Judge Harlin D. Hale

2021 American Inns of Court Bankruptcy Inn Alliance Distinguished Service Award

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA–Judge Harlin D. “Cooter” Hale has been selected to receive the prestigious 2021 American Inns of Court Bankruptcy Inn Alliance Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes a judge or attorney specializing in bankruptcy law who has exhibited ongoing dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession, the rule of law, and personal ethics and integrity.

“It is difficult to describe Judge Hale as a lawyer and as a person without seeming to burst with both admiration and affection,” says Laurie Dahl Rea, Esquire, president of the Honorable John C. Ford American Inn of Court in Dallas, who nominated Hale on behalf of the inn. “His dedication to civility and professionalism in the practice of law and to bankruptcy law in particular is inspiring.”

Since 2002, Hale has been a judge on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas and has been chief judge since 2020. He has presided over thousands of cases and authored almost 200 opinions, one of which was cited by the Supreme Court of the United States in 2017. Hale is a fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy and a member of the Honorable John C. Ford American Inn of Court. He received the William L. Norton Jr. Judicial Excellence Award from the American Bankruptcy Institute in 2019.

Hale is committed to mentoring the next generation of bankruptcy lawyers. As a founding member of the John C. Ford Inn, which is dedicated to bankruptcy law, Hale has taught a four-month-long course on Chapter 11 cases for young members, taught high school students in a summer program, and organized other Inn programs, such as its “Breakfast with the Judge” program. His mentorship extends well beyond his work with the Inn. When he realized that young lawyers lacked a program designed specifically to help them launch their careers, he and colleagues organized “Starting Out Right,” which is now a statewide educational program.

Hale is also a visiting professor at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, where he teaches creditors’ rights.

Previously, Hale was a national partner at the Dallas firm Baker & McKenzie LLP and a partner at McGuire, Craddock, Strother & Hale PC. Hale earned his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in 1979 and his law degree in 1982 from Louisiana State, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif.