Wednesday, September 19, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Midweek Roundup (Sep. 19, 2018)

September 19, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Weekend Roundup (Sep. 16, 2018)

September 16, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Midweek Roundup (Sep. 12, 2018)

September 12, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 9, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Weekend Roundup (Sep. 9, 2018)

It was a busy second half of the week. More after the break:

Continue reading

September 9, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Midweek Roundup (Sep. 5, 2018)

September 5, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 3, 2018

Connecting the Threads II - Laboring on Labor Day

Like many in the law academy, I find three-day holiday weekends a great time to catch my breath and catch up on work items that need to be addressed.  This Labor Day weekend--including today, Labor Day itself--is no exception to the rule.  I am working today, honoring workers through my own work.  My husband and daughter are doing the same.

This blog post and the announcement it carries are among my more joyful tasks for the day.  I have been remiss in not earlier announcing and promoting our second annual Business Law Prof Blog symposium, which will be held at The University of Tennessee College of Law on September 14.  The symposium again focuses on the work of many of your favorite Business Law Prof Blog editors, with commentary from my UT Law faculty colleagues and students.  This year, topics range from the human rights and other compliance implications of blockchain technology to designing impactful corporate law, with a sprinkling of other entity and securities law related topics.  I am focusing my time in the spotlight (!) on professional challenges in the representation of social enterprise firms.  More information about the symposium is available here.  For those of you who have law licenses in Tennessee, CLE credits are available.

I am looking forward to again hosting some of my favorite law scholars at this symposium.  I am sure some will blog about their presentations here (Marcia already has previewed her talk and summarized all of our presentations, and I plan to later blog about mine), Transactions (our business law journal) will publish the symposium proceedings, and videos will be processed and posted on UT Law's CLE website later in the year.  But if you are in the neighborhood, stop by and hear us all in person!  We would love to see you.

Transactions(BLBP-ConnectingThreadsLogo)

September 3, 2018 in Ann Lipton, Conferences, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway, Joshua P. Fershee, Marcia Narine Weldon, Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 2, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Weekend Roundup (Sep. 2, 2018)

September 2, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Should Corporate Lawyers and Business Law Professors Be Talking About DAOs?

Did I lose you with the title to this post? Do you have no idea what a DAO is? In its simplest terms, a DAO is a decentralized autonomous organization, whose decisions are made electronically by a written computer code or through the vote of its members. In theory, it eliminates the need for traditional documentation and people for governance. This post won't explain any more about DAOs or the infamous hack of the Slock.it DAO in 2016. I chose this provocative title to inspire you to read an article entitled Legal Education in the Blockchain Revolution.

The authors Mark Fenwick, Wulf A. Kaal, and Erik P. M. Vermeulen discuss how technological innovations, including artificial intelligence and blockchain will change how we teach and practice law related to real property, IP, privacy, contracts, and employment law. If you're a practicing lawyer, you have a duty of competence. You need to know what you don't know so that you avoid advising on areas outside of your level of expertise. It may be exciting to advise a company on tax, IP, securities law or other legal issues related to cryptocurrency or blockchain, but you could subject yourself to discipline for doing so without the requisite background. If you teach law, you will have students clamoring for information on innovative technology and how the law applies. Cornell University now offers 28 courses on blockchain, and a professor at NYU's Stern School of Business has 235 people in his class. Other schools are scrambling to find professors qualified to teach on the subject. 

To understand the hype, read the article on the future of legal education. The abstract is below:

The legal profession is one of the most disrupted sectors of the consulting industry today. The rise of Legal Tech, artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, and, most importantly, blockchain technology is changing the practice of law. The sharing economy and platform companies challenge many of the traditional assumptions, doctrines, and concepts of law and governance, requiring litigators, judges, and regulators to adapt. Lawyers need to be equipped with the necessary skillsets to operate effectively in the new world of disruptive innovation in law. A more creative and innovative approach to educating lawyers for the 21st century is needed.

For more on how blockchain is changing business and corporate governance, come by my talk at the University of Tennessee on September 14th where you will also hear from my co-bloggers. In case you have no interest in my topic, it's worth the drive/flight to hear from the others. The descriptions of the sessions are below:

Session 1: Breach of Fiduciary Duty and the Defense of Reliance on Experts

Many corporate statutes expressly provide that directors in discharging their duties may rely in good faith upon information, opinions, reports, or statements from officers, board committees, employees, or other experts (such as accountants or lawyers). Such statutes often come into play when directors have been charged with breaching their procedural duty of care by making an inadequately informed decision, but they can be applicable in other contexts as well. In effect, the statutes provide a defense to directors charged with breach of fiduciary duty when their allegedly uninformed or wrongful decisions were based on credible information provided by others with appropriate expertise. Professor Douglas Moll will examine these “reliance on experts” statutes and explore a number of questions associated with them.

Session 2: Fact or Fiction: Flawed Approaches to Evaluating Market Behavior in Securities Litigation

Private fraud actions brought under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act require courts to make a variety of determinations regarding market functioning and the economic effects of the alleged misconduct. Over the years, courts have developed a variety of doctrines to guide how these inquiries are to be conducted. For example, courts look to a series of specific, pre-defined factors to determine whether a market is “efficient” and thus responsive to new information. Courts also rely on a variety of doctrines to determine whether and for how long publicly-available information has exerted an influence on security prices. Courts’ judgments on these matters dictate whether cases will proceed to summary judgment and trial, whether classes will be certified and the scope of such classes, and the damages that investors are entitled to collect. Professor Ann M. Lipton will discuss how these doctrines operate in such an artificial manner that they no longer shed light on the underlying factual inquiry, namely, the actual effect of the alleged fraud on investors.

Session 3: Lawyering for Social Enterprise

Professor Joan Heminway will focus on salient components of professional responsibility operative in delivering advisory legal services to social enterprises. Social enterprises—businesses that exist to generate financial and social or environmental benefits—have received significant positive public attention in recent years. However, social enterprise and the related concepts of social entrepreneurship and impact investing are neither well defined nor well understood. As a result, entrepreneurs, investors, intermediaries, and agents, as well as their respective advisors, may be operating under different impressions or assumptions about what social enterprise is and have different ideas about how to best build and manage a sustainable social enterprise business. Professor Heminway will discuss how these legal uncertainties have the capacity to generate transaction costs around entity formation and management decision making and the pertinent professional responsibilities implicated in an attorney’s representation of such social enterprises.

Session 4: Beyond Bitcoin: Leveraging Blockchain for Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Enterprise Risk Management

Although many people equate blockchain with bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts, Professor Marcia Narine Weldon will discuss how the technology also has the potential to transform the way companies look at governance and enterprise risk management. Companies and stock exchanges are using blockchain for shareholder communications, managing supply chains, internal audit, and cybersecurity. Professor Weldon will focus on eliminating barriers to transparency in the human rights arena. Professor Weldon’s discussion will provide an overview of blockchain technology and how state and nonstate actors use the technology outside of the realm of cryptocurrency.

Session 5: Crafting State Corporate Law for Research and Review

Professor Benjamin Edwards will discuss how states can implement changes in state corporate law with an eye toward putting in place provisions and measures to make it easier for policymakers to retrospectively review changes to state law to discern whether legislation accomplished its stated goals. State legislatures often enact and amend their business corporation laws without considering how to review and evaluate their effectiveness and impact. This inattention means that state legislatures quickly lose sight of whether the changes actually generate the benefits desired at the time off passage. It also means that state legislatures may not observe stock price reactions or other market reactions to legislation. Our federal system allows states to serve as the laboratories of democracy. The controversy over fee-shifting bylaws and corporate charter provisions offers an opportunity for state legislatures to intelligently design changes in corporate law to achieve multiple state and regulatory objectives. Professor Edwards will discuss how well-crafted legislation would: (i) allow states to compete effectively in the market for corporate charters; and (ii) generate useful information for evaluating whether particular bylaws or charter provisions enhance shareholder wealth.

Session 6: An Overt Disclosure Requirement for Eliminating the Duty of Loyalty

When Delaware law allowed parties to eliminate the duty of loyalty for LLCs, more than a few people were appalled. Concerns about eliminating the duty of loyalty are not surprising given traditional business law fiduciary duty doctrine. However, as business agreements evolved, and became more sophisticated, freedom of contract has become more common, and attractive. How to reconcile this tradition with the emerging trend? Professor Joshua Fershée will discuss why we need to bring a partnership principle to LLCs to help. In partnerships, the default rule is that changes to the partnership agreement or acts outside the ordinary course of business require a unanimous vote. See UPA § 18(h) & RUPA § 401(j). As such, the duty of loyalty should have the same requirement, and perhaps that even the rule should be mandatory, not just default. The duty of loyalty norm is sufficiently ingrained that more active notice (and more explicit consent) is necessary, and eliminating the duty of loyalty is sufficiently unique that it warrants unique treatment if it is to be eliminated.

Session 7: Does Corporate Personhood Matter? A Review of We the Corporations

Professor Stefan Padfield will discuss a book written by UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler, “We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights.” The highly-praised book “reveals the secret history of one of America’s most successful yet least-known ‘civil rights movements’ – the centuries-long struggle for equal rights for corporations.” However, the book is not without its controversial assertions, particularly when it comes to its characterizations of some of the key components of corporate personhood and corporate personality theory. This discussion will unpack some of these assertions, hopefully ensuring that advocates who rely on the book will be informed as to alternative approaches to key issues.

 

September 1, 2018 in Ann Lipton, Compliance, Conferences, Contracts, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, Current Affairs, Employment Law, Human Rights, Intellectual Property, International Business, Joan Heminway, Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Lawyering, LLCs, Marcia Narine Weldon, Real Property, Shareholders, Social Enterprise, Stefan J. Padfield, Teaching, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Midweek Roundup (Aug. 29, 2018)

August 29, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Weekend Roundup (Aug. 26, 2018)

August 26, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Midweek Roundup (Aug. 22, 2018)

August 22, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sergio Alberto Gramitto Ricci on The Technology and Archeology of Corporate Law

The following comes to us from Sergio Alberto Gramitto Ricci, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law and Assistant Director, Clarke Program on Corporations & Society, Cornell Law School.  I had the pleasure of listening to Sergio discuss this project at our recent SEALS discussion group on Masterpiece Cakeshop, and I found particularly interesting his conclusion that "Roman slaves could not own property, but ius naturale provided them with the right to exercise religion. To the contrary, Roman corporations could contract, own assets and bear liabilities, but they had no exercise rights as religion liberties were typical of personae—physically sound humans."  The concept of robo-directors is also fascinating, and adds another layer to my ongoing dystopian (utopian?) novel plot wherein corporations are allowed to run for seats in Congress directly (as opposed to what some would argue is the current system wherein we get: "The Senator from [X], sponsored by Big Pharma Corp."). You can download the full draft via SSRN here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3232816.

In an era where legal persons hold wealth and power comparable to those of nation states, shedding light on the nature of the corporate form and on the rights of business corporations is crucial for defining the relations between the latter and humans. Recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, including Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., have called for a closer investigation of the role that corporate separateness plays in the business corporation formula. Moreover, legal personhood is a sophisticated legal technology, which employment can revolutionize the strategies to protect cultural heritage or natural features and can address emerging phenomena, including artificial intelligence and learning machines. This paper adopts archeology of corporate law to analyze three intertwining legal and organizational technologies based on legal personhood. Archeology of corporate law excavates ancient laws and language in order to solve salient issues in contemporary and future corporate debates. First, this paper sheds light on the origins and nature of legal personhood and on the rights of business corporations by analyzing laws and language that the Romans adopted when they invented the corporation. For example, excavating roman law shows how Roman slaves could not own property, but ius naturale provided them with the right to exercise religion. To the contrary, Roman corporations could contract, own assets and bear liabilities, but they had no exercise rights as religion liberties were typical of personae—physically sound humans. In sum, the Romans drew a line between the legal capacities of their corporations and the rights and liberties that persons possessed by virtue of being human. Second, this paper discusses the separation of ownership and control. It explains how the separation of ownership and control, together with legal personhood, constitutes the essential formula of the business corporation model. Last, this paper explores artificial intelligence in boardrooms to assist, integrate or replace human directors drawing a parallelism between robo-directors and Roman slaves appointed to run joint-enterprises. Barring the statutory restrictions that require for board directors to be natural persons and overcoming the moral concerns related to appointing robo-directors, the remaining issue that AI in boardrooms raises is that of accountability.

August 19, 2018 in Business Associations, Comparative Law, Corporate Personality, Corporations, Religion, Research/Scholarhip, Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Midweek Roundup (Aug. 15, 2018)

August 15, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 13, 2018

SEALS 2018 - Mentoring, Learning, Sharing

image from sealslawschools.org

On Saturday evening, I returned from the 2018 Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) annual conference (program here).  My week-long tour of duty as a conference registrant spanned three different areas of engagement: (1) volunteerism in the portion of the conference dedicated to helping prepare prospective law faculty for the law school appointments process; (2) attendance at programs of interest on substantive law, law schools, and law teaching; and (3) participation (through presentation and commentary) in business law discussion groups.  Although I was exhausted by the time I left (especially because I also attended portions of two meetings of the SEALS Board of Trustees), I also was rewarded by each of the three types of involvement in the conference.

The prospective law teachers component of the conference offers the opportunity for a select group of future teacher-scholars to present a sample job talk, receive comments on their draft CVs, and engage in mock interviews.  This year, I participated as a mentor in all three components.  Some folks needed more support with pieces of the process than others, as you might imagine.  But all were amply qualified and deserving of appointments.  Several sent me nice "thank you" messages.  I hope that we will stay in touch.

I was able to attend a few sessions (or parts of sessions) of various kinds that did not focus on business law directly.  Some featured my UT Law colleagues; others represented areas of interest wholly outside or only indirectly related to business law.  For example, I attended an international panel on "Fake News" in a Digital Era, a discussion session on Strategies for Bar Preparation and Success, a New Scholars Workshop panel focusing on works-in-process relating to regulatory questions in various areas of law, a program entitled Workshop on Teaching to Engage, and a healthcare and bioethics discussion session.  All had something relevant to offer to my scholarship, teaching, or service.  As a result of the teaching session, I plan to move one day of office hours a week to our law school commons c=area, so that students can just drop in individually or in groups.  I will try to remember to report out on that experiment.

Finally, I did participate in three discussion groups and attend a fourth as part of the Business Law Workshop at the conference.  Specifically: I co-chaired--with John Anderson--an insider trading discussion session (U.S. v. Martoma and the Future of Insider Trading Law); chaired a second discussion forum on Alternative ways of Going Public; commented on forthcoming works in a Corporate Governance discussion group; and participated in a final discussion forum on The Role of Corporate Personhood in Masterpiece Bakeshop organized and chaired by our own BLPB co-editor Stefan Padfield. Fellow co-editor Marcia Narine Weldon also attended and participated in this and other programming at the conference.  The discussions in these sessions were rich and varied.  Perhaps Stefan will have more to say about the discussion group he organized . . . .  I think he was pleased with the result of his call for participation.  I found the conversation stimulating and fascinating

The 2019 conference is scheduled to start at the end of July (July 29-August 4) in Boca Raton, Florida.  Look for news on it here, or sign up for the SEALS blog, through which SEALS makes major announcements of interest to subscribing faculty.  If you would like to organize a business law program for next year's conference, please feel free to contact me for advice. I helped originate the SEALS Business Law Workshop years ago and can provide assistance with the proposal submission process.

August 13, 2018 in Conferences, Corporate Personality, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway, Marcia Narine Weldon, Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Weekend Roundup (Aug. 12, 2018)

August 12, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Midweek Roundup (Aug. 8, 2018)

August 8, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

At SEALS Saturday, 8/11? Stop by 9-11 AM for: "Discussion Group: The Role of Corporate Personhood in Masterpiece Cakeshop"

The Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Annual Meeting is upon us. If you are free from 9-11 AM this coming Saturday, Aug. 11, please stop by our discussion group on The Role of Corporate Personhood in Masterpiece Cakeshop. Don't worry about the fact that SCOTUS ignored the personhood issue -- we'll have plenty to talk about.

Here is a summary of the program:

In the United States Supreme Court case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the issue presented is: “Whether applying Colorado's public accommodations law to compel the petitioner to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment.” A group of corporate law professors has filed an amicus brief in support of the CCRC. One of the arguments in that brief is: “Because Of The Separate Legal Personality Of Corporations And Shareholders, The Constitutional Interests Of Shareholders Should Not Be Projected Onto The Corporation.” This discussion group features a dialogue on the pros and cons of this argument, together with related analysis and observations.

I'll be moderating, and here is a list of dicussants:

Professor Eric Chaffee, University of Toledo College of Law; Professor Sergio Gramitto, Cornell Law School; Professor Joan Heminway, The University of Tennessee College of Law; Professor Arnold Loewy, Texas Tech University School of Law; Professor Brett McDonnell, University of Minnesota Law School; Professor George Mocsary, Southern Illinois University School of Law; Professor James Nelson, University of Houston Law Center; Professor Thomas Rutledge, Stoll, Kennon & Ogden; Professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Stetson University College of Law.

Hope to see you there!

August 5, 2018 in Conferences, Constitutional Law, Corporate Personality, Corporations, Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 2, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov (belated) Midweek Roundup (Aug. 2, 2018)

August 2, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Weekend Roundup (July 29, 2018)

July 29, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

ICYMI: #corpgov Midweek Roundup (July 25, 2018)

July 25, 2018 in Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (0)