Monday, February 11, 2019

Yoga and Law Schools

Yoga(Me&Jordan)

A bit over three years ago, I publicly noted in this space that I am an active yoga practitioner.  In a post on "Mindfulness and Legal Drafting for Business Lawyers (A Yoga Analogy)," I wrote about common touchpoints in an asana practice (what many folks just call "yoga") and contract drafting, sharing thoughts that had first come to me after a yoga class one weekend.  In my three-part 2017 series of "Traveling Business Law Prof" posts on packing for business travel, I also mentioned my asana practice here and here.

Today, I set out to start posting a bit more on the intersections of yoga and business law teaching and practice.  I will have help from BLPB co-blogger Colleen Baker, a fellow yogi.  In fact, it is Colleen who has spurred this on.  We have shared a bunch of ideas on things to write about.

I begin with the news that I now am a Registered Yoga Teacher with a 200-hour certification.  I set out to achieve that goal about 18 months ago, after a discussion (at the wedding of a former student) with the life partner of a UT Law alum who is about 30 years my junior.  She got me really excited about the prospect by mentioning an upcoming training program that she had investigated.  We became Facebook friends, and the rest is, as they say, history.  That's us in the picture above, on on graduation day.  (Please don't criticize the form!  My arms should be perpendicular to the floor.  We were having fun goofing around after passing our exams, as you can see from my attention to the camera!)

My desire to complete a teacher training program was borne in part from a desire to deepen my practice.  But the core impetus came from wanting to share yoga practice with others--in particular, my faculty and staff colleagues and students at UT Law.  The benefits I get from my yoga practice are substantial.  They include participation in a more active lifestyle, self care, stress management and relief, increased focus, and other things that I know are useful to those who inhabit law schools.  Of course, I understood that I could share my yoga practice with others without the teacher certification.  However, I knew that my credibility--with my Dean and others--would be greater with the 11 months of training capped off by a written and practical exam.

Somewhat less than three weeks ago, with permission from my Dean, I started leading a regular early Friday morning yoga practice at UT Law for faculty, staff, and students.  I lead the sessions free of charge.  We have had three sessions so far.  I move  some furniture around to create space for our regular sessions in a common area of the law school.  I also plan to lead some pop-up sessions from time to time (perhaps in other areas of the law school building or even outside once the weather improves) to reach folks who cannot make the early Friday classes.  My focus so far has been slow, controlled, thoughtful movement through basic poses (asanas) and breath work (pranayama)--two of the eight limbs of yoga.

I am far from the first person to engage folks in yoga practice in a law school setting.  I read with interest this article from several years ago on yoga instruction at my law alma mater (and how yoga practice can help develop professional skills).  A quick Google search reveals yoga recently being offered at Chicago and Columbia and having been offered in the past at Harvard and Marquette.  I sense there is more out there . . . .  I am sure that Colleen and Haskell have information about yoga in the business school setting, too.  I know our campus offers a Yoga Fest in the fall.  And I will be teaching two free classes to campus faculty at the request of the Faculty Senate over the next month.

In future posts, Colleen and I hope to cover other topics near and dear to business law profs and our friends, including potentially posts focusing on yoga and lawyers, lawyering, legal analysis, law firms, business, teaching, mental health, and injury prevention. (What am I missing from our conversation, Colleen?)  Readers should feel free to share their interests and add to the list.

February 11, 2019 in Joan Heminway, Law School, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, February 4, 2019

ABA Request for Examples of Errors in Transactional Documents

Our friend and colleague Dan Kleinberger sent the following request along to me a few days ago on behalf of the LLCs, Partnerships and Unincorporated Entities Committee of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association:

At the Spring meeting of the ABA Business Law Section in Vancouver, on Thursday, March 28, 2019 from 2:30pm – 4:30pm, the LLCPUE Committee is sponsoring a panel entitled, “Lessons from the Trenches for Transactional Lawyers.” Here is a brief description:

Avoiding errors in transactional documents -- insights from attorneys who have seen errors play out in litigation: two litigators (including one who defends attorney malpractice claims), a transactional lawyer who often plays clean up, and an expert witness who frequently testifies in cases arising from problematic language in deal documents.

If you have some examples of problematic language, favorite (or disfavored) cases, or “occasions of sin” to share in, the panel would be grateful. The presentation will not be merely war stories. Instead, the panelists will present various categories of errors and occasions for error, as well as practical suggestions for avoiding error. However, the more examples the panel has from which to work, the more useful the categorizations will be.

Redact as you see fit or transform examples into illustrations. Please send info to: daniel.kleinberger@mitchellhamline.edu. We will not identify the sources of examples unless you ask for attribution.

Thank you for your consideration.

I hope that some of our readers have valuable examples to contribute and will send them on to Dan.

February 4, 2019 in Conferences, Contracts, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Summer Opportunity for Business Law Students - Hofstra Law

This from our friend Heather Johnson at Hofstra Law:

This May and June, Hofstra Law will offer a three-credit or five-credit study abroad program on International Financial Crimes and Global Data Regulation. Both programs will begin Sunday, May 19; the three-credit program will conclude on June 1, 2019 and the five-credit program will conclude on June 13, 2019. The courses will be taught by Hofstra University School of Law Professor Scott Colesanti and Professor Giovanni Comande from the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna.

It will be held in Pisa, Italy, and is co-sponsored by the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. This year, we have added a dinner with the Dean of our Law School, Gail Prudenti and an excursion to Milan to visit the Borsa headquarters!

The deadline is Friday, March 29, 2019 — those interested should apply as soon as possible!

The course is open to law students around the country; students must have completed their full-time 1L course work by the start of this program. Attached to this e-mail you’ll find the up-to-date application, a poster about the program as well as the tentative schedule. Interested students should apply by AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Students joining us from other universities should have these credits verified to transfer to your home institution, submit a letter of good standing to our office and work with financial services to complete a consortium agreement. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions regarding the above information.

Warmly,

Heather Johnson

Heather N. Johnson, M.A. International Education
Assistant Director of International Programs and Student Affairs Coordinator
Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University
121 Hofstra University, Suite 203 | Hempstead, NY 11549
Heather.N.Johnson@hofstra.edu | Phone: (516) 463-0417 |Fax: (516) 463-4710

HofstraLaw

Sounds like a great opportunity for the right student.  Contact Heather for more information.

February 4, 2019 in International Business, International Law, Joan Heminway, White Collar Crime | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor, BU/MIT Startup Law Clinic (Boston University School of Law)

Boston University School of Law is seeking to hire a full-time attorney in its Startup Law Clinic (the “Clinic”). The Clinic is part of BU Law’s Entrepreneurship, Intellectual Property, and Cyberlaw Program, which is a unique collaboration between BU Law and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Clinic represents current students at MIT and BU on matters related to a wide range of legal issues faced by early-stage business ventures. The attorney would be expected to help law students counsel clients and represent students in transactional settings. Clients often present questions of law involving for-profit and nonprofit entity formation, allocations of equity, startup financing, employment and independent contractor issues, ownership of intellectual property, privacy policies, terms of service and other third-party contractual relationships, and trademark and copyright matters. Experience representing startup ventures is considered a plus.

The attorney’s primary responsibility will be to supervise and assist students with direct client representation matters. The attorney will also assist the Clinic Director and Assistant Director in preparing and teaching a year-long seminar for students enrolled in the Clinic, including developing materials, performing research, and coordinating classroom activities and guest presentations. The position is a year-round position and the attorney also would work with student fellows hired to continue the work of the clinic during the summer. As time allows, the attorney would also work with the Clinic Director and Assistant Director to develop generalized legal resources and informational material to inform MIT and BU students on the legal aspects of forming and operating for-profit and nonprofit entities.

The ideal candidate is a member of the Massachusetts bar or is eligible for membership via admission by motion, with at least two years of experience advising clients in a transactional setting, and a willingness to support the work of creative and innovative young clients. Teaching experience or a strong interest in developing as a clinical faculty member is also considered a plus. Exceptional writing, editing, organizational, and managerial skills are required.

The attorney will be hired as a Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor to a two-year contract. The ideal start date is May 28, 2019 or sooner.

Boston University School of Law is committed to faculty diversity and welcomes expressions of interest from diverse applicants.

For more information, see here.

January 28, 2019 in Clinical Education, Entrepreneurship, Joan Heminway, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Life in Balance: Mindfulness for the Business Law Prof

Miraval2019-1

Back in November, my sister invited me to join her for the second time for a three-day break at Miraval, a resort in Tucson, Arizona.  I accepted her invitation with the understanding that I needed to recharge a bit after a rough 2018.  A visit to Miraval, I thought, would be a great way to do that and jumpstart my research this spring. I signed on.  Then, my sister had to back out on the trip late-in-the-game for professional reasons.  My dilemma: to cancel/reschedule the trip . . . or just go by myself?  I decided to go anyway.

Miraval's distinctive claim to fame as a resort is mindfulness.  Among other things, it promotes "Life in Balance."  Mindfulness has been a hot topic for the legal profession, law schools (see, e.g., the University of Miami's Mindfulness in Law Program), and the American Bar Association (the "ABA") in recent years.  Among other things, mindfulness may help attorneys process difficult situations in a healthier manner, acting as an antidote (in some circumstances) for lawyer mental health issues I wrote about a few weeks ago. (See also Marcia Narine Weldon's follow-on post.)  Berkeley Law has published a helpful reading list here.

In an excerpt from an article originally published in the ABA's Litigation magazine, Jan L. Jacobowitz writes:

When attorneys practice mindfulness, the experience they gain by noticing their minds moving off into distraction, and returning their attention to their breath, makes them better equipped to deal with the unexpected—because they catch the thoughts and feelings that are resisting the moment, and are better equipped to stay on task and respond in proportion to the challenge. For the same reasons, they enhance their capacity to be more genuine and present for what arises in their interactions with their clients, their colleagues, witnesses, and adversaries. They are better able to focus on and enjoy their work.

In that same excerpt, Jacobowitz describes mindfulness.

Mindfulness is an awareness of life in the present moment: Simple to state, but not necessarily so easy to accomplish. Our minds are often cluttered with ruminations about the past and concerns about the future. We are so busy living in the past or projecting onto the future that often we are not acutely attuned to what is happening in the present moment. The clutter inhibits clarity of thought and increases stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness creates the opportunity to pause, breathe, and connect with one’s inner thoughts, feelings, and emotions; in other words, to become aware of how we are reacting in a given situation and to provide ourselves with the opportunity to moderate our reaction and respond thoughtfully.

Hmm.  Too  "woo-woo" for you?  Join the many lawyers who feel that way. (Jacobowitz refers to lawyers in this connection as "by nature are a skeptical group.")  I once was one of those skeptics.  

But I am now among the converted, having begin to practice mindfulness in a number of its manifestations.  I am especially fond of mindfulness though movement, especially through yoga asana and pranayama practices.

With that in mind, as I rejuvenate myself, I am gathering intelligence to take with me.  I plan to bring elements of Miraval's mindfulness/life in balance ethos back to my yoga teaching at The University of Tennessee College of Law. (I started teaching a regular class to faculty, staff, and students last Friday morning.  I will have more to say on that yoga teaching experience in later posts.)  After just a half day at Miraval, I already have information and ideas . . . .  Wish me luck in this endeavor!  And offer tips if you have any.

Miraval2019-2

January 28, 2019 in Joan Heminway, Marcia Narine Weldon, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

ComplianceNet2 - Business Ethics - Last Call for "Early Bird" Registration!

ComplianceNet2 Conference Invitation Announcement: Early Bird Registration Deadline is THIS FRIDAY, January 25th!

The second-annual ComplianceNet conference will take place on June 3-4, 2019. Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and its Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance will host the conference. Like the highly successful inaugural conference at UC Irvine in 2018, this conference will allow scholars from across disciplines and different legal and regulatory topics to exchange research and explore connections for collaboration.

The timing of this year’s conference is designed to follow on the heels of the Law & Society meeting in nearby Washington, D.C. If you are already headed to Law & Society, Villanova is a short train-ride away and easily accessible by public transportation. Regardless of whether you will be attending Law & Society, Villanova is in a beautiful location right outside Philadelphia, easily serviced by major international airports (Philadelphia (PHL), Newark (EWR), Baltimore (BWI), two more in NYC, and two more in DC); 90 minutes from NYC; and two hours from D.C.

The theme of this year's conference is "Business Ethics", although we welcome additional papers discussing compliance across diverse settings. This year’s theme seeks to engage the question of how to run ethical companies, and how to encourage ethical behavior within organizations. The conference welcomes attempts to explore the strengths and limitations of various approaches, to identify how measurement strategies have shaped practices, and to understand how we can improve outcomes, for instance through new technology and combining methods. Submissions do not need to align with the meeting theme, but we encourage you to consider relating to it. The conference is also open to scholars and other experts who want to attend without presenting a paper.

The conference will host a business meeting of ComplianceNet, during which members may discuss future activities. To register for the conference either as a presenter or attendee, please fill out the form by following this link. The URL is https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-second-annual-compliancenet-conference-tickets-50784542935.

For individual papers, please submit the paper title and abstract (up to about 200 words). For panels (3 papers minimum with a maximum of 5 per panel), please submit an integrative statement explaining the panel (approximately 200 words), the titles of each paper and their authors, and an abstract for each paper (approximately 200 words). At our website, ComplianceNet.org, there is also a form to nominate papers for awards. Papers may be considered for awards whether they come through the nomination link or are presented at the conference.

The early registration discount deadline to submit papers and panels is January 25, 2019. The regular registration deadline for papers and panels is February 22, 2019. The registration deadline to attend without a paper or panel (as space available) is March 29, 2019. Registration for the conference includes the yearly membership in ComplianceNet. If you have questions regarding the call for proposals or about the conference, please contact Benjamin van Rooij (bvanrooij@law.uci.edu).

January 22, 2019 in Compliance, Conferences, Ethics, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Martin Luther King Jr., Love, Teaching, and Learning

image from pixabay.com

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day today, I am moved to write a bit about him as a teacher.  Preachers (along with coaches and others who interact with us in various capacities in our lives) are teachers, of course.  They struggle, as educators, with similar challenges in their teaching to those that we face in curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular teaching in law schools.

So many parallels are obvious.  But I want to focus on one small (and perhaps less obvious) thread in this post: love.  The choice of this focus derives from a David Brooks op-ed that I read a few days ago in The New York Times.  The column included a number of helpful facts and ideas relating to the connection between emotions and intelligence.  Perhaps one of the most poignant messages it conveyed was this one: "children learn from people they love, and . . . love in this context means willing the good of another, and offering active care for the whole person."  That rang true to me.  How, then, might love unite Dr. King with teaching and learning?

Of course, as many may recall, Dr. King (like other Christian clerics) preached about loving one's enemies.  But I somehow sensed there was a more palpable, direct, individual connection among Dr. King, love, teaching, and learning.  As I searched the web for specific references to substantiate and illustrate my hunch, I found online drafts of Dr. King's papers, including "Draft of Chapter IV, 'Love in Action.'"  In this draft, Dr. King focuses in on the simple words of Jesus spoken from the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  (Luke 23:34)  As I read Dr. King's text, I understood that part of his message was that Jesus's words expressed love, and through that love, Jesus taught his followers.  By repeating and parsing Jesus's words and linking Jesus's love-through-forgiveness with the ignorance (or intellectual blindness) of those who did not love Jesus, Dr. King can be seen as more subtly making the same point that George Will made in his column: love and learning are intertwined.  Specifically, Dr. King wrote:

One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right if the head is totally wrong.  This is not to say that the head can be right if the heart is wrong. Only through the bringing together of head and heart—intelligence and goodness—can man rise to a filfillment [sp] of his true essence.

(emphasis in the original)

I am not in the classroom this semester.  Nevertheless, I will have some student interaction, including most prominently with my research assistants.  I intend to carry the messages from the op-ed and Dr. King's writings in my heart and work to push them into practice.  George Will noted in his op-ed that "students have got to have a good relationship with teachers. . . . In good times and bad, good teachers and good students co-regulate each other."  I have always endeavored to relate to my students as best as possible despite age and other differences.  But I know that is hard to do in a large-class setting.  I also know there always are students who resist the entreaty to engage.  "The call for intelligence," Dr. King observed, "is a call for open-mindness, sound judgment, and love for truth."  Both instructor and student must share these values and observe them in the teacher-student relationship for the learning proposition to optimally succeed.

My sense is (and my anecdotal experience bears this out) that the results are worth the effort if instructors and students collaboratively invest in the teaching and learning process in this way.  Do you agree?  I am interested in your thoughts, consistent or inconsistent with the observations made here.

January 21, 2019 in Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, January 14, 2019

Insider Trading and the Blockchain at the 2019 AALS Annual Meeting

My frequent academic partner and friend John Anderson and I organized and moderated a discussion session on insider trading in the blockchain transactional environment at this year’s AALS annual meeting. The session, entitled “Insider Trading and Cryptoassests: The Future of Regulation in the Blockchain Era,” featured teacher-scholar participants from academic backgrounds in white collar crime, corporate law, securities regulation, intellectual property, cyberlaw, and ethics/compliance. The program description is as follows:

As the cryptoasset ecosystem shows signs of emerging from its “Wild West” phase, insider trading has become a principal concern for trading platforms, investors, and regulators. Insider trading cases concerning cryptoassets present challenges, however, because the legal understanding of both cryptoassets and the markets in which they are generated, bought, and sold has been significantly outpaced by their development, expansion, and innovation. In the United States, market professionals, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and others debate whether virtual currencies are securities, contracts, currencies, commodities, or something else. Both the SEC and CFTC assert jurisdiction over cryptoassets, but (at this writing) neither has precisely defined the scope or nature of its purported regulatory oversight. This commercial and regulatory uncertainty leaves a number of questions about insider trading in cryptoassets unanswered. This Discussion Group considers these and other related concerns regarding insider trading in cryptoassets.

The short papers submitted by the participants and the related commentary reflected the diverse areas of expertise of the participants and were engaging and thoughtful.  Constructive audience participation also was a highlight of the program.

We focused the discussion initially on whether, and if so how, insider trading in cryptoassets currently is regulated.  We also discussed whether regulation of that activity should be undertaken.  Then, assuming regulation, we considered whether existing regulatory tools could and should be used.  Finally, as part of that discussion, we began to assess who and exactly what should be regulated.  The dialogue was energizing, even if inconclusive.

Marcia Narine Weldon has written here at the BLPB at various times in the past six months on blockchain technology and its intersection with business and business law, including here, here, and here. In the first of those linked posts, she advises us that we ignore the blockchain at our peril. I agree.

But I also want to note that whether you believe that the blockchain is an awesome and promising new technology or a pernicious computer-based contrivance, its interactions with business law provide us all with opportunity: the chance to use our expertise to identify and resolve new legal and regulatory issues. As I learned from my experience in studying the regulatory context of crowdfunding in its early days, once the innovation train has left the station and is rolling down the tracks, it compels study and benefits from open, enlightened debate. Business lawyers are uniquely qualified to provide the necessary examination, dialogue, and guidance.  Let's get to it!

January 14, 2019 in Conferences, Joan Heminway, Marcia Narine Weldon | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 7, 2019

Call For Proposals - Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Summer Conference

ILT&LHeader

CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSALS

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Summer Conference
“Teaching Today’s Law Students”
June 3-5, 2019
Washburn University School of Law
Topeka, Kansas

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law professors and administrators are reaching today’s law students.   With the ever-changing and heterogeneous nature of law students, this topic has taken on increased urgency for professors thinking about effective teaching strategies. 

The conference theme is intentionally broad and is designed to encompass a wide variety of topics – neuroscientific approaches to effective teaching; generational research about current law students; effective use of technology in the classroom; teaching first-generation college students; classroom behavior in the current political climate; academic approaches to less prepared students; fostering qualities such as growth mindset, resilience, and emotional intelligence in students; or techniques for providing effective formative feedback to students.

Accordingly, the Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. 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.

To be considered for the conference, proposals should be one page (maximum), single-spaced, and include the following information:

  • The title of the workshop;
  • The name, address, telephone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
  • A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods; and
  • A description of the techniques the presenter will use to engage workshop participants and make the workshop interactive.

The proposal deadline is February 15, 2019.  Submit proposals via email to Professor Emily Grant, Co-Director, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, at emily.grant@washburn.edu.

January 7, 2019 in Call for Papers, Conferences, Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Conference and Memorial Service Honoring Lynn Stout

The following comes from our friend Saule Omarova at Cornell Law.  I hope that many can arrange to attend one or both events to honor Lynn's life and work.

*          *          * 

Please join us on February 1-2, 2019, in New York City, for a special two-part event celebrating the life and work of our colleague and friend, Professor Lynn Stout.

On February 1, 2019, Cornell University Law School will hold the Lynn Stout Memorial Conference, honoring Professor Stout’s scholarly work and significant impact in corporate governance. The conference will feature a series of cutting-edge paper presentations and discussion panels; the conference celebrates Professor Stout’s scholarship and highlights the lasting impact of her ideas and writings on the present and future trajectory of legal research in corporate law, securities and derivatives regulation, law and economics, and law and ethics. 

The conference will take place at the Cornell Club in New York City (6 East 44th Street, New York, NY 10017).

On February 2, 2019, at 10 a.m., an informal memorial service will be held at St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church Wall Street (209 Broadway, New York, NY 10007).

The agenda and RSVP information can be found at:

LYNN STOUT MEMORIAL CONFERENCE

Please note that capacity is limited for this event, so please RSVP before January 25.

LynnStout

 

January 7, 2019 in Conferences, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 31, 2018

Out with the Old; In with the New! Promoting Mental Health Awareness

I am finishing up the last of my grading (grades are due on Wednesday).  Nevertheless (or maybe for the purpose of grading avoidance), I have been determined all day to take a pause to reflect on 2018 and look forward to 2019.  For me (and perhaps for us all), 2018 was a year with both joys and sorrows; achievements and failures; ups and downs.  I admit that 2018's sorrows were more abundant than usual--or than I would have liked.  And so, I am primed to kick 2018 to the curb.  Ready or not, 2019 will be here in a few short hours.  I have much to look forward to in the coming year--a research leave, my son's wedding, and lots more that I know I am forgetting or do not even know about yet!

Among my more serious reflections and (dare I say it) resolutions heading into 2019 is self-care.  I am particularly mindful of the need for lawyers and lawyers-in-waiting (our students) to be aware of an attendant to their mental health.  A few days ago, The American Lawyer published an article entitled After a Year Marked by Tragedy, Attorney Mental Health Takes the Spotlight.  The article highlights industry-wide and organizational efforts to boost mental health awareness and support.  It also notes that "[l]aw school curricula and continuing legal education classes have already begun to take mental health into account . . . .  [P]eople throughout the industry are searching for concrete ways to address structural issues."  This article followed on many others this past year, including those here and here and here.

I applaud these institutional initiatives and publications.  We need more press about lawyer mental health.  And we must invest in and acquire the comprehensive tools that continuing education and workplace programs can provide.  I, for one, desire to know a lot more than I do about both lawyer mental health and lawyer substance abuse.  If you are knowledgeable in either area, please send links to resources along by email or post suggestions in the comments.

In my heart, however, I know that broad-based awareness and guidance on lawyer mental health, while necessary, is insufficient to the task.  I have come to the view that it would be meaningful if each of us could step back from the madness of life more than once in a while to assess not only our own well-being, but also the well-being of those around us.  An increased knowledge base is important to the task, but a heightened level of personal commitment also is required.  I will be working toward that commitment in 2019 and hope that some of you will join me.

Happy new year to all!  May you have a joyous and healthy 2019.

December 31, 2018 in Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Voting Recommendations, Fiduciary Duties, and the Proxy Process

A few weeks ago, I posted on the SEC Roundtable on the Proxy Process (here).  I noted in a postscript to that post that friend-of-the-BLPB Bernie Sharfman had an additional comment letter (his fourth) relating to this regulatory project up his sleeve (so to speak).  That comment letter, dated December 17, 2018, was recently filed (see here) and focuses on voting recommendations.  The nub?

Investment advisers should not be in fear of breaching their fiduciary duties if they use board voting recommendations. . . . The SEC needs to go further than just approving the use of board voting recommendations as long as the investment adviser has an agreement with the client to use them. . . . [T]he SEC needs to explicitly state in some way that an investment adviser will not be in breach of its fiduciary duties under the Advisers Act if it uses board voting recommendations when voting its proxies.

To implement such a policy, this comment letter requests the SEC to provide investment advisers with a liability safe harbor under the Advisers Act when using board voting recommendations in voting their proxies as long as their clients do not prohibit their use and no significant business relationship exists between the investment adviser and the company whose shares are being voted. This will help ensure that the value inherent in board voting recommendations is reflected in the voting of proxies by investment advisers.

The entire letter is well worth a good read--and only 11 pages, at that.

But that's not all.

Bernie has taken thoughts from two of his four comment letters and combined and enhanced them in a recently posted article, Enhancing the Value of Shareholder Voting Recommendations.  The abstract of the article is set forth below.

This writing addresses a fundamental issue in corporate governance. If institutional investors such as investment advisers to mutual funds have a fiduciary duty to vote the shares of stock that they owned on behalf of their investors, then how do we practically achieve informing them on how to vote their proxies without requiring each institutional investor to read massive amounts of information on the hundreds or thousands of companies they have invested in for the thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of votes they are confronted with each year?

A critical step in resolving this issue is maximizing the ability of institutional investors to avail themselves of voting recommendations that are made on an informed basis and with the expectation that they will lead to shareholder wealth maximization. One way to achieve this maximization is to make sure that the voting recommendations provided by proxy advisors are truly informed ones. This leads to the recommendation that the proxy advisor should be held to the standard of an information trader. Another way is for the SEC to recognize the value of board recommendations and explicitly state that their use will allow investment advisers to meet their fiduciary duties when voting their proxies.

As Bernie noted on LinkedIn when he posted a link to the article a few days ago, it is a present "[f]or those of you who are looking forward to reading articles on corporate governance during the Christmas break."  I, for one, am still focused on grading (we ended late this semester, and my exam was given on the last possible day--with one student taking it late because of illness) and on my daughter's birthday (today) and Christmas (tomorrow).  But I did take a peek at the article anyway.  It makes many nice points on relevant embedded legal issues and does draw together well Bernie's ideas on the interaction of the duties of proxy advisors and investment advisers.

Bernie is inviting comments.  I am sure he would appreciate yours.

December 24, 2018 in Corporate Governance, Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 17, 2018

New M&A Hornbook - Gevurtz & Sautter

image from images.westacademic.com

West Academic Publishing has just released a new mergers and acquisitions hornbook co-authored by dear friends and business law prof colleagues Frank Gevurtz and Christina Sautter.  I had known that the book was in the offing, but I just got a note from Frank on Saturday confirming its publication and availability.  Here is the synopsis from West:

Gevurtz & Sautter’s Hornbook on Mergers and Acquisitions provides a comprehensive exploration of this important topic. Written in a casual style designed to engage the reader, the book clarifies and critiques critical doctrine. In addition to covering corporate laws governing mergers and acquisitions, the book explores securities, tax, and antitrust laws, as well as addressing the business, financial, and practical lawyering aspects of mergers and acquisitions.

I know these two to be folks with solid backgrounds and interesting insights in this area.  I have requested my online review copy.  Perhaps some of you will want to do that, too.  And for those without that privilege who want this in their libraries, you can get it by clicking on the West Academic Publishing link at the beginning of this post or purchase it on Amazon here.

December 17, 2018 in Joan Heminway, M&A, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 14, 2018

Getting Back to B Corporations and Benefit Corporations . . . .

Haskell Murray, this one's for you (and many others who work with B corporations and benefit corporations)!

Friend of the BLPB Tamara Belinfanti recently sent me a link to an article in which she was quoted.  The premise of the article is clear from its title: To B or not to B? That’s the question for companies who seek to "balance profit and purpose."  Familiar proposition; great article title.  It's certainly worth a quick read, even if it says nothing new.  (Although it does seem to imply that Justice Strine is no longer the Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court . . . .)

In the article, various folks (including Justice Strine) comment about whether B corporation certification and/or benefit corporations are "needed" for social enterprise firms.  This is a question that I love to think about (especially if it can keep me from grading papers for a bit . . . ).  Some of you may remember my post on this topic from a few years ago.  It also is an issue that I have approached at times in pieces of my academic writing, including in the article featured in this post.

Next summer, at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools annual meeting/conference, I am moderating a discussion group on the subject to continue and enrich the conversation.  The title and brief abstract are set forth below.

Discussion Group: Benefit Corporation (or Not)? Establishing and Maintaining Social Impact Business Firms

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.

To date, the participants include domestic and international law professors (clinical and doctrinal) and a practitioner, too!  Let me know if you would like to join this group.  The conference runs from July 28 - August 3 and will be held this year at the Boca Resort and Beach Club.

I will be interested in the discussion.  In the mean time, as someone who does not recommend the benefit corporation form, I am opening the BLPB "floor" for discussion here.  I am interested in your views.

December 14, 2018 in Conferences, Corporate Governance, Haskell Murray, Joan Heminway, Social Enterprise | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Storytelling is for Business Lawyers, Too

A number of years ago, I attended the Biennial Conference on Applied Legal Storytelling.  It was a super event.  I came out of the conference with amazing ideas for teaching and scholarship.  I am thinking of taking my spring research project (on friends and family insider trading) to the conference in 2019.  Will you come join me?

Typically, the conference principally attracts legal writing instructors and clinicians. But more of us should be jumping on this bandwagon.   Storytelling and narrative more generally—which are (of course) a part of all advocacy and dispute resolution—also are used in transaction-building and negotiation.  Accordingly, I am hoping that some of you will consider attending the conference with me this coming summer.  Here are the details from the call for proposals.

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Call for Proposals

Seventh Biennial Conference on Applied Legal Storytelling

Boulder, Colorado, July 9–11 2019

Hosted by the University of Colorado School of Law,
University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and University of Wyoming School of Law, and coordinated by the Rocky Mountain Legal Writing Scholarship Group

This is the call for proposals for the seventh biennial conference on Applied Legal Storytelling. We are offering two deadlines for submitting proposals: January 21, 2019 (priority deadline) and March 11, 2019 (extended deadline).

About the Conference

The Applied Legal Storytelling Conference brings together academics, judges, andpractitioners. The conference has previously convened in 2007 (London), 2009 (Portland),2011 (Denver), 2013 (London), Seattle (2015), and Washington D.C. (2017). We are veryexcited to bring it back to the Mountain West (Boulder) in July 2019.

Applied Legal Storytelling (AppLS) examines the use of stories—and of storytelling or narrative elements—in law practice, legal education, and the law.

This definition is intentionally broad in order to allow people creativity in the way theythink and present on the topic. Such topics may include: the ways in which fiction-writing techniques or narrative theory can inform legal storytelling; stories in the law, or law as stories; legal storytelling and metaphor; client story advocacy; legal storytelling and cognitive science; and ethical considerations in legal storytelling.

In an effort to continue the storytelling conversation for this seventh conference, and to welcome new attendees, we are providing resources for those interested in submitting a proposal and who wish to generate ideas or respond to others’. The first is a list of topicsfrom past conferences, available athttps://www.lwionline.org/sites/default/files/TopicsfrompastAppLSconferences.pdf. The second is a link to a bibliography on AppLS, including articles that have emerged from previous storytelling conferences, available at http://www.alwd.org/wp-contentuploads20151108-rideout_article2015-pdf/. We are also happy to answer questions and offer you suggestions—if you are a newcomer and interested in becoming involved, please reach out.

Continue reading

December 11, 2018 in Call for Papers, Conferences, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 3, 2018

More on the SEC Roundtable on the Proxy Process

On November 15, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) convened a Roundtable on the Proxy Process.  (See also here.)  I have not been following this as closely as co-blogger Ann Lipton has (see recent posts here and here), but friend-of-the-BLPB, Bernie Sharfman (Chairman of the Main Street Investors Coalition Advisory Council) has been active as a comment source.  Both contribute valuable ideas that I want to highlight here as the SEC continues to chew on the information it amassed in the roundtable process. 

Ann, as you may recall, has been focusing attention on the uncertain status of proxy advisors when it comes to liability for securities fraud.  In her most recent post, she observes that

There’s a real ambiguity about where, if it all, proxy advisors fit within the existing regulatory framework, and while I am not convinced there is a specific problem with how they operate or even necessarily a need for regulation, I think it can only be for the good if the SEC were to at least clarify the law, if for no other reason than that these entities play an important role in the securities ecosystem, and if we expect market pressure to discipline them, potential new entrants should have an idea of the regime to which they will be subject.

I remember having similar questions as to the possible fiduciary duties and securities fraud liability of funding portals under the Capital Raising Online While Deterring Fraud and Unethical Non-Disclosure Act of 2012 (a/k/a the CROWDFUND Act)--Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (a/k/a/, the JOBS Act).  I wrote about these ambiguities (and other concerns) in this paper, published before the SEC adopted Regulation CF.  I know Ann's right that we have clean-up to do when it comes to the status of securities intermediaries in various liability contexts (a topic co-blogger Ben Edwards also is passionate about--see, e.g., here and here).

Bernie has honed in on voting process issues relating to both proxy advisors (the standard for making voting recommendations and the use/rejection of the same) and mutual fund investment advisers (the disclosure of mutual fund adviser voting procedures and SEC's enforcement of the Proxy Voting Rule).  Specifically, in an October 12 letter to the SEC, Bernie sets forth three proposals on proxy advisor voting recommendations.  His bottom line?

Institutional investors have a fiduciary duty to vote. However, the use of uninformed and imprecise voting recommendations as provided by proxy advisors should not be their only option. They should always be in a position of making an informed vote, whether or not a proxy advisor can help in making them informed.

Earlier, in an October 8 letter to the SEC (Revised as of October 23, 2018), Bernie recommends mutual adviser disclosure of "the procedures they will use to deal with the temptation to use their voting power to retain or acquire more assets under management and to appease activists in their own shareholder base" and "the procedures they will use to identify the link between support for a shareholder proposal at a particular company and the enhancement of that company’s shareholder value."  He also recommends that the SEC "should clarify that voting inconsistent with these new policies and procedures or omission of such policies and procedures will be considered a breach of the Proxy Voting Rule" and engage in "diligent" enforcement of the Proxy Voting Rule.  I commend both letters to you.

Ann's and Bernie's proxy disclosure and voting commentary also reminds me of the importance of co-blogger Anne Tucker's work on the citizen shareholder (e.g., here).  It will be interesting to see what the SEC does with the information obtained through the proxy process roundtable and the related comment letters.  There certainly is much here to be explored and digested.

[Postscript, 12/4/2018: Bernie Sharfman notified me this morning of a third comment letter he has filed--on proxy advisor fiduciary duties.  It seems he may have a fourth letter in the works, too.  Look out for that. - JMH]

December 3, 2018 in Agency, Ann Lipton, Anne Tucker, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 29, 2018

10th Annual National Business Law Scholars Conference - Call for Papers

It seems like it's "Call for Papers Week" for me.  Here's one near and dear to my heart, as you all must know . . . .

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National Business Law Scholars Conference (NBLSC)
June 20-21, 2019
Call for Papers

The National Business Law Scholars Conference (NBLSC) will be held on Thursday and Friday, June 20-21, 2019, at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

This is the tenth meeting of the NBLSC, an annual conference that draws legal scholars from across the United States and around the world. We welcome all scholarly submissions relating to business law. Junior scholars and those considering entering the academy are especially encouraged to participate. If you are thinking about entering the academy and would like to receive informal mentoring and learn more about job market dynamics, please let us know when you make your submission.

To submit a presentation, email Professor Eric C. Chaffee at eric.chaffee@utoledo.edu with an abstract or paper by February 15, 2019. Please title the email “NBLSC Submission – {Your Name}.” If you would like to attend, but not present, email Professor Chaffee with an email entitled “NBLSC Attendance.” Please specify in your email whether you are willing to serve as a moderator. We will respond to submissions with notifications of acceptance shortly after the deadline. We anticipate the conference schedule will be circulated in May.

Conference Organizers:
Tony Casey (The University of Chicago Law School)
Eric C. Chaffee (The University of Toledo College of Law)
Steven Davidoff Solomon (University of California, Berkeley School of Law)
Joan Heminway (The University of Tennessee College of Law)
Kristin N. Johnson (Tulane University Law School)
Elizabeth Pollman (Loyola Law School, Los Angeles)
Jeff Schwartz (University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law)

 

 

November 29, 2018 in Call for Papers, Conferences, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Teaching Corporate Fiduciary Duties, Again . . . .

Even after 19 years or so of teaching Business Associations courses, I still marvel at how hard it is to teach corporate fiduciary duty doctrine to my students.  A lot of my frustration comes from the amount of (perhaps not-so-useful) judicially instigated labeling involved under Delaware law, as the leading state in the area.  In particular, there is the narrowing of the duty of care to exclude both substantive duty of care claims and Caremark claims.  And then there is the matter of how to best describe the nature of the business judgment rule and how to describe the interaction of disclosure (candor) with the fiduciary duties of care and loyalty. And finally there is a lingering doctrinal question as to whether, in other jurisdictions, good faith, classified as a subsidiary component of the duty of loyalty in Delaware, may be a free-standing fiduciary duty or, in the alternative, foundational, penumbral, etc. to the fiduciary duties of loyalty and care  . . . .  Tough stuff.

Is anyone else out there suffering in the same way I do in teaching fiduciary duties in a Business Associations or Corporations class?  How do you handle the legal complexity/labeling questions?  I continue to want to improve in teaching this material.  I am all ears.

[Postscript:  I failed to note in the original post the helpful comments that I received on a longer-form, less specific post on this issue two years ago.  Feel free to look there for more and for some ideas folks shared about their teaching then.]

November 19, 2018 in Corporate Governance, Corporations, Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Blessings to All Veterans

Today, in honor of my Dad, my father-in-law, my cousin, my administrative assistant, many friends, and others who have honored us with their military service, I am posting a link to a recent episode of The Home Team with Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors.  The episode features an interview by my former student, Betty Rhoades, of one of my new military buddies, Captain Chris Davis, USMC.  Chris is a 3L at UT Law and a super guy.  He founded a nonprofit last year, Vols for Vets, of which I (and others) are very proud.

Thanks to all who have served in our armed forces for helping to protect us from enemies far and near.  Your service is to be honored and cherished.  We thank you for our lives and our freedom.

November 12, 2018 in Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (1)

ComplianceNet2 Conference Invitation Announcement & Call for Papers

ComplianceNetLogo

Friend of the BLPB Josephine Nelson informs us of the following:

The second-annual ComplianceNet conference will take place on June 3-4, 2019. Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law and its Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics, Integrity and Compliance will host the conference. Like the highly successful inaugural conference at UC Irvine in 2018, this conference will allow scholars from across disciplines and different legal and regulatory topics to exchange research and explore connections for collaboration.

The timing of this year’s conference is designed to follow on the heels of the Law & Society meeting in nearby Washington, D.C. If you are already headed to Law & Society, Villanova is a short train-ride away and easily accessible by public transportation. Regardless of whether you will be attending Law & Society, Villanova is in a beautiful location right outside Philadelphia, easily serviced by major international airports (Philadelphia (PHL), Newark (EWR), Baltimore (BWI), two more in NYC, and two more in DC); 90 minutes from NYC; and two hours from D.C.

The theme of this year's conference is Business Ethics, although we welcome additional papers discussing compliance across diverse settings. This year’s theme seeks to engage the question of how to run ethical companies, and how to encourage ethical behavior within organizations. The conference welcomes attempts to explore the strengths and limitations of various approaches, to identify how measurement strategies have shaped practices, and to understand how we can improve outcomes, for instance through new technology and combining methods. Submissions do not need to align with the meeting theme, but we encourage you to consider relating to it. The conference is also open to scholars and other experts who want to attend without presenting a paper.

The conference will host a business meeting of ComplianceNet, during which members may discuss future activities.

To register for the conference either as a presenter or attendee, please fill out the form by following this link. The URL is https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-second-annual-compliancenet-conference-tickets-50784542935.

For individual papers, please submit the paper title and abstract (up to about 200 words). For panels (3 papers minimum with a maximum of 5 per panel), please submit an integrative statement explaining the panel (approximately 200 words), the titles of each paper and their authors, and an abstract for each paper (approximately 200 words). At our website, ComplianceNet.org, there is also a form to nominate papers for awards. Papers may be considered for awards whether they come through the nomination link or are presented at the conference.

The early registration discount deadline to submit papers and panels is January 25, 2019. The regular registration deadline for papers and panels is February 22, 2019. The registration deadline to attend without a paper or panel (as space available) is March 29, 2019. Registration for the conference includes the yearly membership in ComplianceNet. If you have questions regarding the call for proposals or about the conference, please contact Benjamin van Rooij (bvanrooij@law.uci.edu).

 . . . 

---For conference updates, please refer to the ComplianceNet website at www.ComplianceNet.org--- 

Sounds like a great event.  I note (and informed Josephine) that this conference overlaps with the Impact Investing Legal Working Group (IILWG)/Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship’s 2019 Conference on “Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing – in the US and Beyond,” scheduled for June 4-5 at the NYU Schools of Law in NYC.  More on that conference later.  In any event, it looks like there is a lot to do up North after the Law and Society Association conference!  One could spend the whole week away presenting papers. . . .

November 12, 2018 in Compliance, Conferences, Ethics, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)