Thursday, July 19, 2018

General Advice for Academically Motivated 1Ls

This summer, I have met with a few of my pre-law advisees who will start their 1L years in a few weeks. 

While I have blogged on general advice for students before, I decide to memorialize some of my specific advice for 1Ls.

Of course, every student is different, and this advice may be amended a bit, depending on the student's situation and goals. This advice, for example, assumes a desire to perform well academically. I encourage my co-bloggers to chime in through the comments or in separate posts. My co-blogger Josh Fershee (West Virginia) has already authored two 1L advice posts, which are worth consulting, here and here. It should go without saying that I did not follow all of my own advice, but I wish I had. 

  • Move into your house or apartment a few weeks early. Moving in early may not be possible for every student, but it is worth doing if you can. Getting settled before the work starts to pile up can help you avoid getting behind early.  
  • Live alone or with friends with similar schedules. I had some law school friends who lived with non-law students, usually people they knew from college who moved to the same town for a job. In many of these situations, the law school students were distracted from their studies and did not do particularly well in their 1L classes. I had the good fortune of living with an incredibly studious fellow 1L during my first year, and we provided each other with some positive peer pressure. Roommates don't have to be law students, but I would choose someone, like a medical resident, who is likely to be focused on work more than social outings (and is unlikely to throw a Tuesday night party at your place). 
  • Ask for advice and outlines from 2Ls and 3Ls. Early in the semester seek out the 2L and 3Ls who did well in your professors' classes. You can use law review membership as a proxy, and there may be a list of the students who got the highest grade in each class (usually called "booking" or "CALI-ing" the class). Ask those good students (politely) for their outlines and for tips about taking exams from your professors. Use those outlines--I suggest you get at least 3 for each class--as models and to check your own outlines, but not as an excuse to avoid producing your own outlines. The courses are likely to change a bit each semester, esp. if there is a new edition of the casebook, or if the professor switches casebooks, and much of the value of an outline comes from constructing it yourself. That said, having those other outlines to reference can be quite valuable. 
  • Consider the pros and cons of study groups. I decided against traditional study groups in law school because the two groups I briefly tried seemed to be (1) wasting a lot of time on law school gossip and (2) sharing their understudied ignorance. There were probably some better study groups, but I did not get invites to those, including one we called "the cult." My roommate and a few other fellow students did, however, form a hybrid group of sorts. We did not meet regularly, as many groups did, but we did share our outlines, and we analyzed practice exams together, which proved extremely helpful.
  • Make contacts and be professional. Both the student and professor contacts you make in law school can be invaluable in your career. Also explore the mentor programs through your law school to meet some practicing lawyers. Know that your reputation from law school may follow you into practice, so be professional even if some of your fellow classmates are not (and don't jump off a ferry boat at law prom).
  • Meet with your professors. I suggest meeting with each of your professors, in person, in the middle of the semester (and also after finals (and any midterms) to review your exams). The start of the school year is busy and you won't be ready to ask good, substantive questions yet. A month or more into the semester, however, you should meet with your professors, ask for general advice, and pose some questions about your outline. You can also ask your professors to review a practice test answer,though I would limit the review to a single issue (or maybe two). 
  • Do practice tests. Answering a lot of practice tests (and analyzing the answers with smart friends to see what I missed) helped me immensely in law school. If your professor provides practice tests, those are the best ones to use, but you can also find practice tests from other schools posted online (or through your friends at other law schools). For some of the practice exams we would just issue spot, but I think it is important to fully write out, and time, at least one full practice exam per class.  
  • Start your outlines early and start actively studying 6 weeks out. Start your outlines very early, in the first week or two of school. Outlining is much more important than briefing the cases, in my opinion, though I would attempt to brief cases for a while too, so you learn that skill. I quickly learned I preferred book briefing to briefing on a Word document. About 6 weeks before finals started, my friends any I started actively studying for finals. Obviously, we had been outlining and reading all along, but at 6 weeks until the first exam we really started studying. We would devote a week to each subject--flushing out our outlines and doing practice exams. We still kept up with our other classes, but we devoted 1-2 hours per day to the subject of that week. In the week before finals, we spent one day on each class, finalizing the outlines and writing out practice exams under the time limits of that class. 
  • Have a life outside of law school, but try to minimize additional responsibilities. Some law students only focus on academics during law school, especially in the first year, and I think this is a mistake. But it is also a mistake, in my book, to overcommit yourself, given that your 1L grades will be the focus of employers looking to hire summer associates in the fall of your 2L year. Intramural flag football, for example, helped keep me sane. Also, I typically did no law school related work from Friday evenings until Saturday evenings (though this practice was mostly abandoned close to finals). While it is important to have one or two non-law outlets, I also know law students who got overextended with extracurriculars and regret that choice during interview season.  
  • Eat well, exercise regularly, and get consistent, sufficient sleep. It is difficult to do all three of these in law school, but well worth it if you can. Packing some healthy food the night before can help you from living out of the snack machine. Most law schools are attached to universities that have nice gyms. And if you do not get consistent, sufficient sleep you will quickly see diminishing returns on your studying. 

Good luck and enjoy the process!

July 19, 2018 in Haskell Murray, Law School, Pre-Law | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

American Business Law Journal ("ABLJ") - Call for Submissions

Earlier today, I received this call for submissions from the American Business Law Journal ("ABLJ"). I published with the ABLJ in 2017 and had a fabulous experience. The manuscripts are blind/peer-reviewed, something we need more of in the legal academy, in my opinion. I found the substantive comments to be of a much higher quality than one gets from a typical law review, and, unlike the practice of some peer-reviewed journals, the ABLJ published my manuscript in a timely manner. 

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The American Business Law Journal is seeking submissions of manuscripts that advance the scholarly literature by comprehensively exploring and analyzing legal and ethical issues affecting businesses within the United States or the world. Manuscripts analyzing international business law topics are welcome but must include a comprehensive comparative analysis, especially with U.S. law.

 As most of you know, the ABLJ is a triple-blind, peer-reviewed law journal published by the Academy. The ABLJ is available on Westlaw and Lexis, and ranks in the top 6% of all publications in the Washington & Lee Submissions and Ranking list by Impact Factor (2016) and in the top 1% of all peer-edited or refereed by Impact Factor (2016).  The Washington & Lee list ranks the ABLJ as the Number One Refereed/peer-edited “Commercial Law” and “Corporations and Associations” journal.

Because of a physical page limit imposed by our publisher Wiley, we ask that manuscripts not exceed 18,000 – 20,000 words (including footnotes). Submissions in excess of 25,000 words (including footnotes) may be returned without review. We also require that manuscripts substantially comply with the Bluebook: A Uniform Method of Legal Citation, 20th ed. For more details, please review our Author Guidelines at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291744-1714/homepage/ForAuthors.html

Because the peer-review process takes from four to six weeks to complete, we strongly suggest that you submit to the ABLJat least a few weeks prior to submitting to other journals. The peer-review process is not conducive to expedite requests (though we will attempt to honor them if possible), so if you give us a head start we will more likely be able to complete the review process.

While we gladly accept submissions through ExpressO and Scholastica, save yourself the submission fee and submit directly to the ABLJ at abljsubmission@alsb.org.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact the Managing Editor, Julie Manning Magid, at jmagid@indiana.edu.

 

Thank you and we look forward to reviewing your scholarly work.

 

May 10, 2018 in Business Associations, Business School, Call for Papers, Haskell Murray, Law Reviews, Law School, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 30, 2018

Social Enterprise and the Traditional For-Profit Corporation

My essay on the use of traditional for-profit corporations as a choice of entity for sustainable social enterprise firms was recently published in volume 86 of the UMKC Law Review.  I spoke on this topic at The Bryan Cave/Edward A. Smith Symposium: The Green Economy held at the UMKC School of Law back in October.  The essay is entitled "Let's Not Give Up on Traditional For-Profit Corporations for Sustainable Social Enterprise," and the SSRN abstract is included below:

The past ten years have witnessed the birth of (among other legal business forms) the low-profit limited liability company (commonly known as the L3C), the social purpose corporation, and the benefit corporation. The benefit corporation has become a legal form of entity in over 30 states. The significant number of state legislative adoptions of new social enterprise forms of entity indicates that policy makers believe these alternative forms of entity serve a purpose (whether legal or extra legal).

The rise of specialty forms of entity for social enterprise, however, calls into question, for many, the continuing role of the traditional for-profit corporation (for the sake of brevity and convenience, denominated “TFPC” in this essay) in social enterprises, including green economy ventures. This essay argues that TFPCs continue to be a viable—and in many cases desirable or advisable choice of entity for sustainable social enterprise firms. The arguments presented are founded in legal doctrine, theory, and policy and include both legal and practical elements.

Somehow, I managed to cite to four BLPB co-bloggers in this single essay: Josh, Haskell, Stefan, and Anne.  Evidence of a business law Vulcan mind meld?  You decide . . . .  

Regardless, comments, as always, are welcomed as I continue to think and write about this area of law and practice.

April 30, 2018 in Anne Tucker, Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Haskell Murray, Joan Heminway, Joshua P. Fershee, Social Enterprise, Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Horton on Pre-Securities Act Prospectuses

Brent Horton of Fordham University's Gabelli School of Business recently posted his American Business Law Journal article on pre-Securities Act prospectuses.

For interested readers, the abstract is below and the article can be downloaded here.

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Some legal scholars—skeptics—question the conventional wisdom that corporations failed to provide adequate information to prospective investors before the passage of the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act). These skeptics argue that the Securities Act’s disclosure requirements were largely unnecessary. For example, Paul G. Mahoney in his 2015 book, Wasting A Crisis: Why Securities Regulation Fails, relied on the fact that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) imposed disclosure requirements in the 1920s to conclude that stories about poor pre-Act disclosure are “demonstrably wrong”. (Likewise, Roberta Romano argued in Empowering Investors that “there is little tangible proof” that disclosure was inadequate pre-Securities Act.) 

This Article sets out to determine who is correct, those that accept the conventional wisdom that pre-Securities Act disclosure was inadequate, or the skeptics?

The Author examined twenty-five stock prospectuses (the key piece of disclosure provided to prospective investors) that predate the Securities Act. This primary-source documentation strongly suggests that—contrary to the assertions of skeptics—pre-Act prospectuses did fail to provide potential investors with financial statements, as well as information about capitalization and voting rights, and executive compensation.

March 26, 2018 in Business School, Corporations, Haskell Murray, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

University of North Carolina Wilmington - Assistant/Associate Professor Business Law Position

 
The University of North Carolina-Wilmington recently posted an open position for an assistant/associate professor of business law.
 
Details about the position are posted below the break. 
 
 

Continue reading

March 6, 2018 in Business Associations, Business School, Haskell Murray, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Stemler and Edelman on Federal Limitations on Regulating Online Marketplace

Indiana University legal studies professor Abbey Stemler sent along this description of an article she co-wrote with Harvard Business School Professor Ben Edelman. They recently posted the article to SSRN and would love any feedback you may have, in the comments or via e-mail. 

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Perhaps the most beloved twenty-six words in tech law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 has been heralded as a “masterpiece” and the “law that gave us the modern Internet.” While it was originally designed to protect online companies from defamation claims for third-party speech (think message boards and AOL chat rooms), over the years Section 230 has been used to protect online firms from all kinds of regulation—including civil rights and consumer protection laws.  As a result, it is now the first line of defense used by online marketplaces to shield them from state and local regulation.

In our article recently posted to SSRN, From the Digital to the Physical: Federal Limitations on Regulating Online Marketplaces, we challenge existing interpretations of Section 230 and highlight how it and other federal laws interfere with state and local government’s ability to regulate online marketplaces—particularly those that dramatically shape our physical realities such as Uber and Airbnb.  We realize that the CDA is sacred to many, but as Congress pays renewed attention to this law, we hope our paper will support a richer discussion about what the CDA should and should not be expected to do. 

January 29, 2018 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Current Affairs, Haskell Murray, Research/Scholarhip, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Comment Responses, Benefit Corps., and Planned Obsolescence

On a previous post about Etsy dropping its B corp. certification, because of the B Lab requirement to convert to a public benefit corporation, I received the following comments:

  • "I simply believe that, in most ways, being a public benefit entity is more about a marketing strategy than a business plan." (Tom N.)
  • "I had my students read the NY Times articles on Etsy as a part of their last class in my clinic this semester (thanks to my fellow Joe Pileri who alerted me to the article). We represent social enterprises in the clinic so this was a perfect wrap-up. The questions that I posed to my students: what social enterprise isn't a soft target like Etsy? Won't they all eventually cave to profit maximization?" (Alicia Plerhopes)
  • "I agree with To[m] N ... Also, no theory of CSR actually requires an explicit weighting of the various stakeholders of a firm, so in reality, if the interests of shareholders are receiving the greatest weight, then Milton Friedman was right all along!" (Enrique)

I wanted to respond to these thoughtful comments, briefly, above the line.

Tom, I think the marketing benefits of becoming a PBC, currently, are weak. How many of your non-lawyer friends know what a public benefit corporation is? Even among lawyers, if they know what the form is, their knowledge is usually limited, and they are usually quite skeptical. But I agree, that simply becoming a PBC, without more, does not get you very far and will not substitute for a good business plan. Becoming a PBC, however, may help in takeover situations and it may help change the shareholder wealth maximization norm among directors.

Alicia, You are right, I think, that publicly traded benefit corporations would often be soft targets. That said, their PBC status, in connection with other takeover defenses, could help them fend off unwanted advances. Given the history of social enterprise sell-outs, however, one does wonder how long these companies, public or private, can stay on mission.

Enrique, You may be correct on most theories of CSR not requiring an explicit weighting of stakeholder interests, but the benefit corporation statutes do generally require “consideration” or “balancing” of stakeholder interests. You are right, however, that the statutes do not give instructions on how much weight is to be given to each stakeholder group. The benefit corporation statutes do generally say that the purpose of benefit corporations must be to materially benefit “society and the environment;” and some of the statutes say/suggest that shareholders can not be the predominant interest.

While I am not a big proponent of the current benefit corporation statutes, I do commend the drafters for moving the conversation forward and taking action. And hopefully we can agree that something needs to be done about the current state and focus of many American businesses. This holiday season confirmed to me how cheaply most things are made these days and how poor customer service has become. Toys from my childhood era are outlasting most of the toys my wife and I buy our children. Appliances now seem to last 1/5 of the time they lasted a generation ago. Ignoring or mistreating the customer has become the rule. Even Apple, which I think of as one of the positive exceptions, is now being accused on planned obsolescence, and their customer service has declined over the years, in my view. Maybe the above makes sense from a purely financial perspective; maybe customers buy mainly on price. But I would argue that what made Apple great was holding themselves to an even higher standard of quality and innovation than their customers did initially. I am not sure if benefit corporation law will help businesses make more quality products, and treat their employees and customers better, but I do think we should give businesses the latitude to explore.

January 19, 2018 in Corporate Governance, CSR, Current Affairs, Haskell Murray, Social Enterprise | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Overnighters - Purpose, Priorities, and Process

The-overnighters

Over the break, I watched the documentary Overnighters on Netflix. 

In short, the documentary chronicles the story of a pastor who opens the church to migrant workers in North Dakota during the energy boom in that state. The pastor faces pushback from his congregation, neighbors, and city officials who do not appreciate having these men - some with criminal records - housed so close. 

In my opinion, the pastor is right, and the congregants are wrong, about the purpose of a church. The church should be in a community to serve, especially its needy neighbors. That said, the logistics of how to serve may be up for debate. Also, it is at least arguable that by serving the migrant workers the church strayed from serving its congregation. It would have been helpful if the church had a clear statement on its purpose and priorities. Many social enterprises have extremely vague purpose statements, which I do not think are very helpful. Benefit corporations are often required by statue to "benefit society and the environment." A purpose statement like that would not have helped the church in Overnighters much at all. A statement that showed that those in need would be prioritized over the comfort of the congregants (or vice-versa) would have been more helpful.  

The more valid complaint from the congregation, is the claim that an appropriate process for initiating the housing program was not followed. Sometimes even if stakeholders agree on the ultimate action taken by the organization, the stakeholders will still be upset if they are not included, or listened to, in the decision making process. I think this complaint is likely also found in businesses. Assuring the proper processes are set forth and followed can be quite important for businesses, especially in closely-held and family run businesses, where the stakeholders are deeply invested. 

The documentary is depressing and does not paint a pretty picture of human nature, but I do think things would have worked out a bit better for most of those involved if purpose, priorities, and process were paid more attention.  Of course, that is much easier written than done. 

January 12, 2018 in Corporate Governance, Current Affairs, Haskell Murray, Real Property, Social Enterprise | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 5, 2018

New Year’s Resolutions: 2018

As I have written about in past posts (see, e.g., here and here), I fall among those who do New Year’s resolutions.

In 2017, I was 25 out of 34 (73.5%). (Yes, I set 34 resolutions; I may be crazy).

The biggest realization I had this year was that I struggled with resolutions that required daily/weekly tracking. A daily/weekly resolution has at least three issues: (1) if screw up once, you’ve blown the resolution for the year, (2) just tracking the resolution takes habit formation and daily/weekly time, and (3) creating a daily/weekly habit is generally difficult.

So, instead of a resolution to run 5x a week, I had better luck with an achievement goal like “run a mile under 5 minutes by the end of the year.” If the achievement goal was tough enough to require roughly 5x a week running then the achievement goal could get you to basically the same place as the weekly goal without the meticulous tracking requirement and with allowing occasional time off. The bigger achievement goals, however, may need to be broken into smaller steps.

My toughest resolution for 2018, and I “only” have 22 resolutions this year, will probably be “at least 15 minutes of quiet/reflection/prayer before any screens (computer, TV, phone, etc.)” I think I had to structure this one as a daily goal, as its importance is tied up in getting each day off to a good start. We will see how it goes - so far so go, but we are only 5 days deep in 2018. It is possible that I will not do this every day, but the “stick” is that I don’t get any internet use that day either. 

Best of luck to all in 2018, whether you choose to make resolutions for the year or not.

January 5, 2018 in Current Affairs, Haskell Murray, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Exploring Taking a Legal Studies Professor Position in a Business School?

We are at a time of year where schools are starting to make offers for professor position.

In business schools, the hiring process is more of a year-round affair than it is in law schools, but business schools have started to learn that they need to hire on the same schedule as law schools if they want to compete for the best legal academic talent. Also, a few business schools, such as the University of Georgia this year, have started to attend the AALS hiring conference.

As I explained a few years ago, working as a law professor in a business school can be a good bit different than working in a law school.

Business school legal studies positions have become more popular in recent years as law school hiring has diminished and as many law schools face financial difficulties. Personally, I have fielded dozens of calls from prospective academics and current law school professors, asking advice about getting a job teaching law in a business school.

The business school legal studies positions are quite diverse – vastly different pay scales, vastly different teaching loads, vastly different research expectations, and some are tenure-track and some are not. As such, I think it is smart to explore some of the following before accepting a legal studies professor position in a business school.

  • What are the research expectations, especially how does the school view law reviews? (Some business schools disregard or heavily discount law reviews because they are not “peer-reviewed” in the traditional sense. There are peer-reviewed legal journals, like the American Business Law Journal, the Journal of Legal Studies Education, and the regional ALSB related journals, but there are relatively limited publication slots. Also, business schools may use metrics for scholarship not common among law schools, and you should attempt to uncover the formal and informal tenure requirements before accepting a job.)
  • Does the business school provide WestLaw/Lexis access? (Most schools at least have Lexis, but they may or may not have access to all the law resources you need for your research.)
  • Does the business school have an ExpressO and Scholistica accounts? If not, will they reimburse for your submissions?
  • What is the teaching load/schedule? Ask not only about the number of hours, but also the number of courses, as business schools seem to have more 2-credit courses, especially at the MBA level than law schools. Also, business schools have night, weekend, and online classes, especially at the MBA level, more frequently than law schools.
  • Are there other tenure-track legal studies faculty members? If so, those faculty members likely will have fought most of the research battles mentioned above, though standards do change over time and resources are cut, so it is still worth asking those questions. I am the only tenure-track legal studies faculty member at the Massey College of Business at Belmont University, and I do miss discussing my research with knowledgeable colleagues on my hall. That said, having a law school at Belmont and nearby Vanderbilt has helped some, though I don’t make it over to either school nearly enough.
  • What is the policy on research stipends? (This varies significantly at business schools).
  • What is the policy on travel? (If you do not have legal studies colleagues in the school or nearby, you will definitely want to travel to the various ALSB conferences for work-shopping your articles and for exchanging ideas with fellow legal academics).
  • What administrative responsibilities will you have? At some schools, full-time legal studies professors are responsible for managing the legal studies adjuncts, which can take a considerable amount of time. (I do not). At some schools, legal studies professors serve as pre-law advisers to undergraduate business students. (I do, and I enjoy it, though it does mean quite a number of extra meetings and reference letters, especially in the late fall and early spring.)
  • Does the school have a pre-law major or minor or certificate program? (If so, this may give you some additional job security and may allow you to teach a variety of courses, instead of section after section of Business Law/Legal Environment).
  • Is the school AACSB accredited? There are multiple accrediting bodies in the business school space, but AACSB is clearly the best and most of the non-AACSB schools do have a bit of a second-class reputation. Also, I believe Business Law/Legal Environment is generally a required course at most (if not all) AACSB schools.   

Always happy to discuss teaching law in a business school with those who have additional questions. Good luck to everyone on the market.  

December 29, 2017 in Business Associations, Business School, Haskell Murray, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Imitation: Children and Students

One of the things I have noticed in raising two young children is how both my son and my daughter are much more likely to do what I do than they are to do what I say.

For example, I’ve always encouraged my children to be active, but it wasn’t until I started running that they really started being interested in running themselves. Now, they stage mock races, love their “running shoes,” and ask which foods will make them fast. On the less positive side, when they see me looking at my phone or eating sweets, they want to do the same thing, regardless of what I say is best for them.

Similarly, I had a professor in law school who insisted that we be on-time to class. He explained all the reasons why a habit of punctuality would benefit us in our careers, but then proceeded to be late a number of times himself. He attempted to explain this away, telling us “the partners in the law firm may be late, but that doesn’t excuse lateness from you.” Nevertheless, the students did not seem to respect the professor’s cautionary tale about being late because of the own actions, and it became difficult for him to hold the line he had drawn.

While all of us are human and flawed, the above is a good reminder to me. Our children and our students are watching us, and we are likely to have a bigger impact through our example than through our words.  

December 22, 2017 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Law School, Lawyering, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, December 15, 2017

Doping, Russia, and Morality Clauses

Recently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that Russia will be banned from the 2018 Winter Games for systemic doping

If you have not watched Icarus (on Netflix) on this topic, I recommend it. The documentary starts slowly, and the story-line is a bit disjointed, but the information uncovered about state-sponsored doping in Russia is fascinating and depressing.  Even if you are not a sports fan, you may be interested in the parts in the documentary related to the alleged involvement of the Russian government. 

It has been a busy semester, but I am working (slowly) on a journal article on morality clauses in sports contracts. Doping is often specifically mentioned in these contracts, and doping is a sad reality in many sports. Doping also betrays, I think, improper prioritization. While we are starting to see more attention paid to courage and compassion in sports, "winning" has often been promoted as the top priority. Hopefully we will see more people (and  countries) who compete with passion, but also with integrity.  

December 15, 2017 in Contracts, Current Affairs, Haskell Murray, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Masterpiece Cakeshop and the Political Supreme Court Justices

I have had an opportunity to read the oral argument transcript (112 pages) from Tuesday's oral argument in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. 

One of the first things that struck me was that it seemed pretty clear that most of the justices have already taken sides. This is not surprising, but it does sadden me. 

I wish that judges, especially justices on the Supreme Court of the United States, were really trying to get the "correct" answer rather than reasoning backward from some predetermined outcome.  Perhaps that is naive. Perhaps that is not possible. My former Constitutional Law professor warned of some of the political issues with the Supreme Court and recently wrote about the issues in his book Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court Is Not a Court and Its Justices Are Not Judges. 

Only Justice Kennedy is thought to be "in play" in this case. All intelligent people of integrity, however, should be aware of their biases, open to the possibly that their initial thoughts are wrong, and open to persuasion based on the law and the facts. Maybe that is too much to ask. Or maybe on of the "reliably conservative" or "reliably liberal" justices will surprise us in this case. In any event, I am definitely looking forward to reading this opinion; it will undoubtedly bring significant consequences.   

(As an aside, corporate law scholars may be interested in pages 96-98 regarding who is speaking - Masterpiece Cakeshops (the entity) or Jack Phillips (the individual)). 

 

December 8, 2017 in Business Associations, Haskell Murray, Lawyering | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Etsy to Drop B Corp Certification

I have written about Etsy in at least three past posts: (1) Etsy becoming a certified B Corp, (2) Etsy going public, and (3) Delaware amending it's public benefit corporation laws (likely, in part, to help Etsy convert to a PBC, which Etsy would need to do to maintain its certification because it incorporated in a non-constituency statute state that does have a benefit corporation statute (Delaware)).

In May, some questioned whether Etsy would keep its social focus after a "management shakeup." In September, B Lab granted Etsy an extension on converting to a PBC. That article claims that B Lab would reset the deadline for conversion to 2019, if Etsy re-certified as a B Corp by the end of 2017 and would commit to converting to a PBC.

The 2019 date was 4 years from the 2015 Delaware PBC amendments (instead of 4 years from Etsy's first certification). One of B Lab's co-founder reportedly said that the statutory amendments were needed because the original 2013 version of the Delaware PBC law was "perfectly fine for private companies and unworkable for public companies."

Just a few days ago, however, Etsy announced that it would abandon its B Corp certification and not reincorporate as a Delaware PBC. Josh Silverman (CEO since the May shakeup) is quoted in that New York Times article as saying "Etsy’s greatest potential for impact is helping sellers — many of whom are women running small businesses — increase their sales." He sounds a lot like Milton Friedman's article The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. Mr. Silverman also said that Etsy "had the best of intentions, but wasn’t great at tying that [sales] to impact....Being good doesn’t cut the mustard.”

Other than the New York Times article, the press around Etsy's announcement to let its B corp certification lapse seems to be relatively light. In the short-term at least, this move probably hurts B Lab and the social enterprise community more than it hurts Etsy given how few big companies are certified. In the long-term, however, Etsy may experience significant negative consequences, as it seems that this move to drop its certification is being done in conjunction with Etsy shedding a lot of the culture that made it a beloved company.  

Update: Perhaps Etsy is bracing for competition from Amazon. (Or maybe, and this is complete speculation on my part, Etsy is trying to make itself a more attractive acquisition target for Amazon, if Amazon realizes it cannot replicate Etsy on its own. Now, it is debatable whether Etsy is more valuable with or without its B Corp certification). 

December 1, 2017 in Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Delaware, Haskell Murray, Social Enterprise | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tenure-Track Legal Studies Position at Oakland University (Michigan)

From an e-mail I received today. Tenure track legal studies professor position at Oakland University (Michigan). Details below the page break. 

Continue reading

November 29, 2017 in Business School, Haskell Murray, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017: In Memory of Septima Holmes Porcher Murray

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About five months ago, on June 18, 2017, my paternal grandmother, Septima "Buddy" Holmes Porcher Murray, passed away at age 91. At the time, she was my last living grandparent.

Relevant to this blog, she also provided me a place to live during my second and third years of law school, as she transitioned, slowly on my account, from Atlanta to Charleston. 

Buddy was one of the most positive and generous people I knew. On this Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for the time I had with Buddy, and that she was able to meet and interact with her great-grandchildren a number of times.

While I am still processing her death, I have decided to post something I wrote shortly after hearing the news and also read at her funeral. These thoughts on Buddy and her life are posted below the break. Buddy's formal obituary is posted here

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November 24, 2017 in Haskell Murray, Law School | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pre-law advisors, the GRE, and U.S. News

Paul Caron (Pepperdine) reports that Wake Forest Law has become the 10th law school to accept the GRE. The law school will continue to accept the LSAT.  

Those ten law schools (in chronological order, from earliest adopter to most recent adopter) are:

This shift to accepting the GRE at Wake Forest Law has, apparently, been in the works for over 18 months, and Christine Hurt (BYU) had a nice post on some of the early discussion. Around that time, in February of 2016, Arizona became the first law school to accept the GRE.

Like Christine Hurt, I think this move to including the GRE is probably a good thing, especially if the GRE is shown to be just as predictive as the LSAT. The GRE is offered much more frequently than the LSAT and some pre-law students will have already taken the GRE. Also, I am generally in favor of competition, and the LSAC/LSAT has had a monopoly on law school admissions tests for quite a long time.  

It looks like U.S. News is already converting GRE scores into comparable LSAT scores for ranking purposes. If U.S. News had not acted, this would have been a pretty big loophole for law schools to exploit. 

For pre-law advisors, like me, I think we should definitely let students know of the GRE option at some schools. The GRE may be an especially good option for students who are likely to go to graduate school, but are not yet entirely sure which direction they will go. It also may give students more options if the LSAT's limited testing dates do not work for them. Finally, I don't think the GRE has logic game questions, which some students really struggle with, and therefore students could avoid those questions with the GRE. On the downside, only about 5% of ABA-accredited schools currently accept the GRE. That said, I expect the number of law schools accepting the GRE to rise rapidly over the next few years.

November 17, 2017 in Current Affairs, Haskell Murray, Law School, Pre-Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Deadlines and Extensions

After my daughter Allie's first stay at Vanderbilt Children’s hospital, with what we think was a virus that attacked her lungs, Allie seemed to return to normal for a couple weeks before having another episode. This time, we spent 4 days in the hospital. The praise I lavished on Vanderbilt last time was less deserved on this trip, mostly blamed, staff repeatedly claimed, on a new computer system. (Note: In a place like a hospital, don’t you think you should provide adequate training and work out the bugs before launching a new computer system?)

In any event, Allie is back home again, though we are still working with doctors to uncover the precise cause.

Obviously, my daughter’s health is much more important than work, but I do need to continue to work (if for no other reason than health insurance...we would be bankrupt without health insurance). Given that my focus has been diverted, I have had to push on quite a number of deadlines -- 4 writing assignments and 2 speaking engagements -- and have been slower than normal in returning graded work. Thankfully, students, editors, and colleagues have been quite understanding.

As a professor and a person, I am a big believer in meeting deadlines, so it has been difficult for me to ask for extensions. When asking for extensions, I do think students and professors can “cry wolf” too often, and then, when true emergencies do arise, it becomes harder for the other side to happily grant the extension. This situation has made me even more committed to hitting every deadline I can, so that when I do ask for an emergency extension, people know it is for a valid reason.

Also, this situation has reminded me of the need to create some margin in my life. This past month was going to be a busy one, even without my daughter’s situation. It was doable, but all time needed to be available and efficiently used. Without margin, many projects were impacted, in domino fashion. Now, this situation with my daughter was unexpected and extraordinary and difficult to plan for, and I am not suggesting that we all run at 50% capacity in case of an emergency, but I do think I could have benefited from having built a bit more flexibility into my schedule. (Note: As a law review adviser, I recommended that my students to build some of this margin into their publishing schedule for professors. For example, tell the professors you need the article about a month before you actually do because various issues almost invariably arise.)

In any event, I am quite appreciative to all those who have been so understanding, and I am catching up. Barring any future issues, I think I will be back in the grove and on schedule in about 10 days or so, just in time to gear up for finals.  

November 10, 2017 in Business Associations, Business School, Haskell Murray, Law Reviews, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Aliens and Public Benefit Corporations

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A former student brought this fundraising website to my attention: To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences ("TTS Academy). (Image above from a Creative Commons search).

This article describes TTS Academy as follows: "Former Blink-182 singer and guitarist Tom DeLonge is taking his fascination with/conspiracy theories about UFOs to their logical conclusion point: He's partnering with former government officials on a public benefit corporation studying 'exotic technologies' from Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) that the consortium says can 'revolutionize the human experience.'" 

Remember the Blink-182 song Aliens Exist

I couldn't make this up. And I did spend some time trying to determine if it was a joke, but TTS Academy's 63-page offering circular suggests that it is no joke. And TTS Academy appears to have already raised over $500,000

According to the organization's website, Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 fame is in fact the CEO and President. Supposedly, DeLonge has teamed with former Department of Defense official Luis Elizondo who confirmed to HuffPost that the TTS Academy is planning to "provide never before released footage from real US Government systems...not blurry, amateur photos, but real data and real videos." Rolling Stone reports that "DeLonge has long been interested in UFO and extraterrestrial research. After parting ways with Blink-182 in 2015, he delved deeper into the subject, releasing the book Sekret Machines: Gods earlier this year and he's also working on a movie that is related to those interests called Strange Times." TTS Academy is a Public Benefit Corporation, formed in Delaware. 

The TTS Academy website states: "To The Stars Academy is a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), which means our public benefit purpose is a core founding principle of our corporate charter alongside the traditional goal of maximizing profit for shareholders." Hmm... How does one pursue a public benefit purpose and seek to maximize profit for shareholders? A main point of benefit corporations is liberate companies from the perceived restrictions of shareholder wealth maximization. 

The website continues: "Our public purpose: Education - Community - Sustainability - Transparency. PBCs have enjoyed a surge in popularity as the public becomes more interested in corporate responsibility, transparency, and more recently, the concept of impact investing.* It’s clear that an expanding portion of the general population is looking to make an impact on the world around them, not only through volunteering, or speaking out on social media, but through financial decision making.** We believe raising resources through Regulation A+ crowdfunding will allow us to expedite expansion of TTS Academy’s PBC initiatives, like promoting citizen science, enhancing traditional education with science, engineering and art-related programming, supporting veterans and their families, and promoting underrepresented people in film." Color me skeptical. 

As Professor Christine Hurt noted way back in 2014/15, the crowdfunding and social enterprise circles may overlap significantly. Professor Hurt wrote, "for-profit social entrepreneurship may find equity crowdfunding both appealing and available. For-profit social entrepreneurs may be able to use the crowdfunding vehicle to brand themselves as pro-social, attracting individual and institutional cause investors who may operate outside of traditional capital markets and may look for intangible returns. Just as charitable crowdfunders rebut the conventional wisdom that donors expect tax-deductibility, prosocial equity crowdfunders may rebut the conventional wisdom that early equity investors expect high returns or an exit mechanism." Not sure if she, or any of us, predicted exactly this type of company. 

October 27, 2017 in Business Associations, Corporations, Crowdfunding, Haskell Murray, Social Enterprise, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Atlantic Law Journal - Call for Articles

Below the line is a call for papers that I just received.

The Atlantic Law Journal is a double-blind peer-reviewed law journal, and it is one of the regional publications of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business.

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The Atlantic Law Journal is now open for submissions and is soliciting papers for its upcoming Volume 20 with an expected publication date in summer 2018.  The Atlantic Law Journal is listed in Cabell's, fully searchable in Thomson-Reuters Westlaw, and listed by Washington & Lee.   The journal is a double-blind peer-reviewed publication of the Mid-Atlantic Academy of Legal Studies in Business (MAALSB).  Acceptance rates are at or less than 25%, and have been for all our recent history.  We publish articles that explore the intersection of business and law, as well as pedagogical topics. Please see our website at http://www.atlanticlawjournal.org/submissions.html for the submission guidelines, the review timeline, and more information regarding how to submit.  Submissions or questions can be sent to Managing Editor, Evan Peterson, at petersea [at] udmercy.edu.

October 20, 2017 in Business Associations, Business School, Call for Papers, Haskell Murray | Permalink | Comments (0)