NEW ORLEANS, LA (February 3, 2022) – The Center for American and International Law ("CAIL") honored Elizabeth J. Futrell (Jones Walker LLP, Louisiana), Neil P. Olack (United States Bankruptcy Court Judge, retired; Mississippi), and Chief Judge Harlin D. Hale (United States Bankruptcy Court Judge; Texas), as the 2022 recipients of the Michelle Mendez Serviam Award at an awards luncheon presented by Bill Wallander (Vinson & Elkins LLP) during CAIL's biennial Fifth Circuit Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Conference in New Orleans.
Created in 2015, the Michelle Mendez Serviam Award is awarded in memory of Michelle Mendez, a bankruptcy attorney whose extraordinary work in support of the Fifth Circuit Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Conference is but one of the many selfless contributions she made in her lifetime for the benefit of fellow bankruptcy professionals. The award recognizes bankruptcy professionals who have persistently demonstrated exceptional contributions in professional leadership, pro bono work, bar activities, community contributions, and other criteria to others in the bankruptcy profession and community.
2022 Michelle Mendez Serviam Awards Recipients
Michelle Mendez Award Winners (Past and Present) (Back Row: Bill Wallander, Robert Byrd, Stephen Rosenblatt, Kent Aguillard; Front Row: Hon. Harlin Hale, Dwayne Murray, Elizabeth Futrell, Jan Hayden)
Elizabeth J. “Lisa” Futrell (Jones Walker LLP, Louisiana) - Futrell has practiced in the areas of bankruptcy and financial restructuring for more than 35 years. A Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy since 1999, she is concluding her term as the Fifth Circuit Regent. Futrell currently serves on the Lawyer Disciplinary Committee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and served as past chair of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Advisory Commission for Bankruptcy Specialization. Futrell has handled significant bankruptcy cases, including the case of the local utility company that filed chapter 11 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Along with being a published author and speaking regularly on bankruptcy-related topics, Futrell has been recognized by Chambers USA, Martindale-Hubbell, The Best Lawyers in America, Louisiana Super Lawyers, Lawdragon, New Orleans Magazine, and New Orleans CityBusiness.
Neil P. Olack (Mississippi) - Olack retired in 2021 from his position as a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of Mississippi. Before joining the bench, he practiced law for 25 years. While in private practice, he served on the board of directors of the American Bankruptcy Institute and the advisory boards of the American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review and the Emory Bankruptcy Developments Journal. Board-certified in business bankruptcy law by the American Board of Certification, he has also been a member of its board of directors. Olack frequently lectured on bankruptcy issues for professional and continuing legal education programs throughout the United States. He has also served as a co-chair of the Fifth Circuit Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Conference, an adjunct law professor, and an adjunct instructor for graduate schools. Olack is a Fellow and board member of the American College of Bankruptcy and has also served as the Fifth Circuit Governor for the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges.
Chief Judge Harlin D. “Cooter” Hale (United States Bankruptcy Court Judge; Texas) - Hale was appointed to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas in 2002. Before joining the bench, he was in private practice for almost 20 years and started as a law clerk to the Hon. James L. Dennis. Committed to mentoring the next generation of bankruptcy lawyers, Hale has mentored more than 150 student externs in his time on the bench. Hale is an author in legal publications on bankruptcy issues and is a frequent lecturer at law school and state bar seminars. He was a founding member of the John C. Ford American Inn of Court, and in 2021 he received the American Inns of Court Bankruptcy Inn Alliance Distinguished Service Award. A co-founder of the Fifth Circuit Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Conference, Hale has served as the Fifth Circuit Governor of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, the Bankruptcy Section Chair of the Federal Bar Association, and chair of the Executive Committee of the Bankruptcy Section of the State Bar of Texas.
About The Center for American and International Law - Founded in 1947, The Center for American and International Law is a nonprofit institution based in Plano, Texas, dedicated to improving the quality of justice by providing continuing education to lawyers and law enforcement officials in the United States and throughout the world. Since its founding, CAIL's educational institutes have established internationally recognized forums and educational programming addressing law enforcement administration, energy law, international and comparative law, transnational arbitration, law and technology, criminal justice, and other relevant topics. In its 74-year history, CAIL has served tens of thousands of lawyers and law enforcement officers from all 50 states and 130 countries. Visit cailaw.org to learn more.
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