Students’ work to be featured in national publication

The work of three University of Tennessee College of Law students will soon be published in the Norton Journal of Practice and Procedure.

Evan Rothey and Ben Johnson, both third-year students; and Andrew Cox, a second-year student; joined forces in the Fall 2018 semester to complete a group project for Professor George Kuney’s Reorganizations and Workouts seminar. The course required students to select a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, research it in depth, and review news articles as well as the docket of case filings to thoroughly describe the reorganization process. 

Once complete, the students’ work became part of a collection of more than 50 papers curated by Hodges Library that have been downloaded more than 50,000 times.

From there, the quality of the students’ finished product drew the attention of the journal editors, Kuney said.

“It is quite an accomplishment for our students’ work to be sought out for publication by the journal, which is carried on Westlaw and which serves bankruptcy practitioners and professionals nationwide,” Kuney said. “I am not aware of this happening ever before.”

The three students who opted to analyze Friendly’s Ice Cream Corp., “because who doesn’t like ice cream,” Cox said, didn’t realize initially that they’d be sifting through more than 1,000 documents.

Their finished paper tells the story of a successful pre-negotiated, insider-driven reorganization and outlines the steps taken by Friendly’s Ice Cream to shed underperforming restaurants and pension obligations as it fought to emerge from the setbacks of the Great Recession.

Rothey, Cox, and Johnson say they invested hours in the project and even worked together for eight hours straight to complete their work in the days before the paper was due. All three of the students plan to pursue careers in litigation, and have little interest in working in the area of bankruptcy law following graduation, but they see the analysis skills they employed in the course serving them well in the future.

“It reinforces the notion that law school is as much a way of learning how to think as it is understanding the substantive material,” Rothey said. “I think the University of Tennessee College of Law does a good job of training us how to think, and this was a good exercise to illustrate that. This was an aspect of the law that we didn’t have any background in. We had to think through this new legal issue and learn how to analyze it.”

Kuney said the students’ work deserves the attention it has received and he is proud of their accomplishment. 

“It is a very clear and concise yet detailed exposition of the reorganization of a failed leveraged buyout,” Kuney said. “It illustrates and explains well the reorganization process and how Chapter 11 can be used to revive a failing enterprise.”

The Norton Journal of Practice and Procedure is published six times per year and features articles written by experienced practitioners and leading scholars who offer practical guidance to bankruptcy case law.