2019 TENNESSEE BAR ASSOCIATION BANKRUPTCY FORUM
The Tennessee Bar Association held its 16th annual Bankruptcy Forum from April 5th through 7th in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, located in the beautiful Smokey Mountains of East Tennessee. This continuing education event offered an opportunity for bankruptcy practitioners to meet in a small group setting with local bankruptcy judges to discuss topical bankruptcy issues and to network with the judges and other members of the bar. The event was organized by the TBA’s Bankruptcy Section and its Executive Council, which includes Wilson & Associates’ partner, Joel Giddens. Mr. Giddens has been a member of the Executive Council since 2014, serving as its chair in 2017-2018, and has frequently served as a speaker at the event.
The event kicked off on the afternoon of Friday, April 5th, with a bankruptcy case law update panel. This panel reviewed important U.S. Supreme Court, appellate, and bankruptcy court decisions rendered over the past year. Next, a panel covered the topic of bankruptcy practice differences in the three grand divisions of Tennessee (Eastern, Middle and Western Districts). A bankruptcy practitioner from each of the districts discussed how things are done in their courts, highlighting that, while we have a uniform national bankruptcy code, local bankruptcy rules and practices are different from district to district, making local bankruptcy representation essential for both debtors and creditors. Mr. Giddens had the honor of representing the Western District on the panel.
Following a networking dinner on the evening of the 5th, the attendees broke into two groups of about 25 each for sessions over the next two mornings with the bankruptcy judges. Each group was led by two bankruptcy judges, Hon. Suzanne Bauknight (Eastern District of Tennessee), Hon. Paul Bonaphal (Northern District of Georgia), Hon. Shelley Rucker (Eastern District of Tennessee) and Hon. Charles Walker (Middle District of Tennessee). The groups discussed wide ranging bankruptcy issues through fact patterns specifically written for the event. Some of the issues included dischargeability of debts in bankruptcy, avoidance of preferential transfers in bankruptcy, recoverability of mortgage servicer attorney fees in chapter 13 cases, involuntary bankruptcy petitions and ethical issues in bankruptcy practice.
The educational sessions were scheduled so that the attendees had ample time to hike in the Smokey Mountains National Park, zip line and take in other attractions in Gatlinburg and the area. With the beautiful location and opportunity to have one on one discussions with local bankruptcy judges, it’s no wonder that many consider this event as one of the premier CLE’s in Tennessee!