Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Strava as Social Media's Social Enterprise

Strava

The Social Enterprise Alliance (SEA) previously defined "social enterprise" as businesses that (1) Directly address social need; (2) Commercial activity [not donations] drives revenue; and (3) Common good is the primary purpose. SEA's definition has evolved to be more inclusive, now recognizing three different models based on -- (1) opportunity employment, (2) transformative products/services, or (3) donations. While the first definition could be criticized for being too narrow (Ben & Jerry's would not qualify because their product does not directly address a "social need"), SEA's new definition is likely too broad because it seems to cover all donating businesses. 

Personally, I am most fond of social enterprises that produce products/services that lead directly to human flourishing. 

For Lent, I gave up Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. While these products have their uses, on the whole they tend distract me from what is truly important. Perhaps social media has improved since the advent of Covid-19, and I admit to feeling somewhat out of the loop. But I also feel much more at peace, and may not return to those forms of social media after Easter, or, if I do, I hope it will be on a much more limited basis. 

In contrast, Strava is one form of social media that has been a constant positive in my life. Strava, for those who don't know, is a free app to log all kinds of physical exercise. I credit Strava (and my friends on Strava) with keeping me accountable to exercise 4+ times a week for the past 4+ years. The community on Strava is unlike any social media I have seen or heard of elsewhere. People are relentlessly encouraging, and the focus is on fitness not controversy. Also, as a Strava friend recently posted -- "love Strava because it’s the only social media platform with almost 100% factually accurate information and statistics. (Besides minor GPS errors and the occasional ‘wrong activity type’)." Strava has truly created a product that likely improves the lives of nearly all of its users.

Anyway, no sponsorship for me for this post, but I do hope to see more readers on Strava!

March 31, 2020 in Business Associations, Haskell Murray, Social Enterprise, Sports, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Businesses Respond to COVID-19

CNN recently ran a story entitled - the pandemic risks bringing out the worst in humanity.

Rather than focus on the negative, I decided to collect some of the positive business responses to COVID-19. This is probably just a small sampling of the positive responses. I may update this list from time to time; please feel free to add more in the comments or email me. [Updated with some suggestions from my business ethics students and to include some of the highlights from this excellent, more extensive list that a reader e-mailed.]

Also related to COVID-19, I just came across this article about David Lat (founder of "Above the Law"). David is an acquaintance of mine and many of our readers. According to the article, David has COVID-19 and has been dealt a particularly harsh case. David is an incredibly kind person, with a beautiful family, and his case has made me take the virus even more seriously.  

 

March 20, 2020 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Ethics, Haskell Murray | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Law Firms Should Not Have Corporate Practice Groups

As a new dean in a new city, I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of impressive lawyers in Omaha.  I have been incredibly impressed by the sophisticated practices at the very law firms I have visited. For "midsized" firms, there are lawyers doing incredible work here that is the same work being done on the coasts, including some amazing M & A work. 

But here in Omaha, just like every city around the country, law firms have "corporate" practices.  But really, those are business law practices or transactional practices.  Almost every corporation of significant size also owns some LLCs (limited liability companies) and perhaps other entities. And certainly these firms, especially those working with real estate companies, will work with LLCs and other pass through entities.  

So, consistent with my prior posts on this subject, I urge lawyers and firms to acknowledge the full scope of what we do.  It's not just corporate.  It's so much more. And that's a good thing. I just ask that we embrace business practice or transactional practice to try to include all we do.   

 

 

 

January 26, 2020 in Business Associations, Corporations, Joshua P. Fershee, LLCs, Partnership, Unincorporated Entities | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 13, 2020

Question of the Day: SWM - Doctrine, Theory, Policy?

Each time I teach Advanced Business Associations, I try to engage students on the first day in an exercise that leverages their existing knowledge of business associations law but also introduces new angles and nomenclature.  I assign a reading (this year, on shareholder wealth maximization) and ask each student to write up a brief definition of the concepts of “policy” and “theory” as they may apply to and operate in business associations law. I then ask them to relate their definitions to the reading.

So, the core question before the house in that course on the first day of classes last week effectively was the following: is shareholder wealth maximization legal doctrine, policy, theory, or something else?  We had a wide-ranging discussion on the question, working off three propositions I put on the board.  The class session enabled me to review some concepts from the foundational Business Associations course while also discussing the role of theory and policy in law and lawyering, getting some creative mental juices flowing, and teaching a bit of the new vocabulary they will need for the course.

I decided that it could be beneficial to share with my students the views of others on our effective core question from class last week.  So, today, I ask you:

Shareholder wealth maximization: doctrine, theory, policy, or something else?

Offer your answers in the comments or send me a private message.  You can pick more than one category, of course, in classifying shareholder wealth maximization.  In other words, the categories are not intended to be mutually exclusive. A brief explanation for your response would be helpful.  I will not attribute the answers I pass on, unless you want me to.  I hope this post will stimulate some interesting responses, but I also know that law professors are busy with the start of the new semester.  It may go without saying, but (especially in these circumstances) a short response is appreciated as much as a long one.

January 13, 2020 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 6, 2020

Advice to My Business Associations Students . . . And Maybe Yours, Too

Business Associations is a tough course to teach, whether it is taught in a three-credit-hour or four-credit-hour format.  I have written before (here, here, and here) about the challenges of teaching fiduciary duties in this course.  And I recently posted here and here about the characterization of a classic oversight conundrum as a matter of corporate fiduciary duty law in Delaware.

I just recently finished grading my Business Associations exams from last semester.  They were a good lot overall, but they evidenced several somewhat common errors that seemed to beg for broad dissemination to the class. So, I sent them all a message inviting them to come in and review their exams and highlighting certain things for their attention of a more general nature.  

Today, I offer you that general counsel that I gave to my Business Associations students based on that review of their written final exams.  It is set forth below, absent my introductory and closing remarks.  As you'll see, some of it relates to substantive law, and some of it relates to exam or other skills.  Perhaps this is of use to those of you who just taught or are about to teach the course.  Maybe some students will read it and learn from it.  Regardless, here it is.

  • Agency rules and management rules in business associations law are often confused. Agency rules express the authority of a person to act on behalf of the firm in transactions with third parties--those who enter into transactions with the firm. For example, by default under the RUPA, each partner in a RUPA partnership is an agent of the partnership that can bind the partnership to contracts with others. Management rules, by contrast address the governance and control authority of a particular firm constituent within the governance structure of the firm. Thus, agency rules relate to authority that is outward-facing (pertaining to transactional parties) and management rules relate to authority that is inward-facing (pertaining to internal constituents of the firm). For example, by default under the RUPA, each partner has an equal right to manage the partnership.

  • Similarly, the concept of "limited liability" is commonly understood to refer to the limited liability of a firm owner for the firm's obligations. For example, under the RUPA, each partner is jointly and severally liable for the obligations of the partnership, whereas under corporate law, shareholders are not personally liable for the corporation's obligations to third parties. Exculpation, which eliminates the monetary liability of directors in the corporate context, relates to corporate governance claims--legal actions for breach of the fiduciary duty of care. This is internal governance litigation that does not relate to corporate obligations to third parties. So, while exculpation does limit (eliminate) a director's personal liability for a breach of the duty of care, it is not part of what people generally refer to as "limited liability" in a corporate context.

  • Fiduciary duties are typically understood to instill or increase trust in relationships. Accordingly, they are commonly employed to provide a benefit in circumstances involving untrustworthy business associates. Yet a number of you seemed to think they were an undue burden to business venturers in circumstances where trust may be lacking (i.e., where fiduciary duties should be useful). You will need to make a solid argument to most folks to justify that the detriments outweigh the benefits.

  • If an exam or assignment question asks for you to talk about why one set of rules is better than another in addressing a specific scenario, make sure you contrast examples from the two sets of rules, applying each to the relevant facts.

  • Read questions carefully and closely. When a question asks for you to reference or rely on statutory default rules,ensure that your response references or relies on statutory default rules--not on ways on which those rules can be or have been agreed around through private ordering. When a question asks for information or an evaluation or rules relating to member-managed LLCs, ensure you directly address member-managed LLCs in lieu of (or at least before) commenting on manager-managed LLCs or the flexibility of moving back and forth between member-managed and manager-managed LLCs.

  • Don't forget to cite to an appropriate source for rules on which you rely in your legal analysis.

  • Keeping track of and managing time is important to the bar exam and other in-class timed exercises. If you ran out of time in responding to the prompts on this exam, evaluate why. I can help, if need be. But understanding how and why your time management skills may have failed you can be important.

Feel free to add your observations or advice of a similar (or different) nature in the comments.  I am teaching Advanced Business Associations this semester, so I can work on some of these things during that course.  In any event, I wish you all a happy and healthy semester and year, whatever you may be teaching or doing.

January 6, 2020 in Business Associations, Joan Heminway, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (8)

Monday, December 2, 2019

Nike and Winning at All Costs

Win

In running circles, Nike has been in the news quite a lot this year.

In May, Nike was criticized for its maternity policy (of lack thereof) for sponsored runners (SeeNike Told Me to Dream Big, Until I Wanted a Baby”).

In September, Nike’s running coach, Alberto Salazar, was suspended for 4 years for facilitating doping. (SeeNike’s Elite Running Group Folded After Suspension of Coach Alberto Salazar”)

In October, Nike's sponsored runner, Eliud Kipchoge, ran the first sub-2 hour marathon, wearing the much-hyped Nike Vaporfly shoes. (SeeEliud Kipchoge runs first ever sub-two hour marathon in INEOS 1:59 challenge”) (See also, “Achieving the Seemingly Impossible: A Tribute to Eliud Kipchoge” by our own Colleen Baker)

In November, former Nike-sponsored runner Mary Cain’s allegations of verbal abuse and weight shaming went viral. (See “I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike: Mary Cain’s male coaches were convinced she had to get “thinner, and thinner, and thinner.” Then her body started breaking down.”) (See also, “Mary Cain Speaks Out Against Nike and Coach Alberto Salazar Over Emotional, Physical Abuse”)

I think Robert Johnson of Let’s Run gets it right - Don’t Believe The Spin, Nike’s Treatment Of Mary Cain Is Very Much In Line With Its #1 Core Value: Win At All Costs. And, at least based on what I see among my serious running friends, the negative press is not hurting Nike’s sales. The Nike Vaporfly shoes are the best running shoes on the market, and the negative press appears to be rationalized or ignored by consumers. Even the author of the Mary Cain story for Sports Illustrated (which was extremely critical of Nike) donned a Nike kit and the Nike Vaporflies in his recent marathon.

So here is the perennial business law question: is Nike's "ruthless winning" strategy proper, or even required? As we all know, the business judgment rule allows Nike’s board of directors a great deal of flexibility in their decision-making. But the pull of the shareholder maximization norm---and the fact that shareholders hold many more accountability tools than other stakeholders---makes the results above pretty unsurprising.

Former Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court has posted a paper with some ideas for encouraging more prosocial behavior by U.S. corporations, but there are no easy solutions and still much academic work to be done in this area.

December 2, 2019 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, CSR, Haskell Murray | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, November 25, 2019

What if . . . . Delaware and Mrs. Pritchard

Many of us teach Francis v. United Jersey Bank, 432 A. 2d 814 (N.J. 1981), in Business Associations courses as an example of a substantive duty of care case.  The case involves a deceased woman, Lillian Pritchard, who, in her lifetime, did nothing as a corporate director to curb her sons' conversions of corporate funds.  The court finds she has breached her duty of care to the corporation, stating that:

Mrs. Pritchard was charged with the obligation of basic knowledge and supervision of the business of Pritchard & Baird. Under the circumstances, this obligation included reading and understanding financial statements, and making reasonable attempts at detection and prevention of the illegal conduct of other officers and directors. She had a duty to protect the clients of Pritchard & Baird against policies and practices that would result in the misappropriation of money they had entrusted to the corporation. She breached that duty.

Id. at 826.  In sum:

by virtue of her office, Mrs. Pritchard had the power to prevent the losses sustained by the clients of Pritchard & Baird. With power comes responsibility. She had a duty to deter the depredation of the other insiders, her sons. She breached that duty and caused plaintiffs to sustain damages.

Id. at 829.

Francis is followed in our text by a number of additional fiduciary duty law cases, including Delaware's now infamous Smith v. Van Gorkom, 488 A.2d 858 (Del. 1985), Stone v. Ritter, 911 A.2d 362 (Del. 2006), and In re Walt Disney Derivative Litigation, 907 A 2d 693 (Del. 2005).  In covering these cases and discussing them with students during office hours, I became focused on the following passage from the Disney case:

The business judgment rule . . . is a presumption that "in making a business decision the directors of a corporation acted on an informed basis, . . . and in the honest belief that the action taken was in the best interests of the company [and its shareholders]." . . . .

This presumption can be rebutted by a showing that the board violated one of its fiduciary duties in connection with the challenged transaction. In that event, the burden shifts to the director defendants to demonstrate that the challenged transaction was "entirely fair" to the corporation and its shareholders.

In re Walt Disney Co. Derivative Litigation, 907 A.2d 693, 746-47 (Del. Ch. 2005).  I have some significant questions about the application of the "entire fairness" standard of review in certain types of cases.  In thinking those through with some of my colleagues (including a few of my co-bloggers), I realized I was curious about the answer to a related question: How would the Francis case be pleaded, proven, and decided as a breach of duty action under Delaware law?  

I have my own ideas.  But before I share them, I want yours.  How would you categorize/label the breach(es) of duty as a matter of Delaware law?  What standard of conduct and liability would you expect a Delaware court to apply as a matter of Delaware law?  And what standard of review would you expect that court to use?  Leave your ideas on any or all of the foregoing in the comments, please!

November 25, 2019 in Business Associations, Delaware, Family, Family Business, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (2)

I Hate Federal Partnership Law, But LLCs Are Still Not Corporations

Last Friday, a new opinion from the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit tackled a complex application of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) law that required an analysis of “federal partnership law,” which assessed whether two entities had created a “partnership-in-fact, as a matter of federal common law.”  Sun Capital Partners III, LP v. New England Teamsters & Trucking Indus. Pension Fund, No. 16-1376, 2019 WL 6243370, at *5 (1st Cir. Nov. 22, 2019). I hate the idea of “federal partnership law,” but I concede it is a thing for determining certain responsibilities under the tax code and ERISA. I still maintain that rather than discussing federal entity law and entity type in these cases, we should instead be discussing liability under certain code sections as they apply to the relevant persons and/or entities.  Nonetheless, that’s not the state of the law.

Even though I don’t like the concept of federal partnership law, I can work with it. As such, I think it is fair to ask courts to respect entity types if they are going to insist on using entity types to determine liability. Alas, this is too much to ask.  Friday’s opinion explains:

The issue on appeal is whether two private equity funds, Sun Capital Partners III, LP (“Sun Fund III”) and Sun Capital Partners IV, LP (“Sun Fund IV”), are liable for $4,516,539 in pension fund withdrawal liability owed by a brass manufacturing company which was owned by the two Sun Funds when that company went bankrupt. The liability issue is governed by the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (“MPPAA”). Under that statute, the issue of liability depends on whether the two Funds had created, despite their express corporate structure, an implied partnership-in-fact which constituted a control group. That question, in the absence of any further formal guidance from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”), turns on an application of the multifactored partnership test in Luna v. Commissioner, 42 T.C. 1067 (1964).

Id. at *1 (emphasis added). The court continued: “To the extent the Funds argue we cannot apply the Luna factors because they have organized an LLC through which to operate SBI, we reject the argument. Merely using the corporate form of a limited liability corporation cannot alone preclude courts recognizing the existence of a partnership-in-fact.” Id. at *6. (emphasis added).

LLCs are not corporations, and they do not have a corporate form or structure! They are limited liability companies, which are totally different entities from corporations.  

It seems I am often saying this, but the court does seem to get to the right conclusion despite the entity errors:

The fact that the entities formally organized themselves as limited liability business organizations under state law at virtually all levels distinguishes this case from Connors and other cases in which courts have found parties to have formed partnerships-in-fact, been under common control, and held both parties responsible for withdrawal liability.

Id. at *8.

That courts tend to get it right, even when using improper entity language, does not mean it’s not a big deal. It simply means that judges (and their clerks) understand the distinctions between entities and entity types, even if their language is not perfect. That seems to be generally okay as applied in the individual cases before each court. However, these cases communicate beyond just the parties involved and could influence poor drafting decisions that could have impacts as between individual members/partners/shareholders down the road.  It sure would be great if  more courts would take the chance when there is an opportunity to be clear and precise. 

 

November 25, 2019 in Business Associations, Corporations, Joshua P. Fershee, LLCs, Partnership | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

New Essay: An Overt Disclosure Requirement for Eliminating the Fiduciary Duty of Loyalty

I have a new(ish) essay that focuses on the concept of eliminating the fiduciary duty in an LLC, as permitted by Delaware law, and what that could mean for future parties. The paper can be found here (new link). When parties A and B get together to create an LLC, if they negotiate to eliminate their fiduciary agreements as to one another, I’m completely comfortable with that. They are negotiating for what they want; they are entering into that entity and operating agreement together of their own free will. So there may be differences in bargaining power—one may be wealthier than the other or have different kinds of power dynamics—but they are entering into this agreement fully aware of what the obligations are and what the options are for somebody in creating this entity.

My concern with eliminating fiduciary obligations comes down the road. That is, how do we make sure that if people are going to disclaim the fiduciary duty of loyalty, particularly, what happens if this change is made after formation? In such a case, I like to look at our traditional partnership law, which says there are certain kinds of decisions, at least absent an agreement to the contrary, that have to go to the entire group of entity participants. That is, a majority vote is not sufficient; there is essentially a minority veto.

I like the freedom of contract elimination of fiduciary duties provides, but I also am sensitive to the risks such eliminations can provide.  Thus, I argue that Delaware (and other states allowing reduction or elimination of the duty of loyalty) should require an express statement about the fiduciary duties (when modified from the default) and an express statement of how those duties can be modified, whether expanding, restricting, or eliminating the duties. To protect against the predatory modification of fiduciary duties, I believe that states should include a statutory requirement that changes to fiduciary duties must be express. Here’s my proposal:

Any limited liability company agreement that provides for a modification of the default rules for what constitutes a breach of duties (including fiduciary duties) of a member, manager or other person to a limited liability company, whether to expand, restrict, or eliminate those duties, must expressly state if the modifications are intended to expand, restrict, or eliminate the duties. Any limited liability company agreement that allows the modification of fiduciary duties must state expressly how those modifications can be made and by whom. Absent such any such statement, fiduciary duties may only be modified by agreement of all the members.

Supporting freedom of contract has value, but I also think we need to account for the fact that we did not traditionally allow for the elimination of fiduciary duties. As such, we should make sure that those participating in LLCs should know both what they signed up for initially, and also if the entity has provided the opportunity for a majority to make a fundamental change to traditional duties. This balance, I think, is essential to protecting investor expectations while still allowing for entities to develop the model that best serves the members’ goals.   

November 10, 2019 in Business Associations, Delaware, LLCs, Research/Scholarhip, Unincorporated Entities | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, October 21, 2019

Blockchains, Corporate Governance, and the Lawyer's Role

Given the number of corporate governance functions that can be conducted using blockchains, it seems appropriate to consider how business lawyers should respond to related challenges.  Babson College's Adam Sulkowski and I undertook to begin to address this concern in an article we wrote for the Wayne Law Review's recent symposium, "The Emerging Blockchain and the Law."  That article, Blockchains, Corporate Governance, and the Lawyer's Role, was recently released.  An abstract follows.

Significant aspects of firm governance can (and, in coming years, likely will) be conducted on blockchains. This transition has already begun in some respects. The actions of early adopters illustrate that moving governance to blockchains will require legal adaptations. These adaptations are likely to be legislative, regulatory, and judicial. Firm management, policy-makers, and judges will turn to legal counsel for education and guidance.

This article describes blockchains and their potentially expansive use in several aspects of the governance of publicly traded corporations and outlines ways in which blockchain technology affects what business lawyers should know and do—now and in the future. Specifically, this article describes the nature of blockchain technology and ways in which the adoption of that technology may impact shareholder record keeping and voting, insider trading, and disclosure-related considerations. The article then reflects on implications for business lawyers and the practice of law in the context of corporate governance.

In the article, Adam and I do a fair amount of visioning.  Based on the development of blockchain corporate governance we imagine, we conclude that business lawyers must both focus on understanding technology in the context of their clients' business operations and be proactive in providing legal advice relating to potential uses of the technology.  We conclude that,

[i]n representing business clients, counsel have a critical role in thinking through all the implications of moving any governance function or process to a blockchain-based platform. It is especially important to help clients see, consider, and appreciate certain irrevocable consequences and legal risks, as well as potential opportunities. . . .

There is much for us all to learn in this area.  A number of legal scholars are engaging in work that may be useful in better informing us.  I, for one, try to attend as many of their presentations as possible as a means of better informing myself of what I need to know to teach corporate governance in the blockchain era.  (We note in the article that blockchain corporate governance "impacts the job of legal educators and law schools.")  I will continue to be on the lookout for additional work on blockchain corporate governance (and lawyering in an increasingly blockchain-driven world) and endeavor to highlight key things I find by posting about them here.

October 21, 2019 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Joan Heminway, Lawyering | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Nobel Prize and The Challenges of Global Poverty

Image result for Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer

Congrats to MIT professors Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer on their recent Nobel Prize in Economics

A few years ago, I completed Professors Banerjee and Duflo's free online EdX course on "The Challenges of Global Poverty."

Evidently, they are doing a rerun of that course, starting February 4, 2020. You can sign up here

October 14, 2019 in Business Associations, Ethics, Haskell Murray, Law and Economics, Nonprofits, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Business Law and Leadership

Back in April, I posted on a leadership conference focusing on lawyers and legal education, sponsored by and held at UT Law.  I also posted earlier this summer on the second annual Women's Leadership in Legal Academia conference.  I admit that I have developed a passion for leadership literature and practices through my prior leadership training and experiences in law practice and in the legal academy.

Because lawyers often become leaders in and through their practice (both at work and their other communities) and because leadership principles interact with firm governance, I want to make a pitch that we all, but especially all of us teaching business associations (or a similar course), focus some attention on leadership in our teaching.  It is a nice adjunct to governance.  For example, management and control issues, especially director/officer processes in corporations, are a logical place to discuss leadership.  Who are the managers and the rank-and-file employees inspired by in managing and sustaining the firm?  Who is able to persuade the board to take action?  Is it because of that person's authority, or does that person hold a trust relationship with others that motivates them to follow?  And speaking of trust, it is an element of both leadership and fiduciary duty . . . .

As you consider my teaching suggestion, I offer you my latest blog post on our Leading as Lawyers blog.  It involves the importance of process to effective leadership.  The bottom line?

One can have a promising vision and strategy that emanate from the best of all intentions and ideas. But without engaging a process that includes effectual communication and input from, candid interchanges with, expressions of appreciation for, and buy-in from the relevant affected populations, those worthy intentions may be misinterpreted and those good ideas may die on the vine or not be implemented effectively.

We have all seen this happen in business governance.  Let's let our students in on the role that leadership plays in the practical application of business law.  It is bound to inform both their law practice and their lives.

August 27, 2019 in Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Joan Heminway, Lawyering, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law - Business Law Professor Position

The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law seeks highly-qualified candidates for a tenured or tenure-track faculty appointment to begin in Fall 2020. The principal responsibility of this faculty member will be to teach business law related courses, including Business Associations, U.C.C. Survey, and Contracts. All faculty are also expected to teach our first-year Lawyering course on a rotating basis, and all faculty are expected to teach in both the day and evening programs on a rotating basis.

CUNY SCHOOL OF LAW: "LAW IN THE SERVICE OF HUMAN NEEDS"

CUNY School of Law is a national leader in progressive legal education: we are ranked first in the country for public interest law and third in the county for clinical programs, and we are one of the most diverse law schools in the nation.

Our mission at CUNY School of Law is two-fold: training public interest attorneys to practice law in the service of human needs; and providing access to the profession for members of historically underrepresented communities. The Law School advances that mission though an innovative curriculum that brings together the highest caliber of clinical training with traditional doctrinal legal education to train lawyers prepared to serve the public interest. The basic premise of the law school's program is that theory and abstract knowledge cannot be separated from practice, practical skill, professional experience and the social, cultural, and economic context of law. The curriculum therefore integrates practical experience, professional responsibility, and lawyering skills with doctrinal study at every level.

QUALIFICATIONS

 Successful candidates will have:

a)      J.D., L.LB., or Ph.D in a law-related discipline;

b)      admission to law practice;

c)      social justice lawyering experience;

d)      a demonstrated commitment to the mission of CUNY School of Law;

e)      availability and willingness to teach in the day and evening programs on a rotating basis;

f)       availability and willingness to teach the first-year Lawyering course on a rotating basis (experience teaching legal writing preferred);

g)      commitment to scholarly engagement (established scholarly record preferred);

(a)   a demonstrated commitment to excellent teaching (ability to teach in both a classroom and clinical setting preferred); and

(b)   demonstrated success as a faculty member, including the ability to collaborate with others and share responsibility for committee and department assignments.

COMPENSATION

CUNY offers faculty a competitive compensation and benefits package covering health insurance, pension and retirement benefits, paid parental leave, and savings programs. We also provide mentoring and support for research, scholarship, and publication as part of our commitment to ongoing faculty professional development.

HOW TO APPLY

Interested candidates should apply at www.cuny.edu by accessing the employment page, logging in or creating a new user account, and searching for this vacancy using the Job ID (20886) or Title (Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor of Law) then selecting "Apply Now" and providing the requested information. (Link at : 
https://cuny.jobs/queens-ny/assistant-associate-or-full-professor-of-law/07654EF690374350BED697DD5EBAE1F4/job/)

The application requires a CV/resume and a cover letter, indicating the position to which you are applying.

August 20, 2019 in Business Associations, Corporations, Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Business Law Professor Jobs - Posted in 2019-20

This is my fifth year compiling a list of open business law professor positions in law schools and other settings (mostly business schools).

See the 2018-19, 2017-18, 2016-17, 2015-16 (law schools; business schools), and 2014-15 (law schools, business schools) lists to get a sense of what the market for business law professors has looked like over the past few years.

I will likely update this list from time to time; feel free to e-mail me with additions. Updated 9/30/19.

Law School Professor Positions – Business Area Identified

  1. American University (business law program director)
  2. Chicago-Kent
  3. City University of New York (CUNY)
  4. Emory University 
  5. Northeastern University
  6. Ohio State University
  7. Pennsylvania State University
  8. Samford University
  9. Southern Illinois University
  10. Suffolk University (transaction legal clinic)
  11. University of Akron
  12. University of California-Davis (transaction legal clinic)
  13. University of Cincinnati
  14. University of Dayton
  15. University of Kansas
  16. University of Kentucky
  17. University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
  18. University of Memphis
  19. University of Nebraska
  20. University of Richmond
  21. University of Wisconsin
  22. Vanderbilt University
  23. Washington University (St. Louis)
  24. Wayne State University

Legal Studies Professor Positions (Mostly Business Schools)

  1. Boise State University
  2. California State University-Los Angeles (real estate law focus)
  3. California State University-Northridge
  4. Christopher Newport University
  5. Hagerstown Community College
  6. Indiana University (possibly multiple positions)
  7. Ithaca College (full-time, non-tenure track)
  8. Morgan State University
  9. Sam Houston State University (2 positions)
  10. Sierra College (Community College)
  11. St. Bonaventure University (spring 2020 start)
  12. Temple University
  13. Texas State University
  14. Tulane University (visiting lecturer, full-time, non-tenure track)
  15. University of Georgia
  16. University of North-Texas (full-time, non-tenure track)
  17. U.S. Air Force Academy (visiting professor)
  18. Wake Forest University (full-time, non-tenure track)
  19. Wenzhou-Kean University (China)

August 14, 2019 in Business Associations, Business School, Corporations, Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

University of Georgia, Terry College of Business Assistant or Associate Professor of Legal Studies Department of ILSRE 

University of Georgia, Terry College of Business Assistant or Associate Professor of Legal Studies Department of ILSRE 

The Department of Insurance, Legal Studies and Real Estate in the Terry College of Business at The University of Georgia invites applications for a full-time tenure-track or tenured faculty position of Legal Studies at the assistant or associate professor level, beginning Fall 2020. 

Candidates must hold a juris doctorate or equivalent degree. For appointment at the assistant professor rank, strong communication skills and demonstrated potential for excellent teaching and high quality research is preferred. For appointment as an associate professor, a research record commensurate with rank and demonstrated excellence in teaching legal studies at the graduate and/or undergraduate level also are required. For information regarding the requirements for each faculty rank, please see the University of Georgia Guidelines for Appointment, Promotion & Tenure (https://provost.uga.edu/_resources/documents/UGA_Guidelines_for_APT_4_2017_online.pdf) and the Promotion & Tenure guidelines for the Terry College of Business (https://provost.uga.edu/_resources/documents/Business_2015.pdf). To be eligible for tenure on appointment, candidates must be appointed as an associate professor, have been tenured at a prior institution, and bring a demonstrably national reputation to the institution. Candidates must be approved for tenure upon appointment before hire. 

Participation in service activities appropriate to the rank is expected. Salary is competitive and commensurate with qualifications. 

Applications received by September 20, 2019, are assured of consideration; however, applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. Interested candidates should upload a cover letter, a full vitae, and contact information for three references (including email addresses) to http://www.ugajobsearch.com/postings/106535. The department will reach out to your references at the appropriate time in the process. No additional materials will be considered. Applications submitted in other ways will not be considered. 

The University of Georgia is located in Athens, Georgia. Georgia is well known for its quality of life with both outdoor and urban activities (www.georgia.gov). UGA is a land grant/sea grant institution located approximately 60 miles northeast of Atlanta (www.uga.edu). 

The University of Georgia is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, genetic information, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation or protected veteran status. Persons needing accommodations or assistance with the accessibility of materials related to this search are encouraged to contact Central HR (hrweb@uga.edu). Please do not contact the department or search committee with such requests. 

July 30, 2019 in Business Associations, Business School, Haskell Murray, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 29, 2019

Social Enterprise Lawyering: More Than Mere Legal Competence is Required . . . .

For last year's Business Law Prof Blog symposium at UT Law, I spoke on issues relating to the representation of business firms classified or classifiable as social enterprises.  Last September, I wrote a bit about my presentation here.  The resulting essay, Lawyering for Social Enterprise, was recently posted to SSRN.  The SSRN abstract follows.

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. Moreover, the law governing social enterprises also is unclear and unpredictable in respects. This essay identifies two principal areas of uncertainty and demonstrates their capacity to generate lawyering challenges and related transaction costs around both entity formation and ongoing internal governance questions in social enterprises. Core to the professionalism issues are the professional responsibilities implicated in an attorney’s representation of social enterprise businesses.

To illuminate legal and professional responsibility issues relevant to representing social enterprises, this essay proceeds in four parts. First, using as its touchstone a publicly available categorization system, the essay defines and describes types of social enterprises, outlining three distinct business models. Then, in its following two parts, the essay focuses in on two different aspects of the legal representation of social enterprise businesses: choice of entity and management decision making. Finally, reflecting on these two aspects of representing social enterprises, the essay concludes with some general observations about lawyering in this specialized business context, emphasizing the importance of: a sensitivity to the various business models and related facts; knowledge of a complex and novel set of laws; well-practiced, contextual legal reasoning skills; and judgment borne of a deep understanding of the nature of social enterprise and of clients and their representatives working in that space.

I hope that this essay is relatable and valuable to both academics and practicing lawyers.  Feedback is welcomed.  So are comments.  

Also, I will no doubt be talking more about aspects of this topic at a SEALS discussion group later this week entitled "Benefit Corporation (or Not)? Establishing and Maintaining Social Impact Business Firms," which I proposed for inclusion in this year's conference and for which I will serve as a moderator.  The description of the discussion group is as follows:

As the benefit corporation form nears the end of its first decade of "life" as a legally recognized form of business association, it seems important to reflect on whether it has fulfilled its promise as a matter of legislative intent and public responsibility and service. This discussion group is designed to take on the challenge of engaging in that reflective process. The participating scholars include doctrinal and clinical faculty members who both favor and tend to recommend the benefit corporation form for social enterprises and those who disfavor or hesitate to recommend it.

As you can see from the SEALS program for the meeting, the participants represent both academics (doctrinal and clinical) and practitioners who care about social enterprise and entity formation.   If you are at SEALS, please come and join us!

July 29, 2019 in Business Associations, Compliance, Conferences, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Joan Heminway, Lawyering, Social Enterprise | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Tennessee Court Subtly Affirms that LLCs Are Not Corporations

A recent Tennessee court decision subtly notes that limited liability companies (LLCs) are not, in fact corporations. In a recent Tennessee federal court opinion, Judge Richardson twice notes the incorrect listing of an LLC as a "limited liability corporation."  

First, the opinion states:

The [Second Amended Complaint] alleges that Defendant Evans is a resident of Tennessee, Defendant #AE20, LLC is a California limited liability company, and Defendant Gore Capital, LLC is a Delaware limited liability “corporation.”3

Gore Capital is in fact a limited liability company.

FERNANDO CAMPS, Pl., v. GORE CAPITAL, LLC, KARL JAMES, ANGELA EVANS, and #AE20, LLC, Defendants., 3:17-CV-1039, 2019 WL 2763902, at *1 and n.3 (M.D. Tenn. July 2, 2019) (emphasis in original). 

Judge Richardson later notes, in footnote 11:

Plaintiff states that he was sent documents that listed Gore’s (not #AE20’s) principal place of business as being in Chattanooga, Tennessee, although the SAC lists Gore as a “Delaware limited liability corporation (sic)[.]”
Id. 2019 WL 2763902, at *6 n.11 (M.D. Tenn. July 2, 2019). 
 
Given all the times I have complained about courts not correcting such mistakes, I figured I should give this opinion a well-deserved shout out for getting this right.  Thank you. 

July 9, 2019 in Business Associations, Corporations, Current Affairs, Joshua P. Fershee, Litigation, LLCs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, May 24, 2019

Scooters and the Difficulty of Measuring Social Value

Bird

"Bird Scooter" by mikecogh is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Here in Nashville, Mayor David Briley announced that he is seeking to ban scooters. This announcement follows the first scooter-related death in the city.

Currently, I am working on a project that looks at how social value is measured and reported. As I dig deeper, I am becoming even more convinced that measuring social value may be too difficult for us to do well.

Let’s take scooters as an example. How would you measure (and report) the social value of these scooter companies? How many points should a “third-party standard” assign for the jobs created, for the gasoline saved, for the affordable transportation provided, for the fun produced? How many points should you subtract for a death, for injuries, for obstructing sidewalks? In the language of the Model Benefit Corporation Legislation, how do you know if a scooter company is producing “[a] material positive impact on society and the environment, taken as a whole”?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been diving into the B Impact Assessment, (which is the top third-party standard used by benefit corporations) and, frankly, the points assigned seem somewhat arbitrary and easy for companies to manipulate. In my opinion, almost any company, including a scooter company, could get the 80+ points needed to qualify as a certified B corp. if they learned and worked the system a bit (and, as most readers know, you don’t even have to be certified to become a benefit corporation under the state statutes.)

I know bright people who would emphatically argue that scooter companies create a “material positive impact,” and I know bright people who think scooter companies are socially destructive. Social reporting does not have to be totally useless; it would be interesting to have the data on scooter usage (how many people are using them for their commute, what is the injury rate relative to cars, etc?). But the total amount of social value is not easily reduced to numbers and social reports. Given the nuance of each decision, the various externalities, and the difficulty in quantifying the social impact, I have previously suggested giving stakeholder representatives certain governance rights (such as the ability to elect and sue the board of directors). This way, directors will be more likely to consider each stakeholder group when making decisions.

May 24, 2019 in Business Associations, CSR, Haskell Murray, Legislation, Social Enterprise | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Exam Grading -- No LLCs as Corporations (So Far)

It has been kind of a unique end of the semester, and I am working feverously to get through my Business Organizations exams. I'm getting there.  So far, I have had zero exams reference a "limited liability corporation."  If this holds, it will be at least three years in a row.  

I have had a couple of folks refer to LLC veil piercing as piercing the "corporate" veil (another no-no), and I did have some other "corporate" references to LLCs (e.g., "an LLC's corporate formalities"), so we're not all the way there. But so far, I am seeing improvement, and I appreciate the effort.  

Here's hoping for 48 of 48 describing the LLC (as an entity) correctly.  I hope the rest of my colleagues are holding up well here in the home stretch. Good luck to all. 

May 22, 2019 in Business Associations, Corporations, LLCs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Court Says No Successor Liability Attaches When There Was No Entity

A 2017 opinion related to successor liability just posted to Westlaw.  The case is an EEOC claim "against the Hospital of St. Raphael School of Nurse Anesthesia (“HSR School”) and Anesthesia Associates of New Haven (“AANH”), alleging gender discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . . . ." The plaintiff was seeking to join Yale New Haven Hospital (“YNHH”). MARGARITE CONSOLMAGNO v. HOSPITAL OF ST. RAPHAEL SCHOOL OF NURSE ANESTHESIA and ANESTHESIA ASSOCIATES OF NEW HAVEN, P.C., 3:11CV109 (DJS), 2017 WL 10966446, at *1 (D. Conn. Mar. 27, 2017). 

 
 
Apparently, the HSR School trained nurse anesthetists was owned and run by AANH a Connecticut “professional corporation.”  The plaintiff was in the HSR School for about six months before she was dismissed, she claimed, because of " gender discrimination and retaliation for reporting a staff member’s inappropriate sexual conduct." Id. The plaintiff sought to join YNHH because that entity took over running an anesthesia school that had been, in some form, the HSR school.  
 
The successor liability part is rather interesting, though largely devoid of facts from the transaction.  The court ultimately concludes that even though YNHH resumed a similar school, it was not a successor entity and could not be joined.  
 
A challenging part about the case is that entities are described, but often not clearly and with conflicting entity-type language.  For example, although AANH was a "professional corporation," the court explained that " [t]he AANH anesthesiologists, who were also partners in AANH, were responsible for deciding how the HSR School would operate." Id. at *2. One of the doctors was also referred to as an "ownership partner in AANH." Id. at *3. I suspect that anesthesiologists, like lawyers, traditionally created firms that were partnerships, so the principals often call themselves "partners," regardless of their actual entity type. Still, it would be nice for courts to clarify the actual roles of those involved.  
 
Furthermore, in describing the HSR School, the court states, 
 
There is no evidence that the HSR School had an existence that was independent of AANH. In fact, the HSR School was going to cease operating due to the fact that AANH was going to cease operating. The HSR School was not a limited liability corporation (“LLC”), private corporation (“P.C.”), or other legal entity registered with the Connecticut Secretary of State. (Tr. 141-142). There is no evidence that the HSR School had its own assets, bank account, or tax identification number. There is no evidence that the HSR School itself (as opposed to AANH) ever paid anyone for rendering services to the HSR School. There is no evidence that anyone other than AANH had operated the HSR School. Consequently, the Court finds that the predecessor in interest, for the purpose of assessing successor liability, is AANH.
Id. at *6. Ultimately, it appears the court has determined this was some version of an asset purchase  (even though neither party provided a copy of the asset purchase agreement), so the liability stayed with AANH.  This appears to be correct, but it's hard to know without that document.
 
And it is hard to know what the obligations are when additional relevant possible parties are.  The court further determined that the potential successor entities, "YNHH and Yale University are two separate corporate entities with separate governance structures."  Except there is no statement as to what types of entities they are, where they were formed, or anything else other than a reference to testimony from a witness who said YNHH was a separate entity from Yale University.  It would seem to me that some of the related documentation would be valuable, but the court has spoken.  
 
And fair enough. But I have to correct this: "The HSR School was not a limited liability corporation company (“LLC”), private professional corporation (“P.C.”), or other legal entity."  

April 9, 2019 in Business Associations, Corporations, Joshua P. Fershee, Lawyering, LLCs, M&A, Partnership | Permalink | Comments (0)