John C. Akard Distinguished Lectureship Program
The John C. Akard Distinguished Lectureship Program was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on June 18, 2001, for the benefit of the School of Law. The lectureship was endowed by the generous gifts of many members of the Texas bankruptcy bar in honor of Judge Akard (’57), who served with distinction for fourteen years as the U.S. Bankruptcy Judge in the Northern District of Texas, sitting in Lubbock and throughout much of West Texas. He continued to play a major role in the School of Law’s bankruptcy conferences after his retirment.
Principal funding for this lectureship came from lawyers who attend the annual Jay Westbrook Bankruptcy Conference, first held in 1981 while Judge Akard was practicing law in El Paso. He attributes his invitation to participate in the program to the organizers’ desire to have lawyers from across the state of Texas take part. That first year, Akard presented a talk on exemptions, and has been part of the event ever since. In 2001 he was chairman of the planning committee.
The purpose of the John C. Akard Distinguished Lectureship Program is to bring distinguished speakers on bankruptcy and related subjects to the conference for the benefit of law students and participants. The Akard Lectures are often made the evening before the opening of the conference.
Professor Jay Westbook, for whom the conference is named, had the idea to honor Akard with a named lectureship. Akard says that he was “astounded and, of course, greatly pleased” by the gesture.
Modest about his experience at UT, Akard said:
“When I was in law school, we had a saying that those who made A’s became law professors, those who made B’s became judges, and those who made C’s make all of the money. Well, I fooled them. I was the third person in the second half of my class, but I did not make all of the money and I became a judge”!
Akard married after his first year of law school and worked part-time while he was earning his degree. He says his “claim to fame” while at the university was editing the law school newspaper. Under his direction, the paper won the American Bar Association prize for the best law school newspaper in the country, though Akard jokes that there can’t have been any other law school newspapers at the time.
Akard feels privileged to have served as the United States Bankruptcy Judge in Lubbock, Texas from 1986 until 2000. While he has been honored repeatedly throughout his career for excellence in bankruptcy law, this lectureship and the Westbrook conference remain close to his heart. “It is a real honor to have those whom you worked with recognizing you in this way,” Akard says of the lectureship.