Monday, July 28, 2014
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania has posted a legal studies and business ethics professor opening. As you may suspect, Wharton has an extremely strong legal studies faculty. More information from the announcement is quoted below.
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania invites applications for tenured and tenure-track positions in its Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics. The Department has eighteen full-time faculty who teach a wide variety of business-oriented courses in law and ethics in the undergraduate, MBA, and Ph.D. programs and whose research is regularly published in leading journals. The Wharton School has one of the largest and best-published business school faculties in the world. In addition, the school has a global reach and perspective, as well as an interdisciplinary approach to business issues (embracing ten academic departments and over twenty research centers).
Applicants must have either a Ph.D., J.D., or both, from an accredited institution (an expected completion date no later than July 1, 2016 is acceptable) and a demonstrated commitment to scholarship in business ethics, business law, or a combination of the two fields. Specific areas of potential focus for hiring include corporate governance, normative ethics related to business, social impact/sustainability, securities regulation, and health law/bioethics. The appointment is expected to begin July 1, 2015.
Please submit electronically your letter of introduction, c.v., and one selected article or writing sample in PDF format via the following website by November 1, 2014: APPLY. Some decisions for interviews will be made before the deadline, so candidates are encouraged to apply early.
The University of Pennsylvania is an equal opportunity employer. Minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, protected veterans are encouraged to apply.
Monday, July 21, 2014
As I promised on Friday, I am posting a question and answer segment with Larry Cunningham, author of the forthcoming book: Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values. Larry will be guest blogging with us this week to talk more about the interesting findings he shares in the book and their implications for business and the research, teaching, and practice of business law.
Q: Why did you write this book and what did you find?
A: Widespread praise for Warren Buffett has become paradoxical: Buffett set out to build a permanent institution at Berkshire Hathaway and yet even great admirers, such as Steven Davidoff, doubt that the company can survive without him. I found that viewpoint intriguing since companies who are identified with iconic founders often have trouble after a succession, as Tom Lin has written. I wanted to investigate how the situation will look for Berkshire after Buffett leaves the scene, collapse and breakup or prosperity coupled with continued expansion? What I found was a culture so distinctive and strong, that the company’s future is bright well beyond Buffett.
Q: How did you reach that conclusion? What was your research method?
A: I focused on Berkshire’s fifty operating subsidiaries, which define the company today, representing 80 percent of its value. Incidentally, that is a flip from decades passed, when 80 percent of Berkshire’s value resided in minority stock investments. I began with Buffett’s historical statements about those subsidiaries and Berkshire’s corporate culture, research that in some ways dates to the 1997 Cardozo Law Review symposium I hosted on Buffett’s shareholder letters, which developed into my book, The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America. Still, for this project, focusing on the subsidiaries, I gathered and studied specific information about each—biographies, autobiographies, research reports, encyclopedic entries, press releases, public filings. Then, with Buffett’s permission, I surveyed all current Berkshire subsidiary chief executives and interviewed many, along with former managers and large shareholders of subsidiaries. In addition, I surveyed a large number of Berkshire shareholders to gain additional insight and to make sure I was asking the right questions.
Q: What culture did you find, what common traits do the subsidiaries share?
A: That’s the striking discovery. As I profiled each subsidiary, a pattern emerged in which the same traits began to appear repeatedly, nine altogether, including budget-consciousness, earnestness, kinship, entrepreneurship, autonomy, and a sense of permanence. Not every subsidiary had all nine, but many did, and the vast majority manifested at least five or six of the nine. A portrait of Berkshire culture crystalized, one that is distinctive and durable. And that culture, I argue in the book, will allow the company to thrive even after Buffett’s departure.
The discovery is suggested by the book’s subtitle: The Enduring Value of Values. “Value of values” refers to how the traits that bind Berkshire’s subsidiaries all share a common feature: all are intangible virtues that managers transform into economic gain. The most general manifestation of the “value of values” occurs in business acquisitions when the exchange of economic values measured using traditional standards leaves a wide gap—a price higher or lower than economic value.
A salient example from Berkshire’s history concerns Bill Child, patriarch of his family home furnishings company, RC Willey. He sold the company to Berkshire for $175 million, declining rival offers as high as $200 million. Why? Because his family valued the managerial autonomy and sense of permanence that define Berkshire culture.
The book contains more than one hundred examples of myriad ways that Berkshire subsidiaries translate intangible qualities into economic value, whether in research & development, customer service, employee compensation and benefits, corporate finance, or internal policies and practices.
Q: What makes the value of values enduring?
A: By reaping returns on capital from intangible virtues, Berkshire practices a philosophy of capitalism that does well by doing good, is sensitive but unsentimental, lofty yet pragmatic, and public-spirited but profitable. This attitude is neither altruistic nor moralistic, but practical, economic, and long-term. It’s a way of doing business that matches today’s zeitgeist, with its sense of stewardship and fair play, and also has a timeless horizon, as business leaders from Robert Mondavi to John Mackey of Whole Foods champion variations on these themes.
Q: What is the audience for the book?
A: Everyone involved in shaping American business: managers, entrepreneurs, owners, shareholders, directors, policymakers, scholars of corporate stewardship—and business lawyers and business law professors, of course. It’s a broad audience because Berkshire’s approach is distinctive but not inimitable and valuable yet underappreciated.
Q: What surprises did you find?
A: Many, mostly concerning the various subsidiaries, but several rising to the level of Buffett and Berkshire. As a recent headline in USA Today put it, “New Book Rewrites Buffett Legacy in Three Ways.” The book explains why Buffett’s place in American history is even more significant than currently assumed. Besides being a “legendary investor,” as he is often identified by journalists, Buffett has built a formidable corporation, demonstrated unsung managerial prowess, and chartered a course for American capitalism that widens the meaning of “value investing.”
While everyone knows that Buffett owes a lot to Ben Graham, his investments teacher at Columbia Business School, this book also makes clear his debt on the management side to Tom Murphy, the legendary corporate icon and head of ABC who is now a Berkshire director. When I asked Buffett who should write the foreword to this book, he instantly suggested Tom, and I’m grateful that Tom accepted the invitation—his foreword alone is worth the price of the book!
Q: Care to give us a thumbnail sketch of the book’s outline?
A: Sure. The opening chapters cover Berkshire’s origins and foundations, with surprises even for those most familiar with this terrain, including rich connections between Berkshire’s early acquisitions and the conglomerate today. While Berkshire appears vast, diverse, and sprawling, this synthesis of corporate culture shows instead a close-knit organization linked by discrete values.
The middle chapters, the heart of the book, take a series of deep dives into fifty Berkshire subsidiaries to illuminate each of the traits and how they give Berkshire its identity and destiny. I was delighted that, when circulating the manuscript for comment among Berkshire devotees, even the most avid readers found new facts, fresh insights, and a whole new way of thinking not only about Berkshire but about Buffett.
The closing chapters reflect on what Berkshire’s corporate culture means for Buffett’s legacy. They explore the elaborate succession plan at Berkshire, which most people misunderstand, and identify challenges Berkshire will face. I also draw specific lessons for investors, managers, and entrepreneurs who can benefit from Berkshire’s distinctive approach—lessons that business lawyers and policymakers will want to learn as well.
Q: Can Berkshire Beyond Buffett be assigned for any university classes?
A: Yes, and I think it will be a good companion to The Essays of Warren Buffett, which has been adopted at many law and business schools for courses on corporate governance, investments (portfolio management), and mergers & acquisitions. This book would suit those courses as well as courses in business ethics and corporate social responsibility. I am planning a seminar next spring in which these two books will be on the reading list, along with other contemporary books offering fresh examinations of venerable themes, such as Eric Orts’ Business Persons; Lynn Stout’s Shareholder Value Myth; or Curtis Milhaupt & Katharine Pistor’s Law & Capitalism.
Q: Berkshire Beyond Buffett appears to be full of lessons and important principles. Which do you propose to explore for us during the coming week?
A: I’m looking forward to sharing insights on topics such as corporate governance, corporate purpose, and succession planning. Among the book’s many lessons, these will likely be of greatest interest to readers of the Business Law Prof Blog, and I thank you for the opportunity to introduce the book and these themes here this week.
Q: Thanks so much, Larry. Those certainly are all topics that interest me (and infuse my ongoing scholarship and teaching). I look forward to your posts this week.
A: You're welcome. I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I have learned.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I recently received notice of a legal studies position opening at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. Their needs include a professor who can teach the general business law course (legal environment), as well as employment and labor law courses.
More information, from the school, is available after the break.
Below is the information that I received this morning regarding a one-year Visiting Distinguished Service Faculty in Business Law position at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas (MN). In April, I spoke at a social enterprise conference at the school and was quite impressed with the facilities, faculty members, and students.
The Department of Ethics & Business Law in the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas has an opening for a one-year position as a Visiting Distinguished Service Faculty in Business Law, for the 2014-15 academic year. This position will involve teaching three courses (including International Business Law) each semester. To apply (and for more information about this position), visit this site: https://facultyemployment-stthomas.icims.com/jobs/1252/visiting-distinguished-service-faculty-in-business-law/job, and submit an online application (two letters of recommendation to be sent separately). Additional questions can be directed to the search committee chair, Dale Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Friday, July 11, 2014
Troy University (in Troy, AL) has posted notice of a legal studies professor opening. (Confusingly, the heading of the posts says "assistant/associate professor" and the body of the post says "full-time, tenure-track," but the body of the post also says that the position is for a "lecturer.")
More information at the link above or after the break.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Screening of applications begins September 15, 2014.
Applications can be sent to email@example.com or
Department of Business Law or College of Business Administration and Economics
California State University Northridge
Northridge, CA 91330-8375
More information here.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Previously, I have written about making MOOCs more effective and online v. in-person classes. Today, I am writing about MOOCs, online classes in general, and the future of education. This will be a relatively short post because, of course, I don’t know what the future holds. But, after the break, I will take a few guesses based on what we are already seeing.
Friday, June 20, 2014
I’ve recently returned from taking a course on negotiation at Harvard Law School. This was an in-person course where I was a student, which gives me something to compare my MOOC experiences to as I address the topic of online v. in-person classes. I provide a few of my thoughts on the topic after the break.
Friday, June 6, 2014
For those interested in the Academy of Legal Studies in Business ("ALSB") conference in Seattle (August 4-7), the deadline to upload papers is June 29, and early-bird conference registration ends on July 1.
More information is available at the ALSB website. The ALSB conference is the national conference for legal studies professors in business schools, though I believe that interested practitioners and law professors would also be welcome.
Hope to see some of our readers in Seattle.
If you were designing a massive open online course (a "MOOC"), how would you make it as effective as possible?
This week I am not looking at how MOOCs compare to in-person courses, but rather I am looking at how various MOOCs compare to one another.
A few of my thoughts are below.
Studio Filming. Some of the earlier MOOCs, like Ben Polak's Game Theory class at Yale, simply set a camera in the room and recorded the class. Even with a dynamic professor like Polak, this strategy did not seem to fit the medium well. Later MOOCs, like Northwestern University's Law & Entrepreneurship course, were filmed specially for the MOOC, in what appears to be a studio of sorts. The studio, edited versions of a course seem to produce a much more efficient and engaging experience. To increase engagement even further, some have asked whether celebrities like Matt Damon should teach MOOCs (presumably from a script prepared by professors in the field)...or maybe professors should take acting classes.
Deadlines and Certificates. It is well-known that the completion rate for MOOCs is miserable. The completion rate has been reported as less than 7%. I imagine that rate would increase significantly if the online courses were not free. Also, while I have not seen the data, I think MOOCs with deadlines for various sections of the course and courses with certificates encourage students to stay on track and finish classes they start.
Assessments. I preferred the MOOCs that had online questions as you went along with the video lectures (every 10-15 minutes) rather than those that just had questions at the end, but this can be overdone if it cuts up the flow of the lecture too much. I did not mind if the MOOC had questions during both the presentations and at the end of the unit, and it was probably good to be tested on the same material twice.
Focused Discussion Boards. The discussion boards I have seen on MOOCs seem to be mostly a waste of time, at least the way the vast majority of the boards are currently configured. The discussion boards are mostly the blind leading the blind and there is too much noise and too little value. Perhaps the discussion boards could be divided by geographic location or level of education. I’d be interested in a discussion board of MOOC users in middle Tennessee (perhaps the group would meet in person once or twice) or in a discussion board of academics from around the world. Perhaps they could still have the “all-comers” discussion board for those who wanted to engage with the entire class, but I would have found a more limited and selected group to be more useful.
Next week, I will talk about MOOCs v. In-Person Courses. The New York Times recently looked at this issue in the context of Harvard Business School; I will dig into the issue and the article next week.
Friday, May 30, 2014
Last year, Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen said “15 years from now half of US universities may be in bankruptcy.”
So, I guess half of our schools have about 14 more years to go, according to Christensen.
At least part of the reason for Clayton Christensen’s prediction is the rise of online education, including so-called “massive open online courses” or “MOOCs.”
Recently, I completed a few MOOCs, mostly because I wanted to learn about MOOCs first-hand. I also picked subjects that interested me.
The courses I took were:
I will share some of my thoughts on MOOCs during my normal Friday posting slot, in three installments: (1) Effective MOOCs? (2) MOOCs v. In-Person Courses, and (3) MOOCs and the Future of Higher Education.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Babson College (near Boston, MA), well-known for their entrepreneurship program, recently posted a tenure track assistant or associate professor of business law position.
Friday, May 23, 2014
Much has been written about the protests at various schools over proposed commencement speakers. I am not sure I have much original to add to the many thoughts that have been shared on the issue (See, e.g., Jonathan Adler (Case Western), The Volokh Conspiracy; Stephen Carter (Yale), Bloomberg; Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Tennessee), USA Today; Editorial Board, Washington Post), but the controversy did make me think of the dystopian society in The Giver where “Sameness” rules.
One of my younger sisters recently accepted a job with Walden Media, which is producing the upcoming film version of The Giver with The Weinstein Company (shameless plug - in theatres August 15, 2014). My sister was amazed that I hadn’t read The Giver, as it is supposedly regular middle school reading, but it looks like the book (published in 1993) was not in the curriculum in time for me. Yes, I feel older every day.
Anyway, in a single day a few weeks ago, I read a borrowed copy of The Giver, which was a nice break from legal treatises and law review articles. While I understand the “Elders” in The Giver were trying to protect people by ridding the community of differences, pain, conflict, and ridicule, it made for a shallow existence.
Some of my most valuable moments in school occurred when I faced views I disagreed with and had to grapple with them. As a professor, the most valuable conversations are often those with knowledgeable people with opposing opinions and ideas. Going forward, I hope we will encourage engagement with those who see things differently than we do and continue the search for a more nuanced understanding of complex issues.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Before I went to law school, I worked in the video game industry, first for the industry trade association, the Interactive Digital Software Association (now known as the Entertainment Software Association). From there I moved to public relations for the public relations firm Golin/Harris in Los Angeles where my work was focused on product launches for Nintendo. (This was from 1998-2000.) In those jobs, I had the chance to work with some amazing people (and clients), and the experience has served me well, even as I went on to become a lawyer and professor.
One of those people was the managing director of the Los Angeles Golin/Harris office when I was hired, Fred Cook, who is now the CEO of Golin/Harris. Fred recently wrote a book that has caught the attention of the business world and is a top-25 book for corporate customers according to 800-CEO-READ. His book is Improvise: Unconventional Career Advice from an Unlikely CEO, and it’s worth a look.
Here’s an excerpt:
People entering the business world today are a commodity. They’ve gone to the same schools, taken the same courses, read the same books, and watched the same movies. Every summer they’ve dutifully worked at internships in their chosen field in hopes of landing the perfect job the day they graduate from college.
. . . .
While a college education is a prerequisite for most jobs, a life education should also be required. School delivers information. Life delivers ideas. Ideas that drive business. Twitter was an idea. Red Bull was an idea. South Park was an idea.
When I participate on industry panels, someone in the audience always asks what attributes make for a successful employee. My fellow panelists rightly answer that they’re looking for skilled writers, articulate communicators, and aggressive self-starters. My response? I would trade ten of the above for one person with a big idea. But brilliant ideas aren’t created in a vacuum. They’re formed by the experiences we have and the people we meet.
As usual, what Fred is talking about here is broader than just business or public relations. It applies to business lawyers, and non-business lawyers, and law professors, and pretty much everyone else who has a life to live and goals for a fulfilling career. We all have the chance to find our passion, if we’re willing to live, take chances, and find out what we are capable of doing.
Fred’s unique path to being a CEO is rather similar to my path to becoming a law professor in that it would be reasonable to call me an “unlikely law professor.” I was a mostly terrible undergraduate student at three major universities, and I did not go to a top-14 law school. I did well in law school (and practice) and that made it such that when I went on the job market a leading business law academic told me that my candidacy was “plausible.” And so it was. Fred is an unlikely CEO, perhaps, but he is most certainly an appropriate one. I like to think the same is true for me in my role.
My life experiences helped me in practice and helped me get my job as a law professor, and those experiences continue to help me as a lawyer, a scholar, and a teacher. By having had a career outside the law, I have additional experiences that inform my thinking about the law and the legal profession. I know (among other things) what it means to hire and fire people, make media calls, and schedule caterers for huge events. Of course, lawyers can do these things, too, but it’s different as a lawyer.
Beyond that, the people you meet along the way inform you, and guide you, and help you see the kind of person you want to be. I’m thankful for the large number of good people who have been a part of my work-life experience so far, and Fred is one of those people. I’m glad he has written a book that will share some of his insight with a much broader audience. Check it out.
Friday, May 9, 2014
You must all realize that we are in a service business. In this day and age of faxes, emails, internet, etc. clients expect you to be accessible 24\7. Of course, that is something of an exaggeration — but not much. . . . Unless you have very good reason not to (for example when you are asleep, in court or in a tunnel), you should be checking your emails every hour. One of the last things you should do before you retire for the night is to check your email. That is why we give you blackberries.
- Bill Urquhart (Quinn Emanuel)
A recent Mother Jones article reminded me of the infamous e-mail from law firm partner Bill Urquhart, a portion of which is quoted above. While Mr. Urquhart’s e-mail may have been a bit blunt, I think it captures the e-mail checking expectations at many of the top law firms.
My e-mail checking habits were formed at two large law firms and those habits have carried over into my current position as a professor. E-mail checking is reflexive for me. I don’t really want to know how many times a day I check my e-mail, but I would bet it is over 25x on most days.
As the Mother Jones article and the studies it cites suggest, it seems that productivity could be increased and stress could be reduced through a more healthy relationship with e-mail. Personally, I’d love to find that perfect balance where I am appropriately accessible and responsive, but also have blocks of time to focus on larger projects.
What do our readers think? How often should lawyers check (and respond to) their e-mail? Professors?
Sunday, May 4, 2014
"Schools Try Philosophy to Get B-School Students Thinking Beyond the Bottom Line" http://t.co/umFzkKP3vF— Stefan Padfield (@ProfPadfield) May 1, 2014
May 4, 2014 in Business School, Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Current Affairs, Financial Markets, Securities Regulation, Social Enterprise, Stefan J. Padfield, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, April 18, 2014
Earlier this semester, Belmont undergraduate students competed for a total of $8,000 in a business plan competition. The first place team, What’s Hubbin’, won $5,000. Law firm Baker Donelson was one of the sponsors.
Each competition team was required to provide: (1) an executive summary, (2) a description of the business (including mission and vision), (3) plans for marketing, operating, finances, and growth, and (4) financial statements (historical, if applicable, and projected). The finalists presented in front of a team of judges, which included local attorneys, investors, and entrepreneurs. The event also attracted a strong audience of faculty members (myself included), staff, and students.
Given the evolving legal industry, and the increasing focus on Law & Technology and Law & Entrepreneurship, I could see business plan competitions like this one being a success at law schools (perhaps in coordination with their sister business schools).
One of the three What’s Hubbin’ team members is Makenzie Stokel. She is also one of my undergraduate business law students. I asked her if she would mind answering a few, short questions about the competition and about her team's business, which is one of the competition’s businesses that is already up and running. My questions and her answers are below.
HM: Will you please briefly describe your business, What’s Hubbin’, for our readers?
MS: What's Hubbin’ is a website that promotes music here in Nashville. We highlight local artists and promote events going on around town. Our site allows users to "hub" (RSVP) events and artists and have an organized profile of their music preferences. We also allow users to filter events based on their preferences to ensure that everyone finds something that they will want to do. We host events around Nashville and will be hosting a day-long festival at the end of this month. Our goal is to have everything music related all in one place so users don't have trouble finding events or discovering new music. You can find us online at www.whatshubbin.com and on Twitter at @WhatsHubbin
HM: How has participating in the competition helped your business?
MS: Participating in the business plan competition has helped promote our business a great deal. We have had multiple blogs write about us, and were even named Belmont's hottest start-up by Southern Alpha. It has really helped us get our name out there with the Belmont community and provided some validation of our business.
HM: How has participating in the competition enriched your college experience, especially your experiences in your classes?
MS: I am so glad that the What's Hubbin' team was able to participate in this competition. The competition definitely helped us with our public speaking skills, which is necessary to have in classes and after college. It also forced us to think quickly when answering the judges’ questions. When preparing for the questions that we thought they might ask, we had to determine who was best at the different aspects of our business. The competition, and the start-up process part in general, has been more relevant to some classes than others. Business Law and Foundations of Entrepreneurship are two examples of relevant classes. Also, as a result of being involved in What’s Hubbin’, I have seen ways to apply what I am learning in classes outside of school.
HM: Congratulations and best of luck.
MS: Thank you!
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Back in August, Bloomberg reported that the legal costs for the six largest U.S. banks since 2008 totaled over $100 billion. (Yes, billion with a "B.") Bloomberg included settlement amounts in that huge number, as well as fees to lawyers.
The financial and emotional costs of litigation, not to mention the tremendous amount of time required, amazes me. Litigation has its place, but the vast majority of disputes eventually settle and many times all parties would have been better off settling earlier using some form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
A former colleague recently pointed me to the University of Missouri School of Law's listserv for ADR educators.
I know many of our readers only teach business law courses, but adding negotiations to my teaching package has made me see the various intersections between negotiations and business law. This semester, I set aside some time in my business law classes to discuss a bit of the negotiations literature, and the students seemed to appreciate it. I just signed up for the listserv, so I cannot speak to its quality yet, but I do think more business law professors should consider exploring the world of ADR.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Washburn University has posted an opening for an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies.
I know not everyone can move to Kansas, but when I was first on the market, I even applied to jobs like this one in Kuwait. If you really want to be a professor, you can't let location get in your way. Granted, I know I would have had to use my best negotiating skills to convince my wife to move to Kuwait (or Kansas).
The details of the Washburn University position can be found after the break.