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Colgate students assist with bankruptcy projects

By Upstate Institute on April 13, 2011

Current and former student participants in Upstate Institute’s Consumer Bankruptcy Law Project, under the supervision of Attorney Susan Conn,’79, are providing feedback for the Federal Judicial Center in the revision of nationally-used bankruptcy forms. Conn has trained and supervised over 30 Colgate students in the preparation of select Chapter 7 bankruptcy documents that have helped the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York refer over seventeen cases to pro bono attorneys to follow through bankruptcy court. The students continue to work with clients this semester to complete additional cases.

The Colgate students recently had the opportunity to provide feedback in the modernization of bankruptcy forms, which will have national implications on how bankruptcy cases are completed and processed in years to come. Molly Johnson, lawyer and Senior Research Associate at The Federal Judicial Center, is working with colleagues to modernize the forms used in judicial bankruptcy cases. The bankruptcy form drafts are in the process of undergoing testing and revision to improve the reliability and validity of information collected. The Colgate students, along with law students from the University of Maryland who have taken a course in bankruptcy, are using the information from sample non-asset cases to complete the revised bankruptcy forms, making note of any problems they encounter, and meeting with Johnson to discuss their comments. They also have the opportunity to learn from Johnson about the rules making process which will include a full public comment process before the revised forms can be officially adopted.

The New York Bar Foundation has recently awarded LASMNY with $7,500 for the Consumer Bankruptcy Law Project. This award will allow Susan to complete an operations manual and training materials that other institutions of higher education can utilize as they consider implementing a similar project in their own communities. The project has also been supported by the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties in the past as well as contributors to the Upstate Institute at Colgate.

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