So you’ve just completed your summer associate program and received an offer to work with the Bankruptcy and Corporate Restructuring team. You may be wondering which law courses you should take in your final year of law school to help prepare you for your first year of practice. Chapter 11 practice touches on almost every area of law, but some key topics will be more beneficial than others.
While your firm will undoubtedly have attorneys covering many of the topics below, law courses can make you aware of issues in these areas and give you an idea of when assistance from attorneys from other departments may be needed. necessary. Bankruptcy is also a cyclical practice, so it pays to think ahead about what your subspecialty might be when Chapter 11 work is slow, and some of these courses might pique your interest and help sharpen your skills. .
Assuming you’ve already taken Contracts, Property, and Business Organizations – all of which are foundational – as well as an introductory bankruptcy course, here are some courses to consider, which I’ve categorized according to their usefulness:
Secure transactions. You may already be enrolled in a class covering secure transactions under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code in preparation for the bar exam. But even if your jurisdiction no longer tests it, secured transactions are an essential subject for bankruptcy practice, particularly with regard to the perfection and priority of security interests. The statutory analysis skills you acquire by studying Section 9 will also come in handy when working with the Bankruptcy Code.
Workouts and Reorganizations / Advanced Bankruptcy Seminar. These seminars walk you through the process of Chapter 11 and go beyond the fundamental concepts. You will learn about negotiating and strategy with creditors, the solicitation and voting process, and the various requirements for confirm a plan of reorganization.
Oral Advocacy (Litigation Clinics/Practice Trial/Mediation/Negotiation). Although the most experienced associates in your firm handle the high-profile and contested hearings in bankruptcy court, it’s important to start honing your advocacy skills. Much of the action in Chapter 11 takes place behind the scenes, and you may be given negotiation assignments early on (possibly to settle preference cases or argue objections). Confident and effective communication is essential to being a successful restructuring lawyer.
Consult with your counselor to find out which classes teach oral advocacy, as sometimes it may not be obvious from the course title (e.g. Fundamentals of Law).
Accounting and finance. While debtors and Chapter 11 committees often hire financial advisors to handle the accounting aspects of a restructuring, an accounting course can help you better understand and communicate with financial advisors, analyze valuation issues and to master the language of business. Course in business Finance and real estate financing Familiarize yourself with the transactions that will be at issue in any major Chapter 11 case. If you like finance, also consider banking and securities regulations, discussed below.
Transactional seminars. The transactional work as a bankruptcy attorney varies widely, from putting together agreed-upon orders to drafting the provisions of a plan of reorganization. A transaction-focused seminar, especially a seminar focused on an acquisition or financing transaction, will help you learn how to translate the terms of a transaction into contractual language.
Banking and Securities Regulation. These courses will familiarize you with the regulatory context of the various financing operations. A banking regulation course can deepen your knowledge of the provisions of debtor financing documents. While the Bankruptcy Code provides for a exemption securities laws for post-petition solicitation and acceptance of most plans, you may encounter securities regulatory issues when pre-petition soliciting a pre-packaged Chapter 11 plan.
Health care. It is a specialized area with its own regulatory environment, financing transactions and business issues. A healthcare law class can familiarize you with the complex legal framework of the healthcare industry. Healthcare is a large percentage of the economy, so you are more than likely to encounter a related bankruptcy at some point in your career.
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