Experiential Education in Bankruptcy Law

21 October 2015

Professor Wood's Bankruptcy and Insolvency Law class relocated to Alumni Hall on the morning of October 15 for a special mock chambers application on a bankruptcy discharge. The law school was honoured to have the matter heard by Madam Justice Juliana Topolniski. It was argued by two of Edmonton's distinguished insolvency lawyers, with Mr. Rick Reeson acting for the bankrupt and Ms. Dana Nowak acting for the objecting creditor.

The fictitious bankrupt was a recently graduated law student who had a non-governmental student loan, child support arrears, and had experienced losses due to a gambling addiction. At the end of the application, students wrote a short judgment in which they indicated whether they would accept the recommendation of the trustee in bankruptcy or impose more onerous conditions. The following day, Justice Topolniski's decision was released which allowed students to compare their judgment with hers.

Justice Topolniski prepared a written commentary on the anatomy of a commercial court appearance for distribution to the students. The application was followed by insightful remarks by Justice Topolniski, Mr. Reeson and Ms. Nowak. Students also had the opportunity to pose questions on matters of advocacy and chambers practice. Student feedback indicated that the exercise was extraordinarily useful in that it provided a unique opportunity to observe the techniques and demeanour of highly skilled and experienced counsel and allowed students to see how the substantive legal principles of bankruptcy law are actually deployed in practice.