Friday, June 21, 2019
Today, the 10th annual National Business Law Scholars Conference concluded. Jill Fisch gave today's keynote lecture at lunchtime. She masterfully (really) tied together the scholarship of the far-and-away vast majority of the business law scholars attending the conference by weaving together corporate purpose, private ordering, and choice of entity. In tying these themes together, she encouraged us all to use our scholarship to serve multiple audiences--including the judiciary, the law practice community, and industry.
This talk resonated with me from start to finish. I was riveted. I knew Jill was talking directly to me and so many others in the room who have plumbed the core of corporate governance and tried to address multiple audiences with our work. She validated, and encouraged us to continue (and expand), our work in these somewhat unsettled (and sometimes unsettling!) areas of business law.
Take me for example (since I know myself best . . . ). As Jill talked about corporate purpose, I heard her to be validating part of my article on Corporate Purpose and Litigation Risk in Publicly Held U.S. Benefit Corporations. When she addressed private ordering, I understood her to be endorsing my observations on that subject (as well as corporate purpose!) in Shareholder Wealth Maximization as a Function of Statutes, Decisional Law, and Organic Documents. And when she extolled the virtues of scholarship on choice of entity, I realized she was supporting work like mine in Let's Not Give Up on Traditional For-Profit Corporations for Sustainable Social Enterprise. In each of those pieces, I was talking to audiences that include those outside the business law academy. I have recently focused more direct attention on these additional audiences in essays like Why Can't We Be Friends? A Business Finance Lawyer's Plaintive Plea to Entrepreneurs and Professional Responsibility in an Age of Alternative Entities, Alternative Finance, and Alternative Facts. I know that others in the audience saw similar reflections of Jill's words in their own work.
Mike Guttentag observed in summary that Jill's words represented both a "call to action" and a celebration. I could not have summed Jill's talk up any better than that. (And she seemed pleased by that summary--indicating that if she had achieved those objectives, she had done the job she set out to do.)
I left the keynote program uplifted and, frankly, jazzed up about what I have done, am doing, and plan to continue to do. The great comments I got on my insider trading project in the session right after her talk were icing on this beautiful cake. Thank you, Jill, for your rousing endorsement of business law scholarship.