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Bankruptcy Law Research Guide: Introduction and Key Resources

This guide introduces students to sources for researching bankruptcy law in the United States. It may also be of use to practitioners and the general public.



The term "bankruptcy" refers to the "statutory procedure by which a…debtor obtains  financial relief and undergoes a judicially supervised reorganization or liquidation of the debtor's assets for the benefit of creditors." Black's Law Dictionary, 10th ed. Bankruptcy affects all segments of American society, from individuals and small businesses to high-profile corporations like Enron and General Motors to municipalities like Detroit. This research guide provides starting points for research on U.S. bankruptcy law, including key primary and secondary sources and sources of bankruptcy legislative history documents, both in print and online. (credit:


Introductory bankruptcy books available at your library:



Key Databases

BloombergLexisNexis, and Thomson Reuters Westlaw all offer comprehensive bankruptcy practice centers or areas, which are convenient starting places for research. These practice centers collect both primary and secondary sources.

Bloomgerg Law's Bankruptcy Practice Center includes cases, statutes, court rules, and forms, as well as an major bankruptcy treatises, dockets and bankruptcy filings, and transactional resources related to bankruptcy. You also can find American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) publications here. 

Westlaw's Bankruptcy Practice Area features cases, statutes, and court rules. Additional notable content here includes the treatise Norton Bankruptcy Law & Practice and other Norton publications and bankruptcy data. 

Practical Law offers practice tools like forms, checklists, and "tool kits" (commentary and lists of resources on bankruptcy sub-topics).

The Bankruptcy Law practice area on Lexis Advance provides content includes cases, statutes, and court rules, along with the treatise Collier on Bankruptcy and several other Collier publications. 

Lexis Practice Advisor (accessible under the Lexis Advance Research drop-down menu) offers a topic-based approach to primary and secondary sources with an emphasis on transactional aspects of bankruptcy like workouts and out-of-court corporate restructurings. Current bankruptcy news articles from Law360 also appear here.

CALI Lessons

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction produces interactive lessons authored by legal scholars and professionals that cover substantive law, as well as legal research and writing. The lessons include a mix of background information and questions. 

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