thank my partners at Greenberg Traurig who continue to support our firm's ABI participation in so many ways, as well as my countless friends among our membership for making these many years of ABI involvement so personally and professionally rewarding.
Finally, and most importantly, my sincerest thanks to my amazing family, who has to be without me so often due to my ABI and other travels. My wonderful wife Marci has constantly been there for me during 20 years of marriage, and my boys, Jacob, Michael and Jordan, know enough about ABI to be considered junior members. They are my best pals and have sacrificed a great deal to support my professional efforts.