Nancy B. Rapoport studies intersections: the intersections between professional responsibility and various fields of law. She’s known best for her work studying the behavior of bankruptcy lawyers, but she also studies corporate governance and the images of lawyers in popular culture.
She came to academia from Morrison & Foerster, where she practiced bankruptcy law. “What I love about bankruptcy law is that it’s the last great frontier of generalist practice, wrapped inside a specialty. At MoFo (yes, that’s its nickname), I was both a transactional lawyer and a litigator, and I had to be at least familiar with other areas of law that intersected bankruptcy law, including labor and employment law, intellectual property, and of course secured transactions.”
While she was at MoFo, she started thinking about her first research project based on her experience doing a conflicts check at her firm. “I marked pretty much everyone as potentially adverse, because folks can team up in various ways during a Chapter 11 case.” That conflicts check was several inches high, and it triggered a question: do state ethics rules really work in Chapter 11 cases? Rapoport’s answer is no, and she’s written extensively about conflicts of interest ever since.
She’s also written a lot about professional fees in Chapter 11 cases, both because she’s interested in how law firms bill their clients and because she has been a fee examiner in some large Chapter 11 cases, and she's just been named the fee examiner in the Station Casinos cases. Using a team of law students and recent graduates, Rapoport and her staff ask why professionals have chosen to staff particular tasks in certain ways and how their work product relates to their billable time. “Being an expert—especially when I’m hired by a bankruptcy court directly—gives me a window into how lawyers practice today, and that helps me do a better job as a researcher as well.”
Her work in the area of law and popular culture has led to an ongoing relationship with the Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel (www.theamec.com), where she co-chairs the Law School Advisory Board. AMEC is about to launch a writing competition for law students as a way of getting them interested in the entertainment law field. In 2009, AMEC presented her with the Public Service Counsel Award at the 4th Annual Counsel of the Year Awards.
In her spare time, Rapoport competes pro-am (she’s the “am”) in ballroom dancing in the American Rhythm and American Smooth divisions. She chose the Boyd School of Law because she appreciates the close-knit community of very active scholars, the talented students and staff members, and the ability to be part of a school that continues to invent its own traditions.