Welcome to the 2019 NCBJ Annual Conference Blog – and Index to Blog Posts

Welcome to the 2019 NCBJ Washington D.C’s Annual Conference Blog. A good place to start is the message from the NCBJ President John E. Waites (Bankr. D.S.C.) welcoming you to the Blog and to join us at the Conference (you can find the message HERE). Judge Waites and his team have been working hard to put on a conference that will be both educational and entertaining.

The Conference is a great place to learn, network, and have fun. It uniquely provides a forum for a wide variety of bankruptcy and insolvency organizations. Bankruptcy Judge Michelle Harner, D. Md. is this year’s NCBJ education chair.

You will find on the Blog many interesting articles about educational and other programs offered at the Conference, including an ABLJ symposium presented in the form of a mock Senate judiciary committee meeting with mock senators presiding (HERE); a broken bench program highlighting the Bankruptcy Code’s 40-year history presented by a star studded cast of bankruptcy judges, leading lawyers, and prominent academics (HERE); the eight workshops presented by the ABI (HERE); the Blackshear Fellowship Program that promotes diversity in the bankruptcy practice (HERE), and even morning Yoga (HERE) and Zumba© (HERE) classes. Additional posts will be made from time to time about other programs, including the Fireside Chat with Chief Justice Gorsuch.

Because there are so many interesting things to do in Washington D.C., the Blog will contain a number of posts about the host City. Don’t miss Bankruptcy Judge Martin Teel’s (D.D.C.) local guide to Washington D.C. (HERE). Many of the articles about Washington D.C.’s venues honoring individuals or events not only contain information about the venue  but also discuss the life and accomplishments of the person who is honored or the history of the commemorated event.

I hope you find these and other articles interesting and informative. Keep checking back to the Blog to read more posts.


Click on a link to open the Blog post.

NCBJ President’s Message

NCBJ President John E. Waites Welcomes You to the NCBJ Annual Conference Blog – Get Ready for the Nation’s Capital

Conference Programs

ABLJ Symposium – A Battle of Preeminent Bankruptcy Scholars

Avoiding Potential Ethical Traps in Unbundling, Factoring, and Other Fee Arrangements in Consumer Cases

The Blackshear Fellowship Program: Promoting Diversity in Bankruptcy Practice

Blockchain Is Coming: Blockchain & Basics and How It Might Arrive at a Bankruptcy Near You

Broken Bench Birthday Bash: Celebrating 40 Years of the Bankruptcy Code

Ditch the Workout, Join the Party! Zumba© is Coming to the Conference

Facts About the 2019 NCBJ Annual Conference

Find ABI @ NCBJ: Eight Exciting Educational Workshops and More

Fireside Chat with Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch

Join us for Yoga at the Conference

Highlights of the 2019 NCBJ Annual Conference

NCBJ SOCKS PROJECT: The NCBJ Public Outreach Committee needs SOCKS!

The Amazing Guide to Things to Do in Washington DC

Local’s Guide to Washington DC

Bankruptcy Related Topics

The Bankruptcy Code Turns Forty – Happy Birthday!

Bankruptcy questions that need not keep you awake at night any longer

A Confluence of ABA, ABI, ABLJ, ACB, AIC, AIRA, CLLA, IWIRC, NAWJ, and NCBJ. Who are they?

The correlation between Chapter 11 Filings and Economic Recessions in the United States

Forty Years Ago the Bankruptcy Code Abolished the “Economy of the Estate”

How many can you name: ABA, ABI, ABLJ, ACB, AIC, AIRA, CLLA, FJA, FMJA, IWIRC, NAWJ, NCBJ?

A Relatively Short History of the Bankruptcy Laws in the United States

When was a Bankruptcy Judge a Judge Some of the Time? So, what’s in a name?

Memorials and Monuments In Washington DC

Albert Einstein Memorial

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

George Mason Memorial

Japanese Lantern

Japanese Pagoda

Jefferson Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

John Paul Jones Memorial

Walk the Tidal Basin Trail Loop to Visit Memorials and the Japanese Lantern and Pagoda

Washington Monument

Where is the James Madison Memorial?

More Things to Do in Washington D.C.

About the Smithsonian Institution and Its Venues

Check Out the Washington D.C. Tourism Website

The Washingtonian: on Restaurants, Shopping, and Things to Do

Miscellaneous Topics

Freedom Rings in 1763, 1863 and 1963




NCBJ President John E. Waites Welcomes You to the NCBJ Annual Conference Blog – Get Ready for the Nation’s Capital

Message from NCBJ President Hon. John E. Waites, District of South Carolina

NCBJ is proud to return to Washington, DC from October 30 to November 2, 2019 for its Annual Conference. I hope that you will join us at the conference as we celebrate the bankruptcy profession with a review of the past forty years under the Bankruptcy Code and look ahead to the future.

We are very excited and honored to have Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, to speak to the conference on Friday, November 1, 2019. Earlier that day, Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody Analytics, will deliver the keynote address on emerging economic trends.

In addition to discussions of recent developments and emerging trends in the law and in the economy generally, programs include a mock Senate hearing on the equitable powers of the court, roundtable discussions in both business and consumer law between judges and attendees, and a special consumer practice track designed for those who primarily practice in that area.

The NCBJ Annual Conference has long served as the preeminent meeting place for all bankruptcy and insolvency professionals and proudly joins with ABA, ABI, CLLA, ACB, IWIRC, AIRA, to name a few, to present an assortment of programs, distinguished speakers, and a number of networking opportunities.

And while you are in Washington DC, take some time to enjoy some of the many unique things our Nation’s Capital has to offer, from the 19 Smithsonian Institution museums and galleries, to the myriad of memorials and monuments, to the National Zoo. Attendees can also take advantage of the special tours that NCBJ will be offering, including tours of the Pentagon, the Supreme Court of the United States, and Mount Vernon. There is something for everyone.

This year’s conference, NCBJ’s 93rd, will be the best ever, and we look forward to seeing you at the NCBJ Annual Conference in DC—It’s a Capital Idea!


John E. Waites

NCBJ President

Avoiding Potential Ethical Traps in Unbundling, Factoring, and Other Fee Arrangements in Consumer Cases

On Saturday, November 2, 2019, at 10:15 a.m. at the NCBJ Conference, a panel of experts will tackle all things concerning fee arrangements in consumer bankruptcy cases. More specifically, this panel will focus on the ethical pitfalls that consumer bankruptcy attorneys face when collecting fees for their work. Focusing on chapter 7, based on interviews with bankruptcy attorneys, panelists will discuss how consumer attorneys balance being compensated versus their clients’ lack of funds, how much time attorneys typically spend preparing cases, and important local rules. Focusing on chapter 13, panelists will discuss “no look” fees, “fee only” cases, requesting additional fees post-filing, and fee arrangements for appeals. Moving beyond more typical fee arrangements, panelists will further detail payment from secured party’s collateral, factoring receivables, and fee sharing. And, finally, panelists will examine ghostwriting and issues with pro se filings. We hope to see you there.

Post submitted by:

Professor Pamela Foohey
Indiana University

Fireside Chat with Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch

Have you ever had an interest in learning about the Highest Court in the Land, or about some of the obscure traditions practiced today in the sacred confines of the U.S. Supreme Court?  Have you ever wondered whether the amazing individuals who have achieved the lofty status of Justice are “real” people?  Well, this year the Annual Conference has a special treat.  Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch will participate in a fireside chat with a fellow citizen from Colorado, former NCBJ President, Michael Romero.  In what is anticipated to be a wide-ranging discussion, attendees will gain an appreciation for one of the Supreme Court’s newest members.  Justice Gorsuch has had a remarkable path to the Court and his insights are sure to be of interest to everyone.

This unique opportunity to see and hear from this special individual will occur on Friday, November 1, 2019, at 3:00 p.m.  We look forward to seeing all of you.

Post submitted by

The Honorable Michael E. Romero
United States Bankruptcy Judge
District of Colorado

Blockchain Is Coming: Blockchain & Basics and How It Might Arrive at a Bankruptcy Near You

In the past several months, we have seen an uptick in crypto-related insolvencies.  In May 2019, the hacked cryptocurrency exchange, Cryptopia, filed for bankrutpcy relief in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.  In April 2019, QuadrigaCX, a Canadian crypto exchange, filed for filed for bankruptcy in Halifax.  In November 2018, Giga Watt, a bitcoin mining firm, filed for chapter 11 relief in the Eastern District of Washington.  Mt Gox, a Japan based crypto exchange that filed for bankruptcy in 2014, continues to dominate headlines, with a potential class action lawsuit looming for its beleaguered CEO, and a big-money investor offering to buy back bitcoin claims.  Despite the number of crypto related companies filing papers with insolvency courts around the world, a recent report by INSOL International indicates that only 5% of insolvency practitioners have a “comprehensive or practical/working knowledge or understanding” of cryptocurrency.

Often times, the questions arising out of a crypto-related bankruptcy revolve around the value of bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, how to sleuth out those assets, and what recourse is available if those assets have been irretrievably lost—usually the precursor to many of these insolvency proceedings. However, while cryptocurrency is certainly how blockchain technology was first deployed, it is, by no means, its only utility. For example, in the organics food industry, retail giants like Walmart have employed blockchain technology to shore up their supply chains. If there is a need to identify precisely from where a SKU of organic lettuce was sourced, blockchain technology now affords Walmart the ability to do so in a matter of seconds instead of days.  Thus, while often discussed in connection with a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, blockchain technology in the bankruptcy context is not exclusively a conversation about a crytpo’s worth.

This year at the 2019 NCBJ Conference in Washington, D.C., the NCBJ and Next Generation 2019 is presenting an educational panel on all things blockchain. This CLE is designed to provide the basics of cryptocurrency and the technology underlying cryptocurrency.  Attendees will be equipped with the foundation for a “practical/working knowledge” of cryptocurrency, in order to understand the issues that typically arise in a bankruptcy or insolvency proceeding that involves cryptocurrencies. These include property of the estate issues, crypto as collateral, valuation, fraudulent transfers, and privacy concerns.  The CLE will also address the civil, criminal, and regulatory issues that attend both cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Finally, the CLE will also discuss how courts can and have utilized blockchain technology and what the future holds as courts and legislatures across the world grow more knowledgeable on a topic that still confounds many legal practitioners.

(Please note that this panel is on October 31st at 2:00 p.m., and is for the following invitees:  Next Generation Class of 2019, Next Gen Alumni, lawyers with 7 or less years of practice experience, and judges.)

Submitted by:
David W. Gaffey, Esq.
Whiteford, Taylor, Preston LLP
Falls Church, Virginia

Editor’s Note:

Mr. Gaffey is a partner at Whiteford, Taylor, Preston LLP in its Reorganizations & Bankruptcy Practice.

Facts About the 2019 NCBJ Annual Conference

Did you know that the 2019 Conference will …

  • Include 4 plenary panels, 10 concurrent panels, and 3 distinguished speakers, with 16 of those offerings potentially qualifying for continuing legal education credits
  • Feature a Fireside Chat with Justice Neil Gorsuch
  • Showcase keynote presentations from Mark Zandi (Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics), and Christina Montgomery (Chief Privacy Officer, IBM)
  • Provide experienced speakers from the bench, government, academia, and private practice (approximately 34 judges, 7 government lawyers, 10 academics, and 25 practitioners)
  • Highlight cutting edge issues in both consumer and business bankruptcy cases
  • Offer an educational track dedicated to all things consumer bankruptcy, with the majority of those panels presented on a single day.

Posted submitted by

The Honorable Michelle M. Harner
United States Bankruptcy Judge
District of Maryland

The Blackshear Fellowship Program: Promoting Diversity in Bankruptcy Practice

The National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges will again select NCBJ Blackshear Fellows to attend its 2019 Annual Meeting from October 30, 2019 to November 2, 2019 in Washington, D.C. The Blackshear Fellowship Program is named in honor of our colleague Judge Cornelius Blackshear (Ret. S.D.N.Y.), who distinguished himself by his renowned scholarship and development of bankruptcy jurisprudence throughout his career. The NCBJ National Bar Association/Blackshear Committee selects up to five minority attorneys to attend the NCBJ Annual Meeting each year. Blackshear Fellows receive a waiver of NCBJ registration fees and a grant to assist with travel and other expenses to attend the Annual Meeting.

NCBJ Blackshear Fellowship candidates must have two to ten years of experience practicing law and devote at least fifty percent of their practice to bankruptcy cases. In honor of Judge Blackshear, eligible candidates must also demonstrate legal excellence in the practice of bankruptcy law, display a serious commitment to principals of civility, ethics and professionalism and have a commitment to the continued educational development of bankruptcy professionals. The nomination period closed in July 2019 and the committee is currently reviewing applications to choose those who meet the qualification and demonstrate potential to distinguish themselves in future years as highly respected members of the bankruptcy or debt restructuring bar.

During the 2019 NCBJ Annual Meeting, the Blackshear Fellows, along with several judges and attorneys, will host a panel discussion and reception for local law students on the history and practice of bankruptcy law and the student loan debt crisis. This year’s panel discussion and reception will be held at Howard University School of Law. This yearly event encourages law students to consider bankruptcy as a practice area.

Post submitted by:

The Honorable Kathy A. Surratt-States
Chief Judge
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Missouri


Do you want to work out but hate exercising?  Are you looking for a fun way to burn off all those calories you will be consuming at the Conference?  Do you love to dance or just wish you could?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you must check out the Zumba© classes!  We will be moving and grooving to all genres of music – from Salsa and Merengue to R&B and Pop to Rock & Roll and a li’l bit of Country. No prior dance experience? No problem. The routines will be fun and easy-to-follow.  Two left feet?  No problem.  You will balance out the folks with two right feet.

All fitness levels are welcome.

Bring a towel, a bottle of water and a kick-butt attitude!


Post submitted by:

The Honorable Erithe Smith
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge and Licensed Zumba© Instructor
Central District of California

Editor’s Note:

The Zumba© classes will be held from 6:30 am to 7:30 am on Wednesday and Friday, Oct 30 and Nov. 1 2019 (  in the Mezz-Tulip room) and on Sat Nov 2, 2019 (in the M4-Supreme Court room).

Broken Bench Birthday Bash: Celebrating 40 Years of the Bankruptcy Code

Happy 40th Birthday Bankruptcy Code! The first plenary session of the Annual Conference will be the Broken Bench Birthday Bash, a program that is bound to be as entertaining as it will be educational.

Please join Professor Tony Casey and Bankruptcy Judges Sheri Bluebond and Laura Grandy as they host a celebration that will highlight the most important events that have taken place over the Code’s forty fabulous years.  A star-studded cast, including a senator, a congresswoman, bankruptcy judges, leading lawyers, prominent academics, and even a special “animated” guest, will join the hosts to discuss milestones that the Code has passed along the way.

This program will cover it all: the early days (drafting and enactment of the Code); the growing pains (Northern Pipeline and the 1984 amendments); the Code’s days on the farm (chapter 12 and the 1986 amendments); some trouble that the Code got into after college (student loan crisis); what some might call a midlife crisis (BAPCPA); the Code’s ventures into the business world (evolution of chapter 11); the times when the Code made a national splash (landmark Supreme Court cases); and much, much more.

Take part in the celebration and come learn something new about the Bankruptcy Code at the Broken Bench Birthday Bash on Thursday, October 31, 2019 at 9:15 a.m.

Post submitted by

The Honorable Janet S. Baer
United States Bankruptcy Judge
Northern District of Illinois

Highlights of the 2019 NCBJ Annual Conference

It is hard to believe, but it is almost time for the 2019 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. The NCBJ Education Committee has been working hard to put together a fantastic educational program. The program will celebrate the bankruptcy profession and over 40 years of practice under the Bankruptcy Code. The educational panels bring together experienced speakers from the bench, government, and private practice to discuss cutting edge issues impacting both consumer and business bankruptcy cases. The program also features three distinguished speakers, namely Justice Neil Gorsuch, Mark Zandi (Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics), and Christina Montgomery (Chief Privacy Officer, IBM), as well as the ABLJ Symposium on the equitable powers of the bankruptcy court and a new Consumer Track, which is dedicated to all things consumer bankruptcy. There is something for everyone, and we hope to see you there.

Post submitted by:

The Honorable Michelle M. Harner
United States Bankruptcy Judge
District of Maryland

Find ABI @ NCBJ: Eight Exciting Educational Workshops and More

Start your 2019 NCBJ experience with ABI at the opening reception! On October 30, ABI’s Host Committee will welcome NCBJ attendees to the Nation’s Capital in style. Included in your NCBJ registration, the Opening Reception provides a welcoming opportunity to network and mingle with over 1,000 bankruptcy professionals in the beautiful atrium of the Marriott Marquis hotel.

On Friday morning, November 1, join us for a series of eight (8) interactive workshops featuring ABI’s premier panelists, all designed to get you engaged on each topic. The ABI session programs are titled Hot Trustee Topics in Consumer Cases; You Can Use § 363 for That?; Energy: PG&E Panel; All You Need to Know About Liquidating Chapter 11 Plans; Supreme Court Review; and Cutting-Edge Issues in Avoidance Actions.

Commissioners from ABI’s Consumer Commission will present two panels reporting on key findings in its Final Report: raising the debt limits in chapter 13, the concept of a debtor reserve fund, use of collateral and remedies for discharge violations, chapter 7 trustee fees, chapter 7 debtor attorney fees, attorney competency and means testing.

Make sure you select the ABI Luncheon later that day and hear from our keynote speaker, Jan Crawford. Ms. Crawford is CBS News’ chief legal correspondent and has written and reported extensively on the Supreme Court. She will present on The Supreme Court Under Trump during the ABI Luncheon. The 14th Annual William J. Norton Jr. Judicial Excellence Award will also be presented during the ABI Luncheon. We look forward to seeing you at NCBJ in our hometown, Washington, D.C.

Join Us for Yoga at the Conference

Come stretch before you sit all day! These yoga classes will be led in the Iyengar style, with a focus on opening up the body to create a greater sense of spaciousness and focus. The classes will include standing poses, balancing poses, front and back body extensions, twists, and restorative poses.

If you have a yoga mat and a cloth strap, bring them. If not, a bath towel and hand towel will do just fine.
The goal of these sessions is to have attendees walk away feeling taller, more open, and more at peace.

Post submitted by

The Honorable Colleen A. Brown
United States Bankruptcy Judge
District of Vermont

Editor’s Note:

The Yoga classes will be held from 6:30 am to 7:30 am on Wednesday and Friday, Oct 30 and Nov. 1 2019 (  in the Mezz-Scarlet Oak room) and on Sat Nov 2, 2019 (in the M4-Senate & Foyer).

For more information keep reading.

Editor:  Is prior Yoga experience necessary?
Judge Brown:  No, no experience is required. Everyone is welcome. Attendees should bring a yoga mat and strap if they have them (and a bath towel and cloth belt otherwise), along with an open mind, to get the most out of it.

Editor:  Would you briefly explain your experience leading Yoga classes? 
Judge Brown:  I have been practicing Iyengar yoga on and off, though pretty regularly, for 40 years, and completed a yoga teacher training course about 10 years ago. I taught in a yoga studio for a while after completing that training but had to give it up due to other time commitments. Currently, my schedule only allows me to lead yoga a few times each year – generally at professional  conferences, such as NCBJ, though I have continued my regular yoga practice. I am NOT a certified Iyengar yoga teacher, or a certified yoga teacher of any kind . I will be leading the group through yoga poses, rather than actually teaching formal yoga classes at NCBJ.

Editor:   What is the Iyengar style?
Judge Brown:  Iyengar yoga is a type of Hatha Yoga founded by B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar yoga is focused on alignment and is taught with many, very precise, instructions for each pose. It is one of a dozen different types of hatha yoga and is often described as the most exacting – not because it is more difficult than all of the others, but because it requires great attention to detail. As a result of its focus on the subtleties of correct alignment, Iyengar yoga is well-suited to both beginners and experienced yogis. In Iyengar yoga, the goal is to have each participant be able to do every pose. To facilitate that, Iyengar classes typically include a myriad of “props”: belts, blocks and pillow-like bolsters. These props also make it possible for everyone to do the poses with the correct alignment, even when they’re new to them, injured or simply stiff.