John D. Ayer

John D. Ayer

Position Title
Professor of Law Emeritus

King Hall

"A grandstand seat at the human comedy" is how John "Jack" Ayer describes practicing bankruptcy, finance and commercial law. "Greed and glory. Big dreams and shattered expectations. Loyalty and betrayal. But the human comedy is no joke."

A former Washington correspondent for Kentucky's Courier-Journal and Louisville Times, Ayer observed the same comedy for 10 years as a journalist prior to entering law school. The difference between then and now, he said, is a seat in the orchestra as opposed to the balcony. Indeed, he was front row center in 1983-84 when he took a leave of absence from King Hall to serve as a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Los Angeles.

Improved with his seat was his salary. "As a journalist, I kept meeting lawyers who didn't seem any smarter than I was, but made 12 times as much money. I'm the only person I know who went into teaching for the money."

Education and Degree(s)
  • B.A. History, University of Louisville, 1963
  • J.D. University of Louisville, 1968
  • LL.M. Yale University, 1969
Honors and Awards
  • Received American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Journalism Award, 1965
  • Received ABA's Ross Essay Award, 1979
  • Served as U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, 1983-84
Research Interests & Expertise
  • Bankruptcy


Bankruptcy in Practice American Bankruptcy Institute, 2002

Guide to Finance for Lawyers, (Lexis) (2001)

Desk Manual for Bankruptcy Judges, (with others, as reporter for the Case Management Subcommittee of the Judicial Conference Bankruptcy Committee) (1995).

Professional Responsibility in Bankruptcy Cases, (revision of id., infra, under Monographs, for inclusions in the main text of the revised edition of the Norton Bankruptcy Treatise; (1994).

Norton Bankruptcy Treatise, (with C. Alliotts & others) (1993).

Norton Bankruptcy Treatise, (Chapter 11) (Parts 49-65 - - except 57A) (1991).

Professional Responsibility in Bankruptcy, Norton Bankruptcy Treatise (1-94) (1987).

California Personal Property Security, (California Continuing Education of the Bar) (1986) (senior author, with others).

Bankruptcy Practice Manual, (1986) (with A. Resnick & others) (11-1 - 11-27).

California Commercial Law Supplements, (1974-1979) (co-author).

Articles on Garnishment, Full Faith & Credit, and Gibbons v. Ogden, Encyclopedia Americana (1971).

Chapters on Immigration, Naturalization and Exclusion, West's Federal Practice Manual, 2nd ed., Vol. 6, 78-119 (1970).

West's Federal Practice Manual, 2d ed. (1968) (with M. Volz & others).

Stern Vern, 75 Am. Bankr. L.J. 283 (2001).

Not Dead on the Gurney, Norton Bankruptcy Adviser, Norton Bankruptcy Advisor, vol. 1997 No. 10, pp. 1-3 (1998).

Ethics: Is Disinterestedness Still a Viable Concept? A Discussion, (with Clevert, Pelofsky, Rapoport and Whyte), 5 ABI L.J. 201 (1997).

Chapter 11: Uses and Consequences, 4 ABI L.J. 493 (1996).

Abolish Chapter 7, Norton Bankruptcy Adviser vol. 1996 No. 1, pp. 4-5 (1996).

Will Everyone Be a Little Quieter, Please?, NCBJ Newsletter (June, 1996) 21.

Maybe I die, Maybe the King Dies, Maybe a Horse Learns to Talk, Norton Bankruptcy Adviser vol 1996 No. 9, pp. 9-11 (1996).

Comments on Bowers, 79 Minn. L. Rev. 745-755 (1995).

The Last Butskellite, 93 Mich. L. Rev. 1805-1819 (1995).

The Role of Finance Theory in Shaping Bankruptcy Policy, 3 Am. Bankr. Inst. L. Rev. 53-83 (1995)

White Paper on Issues in Bankruptcy Theory, 1994

Through Chapter 11 with Gun or Camera, But Probably Not Both: A Field Guide, 72 Wash. L. Rev. 883-904 (1994).

Every Man a Scotchman, 80 Va. L. Rev. 2169-2177 (1994)v

Desk Manual for Bankruptcy Judges, (as reporter for the Case Management Subcommittee of the Judicial Conference Bankruptcy Committee; drafted six chapters 1991-3;).

A Restatement of Vacuity: An Unrepentant View of the Sale/Lease Distinction 4, Panel paper, presented before the Debtor-Creditor Section of the Association of American Law School, January 8, 1993; Bankr. Devel. J. 291-304 (1993).

Ten for the Bench, NCBJ Conference News (February, 1994).

Bankruptcy as an Essentially Contested Concept: The Case of the One Asset Case, 44 S. Car. L. Rev. 863 (1993).v

"Your Majesty, There Is No Second", 22 Cal. Bankr. J. 1 (1994), reprinted in Norton Bankruptcy Adviser, vol. 1994 issue 11 pp. 1-4.

So Near to Cleveland, So Far from God: An Essay in the Ethnography of Bankruptcy, 61 Cin. L. Rev. 1-47 (1992).

Some Awkward Questions About American Bankruptcy Law: An Agenda for Comparativists, 1 Insol, Int'l Insolvency Rev. 49 (1992).

Pierre Loiseaux, U.C. Davis L. Rev. (Spring, 1992).

Introduction, 1992 Annual Survey of Bankruptcy Law.

Down Bankruptcy Lane, 90 Mich. L. Rev. 1584 (1992).

New Value and an Old Headache, Legal Times, Sept. 14, 35-37 (1992).

More Proof: Expert is Someone Far from Home, NCBJ Conference News (June, 1991).

Dialectic in the Corner Pocket, Norton Bankr. L. Adviser 11 (February, 1991).

Narrative in the Moral Theology of Thomas Shaffer, 40 J. Legal Educ. 173 (1990).

Not so Fast on the Crits, 1 Scribes J. Legal Writing 45 (1990).

"Aliens are Coming! Drain the Pool!", 89 Mich. L. Rev. 1584 (1990).

Rethinking Absolute Priority after Ahlers, 87 Mich. L. Rev. 963 (1989).

The Very Idea of "Law and Literature", 85 Mich. L. Rev. 895 (1987).

How to Think About Bankruptcy Ethics, 60 Am. Bankr. L.J. 355 (1986).