Bankruptcy Database Project Directors and Fellows

The Bankruptcy Database Project is managed and maintained by two Directors: Professor Robert Lawless, of the University of Illinois College of Law, and Professor Elizabeth Warren, of Harvard Law School. Professor Warren is currently on leave. Several Fellows also contribute to the Project.


Robert M. Lawless (CV, papers)

Professor Lawless is a professor of law and the Galowich-Huzienga Faculty Scholar at the University of Illinois College of Law. He writes on bankruptcy, consumer credit, and corporate law. Professor Lawless has testified before Congress and his work has been featured in media outlets such as CNN, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, the National Law Journal, the L.A. Times, the Financial Times, and Money magazine. Professor Lawless is the site administrator and one of seven regular contributors to the blog Credit Slips, a discussion on credit and bankruptcy. He is currently working with two other professors on Empirical Methods in Law, a forthcoming textbook from Aspen Publishing. Professor Lawless is a member of the American Law Institute and has served on numerous boards for professional groups related to credit and bankruptcy.

Elizabeth Warren (On Leave) (CV, papers)

Professor Warren is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard University. She has written eight books and more than a hundred scholarly articles dealing with credit and economic stress. Her latest two books, The Two-Income Trap and All Your Worth, were both on national best seller lists. She has been principal investigator on empirical studies funded by the National Science Foundation and more than a dozen private foundations. Warren was the Chief Adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, and she was appointed as the first academic member of the Federal Judicial Education Committee. She currently serves as a member of the Commission on Economic Inclusion established by the FDIC. The National Law Journal has repeatedly named Professor Warren as one of the Fifty Most Influential Women Attorneys in America, and she has been recognized for her work by SmartMoney Magazine and Law Dragon.


Melissa Jacoby (CV, papers)

Professor Jacoby is the George R. Ward Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Faculty Fellow at UNC’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies. Her research focuses on bankruptcy, mortgage delinquency, and the relationship between medical and financial problems, for which she won the Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics and the Friel/Scanlan award from Temple University, where she started her academic career. She is a member of the American Law Institute and the National Bankruptcy Conference, and previously has been chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Financial Institutions and Consumer Financial Services, a consultant to the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and senior staff attorney to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission. In addition to the BDP, Professor Jacoby is working with UNC’s Center for Community Capital to study bankruptcy among low-income homeowners.

Adam Levitin (CV, papers)

Professor Levitin is an Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., where he teaches courses in bankruptcy and commercial law. Before joining the Georgetown faculty, Professor Levitin practiced in the Business Finance & Restructuring Department of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in New York. He previously worked at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York and at the Securities & Exchange Commission in Boston. He also served as law clerk to the Honorable Jane Richards Roth on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Professor Levitin's award-winning research focuses on financial institutions and their role in the consumer and business finance, including credit card regulatory and competition issues, mortgage lending, identity theft, DIP financing, and bankruptcy claims trading. His recent work on mortgage modifications in bankruptcy has been featured in USA Today, the New York Times, the Economist, and CNNMoney. Professor Levitin holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.Phil and an A.M. in History from Columbia University, and a A.B. from Harvard College, all with honors.

Angela Littwin (CV, papers)

Professor Littwin is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Texas. She has written two articles dealing with credit and family economics. The first is Beyond Usury: A Study of Credit Card Use and Preference Among Low-Income Consumers, 86 Texas L. Rev 451 (2008). The second, Testing the Substitution Hypothesis: Would Credit Card Regulation Force Low-Income Borrowers Into Less Desirable Lending Alternatives?, is forthcoming in the University of Illinois Law Review. She is one of the principle investigators on the current Consumer Bankruptcy Project, the leading study of consumer bankruptcy for the past twenty-five years. She is the principle investigator on the Bankruptcy Internet Data Project, a continually-refreshed data base of consumers who seek pre-bankruptcy credit counseling. Before her appointment at the University of Texas School of Law, she was a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.

Lynn M. LoPucki (CV, papers)

Professor LoPucki is the Security Pacific Bank Professor of Law at the UCLA Law School, and, each fall semester, the Bruce W. Nichols Visiting Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School. LoPucki teaches Commercial Law and Empirical Analysis of Law at both schools. LoPucki has engaged in empirical research on large public company bankruptcies for the past twenty-five years and has been quoted in several hundred news articles on the topic in just the past five. His Bankruptcy Research Database provides data for much, if not most, empirical work on the topic. LoPucki’s book, Courting Failure: How Competition for Big Cases Is Corrupting the Bankruptcy Courts (University of Michigan Press 2005) shocked the bankruptcy world with empirical evidence regarding the effects of forum shopping and court competition.

Katherine Porter (CV, papers)

Professor Porter is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Iowa. Her scholarly work focuses on original empirical studies of consumer credit. She is a principal investigator in the Mortgage Study, a project on the intersection of homeownership and financial risk that is funded by the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges. Her recent research on mortgage servicing was featured by the New York Times, National Public Radio, and ABC World News. Porter collaborated on the 2001 and 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy Projects and is working on a book with Dr. Deborah Thorne about the familial and social effects of severe financial distress. Her articles have appeared in leading journals including the Cornell Law Review and Michigan Law Review.

John A. E. Pottow (CV, papers)

Professor Pottow is a an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. He is an internationally recognized expert in the field of bankruptcy and commercial law. His award-winning scholarship concentrates on the issues involved in the regulation of cross-border insolvencies, and he has published in prominent legal journals in the United States and Canada. A frequently invited lecturer, he has presented his works at academic conferences around the world. Prior to teaching at Michigan, he worked at several bankruptcy firms, including Weil, Gotshal and Manges of New York and the former Hill & Barlow of Boston. His practice focused on debtor representation in complex Chapter 11 restructurings. He was also an active pro bono litigator whose cases included representing a gender-based asylum seeker from Afghanistan in U.S. Immigration Court and a small bankruptcy party before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dr. Teresa A. Sullivan (CV, papers)

Dr. Sullivan is Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan, as well as Professor of Sociology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Dr. Sullivan’s research focuses on labor force demography, with particular emphasis on economic marginality and consumer debt. The author or co-author of six books and more than fifty scholarly articles, her most recent work explores the question of who files for bankruptcy and why. Dr. Sullivan has served as chair of the U.S. Census Advisory Committee. She is past secretary of the American Sociological Association and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Deborah Thorne (CV, papers)

Dr. Thorne is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ohio University. Her research interests include the emotional reactions to debt, the gendered management of debt, and the effects of debt on familial relations.