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Consumer Bankruptcy 2020: Nuts and Bolts

Speaker(s): Gregory M. Messer, Hon. Robert D. Drain, Michael A. Gerber, Ndukwe D. Agwu, Rachel S. Blumenfeld, William K. Harrington
Recorded on: Nov. 3, 2020
PLI Program #: 304508

Ndukwe D. Agwu, is of Counsel to the Firm handling commercial litigation, license agreements, landlord/ tenant. He graduated from SUNY Purchase in Purchase New York with a double degree in Political Science and Economics. He went on to attend Touro Law School, graduating in 2006. Immediately following graduation from law school, Ndukwe went on to work at DHL as an in-house attorney handling OSHA and workers compensation claims and hearings. Between 2008- 2019 he was a public interest nonprofit attorney handling primarily landlord/tenant, public benefits, unemployment, and social security benefits foreclosure and Bankruptcy Cases.

He is on the Board of Directors for the “Coalition for Debtor Education” out of Fordham Law School which has a mission to assist consumers, particularly vulnerable populations, in understanding and improving their ability to manage their financial affairs. Ndukwe is also an adjunct professor at SUNY Purchase in Purchase New York where he teaches various law related classes each semester

Practice Areas:

Residential Non-Payment Proceedings

Residential Holdover Proceedings

Commercial Non-Payment & Holdover Proceedings


Supreme Court Litigation



Touro Law, J.D. – 2006

State University of New York- Purchase College, B.A. – 2003

Bar Admissions:

New York: 2007

Connecticut: 2007

U.S. District Court, Eastern District: 2008

U.S. District Court, Southern District: 2008

District of Columbia: 2010

Bar Affiliations:

Hudson Valley Bankruptcy Bar Association

National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys

American Bankruptcy Institute


Adjunct Professor SUNY Purchase College

Small Claims Court Arbitrator

Southern District Bankruptcy Court Mediator

Gregory Messer has been practicing law for over 40 years.  He started his career as a Legal Aid attorney in Albany, New York. In 1980, he opened his law practice in Brooklyn, New York and has specialized in bankruptcy law since that time. Mr. Messer has been a member of the standing panel of Chapter 7 Trustees for the United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York since 1980. He has been A.V. rated by Martindale Hubbell for the past 10 years and named a Super Lawyer for the past 8 years. Mr. Messer is Board Certified in Consumer Bankruptcy Law by the American Bankruptcy Institute and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

Mr. Messer has represented debtors, creditors, trustees, defendants, purchasers of assets and other parties in bankruptcy cases. He has served as a Chapter 7 Trustee, Chapter 11 Trustee, post-confirmation Trustee, mediator and examiner. His work as a Trustee has included operating in large and small cases in a wide variety of industries. Mr. Messer is a recognized lecturer in bankruptcy law and has served as a panelist for numerous national, state and local bar associations, continuing legal education providers and professional groups.

Mr. Messer has been active in various civic activities in Brooklyn. He is a Board Member and the Treasurer of the Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project which provides representation for indigent clients in the borough of Brooklyn. Mr. Messer has been recognized for his work as a pro bono lawyer including receiving the Brooklyn Bar Association’s Pro Bono Award in 1999 and the Frieda S. Nisnewitz Award for Services to the Brooklyn Community in 2003.

Rachel S. Blumenfeld is a principal in the Law Office of Rachel S. Blumenfeld PLLC. She is a 2000 graduate of Brooklyn Law School, and has dedicated her legal career to representing individual and business debtors, creditors, and trustees in chapter 7, chapter 11 and chapter 13 bankruptcy matters.  After law school, Ms. Blumenfeld interned for the Honorable Robert E. Gerber, and she clerked for the Honorable Adlai S. Hardin, Jr., Bankruptcy Judges in the Southern District of New York. In 2004, Ms. Blumenfeld established her law firm in Brooklyn. That same year, the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project honored Ms. Blumenfeld with The Christopher Slattery Young Professional Award for her pro bono services.

Ms. Blumenfeld is a Board Certified Bankruptcy Specialists in Consumer and Business Bankruptcy Law.  She has appeared as an expert in bankruptcy law for dispute resolution in JAMS mediation. Ms. Blumenfeld also serves on the panel of mediators for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York and she is a co-chair of the Eastern District of New York Bankruptcy Court Consumer Lawyer Advisory Committee.

She is a member of the Bankruptcy Committee of the Brooklyn Bar Association, the New York County Lawyer's Association, the American Bankruptcy Institute and the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. In 2010 Ms. Blumenfeld was awarded the Brooklyn Bar Association's Frieda Niscnewitz award. She is the co-author of several articles on bankruptcy law and she frequently lectures on bankruptcy topics at the Practicing Law Institute, the Brooklyn Bar Association, the New York City Bar and has lectured at Brooklyn Law School and Fordham Law School.


Robert Drain is a United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Southern District of New York. 

Judge Drain received his B.A. degree cum laude with honors from Yale University in 1979 and his J.D. degree in 1984 from the Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar for three years.

At the time of his appointment in 2002, he was a partner in the Bankruptcy Department of the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he represented debtors, trustees, secured and unsecured creditors, official and unofficial creditors committees, and buyers of distressed businesses and distressed debt in chapter 11 cases, out-of-court restructurings and bankruptcy-related litigation and also was actively involved in several transnational insolvency matters.

Judge Drain is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy and a member and board member of the American Bankruptcy Institute, a member of the International Insolvency Institute, a member and Secretary of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges and a founding member and chair of the Judicial Insolvency Network.  He also is the current chair of the Bankruptcy Judges Advisory Group established through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and was appointed to the FDIC’s Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee through May 1, 2021.  He was an adjunct professor for several years at St. John’s University School of Law’s LLM in Bankruptcy Program and currently is an adjunct professor at Pace University School of Law and has lectured and written on numerous bankruptcy-related topics.

Since his appointment he has presided over such chapter 11 cases as Loral, RCN, Cornerstone, Refco, Allegiance Telecom, Delphi, Coudert Brothers, Frontier Airlines, Star Tribune, Reader’s Digest, A&P, Hostess Brands, Christian Brothers, Momentive, Cenveo, 21st Century Oncology, Tops, G A&T, Sears, Full Beauty Brands, Sungard, Windstream, Purdue Pharma, and Frontier Communications.  He also has presided over the ancillary or plenary cases, as the case may be, of Corporacion Durango, Satellites Mexicanas, Parmalat S. p. A. and its affiliated United States debtors, Varig S.A., Yukos (II), SphinX, Galvex Steel, TBS Shipping, Excel Maritime, Nautilus, Landsbanki Islands, Roust and Ultrapetrol.  He has served as the court-appointed mediator in a number of chapter 11 cases, including New Page, Cengage, Quicksilver, LightSquared, Molycorp, Breitburn Energy, and China Fisheries.

He is the author of a novel, The Great Work in the United States of America.

Professor Gerber’s area of expertise is bankruptcy law. He is the author of Business Reorganizations, a Chapter 11 casebook, and he is a contributing author of Collier on Bankruptcy, the leading treatise on bankruptcy law.  He teaches Debtor’s and Creditors’ Rights, Business Reorganizations, International Bankruptcy, and Contracts.  He is the founder and Director of Brooklyn Law School’s Business Boot Camp. He has written and lectured on corporate governance in bankruptcy, bankruptcy ethics, the treatment of intellectual property interests in bankruptcy, dot-com bankruptcies, international and comparative insolvency law, and other business bankruptcy and reorganization topics.  For many years he was the Brooklyn Law School Associate Dean for Development and he served as Interim Dean from 2010-2012.  He is a member of the School’s Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law and the School’s Center for the Study of Business Law and Regulation.  He serves as Director of Brooklyn Law School’s summer program in Beijing.  Prior to joining the Brooklyn Law School faculty, he practiced law with Proskauer Rose LLP.  He has served on the Merit Selection Panel for a Bankruptcy Judge in the Eastern District of New York, and on the Committee on Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. He is a member of the Federal Bar Council, the New York City Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the International Insolvency Institute.

William K. Harrington is the United States Trustee for Region 1 and Region 2.  Mr.  Harrington was appointed as the United States Trustee for Region 1 on November 8, 2010 and as the United States Trustee for Region 2 on November 26, 2013.  Prior to his appointment as the United States Trustee for Region 1, Mr. Harrington was the Assistant United States Trustee for the District of Delaware. Prior to joining the Office of the United States Trustee, he practiced bankruptcy and reorganization law at Duane Morris LLP. Mr. Harrington is a member of the Boston Bar Association, the Delaware State Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Delaware Bankruptcy American Inn of Court. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from Villanova University School of Law.