Margaret Howard, the Law Alumni Association Professor of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI). Howard, who has taught at the School of Law since 2001, will begin a three-year term on the Board immediately and is one of only two law professors on the Board at this time.
The ABI is the country’s largest multi-disciplinary, non-partisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. Founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues, it has over 11,000 members, including attorneys, bankers, judges, professors, turnaround specialists, accountants and other bankruptcy professionals.
“Our economy is driven by small businesses and entrepreneurs. We have to have a fair way of dealing with business failures so that people are willing to try again,” says Howard. “The ABI is uniquely positioned to look empirically at the bankruptcy process to determine why some individuals and businesses declare and others don’t, and to determine the root causes of bankruptcy.”
The ABI is the nation’s leading provider of educational programs on bankruptcy issues, sponsoring both national and regional conferences, and it also approves and funds grants for bankruptcy research. This is an area of the Board’s responsibilities that Howard hopes to be involved with in order to help focus research on the effects of the 2005 Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code, the most extensive changes in decades.
“The 2005 amendments largely benefited creditors and made it harder for those going through the bankruptcy process to retain assets such as their homes and cars,” says Howard. “But many scholars believe that the causes of bankruptcy are largely beyond debtors’ control; we estimate that only three out of every 100 bankruptcies are filed by people who could pay their debts. The ABI can help determine if we’re putting an undue burden 97 people just to catch three.”
Margaret Howard received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her J.D. from Washington University. She also received an LL.M degree from Yale University. From 1981 to 2001, Howard was a member of the faculty at Vanderbilt University School of Law.
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