Monday, August 7, 2017
Yesterday, on the last morning of the 2017 Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) conference, Matt Lyon, the Associate Dean at Lincoln Memorial University - Duncan School of Law (UT Law's Knoxville neighbor) convened a discussion group on "Corporate and Financial Reform in the Trump Administration." I was grateful to be asked to participate. In addition to me, BLPB co-bloggers Josh Fershee and Marcia Narine Weldon, my UT Law coworker Brian Krumm, Securities Law Prof Blog editor Eric Chaffee, and University of Houston Law Center colleague Darren Bush were among the discussants.
Each of us came with issues and questions for discussion. Each of us offered reflections. Recently made, currently proposed, and possible future changes to business regulation were all on the table. I wish this session had been held earlier in the program, since many had left before the Sunday morning sessions (and we were competing with, among other enticing alternatives, a discussion session on marijuana regulation). However, we honestly had more than enough to discuss as among the seven of us, in any case.
I had to leave the session early to attend the SEALS board meeting. But before I left, I took some notes on topics relating to my interest in and potential future work on regulatory reform. I continue, for example, to be interested in the best approaches to reducing and streamlining regulation. (See my posts here and here.) A few additional outtakes follow.
Uncertainty about the direction of federal regulatory policy was a common frustration in the discussion. I alerted folks to this article in The New York Times (published online before the session yesterday morning), which makes that point, among others, using my home state of Tennessee to illustrate. I suggested that the President's tendency to make general, high-level promises and statements without addressing their potential to conflict (which I described as continued campaigning) makes it hard to divine policy direction.
The group also prognosticated about the "repeal of Dodd-Frank," the effects of budget cuts on executive branch powers to regulate, the fate of the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2017, or SMARTER Act (yet another bill with a too-cute acronym), and the potential for patent troll legislation. Although there was spotty confidence that Congress could marshal support for certain initiatives, in general, the discussants were not bullish on Congress's ability to engage in significant regulatory reform in areas within the purview of our research.
At one point, Eric, Marcia, and I got excited about visioning a discussion session for SEALS 2018. The topic: "Cryptocurrencies, Block-Chain, Bitcoin, Initial Coin Offerings: What Law Teachers Need to Know." The session would cover what law instructors teaching such varied courses as contracts, securities regulation, legal tech, torts, etc. need to know about financial technology as it evolves. Does that sound interesting? If so, let me know. Perhaps you'd like to participate . . . . A short paper (3-5 pages) would be required of participants to help generate discussion and facilitate administration. We would hope to get participants with a variety of teaching backgrounds and research agendas.
Finally, in response to a prompt from me, there was some discussion on the role of academics in regulatory reform in the current environment. No particular path was advocated, but a number of possible ideas were discussed and warnings sounded. On the cautionary front, it was noted that some law faculty have had open records requests made for their email messages (and other materials) relating to politically charged topics or viewpoints.
Are you engaged in work that implicates reform in business regulation? If so, share your views or concerns in the comments.