2021 Distinguished Service Award Recipient Announced-Hon. Barbara J. Houser
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Stanardsville, VA -February 11, 2021 - The American College of Bankruptcy (the "College") announced today that it will present its 2021 Distinguished Service Award to Hon. Barbara J. Houser, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, Dallas, TX. Judge Houser will receive the award on October 5, 2021 in Indianapolis on the occasion of the Induction of Classes 31 and 32 into the College. The award will be presented on behalf of the College by Hon. Thomas L. Ambro, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, himself a recipient of the award in 2017. Judge Houser is only the third woman to receive the highest award of the College.
Mark Bloom, College Chair, hailed Judge Houser's achievements in announcing the award, “The College is honored to present its 2021 Distinguished Service Award to Hon. Barbara J. Houser. Throughout her distinguished career as a United States Bankruptcy Judge, and for years before as a leading bankruptcy practitioner, Judge Houser has tirelessly and selflessly served the bench, bar and professional community in ways too numerous to count-as an influential and inspiring leader in every role the has undertaken. It is with great pride, affection and gratitude that we add her to the list of outstanding bankruptcy professionals and judges to whom we have presented our most prestigious award.”
The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor of the College. Criteria for selection as a Distinguished Service Award Recipient include: significant accomplishments in improving the administration of justice in the insolvency and bankruptcy field; distinguished service consistently rendered over a considerable period of time or a single outstanding achievement in a particular year; accomplishments arising from voluntary activities rather than for services rendered to a client as a paid professional; membership in the College; and distinguished in his or her institution in a manner and in matters that are consistent with the goals and purposes of the College.
"My years of work in the insolvency community — first as a bankruptcy lawyer and then as a bankruptcy judge — have given me great joy and much satisfaction. To have my peers believe my service warrants inclusion in the awe-inspiring list of past recipients of the College’s Distinguished Service Award is quite humbling," shared Judge Houser.
Judge Houser is a United States Bankruptcy Judge in the Northern District of Texas, now serving on recall status since her retirement in May 2020. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska in 1975 with high distinction and her doctor of laws from Southern Methodist University School of Law in 1978, where she was an editor of the law review. Upon graduation from law school, she joined Locke, Purnell, Boren, Laney & Neely in Dallas (n/k/a Locke Lord) and became a shareholder there in 1985. In 1988 she joined Sheinfeld, Maley & Kay, P.C. as the shareholder-in-charge of the Dallas office and remained there until she was sworn in as a United States Bankruptcy Judge on January 20, 2000. While at Sheinfeld she led the firm’s representation of clients in a variety of significant chapter 11 cases across the country, including her role as lead debtor’s counsel for Dow Corning Corporation. The National Law Journal named her as one of the fifty most influential women lawyers in America in 1998.
Judge Houser, who lectures and publishes frequently on corporate restructuring and insolvency law, is a past chairman of the Dallas Bar Association’s Committee on Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization, is a member of the Dallas, Texas and American Bar Associations, and is a fellow of the Texas and American Bar Foundations. She has been a contributing author to Collier on Bankruptcy and has taught Creditors’ Rights as a Visiting Professor at the SMU Dedman School of Law.
She was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy in 1994, served as an officer and member of its Board of Directors, and remains active in the College. In 1996, she was elected a conferee of the National Bankruptcy Conference, an organization of nationally recognized scholars and experts in the bankruptcy field, and remains active in the Conference. After becoming a bankruptcy judge in 2000, she joined the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges and served as its President in 2009-2010. Judge Houser currently serves as the President of the American Bankruptcy Institute and is a member of the Executive Committee of its Board of Directors.
Judge Houser has received a variety of awards and honors since taking the bench including (i) the Distinguished Alumni Award for Judicial Service from the SMU Dedman School of Law in February, 2011, (ii) the Judge William Norton Jr. Judicial Excellence Award from the American Bankruptcy Institute in October 2014, and (iii) the Distinguished Service Award from the Alliance of Bankruptcy Inns of the American Inns of Court in October 2016. She will receive the Distinguished Service Award from the American College of Bankruptcy later this year.
Judge Houser has also served the judiciary in a number of capacities during her 21 years on the bench, including (i) as a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Administration of the Bankruptcy System for seven years, (ii) as a member of the faculty that the Federal Judicial Center selected to teach new bankruptcy judges for many years, and (iii) as a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Judicial Center, which Board is chaired by Chief Justice John Roberts. In June 2017, she was appointed to serve as the leader of a team of five federal judges tasked with mediating all of the issues in dispute in connection with the historic insolvency filings by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and certain related instrumentalities under Title III of PROMESA. That work is ongoing.