Wednesday, October 11, 2017

NCBJ Report: Awards Edition

One thing that conferences like NCBJ celebrate are the best in the profession.  This year I went to three awards presentation.   Prof. Nancy Rapoport of the University of New Las Vegas Law School received the Lawrence P. King Award for Excellence in Bankruptcy from the Commercial Law League of America.   Judge Mary Walrath (Bankr. D. Del.) received the Norton Judicial Excellence Award from the American Bankruptcy Institute and Thompson Reuters.   Finally Judge Homer Drake (Bankr. N.D.Ga.) received the Distinguished Service Award from the Bankruptcy Alliance of the American Inns of Court.    

Nancy Rapoport is the Special Counsel to the President of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Garmin Turner Boyd Professor of Law at the William S. Boyd School of Law and an Affiliate Professor of Business Law and Ethics at the Lee Business School.    She has served as Dean or interim Dean of three separate law schools.   

She received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Rice University.  

Prof. Rapoport is a recognized expert in ethics.    She is the author of Enron and Other Corporate Fiascos:  The Corporate Scandal Reader and appeared in the Academy Award nominated move Enron:  The Smartest Guys in the Room.   She is currently serving on the Fee Review Committee in the Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., Inc. bankruptcy.    

She is also a Board Member of the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement (the MOB Museum).   In her spare time, she competes, pro-am, in American Rhythm and American Smooth ballroom dancing.   

In her introduction of Prof. Rapoport, Wanda Borges of the CLLA quoted her as saying, "My parents taught me everything.  They taught me how to live a moral life."   Wanda quoted the President of UNLV as saying, "If she was a superhero, her power would be enthusiasm."

In receiving the award, she said she was "flabbergasted but not speechless."    She went on to offer two true confessions:  that she took bankruptcy pass/fail and never took professional responsibility.  She said she had no interest in bankruptcy and intended to be a securities lawyer--until she began to work as a securities lawyer.

Prof. Rapoport Accepts the King Award
Prof. Rapoport said "I have built a career out of the intersection of bankruptcy law and professional responsibility.  I love bankruptcy law.  I love that bankruptcy lawyers find ways to make the pie bigger.   I love the people."    She also said that "good lawyers have the ability to change the world for the better."

Finally she said  "We are at a pivotal point for the practice of law.   Our margins are tighter.   Think about where the practice of law should go."    She said that she teaches law students that it is more important to listen to the other side than to push your own position.

On a personal note, I have enjoyed attending many continuing legal education programs where Nancy spoke.   She spoke on legal ethics at the very first Commercial Law League meeting that I attended.  Although she is kind of a big deal, she came and presented a showing of The Smartest Guys in the Room  to the Austin Bankruptcy Bar.    Her ability to include clips from lawyer movies in her ethics presentations has given me many laughs while making good points.  Finally, I am amazed by the pictures she posts on Facebook of her ballroom dancing exploits.   

Judge Walrath Receives the Norton Award for Excellencew
Judge Mary Walrath (Bankr. D. Del.) is the current President of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges.    She has served on the Delaware Bankruptcy bench since 1998.   When she took the bench, Delaware had two bankruptcy judges but based on the workload could have qualified for eighteen.   She is a co-founder and co-president of the Delaware Bankruptcy Inn of Court.   She is also a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy. 

In her remarks she mentioned that she also sits as Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Virgin Islands.  She expressed admiration for the Court Clerks who have experienced so much difficulty after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Judge Homer Drake Accepts the Distinguished Service Award
Judge Homer Drake has been a bankruptcy judge since 1964, which is before they were known as bankruptcy judges.   He was president of the National Association of Referees in Bankruptcy in 1973 when the rules committee changed the name of the judicial officials from Referees in Bankruptcy to Bankruptcy Judges.   That was also when the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges took its present name.    Judge Drake also has an Inn of Court named after him.   That was a significant honor since few Inns of Court are named after living persons.   

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