Baylor Law students took first place at the 29th annual Conrad B. Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition, hosted by St. John’s University and the American Bankruptcy Institute, February 27 through March 1, 2021. Second year students Caitlin Huettemann and Lexi Winter, along with their brief writer, Alejandra Garcia Castro, took top honors over a field of thirty-six teams. The Championship team was coached by Professor of Law Larry T. Bates and Adjunct Professor Deborah M. Perry, a shareholder with Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C. This is the first time a Baylor Law team has taken top honors at the Duberstein Bankruptcy Moot Court Competition since 2006.
This year’s win was remarkable considering the adversities the Team had to work through. The competition brief was due only days before Baylor Law final exams began. When the team was able to begin practicing after exams, already two weeks behind other teams in terms of preparation, the 2021 Winter storm hit Texas and the team lost power for the better part of a week, again losing days of practice compared to many other teams in the Competition. As if that weren’t enough, Huettemann, Winter, and Garcia Castro lost the venue from which they had planned to participate less than 48 hours before the Competition was to start and were forced to find another. “This Team never quit working – Caitlin, Lexi, and Alejandra kept adapting to whatever happened and found a way around or through the different obstacles that seemed to arise by the day to scuttle our plans,” stated Prof. Larry Bates, who added, “winning a Competition is always a significant accomplishment by our students, but winning the Duberstein this year under these circumstances was truly remarkable and reflects the unrelenting dedication of these three students.”
The annual Duberstein Competition, the only national moot court competition devoted entirely to bankruptcy law and one of the longest-running moot court competitions in the country, involves a substantial commitment from students. Prior to participating in the national competition, the Baylor Law team also competed in the Elliott Cup Competition, a regional moot court competition, where they placed third. The fact pattern at this year’s Duberstein Competition involved whether the Bankruptcy Code repealed the Federal Arbitration Act and the extent of the automatic stay under certain circumstances.
“Caitlin, Lexi and Alejandra were unflappable in the Duberstein Competition,” stated Professor Perry. “They demonstrated an unparalleled level of commitment and professionalism in how they comported themselves,” she noted. The quarter final and semi-final rounds were judged by panels made up exclusively of sitting bankruptcy judges, including, the bankruptcy judge who co-authored the fact pattern this year and the final round was judged by a sitting justice on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and three sitting bankruptcy judges. Professor Perry added, “The judges asked questions that would have challenged seasoned bankruptcy practitioners and Caitlin and Lexi did a phenomenal job of responding to the questions and advocating their positions.”
Jointly sponsored by St. John's University School of Law, in Queens, NY and the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), the prestigious competition is named for distinguished St. John's alumnus and former ABI Director Chief Judge Conrad B. Duberstein. The final round of the competition is judged by some of the nation's leading bankruptcy and appellate judges and was held virtually at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, located in lower Manhattan.
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