ABI Winter Leadership Conference 2019

About the Event

Join ABI in sunny Southern California for the Annual Winter Leadership Conference! The Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes is the setting for this year's annual program, which features topics designed for consumer and business practitioners, as well as financial advisors. As always, the conference provides numerous social and fun events to network and renew friendships with your colleagues from around the nation and overseas. We look forward to seeing you in December!



Earn up to 10.8 hours of CLE credit, including up to 3.4 hours of ethics and substance abuse, and up to 10.5 hours of CPE credit, including 3 hours of behavioral ethics.



Industry thought leaders, including more than a dozen judges, populate the ABI Talks, concurrent sessions and committee programs.



Mingle at carefully designed social and optional events throughout, all in a stunning, comfortable and family-friendly setting.

Schedule Highlights

Thursday, December 5, 2019
9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
American Board of Certification Exams
10:00 a.m.
Optional Event
9 Holes of Golf at The Links at Terranea
12:00-6:00 p.m.
Registration Desk Open
1:00 p.m.
Optional Event
Tennis Tournament at the Peninsula Racquet Club
Sponsored by Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.
2:00 p.m.
Optional Event
Afternoon Coastal Hike
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Exhibit Hall Open
5:00-6:00 p.m.
“40 Under 40” Reception
Friday, December 6, 2019
6:00-7:00 a.m.
Optional Event
Winter Fun Run (5K)
Sponsored by Validity Finance, LLC
7:30-8:15 a.m.
8:15-8:25 a.m.
Welcome Address
8:25-9:25 a.m.
ABI Talks

This year, the WLC opens with ABI Talks, one of our highest-rated programs ever! Based on the incredibly popular “TED Talks” format, ABI Talks address diverse and interesting bankruptcy topics. If you consider yourself a bankruptcy guru, or just want to be one, you will not want to miss this featured program!

Super-Speedy Prepacks: What Are They Good For?
Earlier this year, a chapter 11 case was filed and a plan confirmed in 19 hours. A one-day prepack offers several advantages to creditors and debtors alike. What cases are a good fit for a lightning-speed chapter 11, and what due process concerns must be satisfied?
Jay M. Goffman Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; New York

New Reorganization Hope for Main Street Debtors
Will the new Small Business Reorganization Act lead to more successful restructurings and fewer liquidations of small businesses while still protecting creditors’ rights?
Hon. Michelle M. Harner U.S. Bankruptcy Court (D. Md.); Baltimore

The Rhetoric and Reality of Student Debt
Is there too much emphasis on reducing student loan debt, including through bankruptcy, and not enough about the real causes of skyrocketing college costs?
Inez Feltscher Stepman Independent Women’s Forum; Washington, D.C.

9:30-10:30 a.m.
Why Venue Matters in Chapter 11 Cases
This panel will focus on obtaining successful chapter 11 results in certain jurisdictions while analyzing why you should or shouldn’t file in a particular jurisdiction. The panel will discuss advantages and disadvantages of filing in certain jurisdictions, including local rule advantages (i.e., Texas) and case law advantages or disadvantages.
Joshua A. Sussberg, Moderator Kirkland & Ellis LLP; New York Charles A. Beckham, Jr. Haynes and Boone, LLP; Houston Hon. Kevin J. Carey U.S. Bankruptcy Court (D. Del.); Wilmington Laura Davis Jones Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP; Wilmington, Del. Eric E. Walker Perkins Coie LLP; Chicago
9:30-10:30 a.m.
Hit ’Em Below the Belt (and in the Wallet): Professional Fees and Leverage Post-ASARCO
This panel will analyze the instances over the last few years where creditors have brought challenges to estate professional fees, focusing on Pillowtex, retainers and other objections. How can professionals protect themselves when they are well into a case?
Kathryn A. Coleman, Moderator Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP; New York Amy Edgy Linklaters LLP; Washington D.C. Kyle S. Hirsch Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP; Phoenix Hon. Barbara J. Houser U.S. Bankruptcy Court (N. D. Tx.); Dallas
Bankruptcy & Marijuana
With the legalization of marijuana in many states, there are now large numbers of individuals and businesses that derive their income from growing and selling marijuana and from other business activities related to marijuana. This session addresses the issues that emerge when individuals and businesses in this industry encounter financial problems. What are the sources of governing law (state/federal)? Is bankruptcy an option? How are marijuana-related income and assets treated? What are a bankruptcy trustee’s rights and responsibilities in dealing with a marijuana-related business? What ethical issues arise for attorneys representing individuals and entities in this industry? How does the U.S. Trustee’s Office address these issues in light of the conflict between federal law and some states’ laws? What is the direction of the developing body of bankruptcy case law regarding this industry?
Eric J. Fromme, Moderator Theodora Oringher PC; Costa Mesa, Calif. Hon. Daniel P. Collins U.S. Bankruptcy Court (D. Ariz.); Phoenix James L. Day Bush Kornfeld LLP; Seattle Jessica Scardina Vicente Sederberg LLP; Denver
9:30-10:30 a.m.
Litigating Issues in a Health Care Case Hosted by the Bankruptcy Litigation and Health Care Committees
Experienced practitioners are typically able to litigate the issues that arise in most chapter 11 cases in a similar manner, regardless of the industry of a particular debtor. In the health care context, however, the identities of the litigants are often different (government agencies, patient care ombudsmen, etc.), and more importantly, those litigants’ respective motivations may be vastly different than in a "typical" chapter 11 case. Economic considerations, the driver of most chapter 11 outcomes, are often superseded in a health care case by a party’s perceived public policy or reputational concerns. This panel will discuss these differences and provide practical suggestions, based on their extensive experience, as to how attorneys and financial advisors can navigate these issues and reach a successful outcome for all stakeholders.
David E. Gordon Polsinelli; Atlanta Tania M. Moyron Dentons; Los Angeles Margaret M. Newell Department of Justice Civil Division,
Commercial Litigation Branch; Washington D.C.
Andrew H. Sherman Sills Cummis & Gross P.C.; Newark, NJ.
10:30-11:00 a.m.
Networking Break
Sponsored by Proskauer
11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
How Investors Evaluate Distressed Deals
Restructuring professionals deal daily with distressed transactions involving all industries, shapes and sizes. Distressed investors are critical drivers of the restructuring industry and the U.S. economy as a whole. What drives distressed investors? How do they evaluate potential distressed targets? This panel consists of distressed investors and professionals representing distressed investors who evaluate these assets and close these deals.
Ronald E. Gold, Moderator Frost Brown Todd LLC; Cincinnati James Gansman Rock Creek Advisors LLC; New York Jennifer M. Meyerowitz Summit Investment Management LLC; Atlanta Leon Szlezinger Jefferies; New York Michael A. Teplitsky Wynnchurch Capital; Rosemont, Ill.
11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
Sponsor Liability, Including Liability Relating to Sponsors Purchasing Debt or Equity in Their Portfolios Hosted by the Business Reorganization and Claims Trading Committees
Hon. Elizabeth S. Stong, Moderator U.S. Bankruptcy Court (E.D. N.Y.); New York Richard J. Corbi The Law Offices of Richard J. Corbi PLLC; New York Jay D. Rao University of California, Berkeley School of Law; Berkeley, Calif. Fredric Sosnick Shearman & Sterling; New York Peter J. Young Proskauer Rose LLP; Los Angeles
11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
Mediating with a Higher Power: Mediation of Disputes with Governments and Governmental Agencies Hosted by the Mediation and the Commercial and Regulatory Law Committees
Although mediation is a recommended method of dispute resolution by many government agencies, in the bankruptcy context it is often hard to get government litigants to the table. This panel will explore the Issues and methods of mediating disputes in commercial cases that involve governments and such government agencies as the SEC, EPA, and FCC, as well as state attorneys general and relevant state agencies. Issues to be discussed include how to get the decision maker into the room and how to get a governmental party to the table when its policy agenda may go beyond the business issues in the case at hand. In some instances, there may be perceived statutory impediments or “conflicts” between the government agency as regulator and as creditor. The focus will be on restructuring-determinative issues involving government agencies and adversary proceedings between debtors or other creditor constituencies and government agencies. The program will not include discussions of chapter 9 mediations, which involve very different issues. The panel will include judges, mediators and public and private litigants with experience in this type of mediation.
Susan A. Berson, Moderator Berson Law Group; Overland Park, Kan. Ted A. Berkowitz Moritt Hock & Hamroff LLP; Garden City, N.Y. Hon. Melanie L. Cyganowski (ret.) Otterbourg P.C.; New York David Peress Hilco Streambank; Boston Mitchell E. Rishe California Department of Justice; Los Angeles
11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
Bankruptcy Legislation in 2019 and 2020 Hosted by the Legislation Committee
The panel will discuss proposed and newly enacted legislation and how it will affect bankruptcy practice. The panel will review the Haven Act and other veteran legislation, the small business reorganization bill, the chapter 12 debt limit bill, various student loan bills and other legislation.
Elizabeth E. Stephens, Moderator Sullivan Hill Rez & Engel; Las Vegas Hon. Michael A. Ferguson Member of Congress, 2001-2009
BakerHostetler LLP; Washington, D.C.
Hon. Michelle M. Harner U.S. Bankruptcy Court (D. Md.); Baltimore Prof. Dalié Jiménez University of California, Irvine School of Law; Irvine, Calif. Robert J. Keach Bernstein Shur; Portland, Maine Donald L. Swanson Koley Jessen; Omaha, Neb.
1:55-2:55 p.m.
The Role of a Patient Care Ombudsman in a Business Bankruptcy
This session will focus on the views of patient care ombudsmen (PCOs) on the quality-of-care issues they routinely confront in chapter 11 cases; how debtor, secured lender and committee professionals react to either support or suppress the findings made by health care experts; in-depth analysis of what constitutes the proper protocol to evaluate quality of care; the differences in the approaches made to the PCO role by a doctor, nurse and/or health care administrator; whether PCOs universally should be doctors, nurses or health care administrators and not lawyers posing as health care professionals; the obligations of PCOs to tell quality-of-care stories without concern for the potential economic impact on an exit strategy in the bankruptcy (i.e., sale, potential loss of license, etc.); the impact of transfer trauma on a change of control arising from a potential sale of the health care business; how the PCO is differentiated from a state long-term-care ombudsman, Medicare and Medicaid surveyors; and the PCO’s role as patient advocate in bankruptcy cases.
Frank P. Terzo, Moderator Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel; Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Warren J. Martin, Jr. Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, PC; Morristown, NJ. Daniel T. McMurray Focus Management Group USA, Inc.; Tampa, Fla. Dr. Jacob Nathan Rubin Sherman Oaks Hospital; Sherman Oaks, Calif. Jerry Seelig Seelig + Cussigh HCO LLC; Culver City, Calif.
1:55-2:55 p.m.
Avoiding Chapters 22, 33 and 44: Feasibility and Plan Confirmation
All constituents in the chapter 11 plan process want their reorganized debtors to be wildly successful. This panel will focus on how the chapter 11 process can be used to satisfy the feasibility standard in § 1129(a), with an emphasis on avoiding subsequent filings, and will outline the top 10 tricks to improve feasibility.
Daniel F. Dooley, Moderator MorrisAnderson; Chicago Hon. Robert D. Drain U.S. Bankruptcy Court (S.D.N.Y.); White Plains Melissa S. Kibler Mackinac Partners LLC; Chicago Stanley W. Mastil Gavin/Solmonese LLC; Wilmington, Del. Stephen A. Spitzer AlixPartners LLP; New York
1:55-2:55 p.m.
Signs and Symptoms of Substance Use and Mental Health Issues Among Attorneys
This panel will be led by a senior program analyst for the Law Assistance Program for the State Bar of California and will be an interactive discussion about how prevalent substance use and mental health issues are among attorneys, and how substance use and mental health issues impair an attorney’s ability to perform legal services competently. The panelists will also describe the signs and symptoms of substance abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety and stress, and provide information on lawyer-assistance programs and other resources.
Lita Abella State Bar of California – Lawyer Assistance Program; Los Angeles Rudy J. Cerone McGlinchey Stafford PLLC; New Orleans James Patrick Shea Kolesar & Leatham; Las Vegas
1:55-2:55 p.m.
Recent Trends in the Credit Bidding of Assets and Cross-Border Issues
Hosted by the Young and New Members and International Committees

This panel will explore recent cases and trends of credit bidding in chapter 11 cases. Many lenders are now requesting up-front approval of credit bid rights in debtor-in-possession financing orders, which would curtail the bankruptcy court’s ability to modify or limit credit bidding rights under Bankruptcy Code § 363(k) later on when the assets are auctioned. The panel will examine recent decisions on credit bidding and what limitations courts have applied to a secured creditor’s right to credit bid in bankruptcy cases. The panel will also explore cross-border issues concerning credit bidding on groups of assets that are be owned by foreign entities, and the interplay between courts concerning the sale of these types of assets.
Rafael X. Zahralddin-Aravena Elliott Greenleaf; Wilmington, Del. Natalie E. Levine Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP; Toronto, Canada Michael S. Neumeister Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Los Angeles Kaitlin R. Walsh Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.; New York
2:00-4:00 p.m.
Optional Event
Painting by the Sea
2:55-3:10 p.m.
Refreshment Break
3:10-4:10 p.m.
Ethics Jeopardy
This session will be an interactive program that will inform participants and provide guidance concerning fundamental issues and best practices surrounding professional responsibility and ethical conduct. Part trivia, part panel presentation, the session will engage participants to self-select “answers” from several Jeopardy categories focused on issues of interest, then provide the corresponding “questions” (prizes will be awarded). For each answer/question, our panel will provide analysis and commentary. Plus, you get ethics credit just for showing up!
Ira L. Herman, Moderator Blank Rome LLP; New York Prof. Nancy B. Rapoport University of Nevada William S. Boyd School of Law; Las Vegas Claire Ann Richman Steinhilber Swanson LLP; Madison, Wis. Hon. Eugene R. Wedoff (ret.) Oak Park, Ill.
3:10-4:10 p.m.
The Party’s Over; Now, Who’s Cleaning Up?: The Post-Apocalyptic Landscape Following a § 363 Sale
The purchaser has bought all the assets, and management has a new boss. Who is left to clean up, and what are the tax, governance, potential claims against management and D&O implications that need to be addressed should the case convert? This session will address these issues and more.
Ori Katz, Moderator Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP; San Francisco Hon. Laurel Myerson Isicoff U.S. Bankruptcy Court (S.D. Fla.); Miami James E. Van Horn Barnes & Thornburg LLP; Washington, D.C. Donald A. Workman BakerHostetler; Washington, D.C.
3:10-4:10 p.m.
Walk a Mile in My Shoes: The Ethics Challenges of Bankruptcy Attorneys Who Represent Debtors in Chapter 13 Cases
There have been significant challenges to the roles that counsel to debtors and creditors have played in chapter 13 cases since the enactment of BAPCPA, with little recognition that the success in completing a case through discharge is directly proportional to the efforts of the professionals involved in the proceeding, often in the face of contending with very difficult clients and circumstances. Many programs focus on the poor behaviors of counsel in an effort to provide examples or what “not to do.” This interactive ethics panel will require the panelists to take on role-reversals and encourage audience participation and debate about what can be done to support experienced professionals, and to avoid the continued diminution of the practice by having parties take on the challenges of the “other side.”
Hon. Martin R. Barash U.S. Bankruptcy Court (C.D. Cal.); Woodland Hills Misty Perry Isaacson Pagter and Perry Isaacson, APLC; Santa Ana, Calif. Rita Kostopoulos Kostopoulos & Associates PLLC; Warren, Mich. Kathleen A. Leavitt Chapter 13 Trustee; Las Vegas
4:10-4:40 p.m.
Margarita Reception
4:40-5:40 p.m.
The Intersection of the Federal Arbitration Act and the Bankruptcy Code: Whose Discretion Is It, and What Does It Mean to the Future of Bankruptcy?
Neither the Bankruptcy Code nor the Bankruptcy Code’s legislative history contains an exception to the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). As a result, bankruptcy courts grappling with whether to enforce an arbitration clause in bankruptcy have focused on whether there is an inherent conflict between the Bankruptcy Code and enforcement of arbitration pursuant to the FAA. The determination that arbitration is required could be the death knell for bankruptcy debtors. This panel will explore, in instances where arbitration is required, how to avoid jeopardizing the central objectives of the Bankruptcy Code that enable debtors to obtain a fresh start, as well as how to ensure uniformity of results to avoid what could be “wildly inconsistent” outcomes in arbitration that impact debtors on an individual and case-by-case basis.
Hon. Daniel P. Collins U.S. Bankruptcy Court (D. Ariz.); Phoenix Robert M. Fishman Fox Rothschild LLP; Chicago Ryan G. Foley Acrisure LLP; Philadelphia Jane Kim Keller & Benvenutti LLP; San Francisco
4:40-5:40 p.m.
Consumer Attorney Fees: Everything You Always Wanted to Know - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Hosted by the Consumer Bankruptcy and Ethics & Professional Compensation Committees
Everyone likes to see lawyers get paid! This panel will address the differing approaches for attorney fees in chapter 13 cases across the country and discuss the allowance of debtor and creditor fees while examining and discussing the ABI Consumer Commission’s recommendation on fees in chapter 13 cases generally.
Margaret A. Burks Chapter 13 Trustee; Cincinnati Hon. Catherine E. Bauer U.S. Bankruptcy Court (C.D. Cal.); Santa Ana, Calif. Hannah W. Hutman Hoover Penrod PLC; Harrisonburg, Va. Jon J. Lieberman Sottile & Barile Attorneys at Law; Loveland, Ohio
4:40-5:40 p.m.
Yes, You Need Them: The Value of Financial Advisors and Investment Bankers in § 363 Sales Hosted by the Asset Sales and Financial Advisors & Investment Banking Committees
This panel will discuss the value and involvement of financial advisors and investment bankers in successful § 363 sales, as well as strategies for working with financial advisors and investment bankers to navigate negotiations of § 363 sale terms, maximizing recoveries, and handling ethical issues that may arise in § 363 sales.
Sheila Smith, Moderator Gordon Brothers; Brookline, Mass. Rachel Ehrlich Albanese DLA Piper; New York Carrianne Basler AlixPartners, LLP; Chicago Ken Mann Equity Partners HG LLC; Easton, Md.
6:00-7:00 p.m.
Women’s Reception
6:00-7:00 p.m.
American Board of Certification Reception
7:00-10:00 p.m.
Winter Soirée
9:30-10:30 p.m.
Anthony H.N. Schnelling Endowment Fund Event
Sponsored by Omni Agent Solutions
Saturday, December 7, 2019
7:45-8:30 a.m.
8:30-9:30 a.m.
Judges’ Round-and-Round
In this round-and-round format, visit with leading judges to discuss and debate the nation’s most important recent business and consumer bankruptcy decisions.
9:30-9:45 a.m.
Networking Break
9:45-10:45 a.m.
Current Events and Hot Topics
Hon. Michael A. Fagone U.S. Bankruptcy Court (D. Me.); Bangor Hon. Barbara J. Houser U.S. Bankruptcy Court (N. D. Tx.); Dallas Prof. Lois R. Lupica University of Maine School of Law; Portland William J. Rochelle, III American Bankruptcy Institute; New York
9:45-10:45 a.m.
How to Negotiate and Draft Sale Documents and Pleadings in Chapter 11 Cases
This panel will focus on drafting skills for bankruptcy and restructuring attorneys. It is intended to provide a practical “how to” discussion and analysis of negotiating and drafting chapter 11 sale documents and pleadings, including asset-purchase agreements, bid-procedure motions and orders, sale motions and orders, and related documents. The session will also provide form documents and discuss heavily negotiated or scrutinized provisions.
Lynn Lewis Tavenner, Moderator Tavenner & Beran, PLC; Richmond, Va. Matthew T. Faga Markus Williams Young & Hunsicker LLP; Denver Jennifer B. Kimble Lowenstein Sandler LLP; New York
10:45-11:00 a.m.
Networking Break
11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
WrestleMania: Who Wins When Consumer Protection Statutes Take On the Bankruptcy Code?
The FDCPA, FCRA, TILA, RESPA and the Bankruptcy Code often are incompatible with each other. Sometimes these conflicts are one-on-one, but often one of these statutes frustrates the purpose of two or more of the other statutes simultaneously. Bankruptcy exemptions and/or guidance are rare in the consumer-protection statutes, leaving it to practitioners and courts to attempt to harmonize the statutes and regulations. This panel will focus on competing statutes and regulations and how they are intertwined with the necessity for the consumer bankruptcy attorney to ensure that there is regulatory compliance. This panel will discuss not only winners and losers, but also how debtors’ counsel can best gird up for battles in the ring. This is a nuts-and-bolts approach to often-complicated arenas.
Hon. Janet S. Baer U.S. Bankruptcy Court (N.D. Ill.); Chicago Christopher L. Hawkins Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP; Birmingham, Ala. Justin A. Kesselman Arent Fox LLP; Boston Joann Needleman Clark Hill PLC; Philadelphia
11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
Fraudulent Schemes Involving Real Estate Hosted by the Commercial Fraud and Real Estate Committees
Real Estate is red-hot right now — which means it’s an attractant for both the savvy investor and the fraudster. Don’t miss getting the inside scoop on the law and insights from other perspectives concerning the latest schemes and themes in real estate fraud and bankruptcy. A panel of experts with varying professional backgrounds will discuss the various forms of fraudulent schemes involving real estate pre- and post-bankruptcy, how to sniff out irregularities using various accounting and forensic tools, what to do once you realize your client has a problem (whether debtor or creditor), and how to safeguard your clients and cases from future problems.
Michael Deeba Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP; Chicago Cynthia A. Nelson FTI Consulting, Inc.; Los Angeles Mark Pfeiffer Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC; Philadelphia Alan T. Simpson Kansas City
11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
The Continued Use of Blocking Directors and Managers in Bankruptcy-Related Transactions Hosted by the Unsecured Trade Creditors and Secured Credit Committees
This panel will explore the efforts being taken to use blocking provisions in corporate and company organizational documents to limit the possibility of a bankruptcy filing, and will discuss the importance of independent board members in various transactions throughout the duration of a chapter 11 case and financial distress.
Jeremy R. Fischer, Moderator Drummond Woodsum; Portland, Maine Thomas Strauss Wilmington Trust SP Services, Inc.; Wilmington, Del. Brian C. Walsh Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP; St. Louis, Mo. Jordan A. Wishnew Shearman & Sterling LLP; New York
11:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Optional Event
Whale-Watching Tour
12:00 noon


Registration Rates

    • $995

      (BEFORE 10/4/19)

    • Early

      • ABI Member $995
      • Join and Save* $1,320
      • Non-Member Rate $1,520
      • Gov't./Aca. Member $445
      • Gov't./Aca. New Member* $570
    • Register
    • $1,095

      (10/5/19 - 11/8/19)

    • Regular

      • ABI Member $1,095
      • Join and Save* $1,420
      • Non-Member Rate $1,620
      • Gov't./Aca. Member $495
      • Gov't./Aca. New Member* $620
    • Register
    • $1,195

      (AFTER 11/8/19)

    • Late

      • ABI Member $1,195
      • Join and Save* $1,520
      • Non-Member Rate $1,720
      • Gov't./Aca. Member $545
      • Gov't./Aca. New Member* $670
    • Register

* Includes a one-year ABI membership for first-time members — a $350 value! Expired members should select the member rate and add in the membership renewal fee. Membership is individual and nonrefundable.

Our Sponsors

Be recognized as a leader amongst your competitors and align your company with the leading organization and event entirely dedicated to the insolvency industry.

Contact Sharisa Sloan at ssloan@abiworld.org for sponsorship opportunities or click here (PDF file) to download Sponsorship Information.

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