In 2008, when Jason Fisher, L’11, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the country stood at the brink of the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression. Fisher knew that his employment prospects were slim. “Even if I got a job I would probably be fired pretty quickly,” he says with a dry wit. “Graduate school seemed like a safer bet.”  Fisher wagered on law school at the University of Richmond.

Considering the economic conditions Fisher has observed during his time in law school, it’s perhaps fitting that he has taken an interest in bankruptcy law. Recently, he was named the American College of Bankruptcy’s Distinguished Bankruptcy Law Student for the Fourth Circuit.

David Epstein, Allen Professor of Law, nominated Fisher for the award after Fisher earned the top grade in his fall bankruptcy course. “I really like bankruptcy law,” Fisher says. “I like that it is organized around a code, but at the same time, so many things are open to interpretation that you can argue about and litigate.”

Every two years the American College of Bankruptcy­­ — an honorary association of bankruptcy and insolvency professionals and academics — selects a single law student from all of the law schools in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina as the outstanding bankruptcy law student.

Fisher’s prize included an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the group’s annual meeting. The group started the award in 2003 and Fisher is the first Richmond law student to win it. At the conference, Fisher joined students from Boston University, Emory University, Hofstra University, Seton Hall University, and UCLA in numerous educational programs and at a reception at the U.S. Supreme Court. He also had the opportunity to meet many bankruptcy judges.

“It was a great experience,” he says. “I feel very honored to be a part of it.” He is hopeful the award may improve his odds of finding employment after law school. In addition to bankruptcy law, Fisher is interested in tax law and estate planning.

Fisher, who grew up in Ellicott City, Md., double majored in psychology and economics at UNC Chapel Hill. He chose to attend the University of Richmond School of Law after he was awarded a scholarship by the school. Plus, "Everyone was so nice here,” he says.

Fisher, who has cerebral palsy, wanted to stay in a relatively warm climate. “My wheelchair does not do so well in the snow,” he says. When he visited Richmond he was impressed with the gracious reception he received­­­­. “Nobody ever viewed my disability as a problem,” he says. “They have always worked with me and we have worked around it to find solutions. I am very pleased with my choice of law school.”

Fisher is confined to an electric wheelchair and has difficulty with the tasks most law students take for granted — holding a pen, turning the pages of a book, using a computer and speaking. But it has not stopped him from experiencing all law school has to offer. ­­He has participated in moot court and was a member of the school’s Duberstein Moot Court Competition team this year. He is webmaster for the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society (ADRS), technical editor for Juris Publici, has been a member of the Client Counseling and Negotiation Board, and is articles editor for the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology (JOLT). He is also an intern with the pro bono Community Tax Law Project, which helps low-income people with tax issues.

In addition to his work in the community and at the law school, Fisher volunteers with the Maryland Youth Leadership Forum, a weeklong summer program for disabled teens. “We teach them to advocate for themselves,” he says. “I went when I was a teenager and I like to come back every year and give back. My parents helped to teach me very strong advocacy skills. They advocated for me when I was growing up and showed me how important it was, always stressing what people with disabilities could accomplish.”