Monday, January 17, 2022

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Beginning of a New Semester

I begin teaching again on Wednesday.  The past few weeks have been occupied with course preparation as well as catching up on editing, writing, and other tasks abandoned during a month+ focused on the grading period, attentiveness to  a downturn in my dad's health, Christmas, a nasty cold, and intensive physical therapy.  As I have focused on the spring semester, I continue to be concerned about helping to teach my students critical and intensive thinking, in and outside legal reasoning.  On this day honoring the life and many legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I am inspired in my work by this passage from his writing--specifically, Chapter 1 of Strength to Love (1963; Pocket Book ed. 1964):

 . . . The tough mind is sharp and penetrating, breaking through the crust of legends and myths and sifting the true from the false. The tough-minded individual is astute and discerning. He has a strong austere quality that makes for firmness of purpose and solidness of commitment.

Who doubts that this toughness is one of man's greatest needs? Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

The last three sentences of this quote are especially meaningful to me.  The world is full of "easy answers and half-baked solutions."  I laugh when a state or  federal legislator sends me survey asking me, e.g., whether I support the taxation of X (as one once did).  How can I answer that question (except in a knee jerk or heuristic-driven process) if I do not know other things first (including whether something else may be taxed instead or whether services may be cut)?  And I am pained when students rely on commercial case briefs and caselaw summaries rather than personally digesting and dissecting the text of even a case excerpt in a casebook.  Suffice it to say, it is difficult to have an in-depth or fully engaged conversation with a student who has not read and thought through the key elements of a particular judicial opinion.

Dr. King may be right that there are relatively few folks "who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking."  But my hope is that many of those who do are and will continue to be lawyers (who lead in our society both in and outside the profession) and that at least a few of those lawyers will have been my students.  I know other law faculty that feel the same way.

Encouraging law students to engage with the legal education process in a way that is productive to willing engagement with "hard, solid thinking" is certainly not easy when easy-to-read summary resources are widely available.  But an investment in that encouragement is worth the time and energy, in my view.  Lawyers can best fulfill their professional promise and responsibility by thinking in a way that is "sharp and penetrating, breaking through the crust of legends and myths and sifting the true from the false."

So, here's to the new semester.  I start with renewed energy to work with my students to get them what they need to succeed in and beyond law school, including by motivating each of them to develop a "sharp and penetrating" mind--a "tough mind."  Sustaining that type of energy in a pandemic-infused, understaffed world will surely be a challenge. But I am up for it!  I wish all law professors well in their pursuit of effective teaching.

January 17, 2022 in Books, Joan Heminway, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 10, 2022

Can Business Law Profs Be Change Leaders?

Yesterday evening, the 2022 Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting concluded.  Hosted on a platform using Zoom, the conference spanned five days.  It was a meeting filled with super papers and discussion, many worthy honorees, and a little bot of networking and fellowship (not as satisfactory over Zoom, of course).

I was invited by BLPB co-blogger John Anderson and Martin Edwards to be part of an exciting discussion group: A Very Online Economy: Meme Trading, Bitcoin, and the Crisis of Trust and Value(s) – How Should the Law Respond?  [Editor's note: a hypertext link to John's earlier blog post was added post publication.]  Participants were asked to write short papers on the topic and share their theses during the session at the meeting. Initially, I planned to write on something involving substantive doctrinal law stemming from the meme stock phenomenon or my work in crowdfunding, blockchains, or insider trading.  But the more I thought about it (and the topic), and with the conference's programs honoring the life and legacy of Deborah Rhode in the foreground of my mind, the more I became convinced that I wanted to write/speak about lawyer leadership in this area at this time.

The short paper that resulted from that thinking, Leading as Lawyers in an Era of Rapid Technological Change, Limited Trust, and Individualism, can be found here.  It is not worth an SSRN post; it is just a thought piece.  But I am interested in your feedback, so I am sharing a link to it here.  The essential thesis is summarized in my conclusion paragraphs, pasted in below:

Lawyers and legal academics who desire to be change leaders have unique knowledge and experience relevant to the creation of a vision for legal or regulatory change that responds to ongoing business transformations. We know the existing legal and regulatory landscape and can observe its application in day-to-day business dealings. As businesses rapidly evolve in an increasingly digital world, the expertise of business lawyers and business law scholars is important to legal and regulatory change as well as legal and regulatory compliance.

Yet, successful, sustainable change in U.S. law and regulation has proven somewhat difficult. Among other things, we are living in an era of limited trust and increased individualism. These socio-political attributes of current life in the United States appear to be barriers to implementing even the most swell-reasoned legal arguments for change.

A possible way forward involves the use of proven patterns of efficacious change leadership that have been observed in private businesses and documented in a robust body of literature—especially academic literature authored by business management scholars. This literature deserves our attention and study, as does its application to effective processes of legal and regulatory change. There is no magic recipe for leading change, especially in the current environment. But merely having and sharing solid ideas for positive legal and regulatory change has never been enough to ensure the adoption and entrenchment of that change. If we want to be change leaders in the current, rapidly evolving business ecosystem, business lawyers and business law academics must consider and engage process. The ideas shared here are offered as a means of encouraging that consideration and engagement.

The paper admittedly results in part from the feeling that many worthy ideas for legal or regulatory change never get implemented because the right process was not employed.  Perhaps you also have felt this frustration at some point . . . .  As a result, in the paper, I end up encouraging the implementation of specific, staged, sequenced steps to make sustainable legal or regulatory change.

Among other things, I share a few pieces of the referenced academic literature on change leadership--a literature that I have used in other work.  It is a growing body of work.  And it keeps drawing me back.

The paper is five pages.  If any of what I have said in this post piques your interest and you deign to read the paper, let me know if you have any thoughts.  My idea is a simple idea; perhaps too simple . . . .

January 10, 2022 in Conferences, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

AALS 2022 Annual Meeting Programs - ICYMT

Perhaps you missed these interesting programs--with super speakers--among all the amazing business associations, securities regulation, business transactions, etc. sessions!  I know I did and was glad a friend highlighted them for my attention.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022, 12:35 PM to 1:50 PM
Climate Finance and Banking Regulation: Beyond Disclosure?
Financial Institutions and Consumer Financial Services

U.S. banking regulation has been slower than other forms of financial regulation (and slower than in Europe) to address climate-related financial risks. This panel explores the role of banking regulation in addressing the physical and transition risks from climate change. Possible measures include: mandatory climate risk disclosures by banks; supervisory assessments of climate-related financial risk; capital and liquidity regulation; scenario tests; determination of the appropriate role of banks in mitigating climate risk; financial stability oversight of climate risk; and action (through the Community Reinvestment Act and otherwise) to deter harms to disadvantaged communities and communities of color from climate change.

    • Patricia A. McCoy, Boston College Law School, Moderator
    • Christina Skinner, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Speaker
    • Graham Steele, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Speaker
    • Hilary J. Allen, American University, Washington College of Law, Speaker
    • Nakita Cuttino, Georgetown University Law Center, Speaker from a Call for Papers

Sunday, January 9, 2022, 3:10 PM to 4:25 PM
Workers, Boards, and the Global Corporation
Section on Economic Globalization and Governance

The appropriate role and status of employee voice in corporate governance is an evergreen issue for corporate law. In the US, the field has traditionally focused on the interactions between boards of directors, shareholders, and managers, but with an increased emphasis on corporate social responsibility, that view has expanded. Despite widespread embrace of CSR principles, however, many corporations still resist union organizing. The inclusion of worker voice in corporate governance has significant comparative law dimensions, encompassing co-determination and union representation on boards. With the recognition that work is increasingly remote, these issues will become even more salient.

    • Miriam Cherry, Saint Louis University School of Law, Moderator
    • Lenore Palladino, University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Policy, Speaker
    • Franklin A. Gevurtz, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, Speaker
    • George S. Georgiev, Emory University School of Law, Speaker
    • Matthew T. Bodie, Saint Louis University School of Law, Speaker

Looking forward to seeing many of you on Zoom later in the week!

January 4, 2022 in Conferences, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Employment Law, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 3, 2022

Honoring the Memory of Betty White

Yes, like many, I was saddened by the loss of TV personality Betty White on New Year's Eve at the age of 99--just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday.  I have been fascinated by the many tributes and, indeed, tuned in for the SNL reprise of her Mother's Day host night (from eleven years ago!) on Saturday night.  Why are so many of us intrigued by this near centenarian whom we have never met in person?  I have mulled this as I complete the calculation of my fall semester grades, ready myself for presentations, commentary, and attendance at the 2022 AALS conference (which starts later this week), and prepare to start teaching for the spring semester.

My colleague and friend Stuart Brotman gets a lot of it right, imv, in this short post.  I invite you to read it.  Stuart is a lawyer embedded in our School of Journalism and Electronic Media (part of the College of Communication and Information) and on the Advisory Board for our Institute for Professional Leadership.  Here's what I have culled from Stuart's piece and other articles I have read (and from just watching Betty "do her thing") over the past few days.

  • She showed up.
  • She brought her "A Game" to what she did.
  • She embraced challenge.
  • She was candid at the risk of showing herself to be less than perfect--even unattractive.
  • She brought a sense of humor to her craft (including a sense of humor about herself).
  • She loved people and life--or at least always made it look that way.

I am sure there is more.  I will keep thinking on it, for fun.  But as I assembled this list in my head, I realized it included a number of inspiring thoughts for the new year and the new semester.  So, I invite you to honor Betty White's memory by adopting her norms--or at least some of them--as you begin your work in 2022.  They are so positive and strong!

🎉 Happy New Year to all.  🎊 I hope 2022 brings you good health and joy.

January 3, 2022 in Joan Heminway, Teaching, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 27, 2021

Being a Business Law Prof: Transitioning to the New Year

As the Interim Director of UT Law's Institute for Professional Leadership (IPL), I have the privilege of working with a student fellow. Both last year's fellow (chosen by the founder and Director of the IPL) and this year's fellow (selected by me) have been advanced business law students. I have had the pleasure of getting to know both well, inside and outside the classroom. 

Our Hardwick Fellows have a number of roles in the IPL. They often involve collaborative tasks. One of the most fun components is our work co-editing guest posts for the IPL's Leading as Lawyers blog. We read and revise posts authored by students, alumni, faculty, staff, and sometimes others. We endeavor to publish a post about every two or three weeks. Click on the "follow" button on our WordPress home page to receive email notices of new posts.

The IPL's 2021-22 Hardwick Fellow is Stefan Kostas. As we sat down to do some semester-end planning, we somehow came to the idea of co-creating a holiday season post--a dialogue capturing some of our relevant reflections. We conducted the "conversation" by e-mail and then edited it. The end result is a post entitled: "Leadership Musings, Goal-Setting, and the New Year: A Colloquy."

It struck me that our holiday season/year-end post might be of interest to BLPB readers, too. So, feel free to click on the link and give it a read. It exemplifies many of the conversations business law profs--and other law profs--have with students whom they mentor and with whom they collaborate. This kind of give-and-take--part social conversation, part mentoring and career development--is a wonderfully joyful part of our job as instructors in the law school setting. We are, indeed, blessed.

Sending out wishes to all for a very happy, healthy new year.  No doubt surprise challenges in legal education will continue to arise in the lingering pandemic environment.  But the rich professional and academic relationships our jobs allow us to have will be part of what sustains me in 2022. 🎉

December 27, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 20, 2021

AALS Section on Business Associations - 2022 Leadership Slate

Following up on my December 6 post, I include below an update from AALS Section on Business Associations Chair (and friend-of-the-BLPB) Jessica Erickson relating to the upcoming AALS annual meeting elections for the Section on Business Associations.  I am impressed by the slate and know our section leadership will remain in capable hands!  I hope to see many of you on Zoom at one or more of the section programs, including the main program (described in my December 6 post) at which the voting for next year's leadership will take place.  

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Dear members of the AALS Business Associations Section:

I am emailing to update you on the proposed slate for the AALS Business Associations Section's Executive Committee. We have a great list of people who will be joining the section's leadership. I am rotating off as chair at the end of the annual meeting, and Jim Park (our chair-elect) will automatically become the new chair. Mira Ganor has agreed to serve as next year's chair-elect. Thanks to both Jim and Mira for their service to our section!

We also have three members rotating off the Executive Committee - Matt Jennejohn, Dana Brakman Reiser, and Andrew Verstein. We are very thankful for their service as well! As a result of these changes, we have four openings on the Executive Committee. After soliciting nominations from our membership, we have a slate of four new members that we will vote on in a brief business meeting at the end of our main session at the annual meeting. This slate includes:

* George Georgiev of Emory University School of Law;
* Summer Kim of the University of California, Irvine School of Law;
* Christina Sautter of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center, Louisiana State University; and
* Omari Scott Simmons of Wake Forest Law School

Thanks to all of you for your work on behalf of the section, and I hope you all have a fabulous break.

Best,
Jessica Erickson
Chair, AALS Business Associations Section

December 20, 2021 in Conferences, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 13, 2021

Classifying and Labeling Standard M&A Contract Provisions

I spent a bunch of the day today reading an excellent draft paper written by one of my 3L students.  The paper is about fraud carveouts in no seller indemnity deals backed by representations and warranties insurance.  But this post is not about that.  It is about a question I asked the student (and myself) in connection with my review of the paper about how to classify or label certain provisions she was describing.

The standard structure of an M&A agreement includes articles clearly labeled as including representations and warranties, covenants, and conditions.  However, other articles are not as transparent in advertising their contents.  An article entitled "Indemnification" typically does include an express agreement (sometimes mutual agreements) to indemnify that would easily be classified as a covenant.  But that article also may include an exclusive remedy provision, restricting recourse for a breach of representation or warranty to the indemnification.  An example would be as follows (courtesy of Law Insider):

Sole and Exclusive Remedy. From and after the Closing, the indemnification provisions of this Article XII shall be the sole and exclusive remedy of each Party (including the Seller Indemnified Parties and the Purchaser Indemnified Parties) (i) for any breach of any Party’s representations, warranties, covenants or agreements contained in this Agreement or (ii) otherwise with respect to this Agreement or the transactions contemplated hereby with respect to the Company, other than in the case of (i) and (ii) instances of fraud or intentional misconduct or claims for non-monetary relief with respect to the enforcement of Section 6.02 or 8.03. In furtherance of the foregoing, each Party hereby waives, to the fullest extent permitted under Applicable Law, any and all rights, claims and causes of action it may have against another Party hereunder or under Applicable Law with respect to the claims described in clauses (i) and (ii) above, other than instances of fraud or intentional misconduct or claims for non-monetary relief with respect to the enforcement of Section 6.02 or 8.03.

The first part of this provision is treated as an enforceable agreement between the parties even though it reads somewhat more like an acknowledgement, affirmation, or promise. Indeed, the provision expresses an understanding between the parties.  So it also is likely best classified as a covenant.  The last part is a waiver.

But what about some of the provisions included in the M&A article entitled "Miscellaneous" (or sometimes "General" or the like)?  Let's take an integration clause like this one (also courtesy of Law Insider):

Integration Clause. This Agreement, including all attachments and exhibits hereto, supersede[s] all prior oral or written agreements, if any, between the parties and constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the work to be performed.

Or an non-reliance provision like this one (again, courtesy of Law Insider):

Non-Reliance. Each Party acknowledges that in agreeing to this Agreement it has not relied on any oral or written representation, warranty or other assurance, except as otherwise set forth in this Agreement, and waives all rights and remedies which might otherwise be available to it in respect thereof, except that nothing in this Agreement will limit or exclude any liability of a Party for fraud.

How might we classify and label those provisions?  Neither reads like a covenant--an actionable, enforceable, agreement or promise.  Each provides atmosphere or context.

Are these provisions acknowledgments?  (The non-reliance provision even uses that word instrumentally!)  Or maybe they are representations, affirmations, or even warranties . . . .

All of this worry about classification and labeling may not be worth much in the end.  Apart from accurate descriptions in expository writing, do we really care how these contract provisions are classified and labeled?  Certainly, it helps us to have labels that we can attach to performance and compliance descriptors in discussing contract enforcement (e.g., representations and warranties are accurate and complete or breached; covenants are complied with or there is a failure of compliance).  But maybe there is not much else in a label . . . .  Admittedly, I have not researched the matter or thought through any significant legal ramifications; I am just sharing reactions and impressions based on my review of a student paper.  As a result (and as always), your views and ideas are welcomed.

December 13, 2021 in Contracts, Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 9, 2021

AALS Section on Transactional Law & Skills - Annual Meeting Main Program and Call for Nominations

From friend-of-the-BLPB Megan Shaner:

  • The Transactional Law & Skills Section main program, "Transactional Lawyering at the Intersection of Business and Societal Well-Being," will be held Friday, January 7th at 11am-12:15 EST.

    Description:

    * Presenters from Call for Papers:

    Michael Blasie, Penn State Dickinson Law, “The Rise of Plain Language Laws”
    George Georgiev, Emory University School of Law, “The Law and Economics of Materiality”

    * Moderator: Eric Chaffee, University of Toledo College of Law

    * Invited Speakers
    Praveen Kosuri, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

    Amelia Miazad, UC Berkeley School of Law

    Jennie Morawetz, Kirkland & Ellis (strategy and operations partner for Kirkland’s ESG and Impact practice)

    Faith Stevelman, New York Law School

    *Moderator: Megan Shaner, University of Oklahoma College of Law

  • At the end of the program we will hold a brief business meeting to elect the membership of next year's executive committee. If you would like to nominate yourself or another member, please email me at mshaner@ou.edu by December 13, 2020.

 

December 9, 2021 in Conferences, Joan Heminway | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 6, 2021

AALS Section on Business Associations - 2022 Annual Meeting & Call for Leadership Nominations

This in from friend-of-the-BLPB Jessica Erickson:

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Dear AALS Business Association Section Members,

I hope the end of your semester is going well! I'm writing with programming details for the January 2022 AALS Annual Meeting and to invite you to nominate yourself or others for Executive Committee positions next year.

January 2022 Annual Meeting

1. Registration is still open, and you can register here https://aals.secure-platform.com/a/organizations/main/submissions/details/7094 . As you may know, most law schools have paid school-wide registration fees again this year, which makes registration simpler, but you still have to register to attend any of the sessions.

2. The Business Associations Section main program, "Race and Teaching Business Associations," will be held Friday, January 7th at 12:35 to 1:50 EST. Many thanks to James Park, the section's chair-elect, for organizing this panel!

Description: Business Associations classes taught in most law schools spend little if any time on issues relating to racial discrimination and inequity. But as important social institutions, businesses have long had a significant impact on racial equity. The increasing scrutiny of the lack of diversity on public company boards is one of several fronts where businesses are facing both legal and social pressure to address racial inequity. Students are increasingly interested in understanding how the law governing business organizations reflects or contributes to racial injustice. Many law professors want to do more to cover topics relating to race in their Business Associations course and are seeking guidance on how to do so. This panel will provide a forum where teachers of Business Associations can share ideas for incorporating the subject of racial discrimination and inequity into their classes.

* Invited Speakers
Thomas Joo, UC Davis School of Law
Steven Ramirez, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Cheryl Wade, St. John's University School of Law

* Presenter from Call for Papers: Harwell Wells, Temple University School of Law, presenting Shareholder Meetings and Freedom Rides: The Story of Peck v. Greyhound

* Moderator: James Park, UCLA School of Law

3. The section's Works-in-Progress Program will be held Thursday, January 6th at 4:45 - 6:00 pm EST. Many thanks to Eric Chaffee for organizing a terrific panel of the following presenters and commentators!

* Paper #1: William J. Moon (University of Maryland Carey School of Law), Anonymous Companies

* Commentators: Frank Gevurtz, Joan Heminway, Eric Chaffee


* Paper #2: Trang (Mae) Nguyen (Temple University Beasley School of Law), Norm Assembly in Global Value Chains

* Commentators: Michael Malloy, Kish Parella, Veronica Root


* Paper #3: Alexander I. Platt (University of Kansas School of Law), Beyond "Market Transparency": Investor Disclosure and Corporate Governance

* Commentators: Afra Afsharipour, Michael Guttentag, and Donna Nagy


* Moderator: Eric Chaffee

Nominations for Next Year's Executive Committee

Finally, following past practice, we will hold an electronic business meeting later this month to determine the membership of next year's executive committee. If you would like to nominate yourself or another member, please email me at jerickso@richmond.edu by December 13, 2020.

We hope to see you (virtually) at the Annual Meeting!

Best,

Jessica Erickson


On behalf of the Executive Committee:

Jessica Erickson, University of Richmond School of Law (Chair)
James J. Park, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law (Chair-Elect)
Dana Brakman Reiser, Brooklyn Law School
Eric Chaffee, University of Toledo College of Law
Carliss Chatman, Washington & Lee School of Law
Gina-Gail S. Fletcher, Duke University School of Law
Mira Ganor, University of Texas School of Law
Cathy Hwang, University of Virginia School of Law
Matt Jennejohn, BYU Law School
Michael Malloy, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
James Nelson, University of Houston Law Center
Andrew Verstein, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law
Cheryl Wade, St. John's University School of Law
Manning G. Warren, III, University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

December 6, 2021 in Conferences, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 5, 2021

GWU Law - Non-Faculty Business Law Opening

From our friend Art Wilmarth at GWU Law:

George Washington University Law School is seeking to hire a new Assistant Dean (and program director) for our Business and Finance Law Program.

Following is the link for the job posting:

https://www.gwu.jobs/postings/88506

If you know of well-qualified candidates who might be interested in this
position, please share this information and encourage them to apply.
Applications should be submitted ASAP, and preferably by December 15, 2021.

Many thanks, and best regards .................. Art Wilmarth


Arthur E. Wilmarth, Jr.
Professor Emeritus of Law
George Washington University Law School
2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052

December 5, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 29, 2021

The U.S. Government as a Controlling Shareholder - A Class Discussion

In my Corporate Finance class this morning, as a capstone experience, I asked my students to read and be prepared to comment on an article I wrote a bit over a decade ago.  The article, Federal Interventions in Private Enterprise in the United States: Their Genesis in and Effects on Corporate Finance Instruments and Transactions, 40 Seton Hall L. Rev 1487 (2010), offers information and observations about the U.S. government's engagements as an investor, bankruptcy transformer, and M&A gadfly/matchmaker in responding to the global financial crisis.  A discussion of the article typically leads to a nice review of several things we have covered over the course of the semester.  I have a number of topics I want to ensure we engage with, but I allow some free rein.

Today, one of our interesting bits of discussion centered around the possibility that the U.S. government became a controlling shareholder for a time due to the nature of its high percentage ownership interest in, for example, AIG.  This was not directly addressed in my article.  Nevertheless, we set into a discussion of the substance, citing to Sinclair Oil Corp. v. Levien, one of Josh Fershee's favorite cases.  We also reflected on possible associated lawyering and professional responsibility issues.

I wondered after the in-class discussion whether anyone of us who had written articles on the government as an investor in private enterprise in the wake of the financial crisis had, in fact, commented on this aspect of the government's majority or other controlling preferred stock investments.  A little digging revealed the following passage from a student article:

Delaware corporate law protects minority shareholders from controlling shareholders who use the corporation to advance their own interests at the expense of other shareholders. It does so both by imposing fiduciary duties on the directors and officers of a corporation, including duties of care, loyalty, and good faith, and extending those duties to any shareholder who exercises control over a corporation.

Matthew R. Shahabian, The Government as Shareholder and Political Risk: Procedural Protections in the Bailout, 86 N.Y. L. Rev. 351, 369 (2011) (citing to Sinclair) (footnote omitted).  The article engages both Sinclair's substantive fiduciary duty rule and the applicable judicial review standard, citing to the case a total of six times.  J.W. Verret also cites to Sinclair for the same principles in his article Treasury Inc.: How the Bailout Reshapes
Corporate Theory and Practice, 27 Yale J. Reg. 283, 335 (2010), and Steven Davidoff Solomon and David Zaring give Sinclair three nods in their article, After the Deal: Fannie, Freddie, and the Financial Crises Aftermath, 95 B.U.L. Rev. 371 (2015).  Good to know.

I admit that I was pleased that, after 13-14 weeks of hard work on the part of me and my students, we could have a conversation about this type of practical, applied legal issue.  I was still guiding the way a bit, but the students really carried the discussion.  And they had useful ideas and observations--ones I know they could not have shared at the beginning of the semester.  I applaud them; I am proud of them!

#whyweteach

November 29, 2021 in Corporate Finance, Joan Heminway, Joshua P. Fershee, Shareholders, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Penn State Law Minority Business Development: Special Open Session (November 30, 2021, 4:00 PM - 6:45 PM EST)

This just in from friend-of-the-BLPB Sam Thompson at Penn State Law.  Sam hopes we will bring this program to the attention of those "who might be interested in learning more about this very important topic," including law school administrators, faculty, and students.  I know I plan to make others aware.

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Dear Colleagues: This semester I am teaching a course dealing with issues in Minority Business Development, a subject I took as a student literally 50 years ago in my third year at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  Because of the importance of this topic, Penn State Law has permitted me to make the course open to anyone who is interested in this very important topic, and recordings of all of the sessions of the course are available on the Penn State Law website here.

The course is divided into the following three segments:

Part I, Introduction and in-Depth Analysis of the Minority-White Gap in Business Ownership,

Part II, The Lawyer’s Essential Tools in Representing a Minority-Owned Small Business, and

Part III, The Big Ideas for Addressing the Minority-White Gap in Business Ownership

Part I was covered over five sessions and ended with a discussion with Professor Berdejo of the Loyola Law School in LA about his recently published article in the University of Wisconsin Law Review entitled: Financing Minority Entrepreneurship.  Part II of the course focused on the Essential Tools that any lawyer needs in advising owners of a business.  Each of these sessions was led by an outstanding practitioner, including a lawyer from the following firms: McGuire Woods; Richards, Layton & Finger; Nelson Mullins; Schiff Hardin; Wachtell Lipton; and Starfield & Smith.  For this part, we principally used the Maynard et. al. Business Planning casebook. 

This brings me to Part III, The Big Ideas for Addressing the Gap, which will be held in one session on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.  This special session will be live over the Internet from 4 PM to 6:45 PM Eastern Time.  A recording of this session will also be available on the website for the course.  This Special Session is entitled Perspectives on Minority Business Development, and in this session, experts from across the country will engage in a live discussion of Minority Business Development issues. The event, which is divided into three sessions, includes perspectives of lawyers, an economist, a business school dean, tax policy experts, entrepreneurs, and Penn State Law students who are enrolled in the course.  Reactions to the presentations in the three sessions will be provided by Dana Peterson, Chief Economist at The Conference Board.  While Ms. Peterson was a banker at Citigroup, she was the co-author of a 2020 report by Citigroup entitled: Closing the Racial Inequality Gaps.  A flyer for the program is attached, and the event page for the program can be reached here.  

. . .

Regards, Sam

November 23, 2021 in Business Associations, Entrepreneurship, Joan Heminway, Lawyering, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 22, 2021

JP Morgan Sued Elon Musk’s Tesla For Breach Of Contract: How Did I Predict It? - Lécia Vicente (Guest Post)

Friend-of-the-BLPB Lécia Vicente sent along the following post, which I thought our readers might find interesting, especially in light of the blog's prior posts on Elon Musk and his conduct (including those from Ann and me, like this one--citing to many others--and that one).  Enjoy!  Comment, as desired.  I have my own comments, which I will share in due course.

And (in this week of giving thanks) I offer gratitude to Lécia for bringing this post to us!  (You may remember that she guest blogged with us last December--almost a year ago.  Where did the time go?)

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On November 6th 2021, Elon Musk polled his Twitter followers to determine if he should sell 10% of his stake in his company, Tesla. He wrote, “[m]uch is made lately of unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance, so I propose selling 10% of my Tesla stock. Do you support this?”

On November 8th 2021, two days after Musk’s tweet, I tweeted the following question, "[c]an Musk actually be sued if he doesn’t follow through on his pledge to sell?” Initially, I was more concerned about securities law. Based on Musk’s tweets, shareholders might be misled to sell, meaning that Musk could be sued for misrepresentation. Similar scenarios of securities fraud involving Tesla and Elon Musk have happened before. In addition, Musk’s tweets could trigger claims of breach of contractual duties. A week after my tweet, on November 15th 2021, JP Morgan filed a complaint against Tesla for breach of contractual duties. I guess I predicted it.

Specifically, in JP Morgan Chase Bank, National Association, London Branch v. Tesla, Inc, JP Morgan is suing for the Tesla CEO’s tweet on August 7th 2018 when he stated “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” This statement came from the chair of Tesla’s board of directors and controlling shareholder. While the tone and seriousness of the announcement is debatable, JP Morgan took it seriously. Seriously enough to sue.

On February 27th 2014 and March 28th 2014, JP Morgan entered a series of agreements with Tesla in which JP Morgan would buy Tesla stock warrants at a specified “strike price.” Additionally, the warrants maintained an adjustment clause in case of an announcement of a significant corporate transaction involving Tesla, such as an acquisition. The purpose of the adjustment clause was to protect the parties from adverse economic effects. The 2021 Warrants expired between June and July 2021.

As explained in the complaint, in a Form 8-K filed on November 5th 2013, Tesla identified Elon Musk’s personal Twitter account “as a source of material public information about the company” and encouraged investors to review that account. The complaint also stated that:

Because the tweet violated NASDAQ rules requiring at least 10 minutes’ advance notice before a listed corporation publicly disclosed a going-private transaction, NASDAQ temporarily halted trading in Tesla’s stock following Mr. Musk’s tweet, evidencing that the exchange considered the tweet to constitute an announcement by the company itself.

After Mr. Musk’s tweet, Tesla’s Chief Financial Officer, its head of communications, and its General Counsel drafted an email—attributed to Mr. Musk—detailing the going-private plan. The email was sent to Tesla employees and published the same day on both Mr. Musk’s Twitter account and Tesla’s blog (which Tesla had also designated as a source of material public information about the company). In the email, and in a series of tweets responding to his Twitter followers, Mr. Musk elaborated on his plans to take Tesla private. He concluded in a tweet that “Investor support is confirmed. Only reason why this is not certain is that it’s contingent on a shareholder vote.”

That same day, in response to various inquiries from research analysts, Tesla’s head of investor relations confirmed that Mr. Musk’s tweet signified a “firm offer” to take Tesla private that was “as firm as it gets.” Specifically, she wrote in response to press inquiries about the tweet:

  • “I can only say that the first Tweet clearly stated that ‘financing is secured.’ Yes, there is a firm offer.”
  • “[A]part from what has been tweeted and what was written in a blog post, we can’t add anything else. I only wanted to stress that Elon’s first tweet, which mentioned ‘financing secured’ is correct.”
  • “The very first tweet simply mentioned ‘Funding secured’ which means there is a firm offer. Elon did not disclose details of who the buyer is . . . .  I actually don’t know [whether there is a commitment letter or a verbal agreement], but I would assume that given we went full-on public with this, the offer is as firm as it gets.”

It turns out that Elon Musk’s announcement of an acquisition was false. However, JP Morgan and all the banks that had entered similar contracts with Tesla, namely Goldman Sachs, did not know that at the time of the announcement. Still, JP Morgan adjusted the terms of the 2021 Warrants as a result of Tesla’s announcement of acquisition and, later, its abandonment of the transaction on August 24th 2018. JP Morgan considered that such adjustments were contractually required. Tesla refused to settle and pay in full what JP Morgan claimed Tesla owed as a result of the adjustments. JP Morgan ended up suing Tesla for $162,216,628.81, to be precise, for breach of contractual duties.

So, did Elon Musk’s tweet on August 7th 2018 constitute an announcement of an acquisition? Was it a “firm offer” to enter into a contract?”

Interestingly, JP Morgan’s complaint resonates with Johnson v. Capital City Ford, a case decided by the Louisiana Court of Appeal, in 1955. In Johnson v. Capital City Ford Co., the Court had to determine whether a unilateral declaration of will like an advertisement constituted a firm offer. Capital City Ford found itself with a surplus of 1954 Fords. To get rid of them, the company placed an advertisement in the local newspaper, the gist of which was “[c]ome in, buy a 1954 Ford and, when the new models come in, we will let you trade in the 1954 model for a 1955 model at no extra charge.”

In response to the announcement, Johnson went to Capital City’s lot, picked out a 1954 model, and bought it. When the new models arrived a short time later, Johnson returned to the Capital City lot and demanded a trade. Capital City refused, claiming that the advertisements “were not intended as offers, but merely as invitations to come in and bargain.”

The Court advanced the following major premises: (1) A newspaper advertisement may constitute an offer, acceptance of which will consummate a contract and create an obligation in the offeror to perform according to the terms of the published offer. (2) An offer to be effective, need not be addressed to determinate offerees; it can, instead, be addressed to the public at large. (3) Whether a particular advertisement is an offer, rather than an invitation to make an offer or enter negotiations, depends on “the legal intention of the parties and the surrounding circumstances.” (4) If the meaning of a declaration of will is doubtful or uncertain due to “want of explanation” that the declarer should have given or from “any other negligence of fault of his,” then “the construction most favorable to the other party shall be adopted.”

The Court held the advertisement was an offer. To a reader, the wording of the advertisement denoted a bona fide offer, and it was certain and definite enough to constitute a legal offer. If Capital City Ford really intended the advertisement not as an offer but as an invitation to make an offer, it should have said something to that effect. The advertisement created a risk of uncertainty through its ambiguous statements. Therefore, the onus was on Capital City Ford to clear up the ambiguity. Since the company did not do so, the Court construed the advertisement against Capital City.

In Johnson v. Capital City Ford, the Court applied another case R. E. Crummer & Co v. Nuveen et al. (1945). In Crummer & Co v. Nuveen, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit had to decide if a notice published in a regular paper circulated among municipal bond dealers was a mere solicitation for offers to sell the bonds or an offer to purchase them. The notice reads as follows:

For the convenience of bondholders who may wish to surrender their bonds, the Board […] has arranged to provide funds for the purchase of the above described bonds at par and interest to December 1, 1941. Holders may send their bonds to the Manufacturers Trust Company for surrender pursuant to such terms.

The plaintiff was the owner and holder of $458,829 principal amount of the bonds, dated June 1st 1940 and due June 1st 1970. The defendants arranged with the Manufacturers Bank of New York (“Bank”) to deposit funds necessary to cover all such bonds presented for payment pursuant to the terms of the notice. The plaintiff, in reliance on the notice, delivered its bonds to the Bank on December 11th 1941. However, the Bank refused to pay the principal amount as provided by the notice. The plaintiff attempted to sell the bonds to other parties at par, but the bid for them was substantially less than par resulting in damages of $35,000. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that the notice was merely a solicitation for offers to sell the bonds and not an offer to purchase them.

The US Court of Appeals maintained:

We cannot believe that the ordinary business man could be expected to read the advertisement as an invitation to send bonds from wherever he might be to New York on the chance that when they got there the advertiser would accept his offer to enter into negotiations for the purchase of the bonds. Rather, we think the wording of the advertisement is such as to show "an intent to assume legal liability thereby." [emphasis added].

In other words, the US Court of Appeals considered the notice as an offer to purchase bonds and not a mere solicitation for offers to negotiate the sale of bonds.

The agreements JP Morgan entered with Tesla included an announcement event protection clause. An “announcement event” is contractually defined in the agreements as follows:

(i)        The public announcement of any Merger Event or Tender Offer or the announcement by the Issuer of any intention to enter into a Merger Event or Tender Offer,

(ii)       the public announcement by Issuer of an intention to solicit or enter into, or to explore strategic alternatives or other similar undertaking that may include, a Merger Event or Tender Offer or

(iii)      any subsequent public announcement of a change to a transaction or intention that is the subject of an announcement of the type described in clause (i) or (ii) of this sentence (including, without limitation, a new announcement relating to such a transaction or intention or the announcement of a withdrawal from, or the abandonment or discontinuation of, such a transaction or intention) (in each case, whether such announcement is made by Issuer or a third party);

provided that, for the avoidance of doubt, the occurrence of an Announcement Event with respect to any transaction or intention shall not preclude the occurrence of a later Announcement Event with respect to such transaction or intention. 

Did Tesla’s CEO manifest a plain and clear intention to make a firm offer to sell his stock? Were his tweets mere invitations to negotiate rather than firm offers? Was there consideration or any sort of reward if the potential offerees satisfied specified requirements? Was his August 7th 2018 tweet a promise to enter contracts to sell stock?

Potentially, Musk's tweet could be seen as an offer to sell his stock to his Twitter followers if it gave the public the right to acquire Tesla’s stock when Tesla sold them. In this scenario, if those who accepted the offer paid for the stock when it was sold, then a contract would have been formed. In addition, Musk’s tweet could be seen as a promise to sell stock. In this case, offerees have a right to demand that Musk sell the stock. If this is a promise Musk did not intend to keep, then the SEC can understandably view it as a false statement.

More important than Elon Musk’s behavior is the actions as a result from his tweet on August 7th 2018. Why did he do it? It is doubtful that the tweet was originally intended as an offer to sell stock. It is not clear if Tesla’s CEO’s intention was to have his Twitter followers contact him with an acceptance and form a contract. That investors feel strongly about Elon Musk’s tweets is not surprising. As Jeremy Grantham said in a 2019 interview to CNBC news channel, Tesla “is an extreme demonstration of growth.”

The bottom line is that there is space to explore what substantiates an offer-via-tweet in the context of corporate transactions such as initial public offerings, takeovers, mergers and acquisitions. Even if one concludes Musk did not provide a firm offer, the contractual terms of JP Morgan and Tesla’s 2021 Warrants help expand this interesting area of contract law.

*           *           *

Thank you to Nathan B. Oman, Rollins Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Markets at William and Mary Law for comments and fruitful interaction on this issue via Twitter.

November 22, 2021 in Ann Lipton, Contracts, Joan Heminway, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Central Michigan Position Openings - College of Business Administration

The College of Business Administration at Central Michigan University (“CMU”) invites applications for two separate entrepreneurship faculty positions to begin service on August 22, 2022.  CMU encourages applicants from diverse academic backgrounds to apply.

The first open position is for a tenure-track assistant professor.  Candidates must have a terminal degree: (i) a Ph.D. or D.B.A in entrepreneurship or a related business field (from an AACSB accredited institution); or, (ii) a J.D. (from an ABA accredited institution) with significant entrepreneurship-related experience; or, (iii) other relevant terminal degree with significant entrepreneurship-related experience. For those pursuing a Ph.D. or D.B.A., ABD applicants will be considered if it is clear that the applicant’s degree will be conferred at the time of appointment.  Tenure-track faculty are generally expected to teach three courses per semester, maintain an active research agenda, and actively participate in service activities.

The second open position is for a fixed-term faculty member at the rank of Lecturer I.  The candidate must have: (i) an earned a master’s degree in a business or other discipline related to entrepreneurship; or, (ii) a relevant terminal degree (such as a Ph.D. or D.B.A in entrepreneurship or related business field or a J.D.).  The candidate must also be able to satisfy the requirements for IP, SP, PA, or SA status under CMU’s AACSB Faculty Qualification Guidelines (found here).  The position is expected to teach four courses per semester but may receive a lighter teaching load in exchange for work as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with our Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship.

Candidates for either position may also: advise students; engage in assessment of learning activities; help develop and promote CMU’s entrepreneurship offerings; support CMU’s New Venture Competition (NVC) and other extra-curricular initiatives; and strengthen partnerships on and off campus.  All candidates must have the ability to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations.

You must submit an online application to be considered an applicant for either position.  To apply, please visit our website at https://www.jobs.cmich.edu/.  Inquiries about these positions may be directed to the Entrepreneurship Chairperson David Nows at David.Nows@cmich.edu; however, the applicant must apply directly through the online Central Michigan University applicant portal.  The positions are open until filled, although priority consideration will be given to applications completed by December 22, 2021.  We will contact candidates to schedule a phone interview, or alternatively, an in-person interview if the candidate is attending this winter’s USASBE Annual Conference held January 5-9, 2022 in Raleigh, NC.  Conference attendance is not required to be considered for this position.

November 16, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 15, 2021

NIU Law - Entry-Level, Tenure-Track Position

BLPB(NIULawLogo)Assistant Professor

College of Law

Northern Illinois University

NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW invites applications for an anticipated opening for an entry-level tenure-track faculty position beginning August 2022. Duties include engaging in high quality research and teaching, as well as being an active participant in law school and university service. Applicants must hold a J.D. degree from an ABA accredited law school, or a foreign law school equivalent, and must provide evidence of the potential for engaging in high quality research and teaching. 

NIU Law is a public law school. It resides at the heart of a diverse and active university campus of over 17,000 students in DeKalb, Illinois, located on the western edge of the Chicago metropolitan area.

Preferred qualifications include record of scholarly publication, teaching experience (particularly in a law school), legal practice experience, strong law school record, law journal membership, and clerkship experience.

We will consider candidates with a broad range of teaching and research interests. Our needs include, but are not limited to, Business Law, Civil Procedure, Commercial Law, Tax, Trusts and Estates, and skills courses. Applications are encouraged from women, members of minority groups, and others whose background and experience would contribute to the diversity of the law school community.  Salary is commensurate with experience and education; position includes a robust benefits package to eligible applicants.

To apply, visit https://employment.niu.edu/postings/59887.  For full consideration, please complete an application and upload a current curriculum vitae, cover letter, list of three professional references, and unofficial transcripts by December 5, 2021. Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis. Candidates are also encouraged to submit a one-page statement, describing their past experiences and future plans for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.

Please direct questions to the search committee chair, Professor and Interim Associate Dean Marc Falkoff, at mfalkoff@niu.edu; or to Tita Kaus, Administrative Assistant to the Dean, at 815-753-1068 or tkaus@niu.edu.

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement  

Northern Illinois University (NIU) is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive academic global community; as an AA/EEO employer, NIU considers qualified applicants for employment without regard to, and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, protected veteran status, disability, or any other legally protected status.

November 15, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 8, 2021

ABA Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law: Call for Papers

Expressions of interest due November 19, 2021
Drafts due December 22, 2021

Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law

GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS

The Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law is the official quarterly publication of the Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law of the American Bar Association. The Journal is the nation's only law journal dedicated to affordable housing, fair housing and community development law. The Journal educates readers and provides a forum for discussion and resolution of problems in these fields by publishing articles from distinguished law professors, policy advocates and practitioners. This issue, which will hit mailboxes in late April of 2022, will have a theme: preservation of affordable housing, expiring use restrictions, and "Year 15" issues. Your submission does not have to address the theme but we will be looking out for pieces that do.

Article/Essay Length. The Journal welcomes essays (typically no longer than 6,000 words) or articles (typically 5,000 - 10,000 words). Generally, articles are more thoroughly researched and footnoted than essays.

Style. The writing should be appropriate for a readership that consists primarily of lawyers. Authors should avoid excess verbiage, long quotations and jargon. Authors should use gender-neutral language.

Footnotes. All references must be completely and accurately cited, using the citation style of the most recent edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.

Author Biography. Please include a brief description of your current professional affiliation.

Manuscript Preparation. Use footnotes rather than embedded citations; number pages; italicize rather than underline; use Word, WordPerfect, or an IBM-compatible program; and submit the manuscripts as e-mail attachments.

Prior Publication. Simultaneous submission of manuscripts to other publications is discouraged and must be brought to the attention of the editor of the Journal. Unless otherwise clearly noted, all manuscripts are expected to be original.

Copyright. The American Bar Association retains the copyright to all material published in Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law. Authors are asked to sign a copyright agreement that grants to the ABA the exclusive right of first publication, the nonexclusive right to reprint, and the right to use the work in other ABA media-including electronic, print, and other. Special arrangements, although discouraged, can be made for authors who must retain copyright to their articles.

Send Manuscripts to Anika Singh Lemar, Editor-in-Chief, anika.lemar@yale.edu.

November 8, 2021 in Call for Papers, Joan Heminway, Real Property | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Business Law Opening - Gonzaga Law

Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington seeks a Full-time Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor (Tenured or Tenure Track) who will typically teach two courses per semester, which may include first-year and/or required courses. Our curricular needs include Contracts, Bankruptcy, Secured Transactions, and other Commercial Law courses; experiential courses in the realm of business law; and academic support or bar preparation courses taught in conjunction with doctrinal courses. Gonzaga Law embraces a unified faculty model, in which all faculty members are supported as scholars in all subject matter areas and have the opportunity to teach experiential, clinical, academic support, or bar preparation courses if desired. Candidates must demonstrate the ability to be an outstanding teacher, a commitment to service, and excellent scholarly potential, particularly in alignment with one or both of Gonzaga Law’s two academic Centers – the Center for Civil & Human Rights and the Center for Law, Ethics & Commerce.

Gonzaga Law embraces its humanist mission of educating the whole person and preparing lawyers to serve marginalized populations in an increasingly international legal market. Law faculty instruct law students, provide service to the law school and University, and engage with other professionals and the public to contribute to the intellectual exchange of ideas, to improve the law, and to educate the profession and the public about the law, with an eye towards the common good.

To apply, please visit our website at www.gonzaga.edu/jobs. Applicants must complete an online application and electronically submit the following: (1) a cover letter, (2) a curriculum vitae, (3) research agenda, (4) a statement that includes evidence of teaching effectiveness and experience creating and maintaining an inclusive learning environment, and (5) the names and contact information for three professional references. These references will be contacted, for finalists, to request confidential letters of recommendation. Candidates may, at their option, also upload a statement of teaching philosophy.

Inquiries about the position may be directed to the Chair of the Faculty Recruitment Committee, Professor Agnieszka McPeak, at lawfacultyhiring@gonzaga.edu; however, the applicant must apply directly to Gonzaga University, Office of Human Resources. The position closes on November 22, 2021 at midnight, U.S. PST. For assistance with your online application, please contact Human Resources at 509-313-5996.

November 2, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 1, 2021

University of Illinois College of Law - Illinois Academic Fellowship Program

For prospective law teachers, "[t]he Illinois Academic Fellowship Program helps new legal academics place into tenure-stream positions at U.S. law schools."  More specifically, the University of Illinois College of Law

 . . . is accepting applications for fellowship positions for the 2022-2023 academic year. Applicants should submit a cover letter, CV, and a research agenda at https://jobs.illinois.edu/academic-job-board/job-details?jobID=149338. Applicants may also submit up to three letters of reference.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their materials by January 1, 2022. We expect interviews to take place starting in January 2022. No applications will be accepted after January 31, 2022. For assistance with the application process, please email lehigh@illinois.edu.

The full posting is available here.

November 1, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Heminway on Murray on Reforming the Benefit Corporation

Last week, I posted about the first of my two published commentaries from the 2020 Business Law Prof Blog Symposium, Connecting the Threads IV.  That earlier post related to my comments on an article written by BLPB co-blogger Stefan Padfield.  The subject?  Public company shareholder proposals--specifically, viewpoint diversity shareholder proposals.

This week, I am posting on the second commentary, History, Hope, and Healthy Skepticism, 22 TRANSACTIONS: TENN. J. BUS. L. 223 (2021).  This commentary offers my observations on co-blogger J. Haskell Murray’s, The History and Hope of Social Enterprise Forms, 22 TRANSACTIONS: TENN. J. BUS. L. 207 (2021).  The main body of the abstract follows.

In this comment, I play the role of the two-year-old in the room. Two-year-old children are well known to ask “why,” and that is what I do here. Specifically, this comment asks “why” in two aspects. First, I ask why we do (or should) care about making modifications to existing social enterprise practices and laws, the subject of Professor Murray’s essay. Second, assuming we do (or should) care, I ask why the changes Professor Murray suggests make sense. My commentary is largely restricted to the benefit corporation form because corporate forms loom large in the debates relevant to Professor Murray’s essay and because the benefit corporation is acknowledged to be the most widely adopted corporate form as among the social enterprise forms of entity.

And so, Haskell and I are "at it again" over whether the benefit corporation is worth reforming/saving.  More precisely, I am (again) picking a bit of an academic fight with Haskell.  His good nature and patience in response to my continued questions and push-backs have been and are deeply appreciated.

Do/should we care about modifying benefit corporation practices and laws and, if so, do Professor Murray's proposed reforms make sense?  [SPOILER ALERT!]  My bottom line:

I am satisfied—even if not wholly persuaded—that there is a reason to care. Benefit corporations may alter mindsets in a positive way, even if they do not positively or meaningfully alter applicable legal principles. And . . . I am convinced that Professor Murray generally has the right idea in calling for more accountability to a broader base of stakeholders—beyond just shareholders.

So, in the end, I was ready to call a limited truce--or really more of a detente. 

But I do maintain, as Haskell knows, a healthy doubt that the benefit corporation form has any broad-based value (making it hard to agree that amending the standard statutory framework or related practices has any merit).  And it looks like I have a new convert to this cause.  In his recent, provocative thought piece, Capitalism, heal thyself, Alan Palmiter avers as follows:

[W]e don’t really need benefit corporations, those corporations that have a hybrid profit and social/environmental purpose. All the companies that are doing big ESG -- world-changing ESG -- are your garden-variety for-profit (for-shareholder profit) companies. Maybe there are some benefit corporations, like my friend Patagonia, that like the label. But Patagonia didn’t have to be a benefit corporation to do what it’s doing.

That said, there’s a problem with fake benefit corporations, the ones pretending to do ESG. . . .

Alan, as you know, you are beating my drum--a drum I earlier have beaten here, here, and here, among other places, in various ways.  We shall see where it all goes.  But I remain a believer in the ability of the traditional for-profit corporation's ability tio engage in effective, efficient social enterprise and (more broadly) ESG initiatives.

 

October 25, 2021 in Conferences, Haskell Murray, Joan Heminway, Social Enterprise | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 23, 2021

UNH Law - Tenure-Track Opening

Open Rank - Tenure-Track Professor of Law

The University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law (UNH Franklin Pierce), a national leader in legal education with a commitment to inclusion, diversity, and quality engagement for all, is pleased to announce that it is currently seeking applicants for two tenure-track appointments to its full-time faculty starting in August 2022. The law school has a number of curricular needs but is particularly interested in candidates with subject-matter expertise and scholarship in Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Torts, Business and Commercial Law, Technology Law, and/or Intellectual Property. Both first-time faculty and junior lateral faculty are welcome to apply.

Additional Job Information

Cover letter should be addressed to Professor Courtney Brooks, co-chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee. In your cover letter, please describe your scholarly agenda, why you are interested in this position, and what makes you a strong candidate in light of the required and preferred qualifications described above. In the required Diversity Statement, please address how you have contributed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in your scholarship and work. This position is open until filled. Review of applications will begin immediately. Priority review date: November 19, 2021.

Link to the full posting: https://jobs.usnh.edu/postings/43511 

October 23, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Jobs | Permalink | Comments (0)