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Bankruptcy Law

Bankruptcy Law research guide.


This research guide is designed as a starting point for research in U.S. Bankruptcy Law and includes both primary and secondary sources. The goal was not to provide an exhaustive list, but to provide an array of useful resources to use when researching Bankruptcy Law issues.

The guide provides an introduction to those Bankruptcy Law resources available at the Ruth Lilly Law Library. If the law library owns the title in print, the call number and physical location are provided. Bankruptcy Law materials are generally found in the call number range KF 1501 – KF 1548. Print materials are located on the third floor of the law library and in the first floor “Reserves.” If a resource is an electronic resource, direct access to the resource is linked. Access to Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, and other subscription databases requires a username and password and is limited to current staff, students, and faculty.

When possible, a free internet option is provided. Those primarily interested in free or low-cost research may find helpful the Cost-Effective Research in U.S. Bankruptcy Law prepared by Rob Richards for PLL Perspectives.  The article was written as an introduction to bankruptcy research for law firms and includes many useful tips.



Bankruptcy law is primarily federal law, codified at 11 U.S.C. §§ 101 et. seq. Article I, section 8, clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution empowers the U.S. Congress to establish “uniform laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States.” The U.S. Congress acted pursuant to this grant of power. As a result states are pre-empted from enacting bankruptcy laws. However, state law is still important. The relevant state’s debtor-creditor law controls certain matters in the bankruptcy proceeding. The role of state law requires that a researcher understand the relevant state creditor-debtor law as well as the federal Bankruptcy Law.

Bankruptcy law is primarily statutory law and as noted above, found in Title 11 of the United States Code. The current bankruptcy statute is generally referred to as the “Bankruptcy Code.” The Bankruptcy Code replaced the Bankruptcy Act of 1898. The Bankruptcy Code was adopted in 1978 and became effective in 1979.The Bankruptcy Code has been amended since 1978 with major amendments enacted in 1984 and 2005.

This Bankruptcy Law guide is a research and academic guide. The Bankruptcy Law Research Guide prepared by the James E. College of Law at The University of Arizona® is designed for the individual seeking information about whether or not to pursue bankruptcy. Although the guide references Arizona and local information, the guide does include general Bankruptcy Law basics as well as a self-help section.

The Federal Courts developed “Bankruptcy Basics” which provides information and videos on different aspects of the federal bankruptcy laws, offering a basic explanation of the different chapters under which a bankruptcy case may be filed.


David G. Epstein, Bankruptcy and Related Law in a Nutshell (7th ed. 2005).

David G. Epstein, Steven H. Nickles and James J. White, Bankruptcy (1992).