University of Pittsburgh
Term: Spring Term 2012-13 (2134)
Catalog Number: 5364
Class Number: 28623
Class Schedule:
  • Th 9:00 am -11:30 am
  • Instructors: Judith K. Fitzgerald, Jeffery A. Deller
    Type: Lecture
    Credits: 3.0 Credits
    Catalog Requirements: "W" Writing, Professional Skills.
    Enrollment Limit: 10.

    Course Description from Course Catalog 5364

    Additional Info

    This class will meet on Thursdays from 9:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. in our chambers (54th Floor, US Steel Tower, 600 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219).

    The course will proceed in the following manner:

    Bankruptcy judges will be the primary teachers. However, practicing lawyers -- at least one each on the debtor's side of the bar and one on the creditor's side of the bar -- will be the class instructors. Certain classes may be held off the law school premises.

    Lectures on chapter 11 issues and procedures will set the stage for what is going to happen in the class. Lectures will cover the theoretical underpinnings to the Bankruptcy Code and Rules as applicable, and illustrate the points with appropriate case law. Topics will focus on the nature of chapter 11 reorganization, the kinds of relief debtors anticipate in business cases, the need for cash, why certain motions are needed early in the case whereas others wait, how the business issues interplay with the bankruptcy case and when and why the debtor must get the court's approval for certain matters as the case moves along.

    Practicing attorneys will be invited when the issues involve direct participation with a client and decisions that must be made from the business or legal side of the case. This will provide students with the benefit of a practitioner's assessment of chapter 11 reorganization. Topics include the reasons why a debtor or creditor chooses to take (or not to take) actions that are significant to the development of a chapter 11 proceeding including the decision to file the case by the debtor, ethical and professional concerns regarding representing a debtor corporation versus its shareholders, solicitation of the creditors committee representation, typical committee activities, and the plan negotiation process.

    Students will be required to read and analyze the relevant statutory text and rules and relevant cases. They will be assigned certain drafting work and/or papers to write regarding the issues involved. "Papers" may take the form of legal briefs. Each student will be required to argue on behalf of a "client" an assigned topic. To simulate the practice of law, students will file all assignments on the Bankruptcy Court's test data base for electronic filing.

    Some resource materials have been purchased by the University Library and will be kept on reserve for use by the class.

    Note: The course is authorized to satisfy the Upper Level Writing requirement for graduation as an additional credit. Although a full-time faculty member will confirm that papers written for the additional credit satisfy the criteria for that requirement, the Advanced Bankruptcy professors will work with students on their papers and assist with efforts to publish worthy papers.


    Students will be required to read and analyze the Bankruptcy Code and Rules and relevant case law, to draft assigned pleadings and to write papers or legal briefs on assigned topics. There will be four or five written assignments of increasing complexity. There will be no final examination. All assignments will be filed on the Bankruptcy Court's electronic filing system test data base. Class participation will be 15% of the grade. All papers other than the last will be equally rated as a percentage of the grade. The last written assignment will constitute 25% of the grade and will be to prepare a legal brief on a topic relevant to the discussion, in lieu of a final examination. Grades will be entirely derived from class participation and from the written assignments.

    Written assignments will include drafting a basic motion, such as a motion to retain counsel. Other assignments will be divided among the class such that some class members will draft a motion and others the responses for matters that are typical to a chapter 11 case. Examples include: a motion for use of cash collateral, a motion for relief from stay, a motion for the appointment of a chapter 11 trustee. At least one of the motions/responses will require a brief (or citation of points and authorities) in support. The final written assignment may involve an issue of significance in the plan context and will require a brief in support. The assignments will NOT overwhelm the class but are an important component of understanding the context and operation of a chapter 11 proceeding.

    Prerequisites and Recommended Courses

    Prerequisites: LAW 5272: Bankruptcy.
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