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open letter to the Bankruptcy Liaison Committee

Good Afternoon:

This message is being sent to members of the Liaison Committee of the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. I am an attorney and the author of the Bankruptcy Blog, which I began 4 years ago to highlight issues affecting the bankruptcy bar in our District. Over the years our most popular posts have dealt with opinions and documents issued by Judges in the Northern District, as well as developments like the advent of this Committee (we posted about the Committee”s formation here).

We are writing today because we want to help “get the word out” about the Committee”s activities and ideas, as well as to solicit ideas from the practitioner community and inform the Committee about them. In our opinion these goals could be met most effectively using publishing tools such as

  • RSS information feeds
  • Wiki pages for Judges and cases
  • A Blog maintained for the Court

We see great potential in the use of these vehicles to communicate about

  • the status of current cases (especially mega-cases)
  • judicial opinions, policies, and standing orders
  • hearing dates and deadlines relating to a case
  • statutory and rule-based resources for practitioners and the public
  • interaction among practitioners in a discussion forum

RSS feeds could also be used to track subjects of interest to Attorneys without the need for the Court to add another layer of administration, preserving precious labor and time. The success of the Bankruptcy Blog (2000+ members and growing) is proof of how popular and useful this idea can be. In fact, the tremendous growth of the blog has encouraged bar associations around the country to follow suit. We are justifiably proud of having set the standard in this area, and would like to remain innovative by looking at new ways to obtain and share information. Here is what we know

  • more people are online now than ever before and the trend is likely to accelerate
  • readership of the Bankruptcy Blog has soared recently as more people look for information about decisions made by our Judges
  • the current generation of lawyers considers e-mail too cumbersome to be an effective way of staying on top of information

Facts like these prompted a follow up question in our minds: What is the Court doing to reach out to practitioners, debtors, creditors, and litigants? Are invaluable tools being overlooked? To answer questions like these we propose opening a dialogue with the Court about the best way to share information, deadlines, documents, opinions, etc. and in our opinion RSS, Wiki”s, and other innovative publication methods represent a big step in the right direction. But to be effective we need the Court”s support. I still remember that Judge Wedoff”s leadership was crucial in making e-Filing a reality in the Bankruptcy Court. In fact, the Bankruptcy Blog was created about the same time e-Filing appeared on the Court”s horizon. We feel that the next phase in the Court”s use of technology is upon us now and that this committee has a golden opportunity to spearhead the effort. We hope that it will consider doing so and would like to be part of that effort.

Thank you for your attention to this message. I look forward to speaking with members of the Committee about their vision for the future of Court communications with the bar.

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