LOS ANGELES - Elissa D. Miller has been very busy lately as the Chapter 7 trustee in a couple of large cases. In one, the debtor is Mark Abbey Slotkin, the owner of Antiquarian Traders, which for 30 years has been an important dealer in rare and unusual antiques in Beverly Hills.
For that case, Miller sold "a huge inventory of antiques" as well as substantial real estate holdings. In re: Slotkin, 2:20-bk-12042 (Bankr. C.D. Cal., filed Feb. 25, 2020).
Her other pressing matter is better known. She is the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of the now infamous law firm Girardi Keese (although not that of Tom Girardi). In re: Girardi Keese, 2:20- bk-21022 (Bankr., C.D. Cal., filed Dec. 18, 2020).
"It's the most fascinating case I've ever had," Miller said. "It's got issues I've never had before." She stressed that she would only discuss matters already in the public record.
One of Miller's duties as trustee was to clean out the law office, something she'd never done before. She said she was surprised by the firm's apparent lack of procedures and its disorganized files.
But the case has also taught her a great deal about mass tort cases, something else she'd never done but which Girardi Keese specialized in.
"The best thing about being a trustee is that we do work in so many areas that we wouldn't have the opportunity to work in otherwise," Miller said. "I'm not an IP lawyer and yet I've sold IP. I do real estate all the time, but I'm not a real estate lawyer. I'm a bankruptcy lawyer." She does also take on some bankruptcy cases as a private attorney, although those matters currently make up only 10% to 15% of her docket.
Miller applied to become a Chapter 7 trustee in 2003, when a partner who had been doing that work retired. "I thought I might be good at it.... And I've been doing it ever since."
Outside of work, she is on the board of Credit Abuse Resistance Education's L.A. chapter. It sends volunteers, like Miller, into high schools to teach students about the responsible use of credit cards and the need to establish good credit.
"There's a big push right now for financial literacy, and we're part of that push," she said.