Bankruptcy Law's Knowns and Unknowns

Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Volume 19, Forthcoming

33 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2022

Date Written: November 15, 2022


In 1978, Congress created a new federal bankruptcy law that has since become a key part of the American capital markets. In this Article, I examine how large companies and their investors contract to make bankruptcy more or less likely, how distressed firms negotiate with creditors outside of bankruptcy and how companies plan for a Chapter 11 filing and navigate the bankruptcy system. I also survey the strategic moves, ranging from litigation to financing, that activist investors deploy to improve their bargaining power and to earn higher returns. The American bankruptcy system is constantly evolving and prevailing accounts of bankruptcy law quickly become stale, creating a constant need for new empirical research to establish a foundation for policy-making.

Keywords: bankruptcy; corporate restructuring; finance; chapter 11

JEL Classification: K22, G33, G30, G34, K41

Suggested Citation

Ellias, Jared A., Bankruptcy Law's Knowns and Unknowns (November 15, 2022). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Volume 19, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Jared A. Ellias (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States


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