Prof. Catherine Brooks and Prof. Michaela White have legal book contracts
Prof. Catherine Brooks and Prof. Michaela White have legal book contracts

Professor Catherine Brooks, M.A., J.D., and Professor Michaela White, J.D., have just entered into three book contracts with West Academy Publishing.  For several years they had been looking for a writing project to share, and now they have found three!  The books are tentatively titled Introduction to Family Law Practice, Introduction to Bankruptcy Law Practice, and Bridge to Bankruptcy Law.  The two Introduction books are targeted toward new practitioners and the Bridge to Bankruptcy Law is targeted towards 3L law students taking advanced bankruptcy courses designed to make them practice ready. 

The two bankruptcy books are largely authored by Professor Michaela White, J.D., with editing assistance from Professor Brooks, who is also contributing chapters on lawyering skills and how bankruptcy intersects with family law.  Thalia Carroll, who graduated with her J.D. from Creighton in 1999 and has been practicing bankruptcy law in Omaha for over 15 years, is also contributing to Introduction to Bankruptcy Law Practice. 

Anne Berkovitz, J.D. ’14, Professor Brooks’ former research assistant, has been making long-distance contributions from her current home in Germany to Introduction to Family Law Practice  with research compiling statutes and local court rules that will comprise the appendices of the family law book. 

Professor White, who has taught consumer and business bankruptcy and reorganization law since the beginning of her teaching career, also has experience representing both individuals and business debtors from her earlier practice days.  She has focused much of her scholarship since then on the important issues of consumer bankruptcy reform; she is passionate about helping non-bankruptcy lawyers understand the complicated aspects of bankruptcy law practice. 

“Bankruptcy is an intensely practical subject.  It is accurately perceived by the practicing bar as a specialized area.  However, when an individual or business entity files for bankruptcy protection, every legal relationship the debtor had the moment before filing is implicated and affected by the specialized world of bankruptcy law.  Thus, every lawyer should understand the fundamentals of bankruptcy whether they be personal injury litigators, family law specialists, tax specialists, or transactional attorneys,” Professor White says. 

Although bankruptcy law is not her expertise, Professor Brooks is making valuable contributions to the bankruptcy books both through her extensive editing skills and in her ability to read drafts from the perspective of a practitioner new to the area, asking questions to clarify and expand her co-author’s treatment of the more complex combinations of law and practice:  

“Because bankruptcy not my area of practice, I’m able to read from the perspective of a law student or a new practitioner and so can ask questions of the two expert authors that     help them peel the law and practice down to its core to make the books even more useful to students and lawyers who need a practical foundation as well as the expert advice of the authors.” 

As far as the book closer to her area of expert practice – family law – is concerned, Professor Brooks draws on both her knowledge of the law and of practice and lawyering skills to support new practititioners and advanced family law students:

“What I love about these writing projects is the usefulness of the work to new practitioners and law students.  The West acquisitions editor told me that having a book like the one I’ve proposed, based on what she has read this far, would have made a tremendous difference to her as a young practitioner and that the tone is especially valuable in its support of the new lawyer: Our editor expects it to be the go-to handbook that West was seeking to produce and West has made it the lead volume in the new series of books introducing new practitioners to areas of law. Writing in a voice that guides a new lawyer to success – from the nuts and bolts of actual practice to a synthesis of theory, ethical considerations, and practice – makes this a most rewarding project,” says Brooks. 

Introduction to Family Law is closely tied to her 3L final semester course on family law practice, designed to prepare students for both practice and the bar examination after graduation.  Family Law Practice students are seeing the book chapters first, as Professor Brooks has them review the chapters to make sure the information conveyed is clear to an audience close to the one that West has targeted.  

“This past semester three students in Family Law Practice felt confident enough as they worked through the materials to begin planning a law practice together.  I’m looking forward to continuing to advise them as they open their law office in coming year. Of course, I plan to give them the Intro to Family Law Practice book as soon as it comes off the press – as an office warming gift,” offers Brooks.