Monday, March 18, 2024

Representing Elon Musk

Sometimes, the scholarly enterprise offers one the opportunity to deeply learn while sharing embedded knowledge.  I never thought that my 2022 Southeastern Association of Law Schools discussion group on Elon Musk and the Law would turn into such a rich learning experience.  But it did.  

In organizing the group, I knew folks would focus on all things Twitter (especially as the year proceeded).  But because of the kind offer of the Stetson Law Review to host a symposium featuring the work of the group and publish the proceedings, I was able to dig in a bit deeper in my work, which focused on visioning what it would be like to represent Elon Musk.  The resulting article, "Representing Eline Musk," can be found here.  The SSRN abstract follows.

What would it be like to represent Elon Musk on business law matters or work with him in representing a business he manages or controls? This article approaches that issue as a function of professional responsibility and practice norms applied in the context of publicly available information about Elon Musk and his business-related escapades. Specifically, the article provides a sketch of Elon Musk and considers that depiction through a professional conduct lens, commenting on the challenges of representing or working with someone with attributes and behaviors substantially like those recognized in Elon Musk.

Ultimately (and perhaps unsurprisingly, for those who have followed Elon Musk’s interactions with the law in a business setting), the article concludes that representing Elon Musk or one of his controlled businesses would be a tough professional assignment, raising both typical and atypical professional responsibility issues. Taking on an engagement in which Elon Musk is the client or a control person would require deliberate lawyer leadership, including (among other things) patience, mental toughness, and empathy. As a result, the lawyer would be required not only to have the required legal expertise, sensitivity to professional conduct regulation, and practical experience to carry out the representation, but also to understand and know how to employ their talent, personality, character strengths, and leadership style in a demanding and mutable lawyering context.

The well-considered comments of so many folks helped to move this work along.  While my author footnote mentions some, it could not mention all.  As I thought through issues of client wealth, power, mental health, and neurobiological status, those who know more than I--personally and professionally--were essential to my assessments. 

I know that there is a lot more that can (and should) be written on representing clients in the varied lot of personal circumstances that life presents.  I hope that I presented my thoughts in this piece in a way that is sensitive to the myriad issues involved in describing and considering client attributes and conditions.  I also hope this work will encourage more reflection and writing on related issues.

Conferences, Current Affairs, Ethics, Joan Heminway, Lawyering, Wellness | Permalink


Post a comment