586.01 Current Debates in Bankruptcy Law

Is bankruptcy broken? For some years, many academics and practitioners have argued that the nation's business and consumer bankruptcy systems are outdated or otherwise not fit for their intended purpose. The course will examine selected topics in bankruptcy law (but focusing most heavily on chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code). We will explore a selection of the most contentious current debates in bankruptcy law. Key reading materials will likely include recent major reports proposing reforms to bankruptcy law, as well as excerpts from the scholarship and recent Supreme Court cases. We will consider questions including: what is bankruptcy for? Is it simply a procedural remedy solely for enforcing whatever substantive rights parties might have outside bankruptcy, or an opportunity more fairly to redistribute assets (or losses) among stakeholders? Is bankruptcy special? Should be Bankruptcy Code be read like any other statute, or do we need special principles for bankruptcy law, and broad equitable powers for bankruptcy courts, to encourage businesses and consumers to reorganize? What protections should we give to consumers? Most consumer reorganizations are unsuccessful; should we respond by allowing bankruptcy more thoroughly to shield consumers from collection efforts, or do we prioritize creditors' efforts to get paid?

For each of the topics considered, the general structure of the course will be to: (1) familiarize you with the relevant features of bankruptcy law; (2) examine critiques of current law and consider proposals for reform. The objective of the seminar is to provide insight and into and allow for debate of bankruptcy theory and policy; in the process, we will consider the extent to which abstract theories of bankruptcy hold up in the real world, and the topics we cover will include issues of pressing interest to current bankruptcy practitioners.

Students will be required to participate in class discussions. Students may complete either a series of reflection papers examining the reading materials and topics discussed, or one  longer 25-30 page paper designed to satisfy the SRWP.

Spring 2020

Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor
Course Credits
Reflective Writing
Research paper option, 25+ pages
Class participation
Jonathan Seymour
Sakai site: https://sakai.duke.edu/portal/site/1b2b8512-d1cf-4476-8553-fb231dddf819
Email list: LAW.586.01.Sp20@sakai.duke.edu
Degree Requirements
Course Requirements - JD
Course Requirements - LLM
Course Areas of Practice
Course Areas of Practice