Monday, August 10, 2015
As I continue my (futile?) quest to exhaust my electronic reading pile before the fall semester begins, I recently read a nice article on business lawyering: Praveen Kosuri, Beyond Gilson: The Art of Business Lawyering, 19 LEWIS & CLARK L. REV. 463 (2013), also available on SSRN here.
Kosuri asks what distinguishes great business lawyers, and develops a three-tiered pyramid of the skills that transactional business lawyers need. At the bottom of the pyramid are what Kosuri calls foundational skills: reading and understanding contracts; research and drafting; financial literacy; and a basic knowledge of business law. The next level of the pyramid, which Kosuri calls transitional skills, includes negotiation; structuring deals; risk management; and transaction cost engineering. The top level of the pyramid, which Kosuri calls optimal skills, includes understanding business; understanding people; problem-solving; and advising.
Kosuri then considers who would be best at teaching each of those categories of skills and how to teach them. I don’t agree with everything he says, but the article is insightful and certainly worth reading.
Here’s the abstract:
Thirty years ago, Ronald Gilson asked the question, “what do business lawyers really do?” Since that time legal scholars have continued to grapple with that question and the implicit question of how business lawyers add value to their clients. This article revisits the question again but with a more expansive perspective on the role of business lawyer and what constitutes value to clients.
Gilson put forth the theory of business lawyers as transaction cost engineers. Years later, Karl Okamoto introduced the concept of deal lawyer as reputational intermediary. Steven Schwarcz attempted to isolate the role of business lawyer from other advisors and concluded the only value lawyers added was as regulatory cost managers. All of these conceptions of business lawyering focused too narrowly on the technical skills employed, and none captured the skill set or essence of the truly great business lawyer. In this article, I put forth a more fully developed conception of business lawyer that highlights skills that differentiate great business lawyers from the merely average. I then discuss whether these skills can be taught in law schools and how a tiered curriculum might be designed to better educate future business lawyers.
Sunday, August 9, 2015
ICYMI: "SEC Allows Tweets for Startups Raising Money" http://t.co/VKFJQ5S5zd— Stefan Padfield (@ProfPadfield) August 9, 2015
Saturday, August 8, 2015
In Loreley Fin. (Jersey) No. 3 Ltd. v. Wells Fargo Sec., LLC, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12800 (2d Cir. July 24, 2015), the Second Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of state law fraud claims arising out of the sale of hybrid CDOs. The court spent an extraordinary amount of time discussing the concept of loss causation, although to be honest, I’m not at all confident that the extended discussion actually clarifies matters, at least in those circuits that already follow Second Circuit law on the subject.
(There is currently a circuit split on the definition of loss causation under the federal securities laws, and a newly-filed cert petition asking the Supreme Court to resolve it. But I digress.)
What I actually was excited to see was the Second Circuit’s discussion of the conditions under which plaintiffs should be permitted to amend their pleadings.
As I previously posted, courts are all over the map about allowing amended pleadings in securities fraud cases. Some courts are extremely permissive; others essentially grant plaintiffs only one bite at the apple (although that standard is usually more applicable to federal, rather than state, claims). Many courts have held that if plaintiffs want the opportunity to replead their claims in order to meet particularity requirements, they must proffer their proposed amendments prior to the ruling on the motion to dismiss. The theory is, plaintiffs should not be allowed to sit on relevant evidence, let the court make its ruling, and only then announce that they have new facts in their possession; instead, plaintiffs should promptly alert the court if they have additional facts that bolster their allegations.
That rule sounds logical but, as I argued in my prior post, is actually tremendously unfair in practice, because the particularity requirements for pleading securities fraud – whether under the federal rules or under the PSLRA – are so idiosyncratic that it is very difficult for plaintiffs to be able to tell, in advance, what deficiencies might exist in their complaint and what new facts might fill the holes. Making matters worse, any newly-proffered facts offered prior to an initial ruling on the motion to dismiss would introduce extensive delays into the process.
Well, in Loreley, the Second Circuit agreed with me (vindication!!). As the court wrote:
[T]he procedure by which the district court denied leave to amend was improper. The court required the parties to attend a pre-motion conference and to exchange, in preparation, letters of no more than three pages regarding Defendants' anticipated motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not speak to the use of pre-motion conferences. Such conferences are not in themselves problematic, however, and indeed may in many instances efficiently narrow and/or resolve open issues, obviating the need for litigants to incur the cost of more extensive filings. The impropriety occurred not when the district court held the pre-motion conference but when, in the course of the conference, it presented Plaintiffs with a Hobson's choice: agree to cure deficiencies not yet fully briefed and decided or forfeit the opportunity to replead. Without the benefit of a ruling, many a plaintiff will not see the necessity of amendment or be in a position to weigh the practicality and possible means of curing specific deficiencies.
Our opinion today, of course, leaves unaltered the grounds on which denial of leave to amend has long been held proper, such as undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, and futility—none of which were a basis for the denial here. No improper purpose is alleged. And while leave may be denied where amendment would be futile, the approach taken by the district court was not rooted in futility. Rather, the court treated Plaintiffs' decision to stand by the complaint after a preview of Defendants' arguments—in the critical absence of a definitive ruling—as a forfeiture of the protections afforded by Rule 15. This was, in our view, premature and inconsistent with the course of litigation prescribed by the Federal Rules…
I totally agree.
Friday, August 7, 2015
The internet has been abuzz this week with news that Netflix will now offer of "unlimited" maternity and paternity leave to its employees.
I place "unlimited" in scare quotes because, while Netflix uses that word, the announcement makes clear that the leave is unlimited....during the first year after a child's birth or adoption.
Nonetheless, one year of paid maternity/paternity leave is extremely generous by U.S. company standards.
Amid the praise, there has been a fair bit of skepticism.
- Why Netflix's And Microsoft's New Parental Leave Policies Fall Short Of What Parents Need (Forbes)
- Netflix's New Parental Leave Policy Could Make Things Worse for Women (Time)
- Why Netflix’s ‘unlimited’ maternity leave policy won’t work (MarketWatch)
- Why Netflix’s unlimited parental leave is probably a bad idea for your company (Washington Post)
- Not All Netflix Workers Will Get 'Unlimited' Parental Leave (HuffPost Business)
No good deed goes unpunished? As far as I could tell, the criticism boils down to the following:
- Netflix (and other companies) may not be able to afford this massive benefit
- The policy does not cover all Netflix employees
- The policy may lead to jealousy and strained working relationships
- Parents will have a hard time separating from their children after one year
- Employees might actually take less time off, as seen with some of the unlimited vacation policies
The skepticism following Netflix's announcement reminds me of the somewhat surprising blowback from Gravity Payment's decision to raise its minimum salary to $70,000. More details on the Gravity Payment's situation are nicely detailed by our friend Christine Hurt (BYU Law) at The Conglomerate. Decisions by both companies appear to warrant business judgment rule protection, even if they turn out badly.
While the reactions have been mixed, Netflix has definitely been getting a lot of publicity. Perhaps the publicity will breathe new life into efforts to have the U.S. join the rest of the industrialize world in requiring paid maternity/paternity leave.
In any event, it will be interesting to see how Netflix's policy plays out. To date, the stock market seems to be supporting the announcement (or at least fairly neutral on the announcement). If support continues, perhaps we will see this type of policy spread organically.
From an e-mail I received earlier today:
University of South Carolina School of Law
The University of South Carolina School of Law invites applications for tenured, tenure-track, or visiting faculty positions to begin fall semester 2016. Candidates should have a juris doctorate or equivalent degree. Additionally, a successful applicant should have a record of excellence in academia or in practice, the potential to be an outstanding teacher, and demonstrable scholarly promise. Although the School of Law is especially interested in candidates who are qualified to teach in the areas of taxation, clinical legal education, environmental law and small business, we are equally interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity of our law school community whose teaching interests may fall outside of these areas.
Interested persons should send a resume, references, and subject area preferences to Prof. Eboni Nelson, Chair, Faculty Selection Committee, c/o Kim Fanning, University of South Carolina School of Law, 701 S. Main St., Columbia, SC 29208 or, by email, to HIRE2016@LAW.SC.EDU (electronic The University of South Carolina is committed to a diverse faculty, staff, and student body. We encourage applications from women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and others whose background, experience, and viewpoints contribute to the diversity of our institution. The University of South Carolina is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the base of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation, gender, or veteran status.
Earlier I posted a list of business schools hiring in legal studies.
Feel free to send me any additions or leave additions in the comments.
Updated August 27, 2015
- Boston U.
- British Columbia (Canada)
- North Carolina
- Queen's U. (Canada)
- Roger Williams
- Soongsil (South Korea)
- South Carolina
- Texas A&M
- Touro (visiting prof.)
- UMass (Clinical + Business Orgs.)
- Wake Forest (Business Law Clinic)
*Schools that have not listed any preferences, or that have provided open-ended language after preferences that do not include business law, are not included in this list. Also, given that I do not have access to the AALS ads, this list is likely incomplete and only includes schools that have posted their open positions online.
For the purposes of this post, I include the following subject areas in the definition of "business law": banking; business associations; corporate finance; corporate governance; financial institutions; international business transactions; law & economics; law & entrepreneurship; M&A; securities regulation; unincorporated entities .
Thursday, August 6, 2015
We here in Tennessee took a strong interest in the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, since one of the cases being decided was from Tennessee (Tanco v. Haslam). We at The University of Tennessee were especially interested. The plaintiffs in the Tanco case are University of Tennessee faculty members at the College of Veterinary Medicine, located on our adjacent sister campus (for The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture) here in Knoxville. As East Tennessee awaited the Supreme Court's decision--and in the aftermath of the opinion's release, the press sought for and found many angles on the case.
Of interest to me, as a business lawyer, was the interaction of the case with local business--existing and potential. As with most things, there were (and are) two sides to this coin. Locally, and nationally, both have gotten some play. For opportunistic business lawyers, both sides present advisory possibilities.
Some press time was spent on what I call the "Sweet Cakes" issue (covered by blogs as well as the traditional press, with my favorite law coverage coming from Eugene Volokh over at The Volokh Conspiracy, including this post). Sweet Cakes is, of course, the now-famous family-owned-and-run Oregon wedding cake purveyor that expressly refused to sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples. Eugene outlines a number of interesting legal issues in his posts, and regardless of whether you agree with his conclusions, you can see there is much lawyering involved in the business decisions of those who are intent on being conscientious objectors to same-sex marriage through their business activities. In Tennessee, the Obergefell decision has been famously followed with reports of anti-same-sex marriage signage, like this press item on a sign posted by the owner/proprietor of a hardware store.
The other side of the coin is, of course, the new opportunities that same-sex marriage creates for existing businesses and entrepreneurs. In the run-up to the Supreme Court's ruling, The Tennessean reported that "[o]pening marriage to same-sex couples would yield an additional $36.7 million in spending in Tennessee in three years as more than 5,400 same-sex weddings are expected to be held in the state during that period, according to estimates from the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA Law dedicated to sexual orientation and gender identity research." And after the decision, the Nashville Business Journal reiterated the message. New businesses formed to take advantage of this new market for marriages in the state will need--you guessed it--lawyers! Since Gatlinburg--in the Smoky Mountains just a stone's throw from Knoxville--is a wedding destination, our end of the state should see its fair share of that "action," assuming the business environment is welcoming . . . . This article indicates there may be some businesses in that part of the state that are willing to participate in same-sex weddings.
So, as with other legal changes of any magnitude, we may conceptualize Obergefell as a full-opportunity-for-lawyers act, and those opportunities will likely enure to business lawyers as well as others.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Judge A. Harris Adams (Georgia Court of Appeals 2002-2012) died on Monday night at age 67. According to the Daily Report: "Visitation is planned for 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home, 180 Church St., Marietta. Funeral services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Church of the Apostles in Atlanta."
Until my family moved after my eighth grade year, I lived just a few blocks from Judge Adams, his wife (who was one of my mother's dearest friends), and his three children in Marietta, GA. His oldest child, Lanier, attempted to teach me piano, and his youngest, Zach, was a childhood friend of mine.
Judge Adams had an infectious laugh. He was a talented storyteller. He was bright and well-respected, but stayed humble and never seemed to take himself too seriously. I have some vivid memories of him shooting baskets with Zach and me, in his dress clothes. He will be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
I received this position posting today via e-mail (emphasis added):
The University of Maryland School of Law invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position to teach in the area of business law, potentially including an appropriate combination of the following courses: Business Associations, Corporate Finance, Secured Transactions, along with other core classes in the business curriculum. We will consider both entry level and lateral candidates. The University of Maryland has a strong commitment to diversity. We welcome applications from persons of color, women, and other members of historically disadvantaged groups. Contact: Professor Leigh Goodmark, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, 500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (410) 706-3549.
The University of Maryland, Baltimore is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.
I am not sure if we have any readers with doctorates in accounting, but, if so, see the hiring announcement from Eastern Illinois University below. I have included this announcement because they are also considering applicants with a J.D. and a CPA or LLM (or other masters) in tax.
Eastern Illinois University invites applicants for two 9-month tenure track positions at the Assistant level in Accountancy. The positions begin in Fall 2016 and hiring will ultimately depend on the availability of funding. Evidence of strong instructional effectiveness is essential as are strong communication and interpersonal skills. Demonstrated commitment to diversity and experience with promoting inclusive excellence is required. The successful candidate will also be expected to provide evidence (or potential) to engage in related research and service activities. Professional certification, business experience, and experience or willingness to teach in an online format are desirable.
For one position, a PhD or DBA in Accountancy, or a JD with CPA or specialized masters’ in tax, is preferred, although ABDs close to completion will be considered. Candidate should possess expertise and teaching experience in Tax and a secondary area such as managerial, governmental & not-for-profit, accounting information systems, or audit.
For the second position, a PhD or DBA in Accountancy is preferred, although ABDs close to completion will be considered. Candidates should possess expertise and teaching experience in Managerial Accounting. An interest in teaching in a secondary area such as governmental & not-for-profit, or accounting information systems is desirable.
Dr. Denise Smith, Chair of the Search Committee, will be interviewing during the American Accounting Association Annual Meeting in August 2015. All applicants must submit a letter of interest, a current curriculum vita, evidence of teaching effectiveness, and names and contact information (including phone numbers and email addresses) for three references. Applications for the tax accounting position must be submitted electronically to Interfolio at apply.interfolio.com/30692 while application for the managerial accounting position must be submitted electronically to Interfolio at apply.interfolio.com/30734.
Finalists will be asked to provide transcripts. Review of all applications will begin on September 2, 2015, and will continue until all campus interviews are scheduled.
Eastern Illinois University is a public university that places priority on teaching excellence for a student body in a rural setting. Eastern is consistently named one of the top Midwestern public universities in our class by U.S. News & World Report. Approximately 9,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Charleston is located in east central Illinois and combines the benefits of a community of 20,000 with access to several large cities, including Chicago, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. The University is accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The School of Business and the Accountancy Program are fully accredited by AACSB International. The School of Business offers six undergraduate majors, eight minors, and an MBA. There are approximately 1,100 declared undergraduate business majors and 100 MBA degree candidates. For more information about the School of Business and the university, visit this web site: http://www.eiu.edu/business/.
Eastern Illinois University is an Affirmative Action/ Equal Opportunity Employer – minority/female/disability/veteran – committed to achieving a diverse community.
I am sure that many of you, like me, are deluged with email messages at this point in the year from well-meaning students taking your fall courses who ask whether a particular text--or version of a text--marked as "required" on the book list is really required. There are many ways to respond to these requests. A number of my my Facebook friends--including former students--suggest a simple response, something akin to: "What part of required do you not understand?"
While that kind of a response sometimes is very appealing (especially when I get two emails asking about this kind of thing on the same day), I have decided to use these interactions as a teaching moment--of sorts. Set forth below is a version of a message that I send, in case it is of some use to you in this or another similar context. The specific inquiry to which I am responding relates to a student's question about using a 2013 "statutory supplement" in my Fall 2015 Business Associations course.
Hey, [name of student]. Thanks for reaching out to me. This is a common question. It has an easy (although perhaps unpalatable) answer. I marked the 2015 statutory resource book (not really a supplement, but the core of our work in this course) as required for the course. I will be working from the 2015 version in and outside class. I cannot ensure that the 2013 version—or even the 2014 version—will have everything you need. While I know the authors, I do not control and am not privy to what they include and exclude every year. So, I cannot recommend your use of the 2013 version, and if you use it, you will be responsible for noting where the gaps or changes are. There may be none, but I cannot guarantee that.
I regret making students pay the money for a new paperback every year. But I have come to consider it an investment. Of course, as you already know, lawyers should never use an outdated version of the law for their research. It can be the basis of a claim of malpractice or sanctions on the basis of incompetence or a lack of diligence. So, my required use of a current version of the restatement provisions, statutes, rules, and other materials in the statutory resource book is also a way of encouraging professionally responsible, low-risk legal practice.
I will not be policing the use of outdated or other supplements—or even online versions of the statutes, rules, and other materials (which include a sample corporate charter and bylaws, for example)--instead of the assigned statutory resource book for class. So, it's all up to you. Others have used outdated or online or photocopied versions of the materials in the statutory resource book in the past and done very well in the course. But they typically put in significant work on their own to ensure they had what they needed for the exams and assignments.
See you in a few weeks. I will look forward to having you in class. You already have exhibited professionally responsible behavior in contacting me in advance and asking about the resource book. That's a great start to the semester.
Incidentally, in case you wondered, most students respond to my email thanking me and noting they will acquire the 2015 edition. Many students do not contact me at all about this issue and just go ahead and use outdated materials. Some of these non-communicative students have later admitted to me they regretted that decision.
Also, I have tried in the past to just assign online versions of the restatement provisions, statutes, and rules. There are two main disadvantages that I identified to this approach. First, I found that students did not bring the necessary legal provisions to class with them in electronic or hard-copy form or did not bring a computer to access rules that come up in class in an unplanned manner. Relatedly, it is important to note that, when the students take my open-book midterm (oral) and final (written) exams, they really need to have hard copies of the relevant rules with them, which means printing them out and collecting them in a book or folder anyway (since I do not allow electronic devices, other than ExamSoft-modified computers, in my examinations). Second, my statutory resource book has materials other than restatement, statutory, and regulatory provisions in it. If the book is not required, I must supplement the text with these additional materials, where necessary or desired.
Let me know your thoughts and share comments for improvement. Or tell me I am being too nice and should push back harder at my students. The type of response I have included above is generally consistent with my overall communication style with my students, which could be characterized as compassionate but direct. Others may have very different approaches to instructor-student communications or course objectives that make my response undesirable or even counterproductive. Please do share those kinds of reactions in the comments.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
The following position posting was provided to us via e-mail:
RUTGERS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW (CAMDEN CAMPUS) invites applications from entry-level and lateral candidates for one or more tenure-track or tenured faculty positions. Possible areas of particular interest include, but are not limited to, corporate law, corporate governance, commercial law, securities regulation, and other areas of business law. We will consider candidates with an interest in building upon our newly devised Certificate Program in Corporate/Business Law. All applicants should have a distinguished academic background and either great promise or a record of excellence in both scholarship and teaching. We encourage applications from women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and others whose background, experience, and viewpoints would contribute to the diversity of our faculty. Contact: Professor Arthur Laby, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee; Rutgers University School of Law; 217 North Fifth Street; Camden, NJ; 08102; email@example.com. Rutgers University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all in every aspect of its operations.
Readers of this blog know I am fond of writing about Henry Ford and the Dodge v. Ford case (PDF here). This summer, I am still working my way through Fordlandia, by Greg Grandin. It's a really interesting read.
Henry Ford had plans to build a town in the Amazon that would run like an ideal American town. The industry would be rubber for car tires, and he was sure he could make a town that produced rubber AND moral people. He was wrong.
The book provides more about Ford than just his Amazon city planning. It highlights all sorts of what I will call "interesting" ideas Ford had (many of the quite appalling), and it provides context for a person who was far more interesting and disruptive than many people appreciate. A good summary of the book is available from NPR here, where the author explains:
"Ford basically tried to impose mass industrial production on the diversity of the jungle," Grandin says. But the Amazon is one of the most complex ecological systems in the world — and didn't fit into Ford's plan. "Nowhere was this more obvious and more acute than when it came to rubber production," Grandin says.
Ford was so distrustful of experts that he never even consulted one about rubber trees. If he had, Grandin says, he would have learned that plantation rubber can't be grown in the Amazon. "The pests and the fungi and the blight that feed off of rubber are native to the Amazon. Basically, when you put trees close together in the Amazon, what you in effect do is create an incubator — but Ford insisted."
As Grandin explains, Ford's plans are a lasting disaster:
[T]he most profound irony is currently on display at the very site of Ford’s most ambitious attempt to realize his pastoralist vision. In the Tapajós valley, three prominent elements of Ford’s vision—lumber, which he hoped to profit from while at the same time finding ways to conserve nature; roads, which he believed would knit small towns together and create sustainable markets; and soybeans, in which he invested millions, hoping that the industrial crop would revive rural life—have become the primary agents of the Amazon’s ruin, not just of its flora and fauna but of many of its communities.
Monday, August 3, 2015
My law school, the University of Nebraska, is hiring. Here are the details:
Entry-Level or Experienced Faculty Position
The UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA COLLEGE OF LAW invites applications for entry-level and lateral candidates for one or more tenure-track or tenured faculty positions. Our curricular needs include Business Associations, Evidence, Wills and Trusts, and Civil Procedure. Other needs include courses related to
- Criminal Law (e.g., Federal Criminal Law or White Collar Crime, Criminal Procedure 2, PostConviction Remedies, or Criminal Sentencing);
- Health Care (e.g., Federal Regulation of Health Care Providers, Health Care Finance, Torts, Administrative Law, Medical Malpractice, Privacy Law, Law and Medicine, Public Health Law, Bioethics and the Law, and the Law of Provider and Patient);
- Litigation Skills and Related Courses (e.g., Trial Advocacy, Civil Rights Litigation, Pretrial Litigation or other litigation skills courses, Conflicts of Laws);
- Business Law (e.g., Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Insurance Law, Bankruptcy, Corporate Restructuring, Nonprofit Organizations, Risk Management / Compliance, or White Collar Crime);
- Patent Law and International Intellectual Property;
- Family Law;
- Education Law; and
- Election Law.
Minimum Required Qualifications: J.D Degree or Equivalent, Superior Academic Record, Demonstrated Interest in Relevant Substantive Areas. Title of Asst/Assoc/or Full Professor will be based on qualifications of applicant. Please fill out the University application, which can be found at http://employment.unl.edu/postings/45473, and upload a CV, a cover letter, and a list of references. General information about the Law College is available at http://law.unl.edu/. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is committed to a pluralistic campus community through affirmative action, equal opportunity, work-life balance, and dual careers. Review of applications will begin on August 20, 2015, and continue until the position is filled. Contact Associate Dean Richard Moberly, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of Nebraska College of Law, Lincoln, NE 68583-0902, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Civil Clinical Position
The UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA COLLEGE OF LAW invites applications for entry-level and lateral candidates for a tenure-track faculty position to teach in its Civil Clinic. The position may also include teaching a classroom law school course on evidence, pretrial litigation, trial advocacy, or related subjects. In Fall 2016, Nebraska Law will open a new, state-of-the-art clinic building to house all of its clinics together.
Minimum Required Qualifications: J.D Degree or Equivalent, Superior Academic Record, Demonstrated Interest in Relevant Substantive Areas. Title of Asst/Assoc/or Full Clinical Professor will be based on qualifications of applicant. General information about the Law College is available at http://law.unl.edu/. Please fill out the University application, which can be found at http://employment.unl.edu/postings/45475, and upload a CV, a cover letter, and a list of references. The University of Nebraska‑Lincoln is committed to a pluralistic campus community through affirmative action, equal opportunity, work-life balance, and dual careers. Review of applications will begin on August 20, 2015 and continue until the position is filled. Contact Associate Dean Richard Moberly, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, University of Nebraska College of Law, Lincoln, NE 68583-0902, or send an email to email@example.com.
I'm not on our Appointments Committee, but feel free to contact me if you have any questions, particularly about our business law needs.
Should We Include More International Materials in the Basic Business Associations and Securities Regulation Courses?
Joan Heminway’s post last week about comparative corporate law got me thinking about international coverage in my own courses. Joan’s post reviewed a book designed for a stand-alone comparative corporate law course, but I’ve been wondering whether we should include more comparative material in the basic business associations and securities regulation courses.
The case for discussing the corporate and securities law of other countries is clear. Capital markets are becoming increasingly global. U.S. companies are selling securities in other countries and U.S. investors are investing in foreign companies. Initially, globalization affected primarily large multinational companies, but with the expanding use of the Internet to sell securities, even the smallest business can offer securities to investors in other countries.
Under the internal affairs rule, it’s the corporate law of the country of incorporation that’s important, no matter where the lawyer is practicing or where the corporation or the shareholder is located. And a company selling securities to investors outside the U.S. needs to consider the effect of other countries’ securities laws. Foreign counsel may be retained to deal with such issues, but shouldn’t the U.S. lawyer have at least a rudimentary understanding of foreign corporate and securities laws and how they differ from U.S. law?
I spend no time on comparative analysis in either my business associations or my securities regulation course.
I could blame the textbook authors. The book I use in Business Associations includes almost nothing about corporate law outside the United States. That’s typical. Franklin Gevurtz has written a wonderful supplement on comparative corporate law, Global Issues in Corporate Law, but business associations casebooks generally ignore comparative issues.
The book I use for Securities Regulation covers the application of U.S. registration requirements and antifraud rules to transactions outside the United States, but it doesn’t discuss foreign securities law. (A prior edition did, but that material was eliminated from the most recent edition.) This book’s approach is also typical. Other securities regulation casebooks cover the extraterritorial application of U.S. law, but offer little or no comparative analysis of the law of other jurisdictions.
The casebook authors ought to do more, but that’s an inadequate excuse. I include a lot of supplemental material that isn’t in the textbook, especially in Business Associations. It wouldn’t be too hard for me to create supplemental material to add a comparative perspective to my courses.
Perhaps this is just one of those areas where I have fallen into the rut of teaching what my professors taught me. My memory may be faulty, but I don’t recall any international coverage when I took those courses 30+ years ago—which is interesting, because my Corporations professor, Detlev Vagts, was a noted international law scholar.
But it’s mostly an issue of time. At most law schools, corporate and securities law is crammed into a few credit hours, unlike constitutional law other, more favored subjects I won’t name. I, like most corporate law teachers, don’t have the luxury of adding topics. It’s hard enough to cram agency, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability companies, corporations, and some securities law into a single four-hour Business Associations course.
Nevertheless, I’m going to review my coverage carefully and see if I can sneak in more comparative materials. In today’s global environment, even students in Nebraska ought to be exposed to at least some foreign corporate and securities law.
Sunday, August 2, 2015
"the potential development of fascism arising at the national level due to the influence of global corporate rule" http://t.co/cbcBLs4Nol— Stefan Padfield (@ProfPadfield) July 26, 2015
"As long as there is profit to be made, sellers will systematically exploit ... through manipulation and deception" http://t.co/dX6xbDp9Qu— Stefan Padfield (@ProfPadfield) July 29, 2015
Could IBM "have 'purposefully' aided and abetted the human rights abuses perpetrated by the apartheid government"? https://t.co/ZNSxFRuPDB— Stefan Padfield (@ProfPadfield) July 31, 2015
Saturday, August 1, 2015
As you may have seen elsewhere already (but just to make it abundantly clear):
THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE COLLEGE OF LAW invites applications from both entry-level and lateral candidates for as many as two full-time, tenure-track faculty positions to commence in the Fall Semester 2016. The College is particularly interested in the subject areas of business law, including business associations and contracts; gratuitous transfers/trusts and estates; and health law. Other areas of interest include legal writing, torts, and property.
A J.D. or equivalent law degree is required. Successful applicants must have a strong academic background. Significant professional experience is desirable. Candidates also must have a strong commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.
In furtherance of the University’s and the College’s fundamental commitment to diversity among our faculty, students body, and staff, we strongly encourage applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and others whose background, experience, and viewpoints would contribute to a diverse law school environment.
The Faculty Appointments Committee will interview applicants who are registered in the 2015 Faculty Appointments Register of the Association of American Law Schools at the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference in Washington, D.C. Applicants who are not registered in the AALS Faculty Appointments Register are advised to send a letter of interest, resume, and the names and contact information of three references by September 30, 2015 to:
On behalf of Becky Jacobs and Michael Higdon
Co-Chairs, Faculty Appointments Committee
The University of Tennessee College of Law
1505 W. Cumberland Avenue
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The Halliburton district court finally issued its decision (.pdf) on the plaintiffs’ renewed motion for class certification – and I’m afraid it’s exactly as incoherent as the most pessimistic predictions might have anticipated.
The district court recognized that, after Halliburton I, it was prohibited from making loss causation determinations as part of the class certification inquiry. However the district court did hold that if there is no price movement in response to an alleged disclosure (and there is also no price movement when the misstatement is first made), that fact establishes there was no artificial inflation originally.
In other words, the court believed that the absence of affirmative evidence of price inflation is evidence of absence, and sufficient to carry the defendants’ burden to prove that any misstatements had no effect on prices. (To be fair, from the opinion, it appears the plaintiffs themselves urged this position).
The court went on to find that the Halliburton defendants had shown there was no price movement on almost all of the alleged corrective disclosure dates – and so class certification would be denied as to those dates. However, because there was price movement for one disclosure date – December 7, 2001, the last day of the proposed class period – class certification would be granted as to that date.
The problem is, the plaintiffs were seeking class certification for all persons who purchased Halliburton stock from the start of the fraud until the end of the fraud. The court’s ultimate determination – that one disclosure date was sufficient and others were not – tells the reader nothing about what class can be certified, as though the court had forgotten the entire purpose of the exercise. I suppose we’ll find out the class definition if an order follows, but for now, the opinion sheds almost no light on that subject.
[More under the jump]
Friday, July 31, 2015
Mozaffar Khan, George Serafeim, and Aaron Yoon of Harvard Business School have posted an interesting working paper entitled Corporate Sustainability: First Evidence on Materiality. The abstract follows:
An increasing number of companies make sustainability investments, and an increasing number of investors integrate sustainability performance data in their capital allocation decisions. To date however, the prior academic literature has not distinguished between investments in material versus immaterial sustainability issues. We develop a novel dataset by hand-mapping data on sustainability investments classified as material for each industry into firm-specific performance data on a variety of sustainability investments. This allows us to present new evidence on the value implications of sustainability investments. Using calendar-time portfolio stock return regressions we find that firms with good performance on material sustainability issues significantly outperform firms with poor performance on these issues, suggesting that investments in sustainability issues are shareholder-value enhancing. Further, firms with good performance on sustainability issues not classified as material do not underperform firms with poor performance on these same issues, suggesting investments in sustainability issues are at a minimum not value-destroying. Finally, firms with good performance on material issues and concurrently poor performance on immaterial issues perform the best. These results speak to the efficiency of firms’ sustainability investments, and also have implications for asset managers who have committed to the integration of sustainability factors in their capital allocation decisions.
The authors' materiality determination is based on industry-specific guidance from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). I have been following SASB’s work for some time now, but would still like to learn more about the organization if any of our readers have more detail than is available online.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Last week I attended a panel discussion with angel investors and venture capitalists hosted by Refresh Miami. Almost two hundred entrepreneurs and tech professionals attended the summer startup series to learn the inside scoop on fundraising from panelists Ed Boland, Principal Scout Ventures; Stony Baptiste, Co-Founder & Principal, Urban.Us, Venture Fund; Brad Liff, Founder & CEO, Fitting Room Social, Private Equity Expert; and (the smartest person under 30 I have ever met) Herwig Konings, Co-Founder & CEO of Accredify, Crowd Funding Expert. Because I was typing so fast on my iPhone, I didn’t have time to attribute my notes to the speakers. Therefore, in no particular order, here are the nuggets I managed to glean from the panel.
1) In the seed stage, it’s more than an idea but less than a business. If it’s before true market validation you are in the seed round. At the early stage, there has been some form of validation, but the business is not yet sustainable. Everything else beyond that is the growth stage.
2) The friend and family round is typically the first $50-75,000. Angels come in the early stage and typically invest up to $500,000.
3) The seed rounds often overlap with angels and businesses can raise from $500,000 to $1,000,000. If you have a validated part of a business model but are not self funding then you are at Series A investment stage. You still need outside capital despite validation. The Series A round often nets between $3-5 million and then there are subsequent rounds for growth until the liquidity event which is either the IPO or acquisition.
4) Venture capitalists are investing their LPs' money and often the LP will co-invest with the VC. Their ultimate goal is for the company to get acquired or go public.
5) At the early stages some VCs will show a deal to other investors if it looks good. Later stage VCs will become more competitive and will keep the information and good deals to themselves.
6) It’s important to find a lead investor or lead angel to champion your idea.
7) Not all funding is helpful. Some panelists discussed the concepts of “fallen angels” or “devils,” which were once helpful but now are not providing value but still take up time and energy that could be better spent focusing on building the business. “False angels” are those who could never have been helpful in the first place.
8) You don’t want to be the first or the last check the angel is writing. You want to get references on the angel investor and see where they have invested and what their plan is for you.
9) There is smart money and dumb money. Smart money gives money and additional resources or value. Dumb money just gives money and nothing else. It’s passive and doesn’t jump into the business (note the panelists disagreed as to whether this was a good or bad thing). Another panelist noted the distinction between helpful and harmful money. Harmful people think they are helpful and give advice when they don’t have a lot to add but take up a lot of time. Sometimes helpful money just gives a check and then gets out of the way. It’s the people in between that can cause the problems.
10) VCs and angels invest in teams as well as ideas. They look for the right fit and a mix of veteran entrepreneurs, a team/product fit, a mix of technical and nontechnical people, professionals whose reputations and resumes can be verified. They want to know whether the people they are investing in have been in a competitive environment and have learned from success or failure.
11) Crowdfunding can be complicated because investors don’t meet the entrepreneurs. They see everything on the web so the reputation and the need for a good team is even more important.
12) Convertible notes are the “gold standard” according to one speaker and it’s the workhorse for funding. There was some discussion of safe notes, but most panelists didn't have a lot of experience with them and that was echoed this week by attorney David Salmon, who advises small businesses and holds his own monthly meetups. One panelist said that the sole purpose of safe notes was to avoid landmines that can blow up the company. Another panelist indicated that from an investor standpoint it’s like a blackhole because it’s so new and people don’t know what happens if something goes wrong.
13) The panelists indicated that businesses need to watch out for: the maturity date for their debt (how long is the runway); when can the investors call the note and possibly bankrupt the company; how will quirky covenants affect the next round of financing and where later investors will fall in line; and covenants that are easy to violate.
14) There was very little discussion of Regulation A+ but it did raise some interest and the possibility to raise even more funds from non-accredited investors. Only 3% of the eight million who can invest through crowdfunding actually do, so Reg A+ may help with that.
16) All of the panelists agreed that entities may start out as LLCs but they will have to convert to a C Corp to get any VC funding.
There was a lot more discussion but this post is already too long. Because I've never been an angel nor sought such funding, I don’t plan to provide any analysis on what I’ve typed above. My goal in attending this and the other monthly events like this was to learn from the questions that entrepreneurs ask and how the investors answer. Admittedly, most of my students won’t be dealing with these kind of issues, but I still introduce them to these concepts so they are at least familiar with the parlance if not all of the nuances.
July 30, 2015 in Business Associations, Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Current Affairs, Entrepreneurship, Financial Markets, International Business, Law School, Legislation, LLCs, Securities Regulation, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)