Charting the Course of Bankruptcy Law: Highlights from the Fifth Circuit Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Conference

New Orleans became the hub for many of bankruptcy law's leading minds at The Center for American and International Law’s Fifth Circuit Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Conference. This biennial event, hosted this year in the heart of New Orleans’s French Quarter, attracted nearly 200 attendees convening to explore the latest trends and challenges in bankruptcy law.

Conference Insights

The conference, co-chaired by the Hon. Meredith S. Grabill (U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Louisiana,) the Hon. Stacey G.C. Jernigan (U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Texas,) and the Hon. Katharine M. Samson (U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Mississippi,) was curated to address the pressing needs and future directions of bankruptcy law, with a special focus on the impact of artificial intelligence, the nuances of navigating bankruptcy in the real estate, retail, and oil/gas sectors, and the latest developments in student loan considerations under Chapter 13.

2024 - CAIL - Fifth Circuit Bankruptcy Bench-Bar Conference

Community and Leadership

In addition to the enriching sessions, the conference provided ample opportunities for networking, fostering a vibrant community spirit. This event also served as the backdrop for the presentation of the Michelle Mendez Serviam Award to three honorees representing Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

The 2024 Michelle Mendez Serviam Award Recipients:

  • From Louisiana: Judge Douglas D. Dodd (United States Bankruptcy Judge, Middle District of Louisiana, retired)
  • From Mississippi: Stephen Smith, CPA (Director, Harper, Rains, Knight, & Company)
  • From Texas: William Wallander (Partner, Restructuring & Reorganization Practice Group, Vinson & Elkins L.L.P.)

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.

Forward-Looking Perspectives

As the field of bankruptcy law continues to evolve, the conference underscored the importance of staying ahead of emerging trends and embracing innovation. Through comprehensive discussions and the exchange of ideas, the event equipped attendees with the insights needed to navigate the future challenges and opportunities within the legal landscape.


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.

Media Contact

Karla Lárraga, Communications Officer
(972) 244-3436 •