In a project-based practicum course, students participate in a weekly seminar and work on a project under the supervision of their professor. This project-based practicum course will focus on bankruptcy litigation. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of project work under the direction of the course professor.
SEMINAR: The basic goal of this practicum is to provide law students with the opportunity to learn and then to apply litigation skills at both the trial court (bankruptcy court) level, as well as the appellate level. More broadly, the practicum will seek to demonstrate the centrality and significance of the bankruptcy law system in the context of our credit-based economy. Key themes will be evaluated including the tension between providing debtors with a fresh start and the need to provide creditors with protection of property rights. The impact of bankruptcy law will be examined at both the individual level in various contexts, such as the importance of a discharge action, as well as the broader macro level in discussions about the impact on credit cost and credit availability. Students should finish the course with a deeper appreciation of the litigation skills required to either try a bankruptcy case or to appeal from an adverse ruling, as well as the underlying goals and policies of bankruptcy law, and the impact on individuals and businesses.
PROJECT WORK: In Spring 2019, this practicum will focus on a pending appeal which deals with whether a Chapter 13 debtor can protect his or her right to make contributions to a voluntary retirement plan during the course of the required five year plan payment requirement, and not have the contributions included as part of the "disposable income" which must be paid to creditors. (Professor Kuney argued this appeal before the Fourth Circuit.) Students will work on an en banc petition, or writ for certiorari. The class is also likely to have one visit to the Supreme Court to observe oral argument. The student work will be directly supervised by the practicum professor, who will read, comment upon and evaluate all written work and assist students in revising their work. The student work will be consistent with the District of Columbia’s rule on the unauthorized practice of law (Rule 49) which makes it impermissible for students to practice law to present themselves as attorneys in any way.