CAIL Honors Esteemed Bankruptcy Professionals with Michelle Mendez Serviam Award at 2024 Fifth Circuit Bench-Bar Conference

The Center for American and International Law (CAIL) recognized Judge Douglas D. Dodd (United States Bankruptcy Judge, retired) from Louisiana, Stephen Smith, CPA (Harper, Rains, Knight, & Company) from Mississippi, and Bill Wallander (Vinson & Elkins L.L.P.) from Texas as the recipients of the 2024 Michelle Mendez Serviam Award 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.

2024 Michelle Mendez Serviam Award Honorees


(Left to right: William Wallander from Texas, Judge Douglas D. Dodd from Louisiana, and Stephen Smith, CPA from Mississippi)

Judge Douglas D. Dodd - Judge Dodd served as a United States Bankruptcy Judge in Louisiana from May 2002 until his retirement in October 2022. A Tulane University alumnus and Stanford Law School graduate, Dodd practiced law in New Orleans before his judicial appointment. Throughout his career, he has contributed to the legal community as an educator at Tulane Law School, Louisiana State University Law Center, and the Southern University Law Center, sharing his vast knowledge and experience with future generations of lawyers.

Stephen Smith, CPA - Smith is a seasoned CPA with thirty-five years of expertise, currently serving as a shareholder and director at Harper, Rains, Knight, & Company in Mississippi. With a significant background in small business accounting, bankruptcy, and insolvency accounting, Smith supports chapter 7 trustees and is active in chapter 11 cases. He has also dedicated over ten years as the Executive Director and Board Member of the Mississippi Bankruptcy Conference, reflecting his commitment to the bankruptcy profession and community.

William Wallander - Wallander, a partner at Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. in Texas, brings over 35 years of experience in restructuring and reorganization to his role. With a comprehensive background across various industries, Wallander has represented a wide range of clients. He holds degrees from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Texas School of Law, alongside an MBA. Wallander's involvement extends to significant positions within the American College of Bankruptcy, the John C. Ford American Inn of Court, and the State Bar of Texas Bankruptcy Section, underscoring his leadership and commitment to the field.


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 advancing justice and promoting the rule of law through the professional development of legal and law enforcement practitioners worldwide. Today, CAIL's educational institutes have established internationally recognized forums and programs addressing law enforcement administration, energy law, international and comparative law, transnational arbitration, law and technology, criminal justice, and other relevant topics. Thousands of lawyers and law enforcement officers from all 50 states and 130 countries have participated in CAIL programs.

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