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Law Professor Advocates for Bankruptcy Reform Measures

December 12, 2014    |  

Michelle Harner, JD, Professor and director of the Business Law Program at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law  served as a key participant in the American Bankruptcy Institute’s (ABI) Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11, an almost three-year project that culminated in a 400-page final report, issued December 8.

As reporter for the commission, Harner participated in its numerous public field hearings, working meetings, and executive retreats. She also was the primary draftsperson on the report, which was reviewed extensively and unanimously adopted by the commissioners. The report sets forth hundreds of proposed changes to the laws that govern restructuring options for financially distressed companies.

“An effective, robust business bankruptcy scheme that works for all, and not just some companies, is critically important to our economy,” Harner said at the ABI news press conference announcing the recommendations.

“The overwhelming testimony the commission heard over the past three years was that particularly in the smaller and middle market company area, Chapter 11 simply isn’t working,” added Harner, a recognized authority on bankruptcy law.

The commission was created in response to industry concerns that companies were not filing for Chapter 11 protection due to rising costs and final results that often ended in liquidation. The commission’s recommendations hope to restore the code as a cost-effective, efficient tool for resolving a debtor’s financial distress.

Maryland Carey Law alumni, students, and staff provided professional assistance to Harner during the project.

“This is extremely important work for the business community,” noted Maryland Carey Law Dean Donald B. Tobin, JD, an expert in tax law. “Michelle, I am sure, brought keen insights to the commission. We are grateful to have someone of her stature leading our Business Law Program.”

The commission’s 18 voting and four ex-officio members include the nation’s foremost insolvency and restructuring practitioners, including current or former chairs of such organizations as the National Bankruptcy Conference, the American College of Bankruptcy, and the New York City Bar Committee on Bankruptcy and Reorganization. The Commission plans to present the report to Congress.