Monday, January 16, 2017

In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, we again celebrate the life of a great American, Martin Luther King, Jr.  His legacy is felt in so many ways in this country every day in the year.  But today, we call him and his work out for special attention.

Many have noted that Martin Luther King, Jr. had messages for those engaged in and with business.  I have gathered some of those observations, as interpreted by a variety of folks, for today's post.  Perhaps you have favorite quotes or stories of your own from Dr. King's life that have touched your business law teaching or practice.  If so, please share them in the comments.  But here are some of the nifty ones I found.

It also seems significant to note that business awards (including these out in Colorado) have been named after Dr. King in that same spirit.

As I prepare to lead a faculty-staff-student discussion group on Wednesday at The University of Tennessee College of Law (an annual MLK week tradition at UT Law that I mentioned in a prior Martin Luther King Day post), I am reminded of the many aspects of life--including professional life--that Dr. King's actions and words touch.  They represent a rich gift to us all.  Although I aspire to incorporate much of his wisdom into my daily life, I remain grateful to have a day each year made for thoughtful reflection on how his work affects my own (and the rest of my life, too).

January 16, 2017 in Current Affairs, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Consensus: The Future of U.S. Insider Trading Regulation Remains Unclear after Salman

The members of Friday's AALS discussion group about which I wrote last week came to an inescapable--if unsurprising--overall conclusion: the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in the Salman case does little to address major unresolved questions under U.S. insider trading law.  That having been said, we had a wide-ranging and sometimes exciting discussion about the Court's opinion in Salman and what might or should come next.  I found the discussion very stimulating; a great way to start a new semester--especially one in which I am teaching Securities Regulation and Advanced Business Associations, both of which deal with insider trading law.  I will offer brief outtakes from the proceedings here for your consideration and (as desired) comment.

John Anderson and I framed three questions around which we structured the formal part of the discussion session (which commenced after brief introductory comments from each participant).

  • What, if anything, does the Court's Salman opinion say by its silence?
  • What, if anything, is left of the Second Circuit opinion in the Newman case after Salman?
  • Is law reform needed after Salman, and if so, should we continue to permit it to occur through further, incremental judicial developments or should reform be undertaken through legislation or regulatory rule-making or guidance?

The questions drew both divergent and overlapping responses.  It would take too long to try to capture it all, but a recording of the discussion will be available, if all went well with the technology, etc., on the AALS website in the coming months.

I want to pass on here, however, two key reading recommendations that Don Langevoort made to all of us that offer a basis for responding to all three questions--and more.  First, Don recommended that we all read the Solicitor General's Brief for the United States in the Salman case.  From this, he suggested (among other things), we can review issues not addressed in Salman and get an idea of how the U.S. government--at least at present--is processing those issues as across the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Second, he recommended reading the First Circuit opinions in the Parisian and McPhail cases--two criminal prosecutions alleging insider trading violations (tipping and trading) by members of a golf group.  These opinions also address important issues not taken up by Salman--including how the "knew or should have known" language from the Court's Dirks opinion relates to both the mens rea requirement in criminal insider trading actions (which require proof of a "willful" violation under Section 32(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended) and misappropriation actions--and may offer windows on future judicial decision making.

No doubt, insider trading law in the United States remains a bit of an open book in many respects after Salman.  Given that, I may report on more from this AALS discussion session in future posts.  But I will leave the matter here, for now, having posed a few questions for your consideration and passed on some good advice from a trusted colleague who has followed U.S. insider trading law for many years . . . .

 

January 9, 2017 in Conferences, Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Postscript to my Earlier Post on Salman and Insider Trading Law

Last week, friend of the BLPB Steve Bainbridge published a great hypothetical raising insider trading tipper issues post-Salman.  He invited comments.  So, I sent him one!  He has started posting comments in a mini-symposium.  Mine is here.  Andrew Verstein's is here.  There may be more to come . . . .  I will try to remember to come back and edit this post to add any new links.  Prompt me, if you see one before I get to it . . . .

Postscript (January 5, 2017): James Park also has responded to Steve's call for comments.  His responsive post is here.

Postscript (January 9, 2017, as amended): Mark Ramseyer has weighed in here.  And then Sung Hui Kim and Adam Pritchard added their commentary, here and here, respectively.  Steve collects the posts here.

January 2, 2017 in Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (1)

The Salman Case and the Future of Insider Trading

Tomorrow, I am headed to the Association of American Law Schools ("AALS") Annual Meeting in San Francisco (from Los Angeles, where I spent NYE and a bit of extra time with my sister).  I want to highlight a program at the conference for you all that may be of interest.  John Anderson and I have convened and are moderating a discussion group at the meeting entitled "Salman v. United States and the Future of Insider Trading Law."  The program description, written after the case was granted certiorari by the SCOTUS and well before the Court's opinion was rendered, follows:

In Salman v. United States, the United States Supreme Court is poised to take up the problem of insider trading for the first time in 20 years. In 2015, a circuit split arose over the question of whether a gratuitous tip to a friend or family member would satisfy the personal benefit test for insider trading liability. The potential consequences of the Court’s handling of this case are enormous for both those enforcing the legal prohibitions on insider trading and those accused of violating those prohibitions.

This discussion group will focus on Salman and its implications for the future of insider trading law.

Of course, we all know what happened next . . . .

The discussants include the following, each of whom have submitted a short paper or talking piece for this session:

John P. Anderson, Mississippi College School of Law
Miriam H. Baer, Brooklyn Law School
Eric C. Chaffee, University of Toledo College of Law
Jill E. Fisch, University of Pennsylvania Law School
George S. Georgiev, Emory University School of Law
Franklin A. Gevurtz, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law
Gregory Gilchrist, University of Toledo College of Law
Michael D. Guttentag, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
Joan M. Heminway, University of Tennessee College of Law
Donald C. Langevoort, Georgetown University Law Center
Donna M. Nagy, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Ellen S. Podgor, Stetson University College of Law
Kenneth M. Rosen, The University of Alabama School of Law
David Rosenfeld, Northern Illinois University College of Law
Andrew Verstein, Wake Forest University School of Law
William K. Wang, University of California, Hastings College of the Law

The discussion session is scheduled for 8:30 am to 10:15 am on Friday, right before the Section on Securities Regulation program, in Union Square 25 on the 4th Floor of the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.  The AALS has posted the following notice about discussion groups, a fairly new part of the AALS annual conference program (but something SEALS has been doing for a number of years now):

Discussion Groups provide an in-depth discussion of a topic by a small group of invited discussants selected in advance by the Annual Meeting Program Committee. In addition to the invited discussants, additional discussants were selected through a Call for Participation. There will be limited seating for audience members to observe the discussion groups on a first-come, first-served basis.

Next week, I will post some outtakes from the session.  In the mean time, I hope to see many of you there.  I do expect a robust and varied discussion, based on the papers John and I have received.  Looking forward . . . .

January 2, 2017 in Conferences, Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Conflicts of a Different Kind . . . .

Ten days ago, I posted on conflicts of interest and the POTUS.  Today, friend-of-the-BLPB Ben Edwards has an Op Ed in The Washington Post on conflicts of a different kind--those created by brokerage compensation based on commissions for individual orders.  The nub:

In the current conflict-rich environment, Wall Street gorges itself on the public’s retirement assets. While transaction fees are costs to the public, they’re often juicy paydays for financial advisers. A study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers found that Americans pay approximately $17 billion annually in excess fees because of such conflicts of interest. The high fees mean that the typical saver will run out of retirement money five years earlier than he or she would have with better, more disinterested advice.

The solution posed (and fleshed out in a forthcoming article in the Ohio State Law Journal, currently available in draft form on SSRN here):

[S]imply banning commission compensation in connection with personalized investment advice would put market forces to work for consumers. This structure would kill the incentive for financial advisers to pitch lousy products with embedded fees to their clients. While the proposal might sound radical, Australia and Britain have already banned commission compensation linked to investment advice without any significant ill effect. While some might pay a small amount more under such a system, the amount of bias in advice would go down, likely more than offsetting the additional cost with investment gains.

I have been following the evolution of Ben's thinking on this and recently heard him present the work at a faculty forum.  I encourage folks interested in the many areas touched on (broker duties, broker compensation, conflicts of interest generally, etc.) to give it a read.  This is provocative work, even of one disagrees with the extent of the problem or the way to solve any problem that does exist.

December 29, 2016 in Corporate Finance, Current Affairs, Financial Markets, Joan Heminway, Legislation, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Pressing Forward to the New Year in Business Litigation

The end of the calendar year brings many things--among others: the holidays (and I hope you have enjoyed and are enjoying them), the release of the last Oscar-contender movies, and the publication of oh-so-many "top ten" lists.

Apropos of the last of those three, I admit to being a bit proud, in a perverse sort of way, about spotting a "top ten" and commenting on it here on the BLPB.  Back in May and June, I blogged about consumer litigation against Starbucks (my daughter's employer) involving coffee--too much ice, too hot, etc.  Apparently, those types of legal actions are among the "Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2016."  Specifically, two of those lawsuits against Starbucks (the one for too much ice and another alleging too much steamed milk) are #1 on the list.  Another consumer suit takes the #2 spot--a legal action asserting that a lip balm manufacturer's packaging is misleading (specifically, making customers beehive there is more product in the tube than there actually is).  I continue to maintain (while acknowledging that consumer class action litigation can be useful when employed in cases that present a true danger to the consuming public), as I noted in my May post, that there are better ways to handle customer complaints.  

Back in the spring, Weil, Gotshal shared some observations on litigation trends.  Many of the underlying matters on which the co-authors of the report comment remain unresolved, and many involve actual or potential business litigation (including consumer litigation involving supply-chain-related or False Claims Act allegations).   Certainly, a new U.S. Supreme Court appointee may make a difference in business law cases accepted by the Court this year . . . .

What will 2017 bring in business litigation?  Any predictions?  Now is the time to stake your claim!

December 26, 2016 in Current Affairs, Food and Drink, Joan Heminway, Litigation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Conflicting Interests of the POTUS through a Corporate Lawyer's Eyes

In her post on Saturday, co-blogger Ann Lipton offered observations about possible legal issues resulting from the President-Elect's tweets regarding public companies.  She ends her post with the following:

So, it's all a bit unsettled. Let's just say these and other novel legal questions regarding the Trump administration are sure to provide endless fodder for academic analysis in the coming years.

Probably right.

Today, I take on a somewhat related topic.  I briefly explore the President-Elect's conflicting interests through the lens of a corporate law advisor.  For the past few weeks, the media (see, e.g., here and here and here) and many folks I know have been concerned about the potential for conflict between the President-Elect's role as the POTUS, public investor and leader of the United States, and his role as "The Donald," private investor and leader of the Trump corporate empire.

The existence of a conflicting interest in an action or transaction is not, in and of itself, fatal or even necessarily problematic.  In a number of common situations, fiduciaries have interests in both sides of a transaction.  For example, a business founder who serves as a corporate director and officer may lease property she owns to the corporation.  What matters under corporate law is whether the fiduciary's participation in the transaction on both sides results in a deal made in a fully informed manner, in good faith, and in the bests interests of the corporation.  Conflicting interests raise a concern that the fiduciary is or may be acting for the benefit of himself, rather than for and in the best interest of the corporation. 

Corporate law generally provides several possible ways to overcome concerns that a fiduciary has breached her duty because of a conflicting interest in a particular action or transaction:

  • through good faith, fully informed approval of the action or transaction (e.g., after disclosure of information about the nature and extent of the conflicts) by either the corporation's shareholders or members of the board of directors who are not interested in the transaction; and
  • through approval of a transaction that is entirely fair--fair as to process and price. 

See, e.g., Delaware General Corporation Law Section 144.  Yet, if I believe what I read, no similar processes exist to combat concerns about actions or transactions in which the POTUS has or may have conflicting interests.  In particular, to the extent one does not already exist, should a disinterested body of monitors be identified or constituted to receive information about actual and potential conflicting interests of the POTUS and approve the action or transaction involving the conflicting interests?  Perhaps the Office of Government Ethics ("OGE") already has something like this in place . . . .  If it does, then both the public media and I are underinformed about it.  While there seems to be OGE guidance on the President-Elect's nominees for executive branch posts (see, e.g.here and here) and on overall executive branch standards of conduct (see here), I have not found or read about anything applicable to the President-Elect or POTUS.

In making these observations, I recognize that our federal government is different in important ways from the corporation.  I also understand that the leadership of a country/nation is different from the leadership of a corporation.  Having said that, however, conflicting interests can have similar deleterious effects in both settings.  The analogy I raise here and this overall line of inquiry may be worth some more thought . . . .

December 19, 2016 in Ann Lipton, Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Current Affairs, Family Business, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

U.S. Supreme Court Simply and Elegantly Affirms Dirks in Salman

In a relatively brief opinion released this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit's judgment in Salman v. United States.  The decision of the Court was unanimous.  The big take-aways include:

  • doctrinally, the Court's complete, unquestioning reliance on the language in Dirks v. Sec's Exch. Comm'n, 463 U. S. 646 (1983), as to when the sharing of information through a tip is improper, and therefore a basis for insider trading liability (quoting from the text on page 662 of the Dirks opinion: “'[T]he test,' we explained, 'is whether the insider personally will benefit, directly or indirectly, from his disclosure.'”);
  • factually, the emphasis placed by the Court on the value proposition represented by the information-sharing between the close brothers, Maher and Michael--that information passed on with the knowledge that it will be traded on was effectively a substitute for a monetary gift ("In one of their tipper-tippee interactions, Michael asked Maher for a favor, declined Maher’s offer of money, and instead requested and received lucrative trading information."), noting "[a]s Salman’s counsel acknowledged at oral argument, Maher would have breached his duty had he personally traded on the information here himself then given the proceeds as a gift to his brother.";
  • constitutionally, the Court finding no vagueness ("Dirks created a simple and clear 'guiding principle' for determining tippee liability") and also rejecting on a similar basis application of the rule of lenity; and
  • procedurally, because of the Court's ruling on the merits, the Court finding the jury instructions entirely proper.

The opinion offers some clarity on the application of U.S. insider trading doctrine by unanimously affirming the "gift" language from Dirks in a solid way: "To the extent the Second Circuit held that the tipper must also receive something of a 'pecuniary or similarly valuable nature' in exchange for a gift to family or friends, . . . we agree with the Ninth Circuit that this requirement is inconsistent with Dirks."  Having said that, the Court also hints in several places that the facts in these cases do matter.  The following quote is particularly relevant in this respect:

Salman’s conduct is in the heartland of Dirks’s rule concerning gifts. It remains the case that “[d]etermining whether an insider personally benefits from a particular disclosure, a question of fact, will not always be easy for courts.” . . .  But there is no need for us to address those difficult cases today, because this case involves "precisely the ‘gift of confidential information to a trading relative’ that Dirks envisioned.”

In that context, the Court reminds us that "the disclosure of confidential information without personal benefit is not enough."  This, indeed, places continuing pressure on the nature of the relationship between the tipper and the tippee and other facts relevant to the transmission of the information, all of which must be ascertained and then proven at trial.  And so, it goes on . . . .

December 6, 2016 in Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation, White Collar Crime | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Last Class? Coggins to the Rescue!

Today, I share a quick teaching tip/suggestion.

I taught my last classes of the semester earlier today.  For my Business Associations class, which met at 8:00 am, I was looking for a way to end the class meeting, tying things from the past few classes up in some way.  I settled on using the facts from a case that I used to cover in a former casebook that is not in my current course text:  Coggins  et al. v. New England Patriots Football Club, Inc., et al.  Here are the facts I presented:

  • New England Patriots Football Club, Inc. (“NEPFC”), the corporation that owns the New England Patriots, has both voting and nonvoting shares of stock outstanding.
  • The former president and owner of all of the voting shares of NEPFC, Sullivan, takes out a personal loan that only can be repaid if he owns all of the NEPFC stock outstanding.
  • The board and Sullivan vote to merge NEPFC with and into a new corporation in which Sullivan would own all the shares.
  • In the merger, holders of the nonvoting shares receive $15 per share for their common stock cashed out in the merger.

From this, I noted that three legal actions are common when shareholders are discontented with a cash-out merger transaction: appraisal actions, derivative actions for breach of fiduciary duty, and securities fraud actions.  Shareholders in NEPFC brought all three types of action.  (Footnote 9 of the Coggins case and the accompanying text explain that.)  

Having just covered business combinations, including approval and appraisal rights, and wanting to address some new information about the process of derivative litigation, the facts from the case worked well.  I am sure there are other cases or materials that also could have done the job.  (Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.)  But adding a little football and conflicting interests to the last class seemed like the right idea . . . .

 

 

November 28, 2016 in Business Associations, Corporations, Joan Heminway, M&A, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Still Worried About Teaching Business Associations . . . .

Thanks to all who responded to my query two weeks ago on teaching corporate fiduciary duties.  I continue to contemplate your suggestions as I recover from the cold that has consumed me now for a week.  Don't catch this version of the common cold!  It's a bear.

Anyway, the weekend after I published that post, I presented at a super symposium on shareholder rights at the University of Oklahoma College of Law--"Confronting New Market Realities: Implications for Stockholder Rights to Vote, Sell, and Sue," hosted by the Oklahoma Law Review.  (I spoke on rights to sell securities purchased in an offering exempt from registration under the CROWDFUND Act, Title III of the JOBS Act.)  Although it was not part of the formal agenda for the symposium, I got a chance to chat informally with a group of folks at and after the conference, including our host, Megan Shaner, along with Jessica Erickson, Gordon Smith, and Vice Chancellor Travis Laster from the Delaware Chancery Court (among others) about fiduciary duty complexity.  All, even the Vice Chancellor, had sympathy, offering ideas for simplifying corporate fiduciary duty law (as opposed to merely the teaching of it) that made sense.  And it seems that among those of us in the academy, there are many ways this material currently is taught in an introductory Business Associations/Organizations or Corporations course.

Of course, I am not the only one worried about teaching the law of business associations.  In extended discussions on the topic, co-blogger Marcia Narine raised a great question.  In general, she asked how one might teach business associations law to a relatively small class.  I understand that she in the past has taught 60-75 students in a four-credit-hour course.  That's similar to my situation at UT Law.  I typically teach up to 72 students (although I teach a three-credit-hour-course).  But in the future, Marcia may teach as few as 30 students in her four-credit-hour offering.  

She noted that she doesn't want to overburden the students or herself, but she wants to think about doing things differently.  She floated the idea of more peer grading.  I suggested in response that my oral midterm exam becomes more palatable in a smaller class.  I also noted that I would generally use more skills training in that environment and maybe even introduce current events or group presentations (2-3 students in each group) over the course of the semester.  But I also allowed as how I wouldn't try too many things all at once.  In fact, I noted that she might be better off just deepening what she already does that works.

What ideas do you have?  Do some of you teach a Business Associations class that includes as few as 30 students?  Do you use any specific pedagogies or tools that may be especially useful in a course like Business Associations/Organizations--a basic doctrinal upper-division course--when taught to a 30-student class?  Do you have any tricks of the trade you would feel comfortable offering?  If so, please post them in the comments.

In other Business Associations teaching news, I requested and have received permission to increase my Advanced Business Associations offering to three credit-hours from two.  This is great news.  I use this course to focus in more on publicly held and closely held firms, business combinations, derivative and securities litigation, and social enterprise and corporate social responsibility topics.  I ask the students to describe and assess the interaction among policy, theory, doctrine, and practice skills in corporate governance.  I like to have the students read full cases and law review articles, in addition to teaching text and excerpts.  (And I now plan to add Ann Lipton's new book chapter to the reading list this spring for the part of the course in which we cover the importance of bylaw amendments to contemporary corporate governance.  Great timing.)  

Bottom line?  The course, structured this way, just felt too densely packed with only two hours per week of teaching time.  So, my last two-credit-hour version of the course will be taught this spring.  Then, I will revamp the syllabus to add the extra credit-hour for 2018.  Interestingly, it was my students who came to me originally asking for the change, because they wanted to pause more over some of the material.  I did, too.  So, now I am not worried about this any more.  One thing to take off the ever-growing list of Business Associations teaching worries . . . .

 

November 21, 2016 in Business Associations, Joan Heminway, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Teaching Corporate Fiduciary Duty Law; Teaching Complexity

Each year, I rethink how I teach fiduciary duties in the corporate law context in my Business Associations course.  My learning objectives for the students are both limited and involved.  On the one hand, there's little room in my three-credit-hour course for a nuanced understanding of all of the contexts in which corporate fiduciary duty claims typically occur.  In particular, I have determined to leave out the public company mergers and acquisitions context almost completely.  On the other hand, I find myself juggling uncertain classifications of duty components, explanations of seemingly mismatched standards of conduct and liability, and judicial review standards in and outside the Delaware corporate law context.  It's a handful.  It's teaching complexity.

Of course, fiduciary duty is not the only complex matter that one must teach in Business Associations.  But it is, for me, one of the topics I am least confident that I "get right" in my interactions with students in and outside the classroom.  Accordingly, as I again head toward the end of the semester, I find myself wondering whether I could have done--or could do--more with the students in my Business Associations course this semester.  This leads me to ask my fellow business law professors (that's you!) whether any of you have materials, teaching techniques, exercises (in-class or out-of-class), etc. that you find to be particularly effective in educating law students the basics and nuances of corporate fiduciary duties.  

So, have at it!  Share your corporate fiduciary duty teaching successes in the comments, if you would.  I am all ears.  I know that what you report will benefit me and others (including our students), and I hope that your comments will generate a continuing conversation . . . .

 

November 8, 2016 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Tricks and Treats: My October as a Law Professor

My October included some signifiant tricks and a bunch of parallel treats.  I will highlight but a few of each here.  They illustrate, in my view, the busy mid-semester lives that law professors may have.

The Tricks

It was a real trick for me to give three distinct presentations in three cities (two in person and one virtually) in a two-day period early in the month.  On the morning of October 6, I participated in a panel discussion at The Crowdfunding Conference in New York City (New York).  That afternoon, I jumped on a plane for Little Rock (Arkansas), where I gave a continuing legal education presentation on crowdfunding for the Arkansas Bar Association as part of a program on "Capital Raising Today and Securities Law Issues."  Finally, later that day, I was Skyped into a the North Carolina Law Review 2016 annual symposium in Chapel Hill (North Carolina) on "The Role of Law in Entrepreneurship," at which I presented a draft paper, forthcoming in the North Carolina Law Review, on the important role of business finance lawyers in entrepreneurial enterprise.  

It then was a trick to refocus my energy on faculty hiring a few days later.  That next week, I jetted off to Washington (DC) with my fellow Appointments Committee members and our Dean and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for a UT Law alumni reception and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) 2016 Faculty Recruitment Conference.  We were successful in interviewing a variety of folks for our two business law openings--one in the clinic and one in the doctrinal faculty.

After only a few nights home in my own bed, it was (again) a trick to haul my body into the car to drive to Lexington (Virginia) to participate in and attend the Washington and Lee Law Review's 2016 Lara D. Gass Annual Symposium, an event focusing on "Corporate Law, Governance, and Purpose: A Tribute to the Scholarship of Lyman Johnson and David Millon."  At that symposium, my presentation addressed shareholder wealth maximization as a function of firm-level corporate governance.  My essay on that topic will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Washington and Lee Law Review.

Before the next week was out, I accomplished yet another trick.  I drove up to Louisville (Kentucky) to offer my thoughts on current securities litigation issues for the Kentucky Bar Association 2016 Securities Law Conference.  I was asked to cover insider trading and liability under federal and state securities laws.  In fulfillment of this charge, I delivered a presentation entitled "Where There’s a Securities Market, There’s Fraud (and Other Misconduct): Hot Topics in Federal Securities Litigation."

My final October trick?  Fitting in my Business Associations oral midterm examinations and my Monday and Wednesday class meetings for Business Associations and Corporate Finance with all these trips.

The Treats

All of that effort was an investment, however.  The trips, presentations, and other interactions all yielded multiple benefits.  Most of them may be obvious, but I will list a few in any case.

  • I met lots of new and interesting folks from the crowdfunding industry, local bar associations, the AALS applicant pool, and the law academy (from the United States and abroad).
  • I got great feedback on my current work and new ideas, research avenues, and citation sources for my ongoing work.
  • I was able to honor two amazing colleagues, Lyman Johnson and David Millon.
  • I participated meaningfully in the important task of recruiting new faculty to UT Law.
  • I squeezed in some important family and personal time around the edges, including in attending the Knoxville Brewers Jam with my hubby (the tickets having been part of my anniversary gift to him back in August).

I am grateful for safe travels throughout the month.  Having said that, I admit that I am relieved all that travel and activity is over and done.  I look forward to a more calm November and a fun holiday season to follow.  In the mean time, however, I will continue to enjoy the fall, with pumpkins being among my favorite hallmarks of the season.

Bigstock-Pumpkin-Patch-68311816

October 31, 2016 in Conferences, Crowdfunding, Entrepreneurship, Joan Heminway, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Business Law Faculty Opening - Washington and Lee University School of Law

The Washington and Lee University School of Law seeks to hire a faculty member with research and teaching interests in the fields of corporate law, securities regulation, and regulation of financial industries. Our school has a long history of distinction in these areas, and we are excited to advance our trajectory with this new hire. In addition to this subject area focus, we look for an individual who will embrace and meaningfully contribute to our close-knit, collegial, and intellectually vibrant community.

We warmly invite applications for a tenure-track or tenured position beginning July 1, 2017, and we are particularly focused on lateral candidates. In all cases, candidates for the position must clearly demonstrate a record of excellence in teaching and scholarship. Appointment rank would be commensurate with the candidate’s qualifications and experience.

Washington and Lee University School of Law is an Equal Opportunity employer that adheres to a robust nondiscrimination policy. Our school has a firm commitment to enhancing the diversity of our faculty and, in that regard, we welcome candidates who are members of communities traditionally under-represented in the legal profession and academia.

Kindly direct applications and questions to the Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee. Applicants should submit (by e-mail) a current cv, a statement of teaching interests / experience, a research agenda, and a letter of interest by email to:

Mark Drumbl
Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee
Washington and Lee University, School of Law
Lewis Hall
Lexington VA 24450 USA
540-458-8531
drumblm@wlu.edu

All inquiries will be treated with the strictest confidence and discretion.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

October 25, 2016 in Joan Heminway, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 24, 2016

The In-House Business Law Practice Alternative, A Personal Reflection

The summer before I entered law school, I worked in the legal department of a major international business firm.  I learned a lot.  But I realized by the end of the summer that most of the interesting legal questions and matters that the business firm generated (requiring transactional and litigation work) were farmed out to a veritable stable of law firms that represented the business firm on a regular basis.  I then determined (based on my very unscientific single-firm study) that in-house work was not for me.  That was 1982.

Fast-forward 15-or-so years.  By then, I had been working at a major international law firm for twelve years doing transactional work I enjoyed.  A client asked me to interview for an open in-house position.  I did.  I was ready to focus my attention on one business and had a good relationship with the in-house lawyers at the client firm.  Many friends had successfully moved to in-house jobs and were happy and well-adjusted in them (some after trying several to get the right fit).  I was in line to get the job.  But the client then determined to downsize and eliminated the open position.  

Several years later, I resolved to pursue a different path.   I decided to spend my second career teaching and writing about business law--a road well suited to me in many ways but less traveled by business law colleagues.  This was a harder decision to reach in many ways.  But I knew it was right, and in the end, I jumped in with two feet.  In 2000, The University of Tennessee College of Law gave me that opportunity.  The rest is a history that readers likely already know well.

What of the in-house road not taken?  

Continue reading

October 24, 2016 in Joan Heminway, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Research and Writing Question of the Day . . . .

Assume a state trial court issues an opinion in a particular case and the case is not appealed.  Should a legal scholar using the opinion to support or refute a key point (in the text of a written work) characterize the weight or status of the opinion (e.g., noting that it is a trial court opinion and that is has not been appealed)?  Justify your answer.

If the trial court at issue is the Delaware Chancery Court and the opinion addresses matters under the Delaware General Corporation Law, does that alter your answer?  Why?  Why not?

I am having fun considering these issues today in connection with my work on a symposium paper.  I have not yet decided how to handle the specific matter that raises the questions.  Accordingly, it seemed like a good idea at this juncture to share my questions and seek collaboration in answering them . . . .

October 17, 2016 in Corporate Governance, Corporations, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Writing | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, October 10, 2016

2017 National Business Law Scholars Conference (NBLSC): Call for Papers

National Business Law Scholars Conference (NBLSC)
Thursday & Friday, June 8-9, 2017

Call for Papers

The National Business Law Scholars Conference (NBLSC) will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 8-9, 2017, at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. 

This is the eighth meeting of the NBLSC, an annual conference that draws legal scholars from across the United States and around the world.  We welcome all scholarly submissions relating to business law. Junior scholars and those considering entering the legal academy are especially encouraged to participate. 

To submit a presentation, email Professor Eric C. Chaffee at eric.chaffee@utoledo.edu with an abstract or paper by February 17, 2017.  Please title the email “NBLSC Submission – {Your Name}.”  If you would like to attend, but not present, email Professor Chaffee with an email entitled “NBLSC Attendance.”  Please specify in your email whether you are willing to serve as a moderator.  We will respond to submissions with notifications of acceptance shortly after the deadline. We anticipate the conference schedule will be circulated in May. 


Keynote Speaker:

Lynn A. Stout, Distinguished Professor of Corporate & Business Law, Cornell Law School


Plenary Author-Meets-Reader Panel:

Selling Hope, Selling Risk: Corporations, Wall Street, and the Dilemmas of Investor Protection by Donald C. Langevoort, Thomas Aquinas Reynolds Professor of Law, Georgetown Law School

Commentators:

Jill E. Fisch, Perry Golkin Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Steven Davidoff Solomon, Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Hillary A. Sale, Walter D. Coles Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law


Conference Organizers:

Tony Casey (The University of Chicago Law School)
Eric C. Chaffee (The University of Toledo College of Law)
Steven Davidoff Solomon (University of California, Berkeley School of Law)
Joan Heminway (The University of Tennessee College of Law)
Kristin N. Johnson (Seton Hall University School of Law)
Elizabeth Pollman (Loyola Law School, Los Angeles)
Margaret V. Sachs (University of Georgia School of Law)
Jeff Schwartz (University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law)


Please save the date for NBLSC 2018, which will be held Thursday and Friday, June 21-22, at the University of Georgia School of Law

October 10, 2016 in Call for Papers, Conferences, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 3, 2016

SLR Online - Salman v. United States: Changing the Course of Insider Trading Law?

The Stanford Law Review Online has just released a series of essays on Salman v. United States, scheduled for oral argument on Wednesday.  I plan to blog more about the Salman case as/if I can find time this week, but I wanted you to have this link right away--first thing this morning.  The essays are a veritable insider trading feast and are written by some of the most thoughtful scholars in the area: Jill Fisch, Don Langevoort, Jonathan Macey, Donna Nagy, and Adam Pritchard.  There's something in at least one of the essays for almost everyone out there.

October 3, 2016 in Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 26, 2016

More On Salman As The Date For Supreme Court Oral Argument Approaches . . . .

In recent weeks, co-bloggers Ann Lipton and Anne Tucker both have posted on issues relating to the upcoming Supreme Court oral argument in Salman v. U.S.  Indeed, this is an important case for the reason they each cite: resolution of the debate about whether the receipt of a personal benefit should be a condition to tippee liability for insider trading (under Section 10(b) of/Rule 10b-5 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended), when the tipper and tippee are close family members.  Certainly, many of us who teach and litigate insider trading cases will be watching the oral argument and waiting for the Court's opinion to see whether, and if so, how, the law evolves.

Having noted that common interest (as among many) in the Salman case, as I earlier indicated, I have a broader interest in the Salman case because of a current project I am working on relating to family relationships and friendships in insider trading--both as a matter of tipper-tippee liability (as in Salman) and as a matter of the duty of trust and confidence necessary to misappropriation liability.  The project was borne in part of a feeling that I had, based on reported investigations and cases I continued to encounter, that expert network and friends-and-family insider trading cases were two very common insider trading scenarios that implicate uncertain insider trading doctrine under U.S. law.

While I have been distracted by other things, my research assistant has begun to gather and reflect on the data we are assembling about publicly reported friends and family insider trading acting between 2000 and today.  Here are some preliminary outtakes that may be of interest based on the first 40 cases we have identified.

  • 16 of the cases involve friendships;
  • 7 cases involve marital relationships;
  • 7 cases involve romantic relationships outside marriage (e.g., lover, mistress, boyfriend); 
  • 5 cases involving siblings;
  • 3 cases involve a parent/child relationship; and
  • 3 cases on involve in-laws.

Those categories capture the vast majority of cases we have identified so far.  The cases represented in the list are primarily from 2011-2016.  Some cases involve more than one type of relationship.   So, the number of observations in the list above exceeds 40.

Another key observation is that most initial tippers in these cases are men.  Notable exceptions are SEC v. Hawk and SEC v. Chen, described in this 2014 internet case summary. Six cases found and analyzed to date involve female tippees.

Theories in the cases derive from both classical and misappropriation scenarios.  I will say more on that in a subsequent post.  For now, however, perhaps the most important take-away is that my intuition that there are many cases involving exchanges of material nonpublic information in family relationships and friendships appears to be solid.  Hopefully, the Court will help resolve unanswered questions about insider trading doctrine as applied in these cases, starting with the personal benefit question raised in Salman.

September 26, 2016 in Ann Lipton, Anne Tucker, Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Crowdfunding and Creatives

This Friday, I will co-present on a continuing legal education panel on "The New Crowdfunding Laws for Private Investors & Other Ways to Legally Raise Money For Your Project" at the Americanafest--the Americana Music Festival and Conference.   The program description is set forth below.

There have been significant changes in federal and state laws related to soliciting investors through crowdfunding and other types of investment activities.  These new changes are designed to make certain types of investments easier and more accessible to people and businesses who seek investors for their projects. This panel will discuss those new laws and strategies of how to seek small to moderate size investments under today’s federal and state law. The panel will also discuss “dos” and “don’ts” for those seeking out investors and what to look for when offered an investment opportunity.

I love cultivating this ground, even if I have done much of it in the past with different audiences.  I will prepare some specialized information relating to financing music and other creative projects, for example, for this program.  I also plan to discuss important traps for the unwary.

What I really want to know is: what else might folks working with and in the music industry (or with other artistic and creative business venturers) want to know?  I have some ideas based on my research on crowdfunding to date.  But send me your ideas . . . .  No doubt, a whole new discussion may be generated from audience questions.  But I would love to be as prepared as possible.

September 19, 2016 in Conferences, Crowdfunding, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, September 12, 2016

[Over]confidence in the C-Suite, Politics, and the Employment Interview Process

Interesting research has been done on overconfidence in business leadership (see, e.g., herehere, and here) and political behavior (see, e.g., here and here).  I periodically consult the literature in this area for use in my work.  It is fascinating and often helpful.

In my continuing career development advice to law students, and as a member of our faculty appointments committee at UT Law this year, however, I recently have come to notice and be concerned about overconfidence in job searches.  Specifically, I see law students who, in testing out a new confidence in their knowledge and skills, overdo it a bit and over-claim or come across as unduly self-important.  I also see faculty candidates who have registered for the Association of American Law Schools Faculty Appointments Register (FAR) puff and oversell--using the comment areas to make cringe-worthy self-aggrandizing statements about their teaching or scholarly background or abilities.

Most of us prefer to associate with confident people.  Confidence in a leader or colleague is an attractive trait--one that we associate with strong governance and high levels of performance.  Confidence wins appointments, elections, and jobs.  Yet overconfidence, if recognized, is unattractive and often means lost opportunities.

Overconfidence is common.  Don Moore, a faculty member at Berkeley's Haas School of Business, notes this in a recent blog post on Overconfidence in Politics.

I study overconfidence among all sorts of people, from business leaders and politicians to college students and office workers. And my research shows that most people are vulnerable to overconfidence. We are excessively confident that we know the truth and have correctly seen the right path forward to prosperity, economic growth and moral standing. Research results consistently show that people express far more faith in the quality of their judgment than it actually warrants. . . .

How do those of us who advise law students enable them to be confident and show confidence without becoming overconfident--or projecting overconfidence?  In his post on résumés and interviews two years ago, co-blogger Haskell Murray advised students to avoid overstating their accomplishments.

Lawyers, perhaps more than other professionals, will call you out on any overstated items on your resume. While I have met plenty of arrogant lawyers, and perhaps was one, arrogance isn’t going to win you many supporters in the interview. Avoid vague self-congratulations (e.g., “provided excellent customer service.”). Stick to the specific, verifiable facts (e.g., “voted employee of the month in April 2012” or “responsible for a 35% increase in revenue from my clients.”).

I totally agree.  I also made a related point regarding the written word in my post on cover letters back in January.

. . . I see a significant number of cover letters that use strident adjectives and adverbs to help make their points. The sentences in these letters tend to smack of over-claiming. Also, in many cases, these adjectives and adverbs represent poor substitutes for well-chosen . . . stories. Most employers are likely to be more favorably disposed to the documentation of specific facts substantiating an applicant's suitability for an open position than they would be to sentences consisting of self-selected (and sometimes over-blown) characterizations of the applicant's suitability for that position.

But I have learned that the line between confidence and overconfidence, as important as it is in the job search process, can be a thin one.  And decisions about how to confidently--but not overconfidently--communicate with contacts, mentors, and prospective employers (among others) often must be made on one's own and quickly.  So, my bottom line advice to students is to focus generally in all communications, oral and written, on being other-regarding.  This article written by a Forbes Contributor makes some great observations and offers tips along those lines.  And if you can ask a trusted mentor to help you prepare for common questions or review the text of emails or letters, that's great.  

What else?  You tell me.  I am not confident that I know more . . . .  :>)

September 12, 2016 in Behavioral Economics, Joan Heminway, Jobs, Psychology | Permalink | Comments (8)