Monday, July 16, 2018

On Losing A Rising Star Business Law Colleague - A Tribute to Jonathan G. Rohr

Had I not been taking pictures on the beach during a morning walk with dear college friends on the New England shoreline, I would not have seen the incoming call on my silenced cell phone--a call from a business law colleague from UT Law that I figured I ought to answer.  But the call was not, as I expected, a request for help with a research or teaching question.  Instead, this colleague was calling to inform me of an email message from our Dean letting us know that our junior business law colleague, Jonathan Rohr, had died the day before.  (I am linking here to a YouTube video featuring Jonathan, which will tell you much more about the man that he was than any CV or website.)

Jonathan came into my life almost two years ago when he interviewed with UT Law for a permanent, tenure track position after VAP-ing at his law alma mater, Cardozo.  From the start, Jonathan impressed me and others on the Appointments Committee with his intellect, his enthusiasm for the faculty task, and his intensity.  He survived the appointments tournament and came to work with us last summer.  Before his untimely death, he already had been invited to comment on a paper at last year's AALS annual meeting and had symposium and virtual symposium invitations--as a first-year tenure-track colleague.  His scholarship was thoughtful and lucidly written.  He worked hard to make every piece better and better and better through editing.  He was a popular and revered teacher.  He was contributing to our College of Law community in significant ways.   I could not have been prouder to have him as a colleague and tried to introduce him to everyone imaginable to get his permanent teaching career off to the right start. 

I think it's fair to say that no one was more excited for Jonathan's arrival at UT Law than I.  He was what my dear husband calls a "Mini-Me"--someone at the early stages of a career trajectory with a similar professional background who aspires to similar career goals and seeks to be mentored by me along the way.  Most of the Mini-Mes that I have worked with were and are law practice colleagues and students.  Jonathan was my first faculty Mini-Me.  I had plans for our ongoing work together.  I think he had plans of that kind, too.  We had started working in a number of areas informally.  We drank beer and discussed strategies for research, teaching, tenure, promotion, etc.  The one academic year that we had together was idyllic in so many ways--too good to be true, for me, as I often observed.  Our last conversation about his current work and my current work was last week.  He was writing a guest post for this blog.  He promised to send me his most recent essay in draft form for review.  On July 11, he sent the essay to me and a few others.  Two days later, he was no longer with us.  Unbelievable.

And so, on Saturday, after my colleague delivered the news during that beach walk, I stopped and cried.  I asked "why?" so many times and shook my head in disbelief as I moaned and the tears fell.  What else could I do?  The once colorful, happy beach scene turned gray.  Over 20 years ago, I remember my husband relating that the colors were taken from him when his Dad, a vibrant graphic artist, died too young (but at a much older age than Jonathan).  I understood in that moment on the beach exactly what my husband meant.  Yet, I knew I had to move on.  My friends were way down the beach by that time.  They needed to know what had transpired.  I needed their support and love; and I knew I needed them to to try help me make sense out of the world around me.  Everything was and remains a bit off-kilter.  I know many of you can identify with that feeling.

As I walked down the beach, head bowed low, the first thing that stood out for me on the bland, gray sand was this rock.

BeachRock

It appeared blue in the sunshine--a striking blue in the dull sandy grayness--although in other lights it takes on more charcoal color, as it does in this photo.  Like Jonathan, it stood out as special, a near-perfect specimen among many others.  In finishing the walk, I picked up several other objects that stood out from others on the beach.  Somehow, that effort comforted me.  I cannot really say why . . . .

Over the past few years, those of us who research and teach business law have mourned the loss of a number of amazing colleagues.  These passings have hit all of us hard, professionally and personally.  But the loss of Jonathan Rohr from our midst feels qualitatively different to me, as a close colleague and mentor.  It will take time for me and many others who knew him to even begin to process this tragic loss.  Perhaps this post will begin a process of healing for me.  But I do not know that I ever will make sense out of this.  We have lost a man that many had loved and respected.  In his way-too-short life, he touched colleagues and students, as well as family and friends.  His enthusiasm and love for life was so palpable and contagious; I still feel that energy now.  I hope that sense of connection lingers.  It also is a comfort.  

I dedicate this post to Jonathan, with offers of sympathy and love to his wonderful wife, Jing, and the rest of their family.  I am so glad that he became part of my life and so mournfully sad that he has left us.

July 16, 2018 in Joan Heminway, Law School, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Energy and Business Nexus: Decarbonizing Light-Duty Vehicles

I am both a business law professor and an energy law professor, which is sometimes surprising to people. That is, some folks are surprised that have a research focus in two areas that are seemingly very distinct.  In one sense, that's true, at least in the academic realm.  Most energy law scholars tend to have a focus on more close related disciplines, such as environmental law, administrative law, and property law.  And business law scholars tend to trend toward things like commercial law, bankruptcy, tax, and contracts.  

There is substantial overlap, though, in the energy and business law spaces, as I have noted on this blog before. I am even working on some research that looks specifically at the role laws and regulations have on business and economic development.   My work with the WVU Center for Innovation in Gas Research and Utilization builds on this energy and business nexus. 

I am pleased to share a newly published article I wrote with Amy Stein from the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. The piece is called Decarbonizing Light-Duty Vehicles, and it appears in the July issue of Environmental Law Reporter. It is available here. This article is based on our forthcoming book chapter that will appear in Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (Michael B. Gerrard & John C. Dernbach eds.) and published by the Environmental Law Institute.  The book expands on the U.S. work of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, and was prepared in collaboration with that organization. Following is an excerpt that gives a sense of how energy and business law and policy sometimes intersect. 

    A last challenge surrounds the existing business models that revolve around the [internal combustion vehicle (ICV)]. First, a number of states have a strong incentive to maintain a core of ICVs due to their heavy reliance on the gasoline tax to fund highway infrastructure in their respective states. The gasoline tax has been in place since 1956 to help pay for construction of the interstate highway system.  Since that time, Congress has directed the majority of the revenues from this tax to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF).  At the federal level, Congress has not increased the tax in more than 20 years, leaving it at 18.4 cents a gallon.  As of July 2015, state taxes on gasoline averaged 26.49 cents a gallon, bringing the total tax on gasoline to about 45 cents per gallon.  All efforts to reduce reliance on gas-dependent vehicles therefore stand in sharp contrast to efforts to maintain a healthy highway fund. The interplay between fuel economy and the dependence on gasoline tax revenues should not be overlooked, as well as the conflicting demands placed on legislators.

    Second, dealers, mechanics, and gas stations have a strong incentive to maintain the dominance of ICVs. Dealers may not be as familiar with [alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs)] and so are less likely to be able to demonstrate specifics about available incentives, nor be able to exude confidence about charging, range, and battery life-span.  More importantly, dealers may also be hesitant to sell AFVs for some of the same reasons that customers may be inclined to purchase them—specifically, the expectation of reduced maintenance costs. These misaligned incentives exist because an essential part of a dealer’s business model relies on post-sale revenues related to the sale of used cars, oil changes, and engine maintenance repairs, avoided costs for AFV owners.  More car dealers may need to explore options that evolve with the technology, including maintaining and repairing fleets of autonomous vehicles.

    In short, although the United States has begun the transition to AFVs, there are a number of obstacles, financial, psychological, and cultural, that stand in the way of a greater shift to AFVs.

Amy L. Stein & Joshua Fershée, Decarbonizing Light-Duty Vehicles, 48 Environmental Law Reporter 10596 (2018) (footnotes omitted). 

July 10, 2018 in Current Affairs, Entrepreneurship, Joshua P. Fershee, Legislation, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Friday, May 4, 2018

Does CSR Really Exist in Latin America? Should Corporations be Treated as Persecutors Under Asylum Law? Is Labor an Extractive Industry? Buy This Book and Find Out

In 2015, I and several academics and other experts traveled to Guatemala as part of the Lat-Crit study space. The main goal of the program was to examine the effect of the extractive industries on indigenous peoples and the environment. During our visit, we met with indigenous peoples, government ministers, the chamber of commerce, labor leaders, activists (some who had received multiple death threats), and village elders.

Our labor of love, From Extraction to Emancipation Development Reimagined, edited by Raquel Aldana and Steve Bender, was released this week. My chapter "Corporate Social Responsibility in Latin America: Fact or Fiction" introduces the book. I first blogged about CSR in the region in 2015 in the context of a number of companies that had touted their records but in fact, had been implicated in environmental degradation and even murder. Over the past few years, one of the companies I blogged about, Tahoe Resources, has been sued in Canada for human rights violations, the Norwegian pension fund has divested, and shareholders have filed a class action based on allegations re: the rights of indigenous people.

Although the whole book should be of interest to business law professors and practitioners, chapters of particular interest include a discussion of the environment and financial institutionsthe Central American experience with investor protections under CAFTA, whether corporations should be treated as persecutors under asylum law, climate adaptation and climate justice, the impact of mining on self-determination, environmental impact assessments, and labor as an extractive industry.

Other chapters that don't tie directly to business also deserve mention including my mentor Lauren Gilbert's closing chapter on gender violence, state actions, and power and control in the Northern Triangle, and other chapters on the right to water and sanitation in Central America, community-based biomonitoring, and managing deforestation.

We encourage you to buy the book and to invite the chapter authors to your institutions to present (shameless plug for panels, but we would love to share what we have learned). 

 

May 4, 2018 in Conferences, CSR, Current Affairs, Human Rights, International Law, Marcia Narine Weldon, Research/Scholarhip, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Law Teaching & Learning: Conference Announcements and Call for Proposal

Law Teaching for Adjunct Faculty and New Professors Conference

Law Teaching for Adjunct Faculty and New Professors is a one-day conference for new and experienced adjunct faculty, new full-time professors, and others who are interested in developing and supporting those colleagues. The conference will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at Texas A&M University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas, and is co-sponsored by the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning and Texas A&M University School of Law.

Sessions will include:

  • Course Design and Learning Outcomes – Michael Hunter Schwartz

  • Assessment – Sandra Simpson

  • Active Learning – Sophie Sparrow

  • Team-based Learning – Lindsey Gustafson

  • Technology and Teaching – Anastasia Boles

Details are here

 

CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSALS

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning—Summer 2018 Conference Exploring the Use of Technology in the Law School Classroom June 18-20
Gonzaga University School of Law
Spokane, Washington

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law teachers are utilizing technology in their classrooms across the curriculum. With the rising demands for teachers who are educated on active learning techniques and with technology changing so rapidly, this topic has taken on increased urgency in recent years. The Institute is interested in proposals that deal with all types of technology, and the technology demonstrated should be focused on helping students learn actively in areas such as legal theory and knowledge, practice skills, and guided reflection, etc. Accordingly, we welcome proposals for workshops on incorporating technology in the classrooms of doctrinal, clinical, externship, writing, seminar, hybrid, and interdisciplinary courses.

The Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. The workshops can address the use of technology in first-year courses, upper-level courses, required courses, electives, or academic support roles. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses. Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants. The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice on designing their presentations to be interactive.

Second, our summer conference will be at Gonzaga Law, June 18-20 and will focus on the use of technology in the classroom.  We're currently accepting proposals for that conference (and the deadline has been extended to March 2).  More info here.  

February 20, 2018 in Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

These Reasons Social Benefit Entities Hurt Business and Philanthropy Will Blow Your Mind

I suspect click-bait headline tactics don't work for business law topics, but I guess now we will see. This post is really just to announce that I have a new paper out in Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law related to our First Annual (I hope) Business Law Prof Blog Conference co-blogger Joan Heminway discussed here. The paper, The End of Responsible Growth and Governance?: The Risks Posed by Social Enterprise Enabling Statutes and the Demise of Director Primacy, is now available here.

To be clear, my argument is not that I don't like social enterprise. My argument is that as well-intentioned as social enterprise entity types are, they are not likely to facilitate social enterprise, and they may actually get in the way of social-enterprise goals.  I have been blogging about this specifically since at least 2014 (and more generally before that), and last year I made this very argument on a much smaller scale.  Anyway, I hope you'll forgive the self-promotion and give the paper a look.  Here's the abstract: 

Social benefit entities, such as benefit corporations and low-profit limited liability companies (or L3Cs) were designed to support and encourage socially responsible business. Unfortunately, instead of helping, the emergence of social enterprise enabling statutes and the demise of director primacy run the risk of derailing large-scale socially responsible business decisions. This could have the parallel impacts of limiting business leader creativity and risk taking. In addition to reducing socially responsible business activities, this could also serve to limit economic growth. Now that many states have alternative social enterprise entity structures, there is an increased risk that traditional entities will be viewed (by both courts and directors) as pure profit vehicles, eliminating directors’ ability to make choices with the public benefit in mind, even where the public benefit is also good for business (at least in the long term). Narrowing directors’ decision making in this way limits the options for innovation, building goodwill, and maintaining an engaged workforce, all to the detriment of employees, society, and, yes, shareholders.

The potential harm from social benefit entities and eroding director primacy is not inevitable, and the challenges are not insurmountable. This essay is designed to highlight and explain these risks with the hope that identifying and explaining the risks will help courts avoid them. This essay first discusses the role and purpose of limited liability entities and explains the foundational concept of director primacy and the risks associated with eroding that norm. Next, the essay describes the emergence of social benefit entities and describes how the mere existence of such entities can serve to further erode director primacy and limit business leader discretion, leading to lost social benefit and reduced profit making. Finally, the essay makes a recommendation about how courts can help avoid these harms.

February 13, 2018 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Delaware, Joshua P. Fershee, Law and Economics, Lawyering, Legislation, LLCs, Management, Research/Scholarhip, Shareholders, Social Enterprise, Unincorporated Entities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sending Advanced Business Law Students on Document "Treasure Hunts"

Just a quick post today about a teaching technique I have been using that offers significant opportunities for exploration, especially in small class environments.

I am again teaching Advanced Business Associations this semester.  The course allows students to review and expand their knowledge of business firm management and control issues in various contexts (public corporations, closely held corporations, benefit corporations, and unincorporated business entities), mergers and acquisitions, and corporate and securities litigation.  I have reported on this course in the past, including in this post and this one.

At the conclusion of each unit, I have students locate (go off on a treasure hunt, of sorts) and post on the course management website (I use TWEN) a practice document related to the matters covered in that unit.  Today we concluded our unit on benefit corporations.  Each student (I only have five this semester) was required to, among other things, post the actual corporate charter (not a template or form) of a benefit corporation.  Although the Advanced Business Associations course features training presentations by representatives of Lexis/Nexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg that include locating precedent documents of various kinds, the students have not yet had this training.

In our discussions about this part of today's assignment, we learned a number of things.  Here are a few:

  • New articles, blog posts, and other secondary materials can be a good starting place in locating firms with particular attributes.
  • The word "charter" can mean different things to different people.
  • Journalists do not understand the difference between a benefit corporation and a B corporation.
  • In research geared toward locating precedents for planning and drafting, googling descriptive terms is likely to yield fewer targeted results than googling the terms used an actual exemplar document.
  • Corporate charters for privately held firms can be difficult to find--especially in certain specific jurisdictions, even when you know the firm's name and other identifying attributes.
  • "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again." Three of the five students posted more than one document before they found an appropriate example.
  • The corporate charters the students posted include exculpation and indemnification.
  • Patagonia's charter is pretty cool.  It has a detailed, specific benefit purpose, a prohibition on redemptions, and a right of first offer.  It also requires a unanimous vote on certain fundamental/basic corporate changes, redemptions, and bylaw amendments.
  • There is a law firm in California that is a professional corporation organized as a benefit corporation "to pursue the specific public benefit of promoting the principles and practices of conscious capitalism through the practice of law."  Also pretty cool.

The discussion was rich.  The students accomplished the required task and reflected responsibly and valuably on their individual search experiences during our class meeting.  They learned from each other as well as from me; benefit corporations seemed to come alive for them as we spoke.  We accomplished a lot in 75 minutes!

Do any of you use a similar teaching technique?  Have you adapted it for use in a large-class (over 50 students) environment?  If so, let me know.  I would like to evolve my "treasure hunt" for business law drafting precedents for use in a larger class setting.

February 12, 2018 in Business Associations, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Social Enterprise, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Stemler and Edelman on Federal Limitations on Regulating Online Marketplace

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Value of Careful Language in Assessing Businesses: A New Paper from Shu-Yi Oei

As regular readers know, I am particular about language and meaning, especially in the business-entity space related to limited liability companies (LLCs).  I think because of that, I was drawn to a new paper from Shu-Yi Oei (Boston College), The Trouble with Gig Talk: Choice of Narrative and the Worker Classification Fights, 81 Law & Contemp. Probs. ___ (2018).  The abstract: 

The term “sharing economy” is flawed, but are the alternatives any better? This Essay evaluates the uses of competing narratives to describe the business model employed by firms like Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, and GrubHub. It argues that while the term “sharing economy” may be a misnomer, terms such as “gig economy,” “1099 economy,” “peer-to- peer economy” or “platform economy” are just as problematic, possibly even more so. These latter terms are more effective in exploiting existing legal rules and ambiguities to generate desired regulatory outcomes, in particular the classification of workers as independent contractors. This is because they are plausible, speak to important regulatory grey areas, and find support in existing laws and ambiguities. They can therefore be deployed to tilt outcomes in directions desired by firms in this sector.

This Essay’s analysis suggests that narratives that are at least somewhat supportable under existing law may be potent in underappreciated ways. In contrast, clearly erroneous claims may sometimes turn out to be hyperbolic yet harmless. Thus, in evaluating the role of narrative in affecting regulatory outcomes, it is not only the obviously wrong framings that should concern us but also the less obviously wrong ones.

There are several interesting points in the piece, and find this part of the conclusion especially compelling: 

I cannot prove that the deployment of gig characterization is the only reason certain legal treatments and outcomes (such as independent contractor classification for workers) seem to be sticking, at least for the moment. My narrower point is that while gig and related characterizations appear innocuous and accurate relative to the sharing characterization, this set of descriptors may actually be doing more work in terms of advancing a desired regulatory outcome. The reasons they are able to do more work are that (1) gig characterization speaks to an important and material legal ambiguity, (2) the gig characterization is plausibly accurate, even if deeply contested, and (3) the proponents of gig characterization have been able to use procedural and other tools to shore up gig characterization and defeat its competitors. These observations may be generalized beyond the gig context: While the temptation is to focus on narratives and characterizations that are clearly wrong, this Essay suggests that we should also pay attention to more subtle narratives that are less clearly wrong, because such narratives may be doing more work by virtue of being “almost right.”

This last point is one that resonates with me on the LLC front, where people insist on comparing or analogizing LLCs to corporations.  There are times when such a comparison or analogy is "almost right," and it is in these circumstances that the perils of careless language can cause the most trouble because the same comparison or analogy can get made later when doing so is clearly wrong. 

January 23, 2018 in Employment Law, Jobs, Joshua P. Fershee, LLCs, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Call For Papers-3rd Global Meeting Indiana University Europe Gateway, Berlin, Germany July 10 & 11, 2018

I'm passing this on from Karen Bravo at IU  given all of the ESG disclosures on slavery, supply chains, and human trafficking. 

Call for Papers

SLAVERY PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE: 3rd Global Meeting

Indiana University Europe Gateway, Berlin, Germany
July 10 & 11, 2018

 

Throughout history, slavery (the purchase and sale of human beings as chattel), enslavement (through conquest, and exploitation of indebtedness, among other vulnerabilities), and similar extreme forms of exploitation and control have been an intrinsic part of human societies. 

Is slavery an inevitable part of the human condition?

Controversial estimates indicate that up to 35 million people worldwide are enslaved today.  This modern re-emergence of slavery, following legal abolition over two hundred years ago, is said to be linked to the deepening interconnectedness of countries in the global economy, overpopulation, and the economic and other vulnerabilities of the individual victims and communities.

This conference will explore slavery in all its dimensions and, in particular, the ways in which individual humans and societies understand and attempt to respond to it. 

The varieties of contemporary forms of exploitation appear to be endless.  Consider, for example, enslavement or mere “exploitation” among:

  • fishermen in Thailand’s booming shrimping industry,
  • children on Ghana’s cocoa plantations,
  • immigrant farmworkers on U.S. farms,
  • truck drivers in the port of Los Angeles.
  • prostituted women and girls on the streets and in the brothels of Las Vegas,
  • the dancing boys (bacha bazi) of Afghanistan,
  • the sex workers of The Netherlands’ Red Light Districts and in Italian cities,
  • Eritrean and other sub-Saharan Africans fleeing to Israel and trafficked and exploited in the Sinai,
  • Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, and
  • migrant workers from Southeast Asia and other countries who flock to the oil rich Gulf States for work.

Does the persistence and mutations of different forms of extreme human-of-human exploitation mean that the world may not have changed as much as contemporary societies would like to believe since worldwide abolition and the recognition of universal individual and collective human rights?  Like the ‘consumers’ of past eras, such as early industrialization, are we dependent on the abhorrent exploitation of others? 

Potential themes and sub-themes of the conference include but are not limited to:

  1. Defining Slavery:
    1. What do we mean when we talk about “slavery”
    2. Using “slavery” to obscure other endemic forms of exploitation
    3. Teaching and learning about historic slavery and contemporary forms of exploitation
  2. Slaveries of the Past
    1. Classical (Egyptian, Greco-Roman, etc.) slavery
    2. Conquests and colonizations – Aboriginal Australians, indigenous peoples of the New World, dividing and colonizing Africa and Asia
    3. Slaveries in Europe before the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Industrialization, such as villeinage and serfdom
    4. Trans-Atlantic Slavery and the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
    5. Systems of slavery in tribal and traditional societies
    6. WWII and post-WWII forced labor camps
  3. Human Trafficking and other Forms of Contemporary Exploitation
    1. Definitions
    2. Types of human trafficking
    3. Organ trafficking
    4. The focus on sex trafficking: reasons, purpose, effects
    5. Can nation states enslave?
    6. Is human trafficking “slavery”
    7. Contemporary usage and depictions of slavery
    8. Civil society anti-trafficking activism:

                                                               i.      Methodologies

                                                             ii.      Effectiveness

    1. Anti-trafficking policies and legislation
    2. Assessing contemporary anti-trafficking and/or anti-“slavery” Initiatives
  1. Systems and Structures of Enslavement and Subordination (historic and contemporary)
    1. Role of slavery in national and global economies
    2. Economic, political, legal structures – their role in enslavement and exploitation
    3. Slavery’s impact on culture
    4. Cultural impacts of historic slavery
  2. Voices of the Enslaved
    1. Slave narratives of the past and present
    2. Descendants’ interpretation of their enslaved and slave-holding ancestors
  3. Legacies of slavery
    1. Identifying and mapping contemporary legacies – economic, social, cultural, psychological
    2. Assessment of slavery’s impact – economic, political, other
    3. Commemorations of enslavers and/or the enslaved
    4. Debating reparations
  4. Anti-slavery movements:
    1. Reparations
    2. Economic compensation
    3. Restorative justice
    4. Teaching and learning about slavery
    5. Relationship to the global racial hierarchy
    6. Abolitionism and law: effects and (in)effectiveness
    7. The role of media and social media

Submissions to this conference are sought from people from all genders and walks of life, including academics (from multiple disciplines, such as art, anthropology, sociology, history, ethnic studies, politics, social work, economics) and non-academics; social workers, activists, and health care professionals; government representatives and policy makers; former slaves and indentured laborers; members of at-risk populations such as migrant and guest workers, non—regularized immigrants, and refugees.  

Conference Committee:

Karen E. Bravo (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, IN, USA)
David Bulla (Augusta University, GA, USA)
Sheetal Shah (Webster University, Leiden, The Netherlands)
Polina Smiragina (University of Sydney, Australia)

 

Submitting Your Proposal

Proposals should be submitted no later than Friday, March 2, 2018 to:

Karen E. Bravo, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis: kbravo@iupui.edu

E-Mail Subject Line: Slavery Past Present & Future 3 Proposal Submission

File Format: Microsoft Word (DOC or DOCX)

 

The following information must be included in the body of the email:

1.  Author(s)

2. Affiliation as you would like it to appear in the conference program

3.  Corresponding author email address

 

The following information must be in the Microsoft Word file:

1. Title of proposal

2.  Body of proposal (maximum of 300 words)

3.  Keywords (maximum of ten)

 

Please keep the following in mind:

1. All text must be in Times New Roman 12.

2. No footnotes or special formatting (bold, underline, or italicization) must be used.

 

Evaluating Your Proposal

All abstracts will be double-blind peer reviewed and you will be notified of the Organizing Committee’s decision no later than Friday, 16 March 2018.  If a positive decision is made, you will be asked to promptly register online. You will be asked to submit a draft paper of no more than 3000 words by Friday, 01 June 2018.

The conference registration fee is Euro (€) 200. Please note that we are not in a position to provide funding to facilitate your participation.

Publication:

A selection of papers will be published in an edited volume, to be submitted to Brill’s ‘Studies in Global Slavery’ book series.

 

November 15, 2017 in Call for Papers, Conferences, CSR, Human Rights, Marcia Narine Weldon, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

SEALSB 2017 - Conference Deadlines This Friday

The information below the line is from an e-mail I received about the SEALSB Conference. The SEALSB conference is the southeastern regional conference for law professors in business schools, but we have had practicing lawyers (especially those hoping to break into academia) and law school professors participate in the past.

The conference rotates locations in the southeast, and this year the conference will be held in Atlanta, GA from November 9-11. 

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SEALSB Conference 2017
 
The deadline to upload papers for inclusion in the conference materials has been extended to this Friday, October 20th. You may upload your paper by clicking on the following link: Paper Upload. Otherwise, please bring 25 copies to the meeting.
 
Friday, October 20th is also the conference registration deadline, so if you are planning to attend the conference but have not yet registered please make sure you do so sometime this week!
 
Additional information is available on the Conference Website. We look forward to seeing you at the Georgian Terrace!

October 17, 2017 in Business Associations, Business School, Conferences, Haskell Murray, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Blockchain-Based Token Sales, Initial Coin Offerings, and the Democratization of Public Capital Markets. Oh, My!

My UT Law colleague Jonathan Rohr has coauthored (with Aaron Wright) an important piece of scholarship on an of-the-moment topic--financial instrument offerings using distributed ledger technology.  Even more fun?  He and his co-author are interested in aspects of this topic at its intersection with the regulation of securities offerings.  Totally cool.

Here is the extended abstract.  I cannot wait to dig into this one.  Can you?  As of the time I authored this post, the article already had almost 700 downloads . . . .  Join the crowd!

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Blockchain-Based Token Sales, Initial Coin Offerings, and the Democratization of Public Capital Markets

Jonathan Rohr & Aaron Wright

Best known for their role in the creation of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, blockchains are revolutionizing the way tech entrepreneurs are financing their business enterprises. In 2017 alone, over $2.2 billion has been raised through the sale of blockchain-based digital tokens in what some are calling initial coin offerings or “ICOs,” with some sales lasting mere seconds. In a token sale, organizers of a project sell digital tokens to members of the public to finance the development of future technology. An active secondary market for tokens has emerged, with tokens being bought and sold on cryptocurrency exchanges scattered across the globe, with often wild price fluctuations.

The recent explosion of token sales could mark the beginning of a broader shift in public capital markets—one similar to the shift in media distribution that started several decades ago. Blockchains drastically reduce the cost of exchanging value and enable anyone to transmit digitized assets around the globe in a highly trusted manner, stoking dreams of truly global capital markets that leverage the power of a blockchain and the Internet to facilitate capital formation.

The spectacular growth of tokens sales has caused some to argue that these sales simply serve as new tools for hucksters and unscrupulous charlatans to fleece consumers, raising the attention of regulators across the globe. A more careful analysis, however, reveals that blockchain-based tokens represent a wide variety of assets that take a variety of forms. Some are obvious investment vehicles and entitle their holders to economic rights like a share of any profits generated by the project. Others carry with them the right to use and govern the technology that is being developed with funds generated by the token sale and may represent the beginning of a new way to build and fund powerful technological platforms.

Lacking homogeneity, the status of tokens under U.S. securities laws is anything but clear. The test under which security status is assessed—the Howey test—has uncertain application to blockchain-based tokens, particularly those that entitle the holder to use a particular technological service, because they also present the possibility of making a profit by selling the token on a secondary market. Although the SEC recently issued a Report of Investigation in which it found that one type of token qualified as a security, confusion surrounds the boundaries between the types of tokens that will be deemed securities and those that will not.

Blockchain-based tokens exhibit disparate features and have characteristics that make current registration exemptions a poor fit for token sales. In addition to including requirements that do not fit squarely with blockchain-based systems, the transfer restrictions that apply to the most popular exemptions would have the perverse effect of restricting the ability of U.S. consumers to access a new generation of digital technology. The result is an uncertain regulatory environment in which token sellers do not have a sensible path to compliance.

In this Article, we argue that the SEC and Congress should provide token sellers and the exchanges that facilitate token sales with additional certainty. Specifically, we propose that the SEC provide guidance on how it will apply the Howey test to digital tokens, particularly those that mix aspects of consumption and use with the potential for a profit. We also propose that lawmakers adopt both a compliance-driven safe harbor for online exchanges that list tokens with a reasonable belief that the public sale of such tokens is not a violation of Section 5 as well as an exemption to the Section 5 registration requirement that has been tailored to digital tokens.

October 16, 2017 in Corporate Finance, Current Affairs, Entrepreneurship, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Call for Proposals: Organizing, Deploying & Regulating Capital in the U.S.

From our friend and BLPB colleague, Anne Tucker, following is nice workshop opportunity for your consideration: 

Dear Colleagues,

We (Rob Weber & Anne Tucker) are submitting a funding proposal to host a works-in-progress workshop for 4-8 scholars at Georgia State University College of Law, in Atlanta, Georgia in spring 2018 [between April 16th and May 8th].  Workshop participants will submit a 10-15 page treatment and read all participant papers prior to attending the workshop.  If our proposal is accepted, we will have funding to sponsor travel and provide meals for participants. Interested parties should email amtucker@gsu.edu on or before November 15th with a short abstract (no more than 500 words) of your proposed contribution that is responsive to the description below. Please include your name, school, and whether you will require airfare, miles reimbursement and/or hotel. We will notify interested parties in late December regarding the funding of the workshop and acceptance of proposals.  Please direct all inquiries to Rob Weber (mailto:rweber@gsu.edu) or Anne Tucker (amtucker@gsu.edu).

Call for Proposals: Organizing, Deploying & Regulating Capital in the U.S.

Our topic description is intentionally broad reflecting our different areas of focus, and hoping to draw a diverse group of participants.  Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The idea of financial intermediation: regulation of market failures, the continued relevance of the idea of financial intermediation as a framework for thinking about the financial system, and the legitimating role that the intermediation theme-frame plays in the political economy of financial regulation.
  • Examining institutional investors as a vehicle for individual investments, block shareholders in the economy, a source of efficiency or inefficiency, an evolving industry with the rise of index funds and ETFs, and targets of SEC liquidity regulations.
  • The role and regulation of private equity and hedge funds in U.S. capital markets looking at regulatory efforts, shadow banking concerns, influences in M&A trends, and other sector trends.

This workshop targets works-in-progress and is intended to jump-start your thinking and writing for the 2018 summer.  Our goal is to provide comments, direction, and connections early in the writing and research phase rather than polishing completed or nearly completed pieces.  Bring your early ideas and your next phase projects.  We ask for a 10-15 page treatment of your thesis (three weeks before the workshop) and initial ideas to facilitate feedback, collaboration, and direction from participating in the workshop. Interested parties should email amtucker@gsu.edu on or before November 15th with a short abstract (no more than 500 words) of your proposed contribution that is responsive to the description below. Please include your name, school, and whether you will require airfare, miles reimbursement and/or hotel. We will notify interested parties in late December regarding the funding of the workshop and acceptance of proposals.  Please direct all inquiries to Rob Weber (rweber@gsu.edu) or Anne Tucker (amtucker@gsu.edu).

Thank you!

Anne & Rob

October 11, 2017 in Anne Tucker, Call for Papers, Corporate Finance, Financial Markets, Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, M&A, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

University of New Mexico: Faculty Position in Business Law and/or Intellectual Property

UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO SCHOOL OF LAW

BUSINESS LAW AND/OR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

OPEN RANK FACULTY POSITION

The University of New Mexico ("UNM") School of Law invites applications for a faculty position in Business Law and/or Intellectual Property. The faculty position is a full-time tenured or tenure-track position starting in Fall 2018. Entry-level and experienced teachers are encouraged to apply. Courses taught by this faculty member could include general business courses, intellectual property courses, and commercial law courses. Candidates must possess a J.D. or equivalent legal degree. Preferred qualifications include a record of demonstrated excellence or the promise of excellence in teaching and academic scholarship and who demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and student success, as well as working with broadly diverse communities. Academic rank and salary will be based on experience and qualifications. For best consideration, applicants should apply by October 22, 2017. The position will remain open until filled. For complete information, visit the UNMJobs website: https://unmjobs.unm.edu/. The position is listed as Open Rank – Business Law Requisition Number 2761.

The University of New Mexico is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Direct Link to Job: https://unm.csod.com/ats/careersite/jobdetails.aspx?site=1&c=unm&id=2761&m=-1&u=16023

October 11, 2017 in Jobs, Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Research/Scholarhip, Service, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Pollman and Barry on Regulatory Entrepreneurship

I recently finished Elizabeth Pollman and Jordan Barry's article entitled Regulatory Entrepreneurship. The article is thoughtfully written and timely. I highly recommend it. 

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This Article examines what we term “regulatory entrepreneurship” — pursuing a line of business in which changing the law is a significant part of the business plan. Regulatory entrepreneurship is not new, but it has become increasingly salient in recent years as companies from Airbnb to Tesla, and from DraftKings to Uber, have become agents of legal change. We document the tactics that companies have employed, including operating in legal gray areas, growing “too big to ban,” and mobilizing users for political support. Further, we theorize the business and law-related factors that foster regulatory entrepreneurship. Well-funded, scalable, and highly connected startup businesses with mass appeal have advantages, especially when they target state and local laws and litigate them in the political sphere instead of in court.

Finally, we predict that regulatory entrepreneurship will increase, driven by significant state and local policy issues, strong institutional support for startup companies, and continued technological progress that facilitates political mobilization. We explore how this could catalyze new coalitions, lower the cost of political participation, and improve policymaking. However, it could also lead to negative consequences when companies’ interests diverge from the public interest.

September 29, 2017 in Business Associations, Compliance, Current Affairs, Entrepreneurship, Haskell Murray, Management, Research/Scholarhip, Technology | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

AALS Section on Business Associations Call for Papers: Institutional Investors and Corporate Governance

Call for Papers (DEADLINE: August 24, 2017)

AALS Section on Business Associations

Institutional Investors and Corporate Governance

AALS Annual Meeting, January 5, 2018

The AALS Section on Business Associations is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for a joint program to be held on Friday, January 5, 2018 at the 2018 AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.  The topic of the program is “Institutional Investors and Corporate Governance.”

In thinking through the difficulty of agency costs within the public corporation, corporate law academics have turned repeatedly to institutional investors as a potential solution.  The agglomeration of shares within a large investing firm, together with ongoing cooperation amongst a large set of such investors, could overcome the rational apathy the average shareholder has towards participation in corporate governance.  Alternatively, activist investors could exert specific pressure on isolated companies that have been singled out—like the weakest animals in the herd—for extended scrutiny and pressure.  In these examples, the institutionalization of investing offers a counterbalance to the power of management and arguably provides a systematized way of reorienting corporate governance.  These institutional-investor archetypes have, in fact, come to life since the 1970s and have disrupted the stereotype of the passive investor.  But have we achieved a new and stable corporate governance equilibrium?  Or have we instead ended up with an additional set of agency costs – the separation of ownership from ownership from control?  This program seeks to explore these questions and assess the developments in the field since the beginning of the new century. 

The program is cosponsored by the Section on Securities Regulation.

Form and length of submission

Eligible law faculty are invited to submit manuscripts or abstracts that address any of the foregoing topics. Abstracts should be comprehensive enough to allow the review committee to meaningfully evaluate the aims and likely content of final manuscripts.  Any unpublished manuscripts (including unpublished manuscripts already accepted for publication) may be submitted for consideration.  Untenured faculty members are particularly encouraged to submit manuscripts or abstracts.

The initial review of the papers will be blind.  Accordingly, the author should submit a cover letter with the paper.  However, the paper itself, including the title page and footnotes must not contain any references identifying the author or the author’s school.  The submitting author is responsible for taking any steps necessary to redact self-identifying text or footnotes. 

 

Deadline and submission method

To be considered, manuscripts or abstracts must be submitted electronically to Professor Matthew Bodie, Chair-Elect of the Section on Business Associations, at  mbodie@slu.edu.  Please use the subject line: “Submission: AALS BA CFP.”  The deadline for submission is Thursday, August 24, 2017.  Papers will be selected after review by members of the Executive Committee of the Section on Business Associations.  The authors of the selected papers will be notified by Thursday, September 28, 2017.

 

Eligibility

Full-time faculty members of AALS member law schools are eligible to submit papers.  The following are ineligible to submit: foreign, visiting (without a full-time position at an AALS member law school) and adjunct faculty members; graduate students; fellows; non-law school faculty; and faculty at fee-paid non-member schools. Papers co-authored with a person ineligible to submit on their own may be submitted by the eligible co-author.

The Call for Paper participants will be responsible for paying their annual meeting registration fee and travel expenses.

August 9, 2017 in Business Associations, Call for Papers, Conferences, Current Affairs, Joshua P. Fershee, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Inclusive Capitalism Shareholder Proposal

My latest paper, The Inclusive Capitalism Shareholder Proposal, 17 U.C. Davis Bus. L.J. 147 (2017), is now available on Westlaw. Here is the abstract:

When it comes to the long-term well being of our society, it is difficult to overstate the importance of addressing poverty and economic inequality. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty famously argued that growing economic inequality is inherent in capitalist systems because the return to capital inevitably exceeds the national growth rate. Proponents of “Inclusive Capitalism” can be understood to respond to this issue by advocating for broadening the distribution of the acquisition of capital with the earnings of capital. This paper advances the relevant discussion by explaining how shareholder proposals may be used to increase understanding of Inclusive Capitalism, and thereby further the likelihood that Inclusive Capitalism will be implemented. In addition, even if the suggested proposals are rejected, the shareholder proposal process can be expected to facilitate a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of Inclusive Capitalism, as well as foster useful new lines of communication for addressing both poverty and economic inequality.

August 6, 2017 in Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, CSR, Financial Markets, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation, Shareholders, Social Enterprise, Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

More on Corporations, Accountability, and the Proper Locus of Power

My colleague, Joan Heminway, yesterday posted Democratic Norms and the Corporation: The Core Notion of Accountability. She raises some interesting points (as usual), and she argues: "In my view, more work can be done in corporate legal scholarship to push on the importance of accountability as a corporate norm and explore further analogies between political accountability and corporate accountability."

I have not done a lot of reading in this area, but I am inclined to agree that it seems like an area that warrants more discussion and research.  The post opens with some thought-provoking writing by Daniel Greenwood, including this:  

Most fundamentally, corporate law and our major business corporations treat the people most analogous to the governed, those most concerned with corporate decisions, as mere helots. Employees in the American corporate law system have no political rights at all—not only no vote, but not even virtual representation in the boardroom legislature.
Joan correctly observes, "Whether you agree with Daniel or not on the substance, his views are transparent and his belief and energy are palpable." Although I admit I have not spent a lot of time with his writing, but my initial take is that I do not agree with his premise. That is, employees do have political rights, and they have them where they belong: in local, state, and federal elections.  Employees, in most instances, do not have political rights within their employment at all.  Whether you work for the government, a nonprofit, or a small sole proprietorship, you don't generally have political rights as to your employment.  You may have some say in an employee-owned entity, and you may have some votes via union membership, but even there, those votes aren't really as to your employment specifically. 
 
The idea of seeking democratic norms via the corporate entity itself strikes me as flawed.  If people don't like how corporations (or other entities) operate, then it would seem to me the political process can solve that via appropriate legislation or regulation. That is, make laws that allow entities to do more social good if they are so inclined. Or even require entities to do so, if that's the will of the people (this is not a recommendation, merely an observation).  Scholars like Greenwood and others continue to make assertions that entities cannot make socially responsible choices. He states, " The law bars [corporations], in the absence of unanimous consent, from making fundamental value choices, for example, from balancing the pursuit of profit against other potential corporate goals, such as quality products, interests of non-shareholder participants or even the actual financial interests of the real human beings who own the shares."  And judges and scholars, like Chancellor Chandler and Chief Justice Strine, have reinforced this view, which, I maintain, is wrong (or should be).  
 
Professor Bainbridge has explained, "The fact that corporate law does not intend to promote corporate social responsibility, but rather merely allows it to exist behind the shield of the business judgment rule becomes significant in -- and is confirmed by -- cases where the business judgment rule does not apply." Todd Henderson similarly argued, and I agree, 
Those on the right, like Milton Friedman, argue that the shareholder-wealth-maximization requirement prohibits firms from acting in ways that benefit, say, local communities or the environment, at the expense of the bottom line. Those on the left, like Franken, argue that the duty to shareholders makes corporations untrustworthy and dangerous. They are both wrong.
I don't disagree with Joan (or with Greenwood, for that matter), that accountability matters, but I do think we should frame accountability properly, and put accountability where it belongs.  That is political accountability and corporate accountability are different. As I see it, corporations are not directly accountable to citizens (employees or not) in this sense (they are in contract and tort, of course). Corporations are accountable to their shareholders, and to some degree to legislators and regulators who can modify the rules based on how corporations act.  Politicians, on the other hand, are accountable to the citizens.  If citizens are not happy with how entities behave, they can take that to their politicians, who can then choose to act (or not) on their behalf.  
 
I think entities should consider the needs of employees, and I believe entities would be well served to listen to their employees. I happen to think that is good business. But I think the idea that employees have a right to a formal voice at the highest levels within the entity is flawed, until such time as the business itself or legislators or regulators decide to make that the rule. (I do not, to be clear, think that would be a good rule for legislators or regulators to make for private entities.) The proper balance of laws and regulations is a separate question from this discussion, though. Here, the key is that accountability -- or, as Prof. Bainbridge says, "the power to decide" -- remains in the right place.  I am inclined to think the power structure is correct right now, and whether that power is being used correctly is an entirely different, and separate, issue.  

August 1, 2017 in Business Associations, Corporations, CSR, Delaware, Joan Heminway, Joshua P. Fershee, Legislation, Management, Research/Scholarhip, Shareholders, Social Enterprise | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Priorities Matter: Energy and Beyond

I am speaking at a plenary session tomorrow during the the Energy Impacts Symposium at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Conference Center in Columbus, Ohio. The program is exciting, and I look forward to being a part of it.  The program is described as follows: 

Energy Impacts 2017 is a energy research conference and workshop, organized by a 9-member interdisciplinary steering committee, focused on synthesis, comparison, and innovation among established and emerging energy impacts scholars from North America and abroad. We invite participation from sociologists, geographers, political scientists, economists, anthropologists, practitioners, and other interested parties whose work addresses impacts of new energy development for host communities and landscapes.

The pace, scale, and intensity of new energy development around the world demands credible and informed research about potential impacts to human communities that host energy developments. From new electrical transmission lines needed for a growing renewable energy sector to hydraulically fracturing shale for oil and gas, energy development can have broad and diverse impacts on the communities where it occurs. While a fast-growing cadre of researchers has emerged to produce important new research on the social, economic, and behavioral impacts from large-scale energy development for host communities and landscapes, their discoveries are often isolated within disciplinary boundaries.

Through facilitated interactive workshop activities, invited experts and symposium participants will produce a roadmap for future cross-disciplinary research priorities.

I will be talking about Community Development and the North Dakota Sovereign Wealth Fund, and we'll discuss the implications of the resource curse.  I am of the view that the resource curse is correlative, not causative, and that natural resource extraction can prove harmful to local communities, but that it doesn't have to be.  From North Dakota's $4.33 billion fund to Norway's Government Pension Fund Global, there are examples of funding that can provide for the future. But there are numerous examples of struggling communities and bankrupt local governments where funds benefited few. And even North Dakota and Norway provide stark contrasts in how the funds are used. The point, for me, is that generalizations overstate the role of the resource and understate the role of local decision making.  What we prioritize matters, and often, I think, we can do better.  It's not preordained.  We can do better, as long as we decide to do so. 

July 25, 2017 in Behavioral Economics, Conferences, Jobs, Joshua P. Fershee, Law and Economics, Legislation, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)