Selection as College Fellow is Surprise

Sidney K. Swinson thought he had done something wrong when his secretary walked into his office last November and handed him a letter.
But Sondra Strickland had a broad smile on her face because she already knew the message.
She and two firm attorneys at the GableGotwals law firm, John Dale and Mason Patterson, had been alerted earlier by the selection committee that Swinson had been selected as a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy.
There instructions from the selection committee were ‘‘not to tell’’ until the formal notice of acceptance was received.
They didn’t and Swinson readily admits he was totally flabbergasted with the honor, especially since he personally didn’t fill out the application. The trio had collaborated together while he was on vacation.
It took a lot of work, Strickland said. Dale helped put together the extensive list of seminars that Swinson had presented. Patterson was familiar with Swinson’s big cases, including CFS and Git-N-Go.
Swinson was one of 26 nominees inducted March 23rd from the United States and abroad in the Eighteenth Class (2007) of College Fellows. All were honored and recognized for their professional excellence and exceptional contributions to the fields of bankruptcy and insolvency.
The American College of Bankruptcy is an honorary professional and educational association of bankruptcy and insolvency professionals. The College plays an important role in sustaining professional excellence in this rapidly expanding field of expertise. College Fellows include commercial and consumer bankruptcy attorneys, insolvency accountants, turnaround and workout specialists, law professors, judges, government officials and others involved in the bankruptcy and insolvency community.
Nominees for Fellows are extended an invitation to join based on a record of achievement reflecting the highest standards of professionalism. The College presently has 633 Fellows.
The ceremony took place at the historic National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and was presided over by Evelyn H. Biery, Chair of the College. The keynote speaker was Raymond L. Shapiro, Esq.
The recognition is for services to the bankruptcy community, Swinson continued. The college provides an opportunity to be associated with and enjoy relationships with the top attorneys in the discipline in the world.
Selection to the organization also involves work for members.
A committee provides services to others is the working arm of the college, he said.
Swinson still is investigating which area he is interested in.
‘‘It makes sense to be involved with and participate with people so outstanding in the field,’’ he said.
The college also has a foundation that donates money to worthy causes.
Earning an undergraduate degree in business management in 1977 from Notre Dame, then his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 1980, Swinson knew he had an interest in the bankruptcy practice.
Following graduation, he went to work for John Jarboe who ‘‘taught me how to be a lawyer and really introduced me to bankruptcy law.’’
‘‘I was drawn to this area of the law because it is business related which I like,’’ he said. Many people think this is a very narrow area of law, but it isn’t.
Each case is different. The issues in the CFS bankruptcy was different that those found in the Git-N-Go case.
The greatest challenge is dealing with the crush of big cases, Swinson continued. The magnitude of these cases at the beginning is quite daunting. Some last for years before being settled.
Changes in the bankruptcy law can cause unexpected issues.
Swinson is co-author of a bankrutpcy law textbook, Introduction to Bankruptcy Law, Thompson Publishing Company.
Laws changed as the fourth edition was released and Swinson and his co-author found themselves scrambling to update the book with the fifth edition.
Perhaps streamlining the law is next, but immediate changes are not on the horizon, Swinson said. That isn’t on the Congressional radar screen since they have more pressing things to consider.
Bankruptcy filing is fairly cumbersome and often too expensive. There should be a staight forward plan that applies to basic cases. This also applies to consumer bankrutpcies.
‘‘I often wonder how debtors can afford to go bankrupt,’’ he said.
Swinson, an adjunct professor on bankruptcy at his alma mater, explains to students why he enjoys the practice of law.
‘‘I remind them of the criteria of a good attorney and they should be proud they are earning a law degree,’’ he said. ‘‘Not everyone can get one.
‘‘I am humbled and honored to get the award.’’
When word got out among the GableGotwalls firm, Swinson received numerous congratulatory emails, Stickland said. Everyone in the firm is very pleased.
Swinson has been a member of GableGotwals since 1988, and presently serves on the firm’s board of directors. In addition to being an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Tulsa College of Law, Swinson represents clients in both business and consumer bankruptcy cases and is on the Trustee Panel for the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Northern and Eastern Districts of Oklahoma.
Since 1998, Swinson has served as an Adjunct Settlement Judge for the United States Bankruptcy and District Courts for the Northern District of Oklahoma, and he presently serves as Chief Master of the Professional Responsibility Tribunal of the Oklahoma Bar Association.

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