CU Law launches bootcamp to prep future lawyers for ‘bankruptcy tsunami’

BOULDER — With the United States teetering on the edge of an economic cliff, experts expect bankruptcies to skyrocket in the coming months and years. But the attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy law are retiring at a steady clip, and there are too few young lawyers ready to take the baton. 

Wolf Law Building at University of Colorado Boulder. Christopher Wood/BizWest

The University of Colorado Law School wants to help change that.

CU law professors, led by Erik Gerding, recently launched a summertime virtual bootcamp to teach bankruptcy basics and connect students with experts in the field in the hope that they will decide to pursue careers in bankruptcy law after graduation. 

“I think there’s a real concern that there’s going to be a tsunami of consumer and small business bankruptcies because of the economic crisis. That means there’s going to be a real need for attorneys, and especially energetic young attorneys, to help clients navigate the process,” Gerding said. “It’s also really important for the law school to prepare our students for good job opportunities in this really chaotic time.”

Bankruptcy law provides a wide variety of opportunities for young attorneys, he said. Lawyers could assist low income families struggling to overcome crippling debt, or they could be part of a negotiation team with a private equity firm poised to take over a bankrupt retail chain. 

“It’s a field that appeals not only to people who are interested in sophisticated business law, but also to people interested in doing community work and helping vulnerable households,” CU law professor Nadav Orian Peer said.

Bankruptcy law is also one of the few specialties that provides ample opportunity for young litigators to get courtroom experience.

“We’ve had a couple [of bootcamp] sessions, and I’ve really enjoyed them,” said Ryan Boepple, a CU law student who recently finished his second year in the program. “It’s certainly piqued my interest. Maybe that could result in … doing an externship for a bankruptcy judge.”

That externship goal is far more attainable now as Gerding and his team have recruited a group of current bankruptcy judges to participate in the bootcamp, which is open to all current CU law students and 2020 graduates. 

“A real critical breakthrough happened when we reached out to federal bankruptcy judges in New Mexico and Colorado,” Gerding said. “Almost all of them are going to be involved in the boot camp — they’re super excited about it.”

The willingness of judges to devote so much time and energy to raising up the next generation of bankruptcy attorneys “gives you a sense for how much of a public emergency” an overburdened and understaffed bankruptcy system could be without an infusion of new blood, he said. 

This new emphasis on familiarizing students with bankruptcy law is not only meant to help stabilize that system but also to provide solid career prospects for graduates entering an uncertain job market.

“I want to open myself up to as many opportunities as I can and make sure that I’m well-rounded,” Boepple said. “If this time next year comes around and [the bankruptcy law] field has a lot of opportunities, it would certainly be something I’d be interested in.”

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BOULDER — With the United States teetering on the edge of an economic cliff, experts expect bankruptcies to skyrocket in the coming months and years. But the attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy law are retiring at a steady clip, and there are too few young lawyers ready to take the baton. 

Wolf Law Building at University of Colorado Boulder. Christopher Wood/BizWest

The University of Colorado Law School wants to help change that.

CU law professors, led by Erik Gerding, recently launched a summertime virtual bootcamp to teach bankruptcy basics and connect students with experts in the field in the hope that they will decide to pursue careers in bankruptcy law after graduation. 

“I think there’s a real concern that there’s going to be a tsunami of consumer and small business bankruptcies because of the economic crisis. That means there’s going to be a real need for attorneys, and especially energetic young attorneys, to help clients navigate the process,” Gerding said. “It’s also really important for the law school to prepare our students for good job opportunities in this really chaotic time.”

Bankruptcy law provides a wide variety of opportunities for young attorneys, he said. Lawyers could assist low income families struggling to overcome crippling debt, or they could be part of a negotiation team with a private equity firm poised to take over a bankrupt retail chain. 

“It’s a field that…