Monday, May 23, 2022

Teaching Leadership to Transactional Business Lawyers

The edited (and annotated) transcript of my 2021 "Try This" session from the 7th Biennial Conference on the Teaching of Transactional Law and Skills ("Emerging from the Crisis: The Future of Transactional Law and Skills Education," hosted virtually by Emory Law in the spring of 2021) was recently published.  Leadership for the Transactional Business Law Student, 23 Transactions: Tenn. J. Bus. L. 311 (2022), offers background and tips on teaching leadership to transactional business law students.  The substantive part of the SSRN abstract follows.

We do not always acknowledge this in legal education, but our students are learning to be leaders, because lawyers are leaders. That is as true of transactional business lawyers as it is of litigators, lawyers who hold political or regulatory appointments, lawyers engaged with compliance, and lawyers in general advisory practices. Yet, most law schools do little, if anything, to teach law students about leadership, or allow them to explore the contours and practices of lawyer leadership.

This edited transcript explains the importance of teaching leadership skills, traits, and processes to transactional business law students and offers insights on how instructors in a law school setting might engage in that kind of teaching as part of what they do. . . .

Edited transcripts of interactive teaching sessions at conferences are imperfect communication tools.  But I hope the publication of my teaching forum offers some food for thought for fellow business law profs (and maybe others).  I continue to explore teaching law leadership in specific and general settings.  Along those lines, I will have more to say about teaching leadership in law schools in a future post featuring my recently published piece in the Santa Clara Law Review on teaching change leadership, which I mentioned in an earlier post on Teaching Leadership in/and Law.

May 23, 2022 in Joan Heminway, Law School, Lawyering, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Elon Musk is a Blessing and a Curse

I'm doing what may seem crazy to some- teaching Business Associations to 1Ls. I have a group of 65 motivated students who have an interest in business and voluntarily chose to take the hardest possible elective with one of the hardest possible professors. But wait, there's more. I'm cramming a 4-credit class into 3 credits. These students, some of whom are  learning the rule against perpetuities in Property and the battle of the forms in Contracts while learning the business judgment rule, are clearly masochists. 

If you're a professor or a student, you're coming close to the end of the semester and you're trying to cram everything in. Enter Elon Musk. 

I told them to just skim Basic v. Levenson and instead we used Rasella v. Musk, the case brought by investors claiming fraud on the market. Coincidentally, my students were already reading In Re Tesla Motors, Inc. Stockholder Litigation because it was in their textbook to illustrate the concept of a controlling shareholder. Elon's pursuit of Twitter allowed me to use that company's 2022 proxy statement and ask them why Twitter would choose to be "for" a proposal to declassify its board, given all that's going on. Perhaps that vote will be moot by the time the shareholder's meeting happens at the end of May. The Twitter 8-K provides a great illustration of the real-time filings that need to take place under the securities laws, in this case due to the implementation of a poison pill. Elon's Love Me Tender tweet provides a fun way to take about tender offers. How will the Twitter board fulfill it's Revlon duties? So much to discuss and so little time. But the shenanigans have made teaching and learning about these issues more fun. And who knew so many of my students held Twitter and Tesla stock?

I've used the Musk saga for my business and human rights class too. I had attended the Emerge Americas conference earlier in the week and Alex Ohanian, billionaire founder of Reddit, venture capitalist, and Serena Williams' husband, had to walk a fine line when answering questions about Musk from the CNBC reporter. The line that stuck out to me was his admonition that running a social media company is like being a head of state with the level of responsibility. I decided to bring this up on the last day of my business and human rights class because I was doing an overview of what we had learned during the semester. As I turned to my slide about the role of tech companies in society, we ended up in a 30 minute debate in class about what Musk's potential ownership of Twitter could mean for democracy and human rights around the world. Interestingly, the class seemed almost evenly split in their views. While my business associations students are looking at the issue in a more straightforward manner as a vehicle to learn about key concepts (with some asking for investment advice as well, which I refused), my business and human rights students had a much more visceral reaction. 

Elon is a gift that keeps on giving for professors. He's a blessing because he's bringing concepts to life at a time in the semester where we are all mentally and physically exhausted. Depending on who you talk to in my BHR class and in some quarters of the media, he's also a curse.

All I know is that I don't know how I'll top this semester for real-world, just-in-time application.

Thanks, Elon.

Signed,

A tired but newly energized professor who plans to assign Ann Lipton's excellent Musk tweets as homework. 

 

 

 

 

 

April 23, 2022 in Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, Current Affairs, Financial Markets, Law School, Management, Marcia Narine Weldon, Securities Regulation, Shareholders | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 28, 2022

2022 Online Symposium – Mainstreet vs. Wallstreet: The Democratization of Investing Friday, March 4 12:30-3:30

2022 Online Symposium – Mainstreet vs. Wallstreet: The Democratization of Investing

I'm thrilled to moderate two panels this Friday and one features our rock star BLPB editor, Ben Edwards. 

                                                                     REGISTER HERE

The University of Miami Business Law Review is hosting its 2022 online symposium on Friday, March 4, 2022. The symposium will run from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM. The symposium will be conducted via Zoom. Attendees can apply to receive CLE credits for attending this event—3.5 CLE credits have been approved by the Florida Bar. 

The symposium will host two sessions with expert panelists discussing the gamification of trading platforms and the growing popularity of aligning investments with personal values.

The panels will be moderated by Professor Marcia Narine Weldon, who is the director of the Transactional Skills Program, Faculty Coordinator of the Business Compliance & Sustainability Concentration, and a Lecturer in Law at the University of Miami School of Law.

Panel 1: Gamification of Trading 

This panel will focus on the role of social media and “gamification” of trading apps/platforms in democratizing investing, and the risks that such technology may influence investor behavior (i.e., increase in trading, higher risk trading strategies like options and margin use, etc.).

Gerri Walsh:

Gerri Walsh is Senior Vice President of Investor Education at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In this capacity, she is responsible for the development and operations of FINRA’s investor education program. She is also President of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, where she manages the Foundation’s strategic initiatives to educate and protect investors and to benchmark and foster financial capability for all Americans, especially underserved audiences. Ms. Walsh was the founding executive sponsor of FINRA’s Military Community Employee Resource Group. She serves on the Advisory Council to the Stanford Center on Longevity and represents FINRA on IOSCO’s standing policy committee on retail investor education, the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, NASAA’s Senior Investor Advisory Council and the Wharton Pension Research Council.

Prior to joining FINRA in May 2006, Ms. Walsh was Deputy Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Investor Education and Assistance (OIEA) and, before that, Special Counsel to the Director of OIEA. She also served as a senior attorney in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, investigating and prosecuting violators of the federal securities laws. Before that, she practiced law as an associate with Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C.

Ari Bargil:

Ari Bargil is an attorney with the Institute for Justice. He joined IJ’s Miami Office in September of 2012, and litigates constitutional cases protecting economic liberty, property rights, school choice, and free speech in both federal and state courts.

In 2019, Ari successfully defended two of Florida’s most popular school choice programs, the McKay Program for Students with Disabilities and the Florida Tax Credit Program, before the Florida Supreme Court. As a direct result of the victory, over 120,000 students in Florida have access to scholarships that empower them to attend the schools of their choice.

Ari also regularly defends property owners battling aggressive zoning regulations and excessive fines in state and federal court nationwide and litigates on behalf of entrepreneurs in cutting-edge First Amendment cases. He was co-counsel in a federal appellate court victory vindicating the right of a Florida dairy creamery to tell the truth on its labels, and he is currently litigating in federal appellate court to secure a holistic health coach’s right to share advice about nutrition with her clients. In 2017, Ari was honored by the Daily Business Review as one of South Florida’s “Most Effective Lawyers.”

In addition to litigation, Ari regularly testifies before state and local legislative bodies and committees on issues ranging from occupational licensing to property rights regulation. Ari has also spearheaded several successful legislative campaigns in Florida, including the effort to legalize the sale of 64-ounce “growlers” by craft breweries and the Florida Legislature’s passage of the Right to Garden Act—a reform which made it unlawful for local governments to ban residential vegetable gardens throughout the state.

Ari’s work has been featured by USA Today, NPR, Fox News, Washington Post, Miami Herald, Dallas Morning News and other national and local publications.

Christine Lazaro:

Christine Lazaro is Director of the Securities Arbitration Clinic at St. John’s University School of Law. She joined the faculty at St. John’s in 2007 as the Clinic’s Supervising Attorney. She is also a faculty advisor for the Corporate and Securities Law Society.

Prior to joining the Securities Arbitration Clinic, Professor Lazaro was an associate at the boutique law firm of Davidson & Grannum, LLP.  At the firm, she represented broker-dealers and individual brokers in disputes with clients in both arbitration and mediation.  She also handled employment law cases and debt collection cases.  Professor Lazaro was the primary attorney in the firm’s area of practice that dealt with advising broker-dealers regarding investment contracts they had with various municipalities and government entities.  Professor Lazaro is also of Counsel to the Law Offices of Brent A. Burns, LLC, where she consults on securities arbitration and regulatory matters.

Professor Lazaro is a member of the New York State and the American Bar Associations, and the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA). Professor Lazaro is a past President of PIABA and is a member of the Board of Directors.  She is also a co-chair of PIABA’S Fiduciary Standards Committee, and is a member of the Executive, Legislation, Securities Law Seminar, and SRO Committees. Additionally, Professor Lazaro is the co-chair of the Securities Disputes Committee in the Dispute Resolution Section of the New York State Bar Association and serves on the FINRA Investor Issues Advisory Committee. 

Panel 2: ESG Investing

The second panel will address the growing popularity of ESG funds among investors that want to align their investments with their personal values, and the questions/concerns that arise with ESG funds, including: 1) explaining what they are; 2) discussing the varying definitions and disclosure issues; 3) exploring if investors really give up better market performance if they invest in funds that align with their values; and 4) asking if the increased interest in ESG funds affect corporate change? 

Thomas Riesenberg:

Mr. Riesenberg is Senior Regulatory Advisor to Ceres, working on climate change issues. He previously worked as an advisor to EY Global’s Office of Public Policy on ESG regulatory issues. Before that he worked as the Director of Legal and Regulatory Policy at The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board pursuant to a secondment from EY. At SASB he worked on a range of US and non-US policy matters for nearly seven years. He served for more than 20 years as counsel to EY, including as the Deputy General Counsel responsible for regulatory matters, primarily involving the SEC and the PCAOB. Previously he served for seven years as an Assistant General Counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission where he handled court of appeals and Supreme Court cases involving issues such as insider trading, broker-dealer regulation, and financial fraud. While at the SEC he received the Manuel Cohen Outstanding Younger Lawyer Award for his work on significant enforcement cases. He also worked as a law clerk for a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., as a litigator on environmental matters at the U.S. Department of Justice, and as an associate at a major Washington, D.C. law firm.

Mr. Riesenberg graduated from the New York University School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review and a Root-Tilden Scholar (full-tuition scholarship). He received a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, where he graduated with honors and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He is a former chair of the Law and Accounting Committee of the American Bar Association, former president of the Association of SEC Alumni, former treasurer of the SEC Historical Society, and a current member of the Advisory Board of the BNA Securities Regulation and Law Report. For seven years he was an adjunct professor of securities law at the Georgetown University Law Center. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute. He serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including the D.C. Jewish Community Relations Council and the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation. He is the author of numerous articles on securities law and ESG disclosure issues.

Benjamin Edwards:

Benjamin Edwards joined the faculty of the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2017. In addition to being the Director of the Public Policy Clinic, he researches and writes about business and securities law, corporate governance, arbitration, and consumer protection. Prior to teaching, Professor Edwards practiced as a securities litigator in the New York office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. At Skadden, he represented clients in complex civil litigation, including securities class actions arising out of the Madoff Ponzi scheme and litigation arising out of the 2008 financial crisis.

Max Schatzow:

Max Schatzow is a co-founder and partner of RIA Lawyers LLC—a boutique law firm that focuses almost exclusively on representing investment advisers with legal and regulatory issues. Prior to RIA Lawyers, Max worked at Morgan Lewis representing some of the largest financial institutions in the United States and at another law firm where he represented investment advisers and broker-dealers. Max is a business-minded regulatory lawyer that always tries to put himself in the client’s position. He assists clients in all aspects of forming, registering, owning, and operating an investment adviser. He prides himself in preparing clients and their compliance programs to avert regulatory issues, but also assists clients through examinations and enforcement issues. In addition, Max assists advisers that manage private investment funds. In his little spare time, Max enjoys the Peloton (both stationary and road), golf, craft beer, and spending time with his wife and two children.

February 28, 2022 in Compliance, Conferences, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Financial Markets, Law Reviews, Law School, Lawyering, Legislation, Marcia Narine Weldon, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 11, 2022

Business and Sports

Between the Winter Olympics and the Superbowl, this weekend is a sports-lover's dream. But it can also be a nightmare for others. Next week in my Business and Human Rights class, we'll discuss the business of sports and the role of business in sports. For some very brief background, under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the state has a duty to protect human rights but businesses have a responsibility (not a duty) to "respect" human rights, which means they can't make things worse. Businesses should also mitigate negative human rights impacts. I say "should" because the UNGPs aren't binding on businesses and there's a hodgepodge of due diligence and disclosure regimes that often conflict and overlap. But things are changing and with ESG discussions being all the rage and human rights and labor falling under the "S" factor, businesses need to do more. The EU is also finalizing mandatory human rights due diligence rules and interestingly, some powerful investors and companies are on board, likely so there's some level of certainty and harmonization of standards. 

I've blogged in the past about human rights issues in sports, particularly the Olympics and World Cup in Brazil, where hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, FIFA had its own courts, and human rights issues abounded. For more on human rights and megasporting events, see this post about the Russian Olympics. The current Olympics in China and the future World Cup in Qatar have been rife with controversy because of the long-standing human rights abuses in those countries. Some athletes have even called the Winter Olympics the Genocide Olympics.

So whose problem is it? If businesses know that there's almost always some human rights impact with megasporting events and they know sponsorship doesn't really add to the bottom line, should they get out of the sponsorship business all together? Are they complicit or merely (innocent) bystanders?

Here are the questions I've asked my students to consider for class this week. 

  1. My hometown of Miami is vying for a spot to host the 2026 World Cup. What are the obligations of the "state" when it's a city? As the US government begins revising its National Action Plan on Responsible Business Conduct in accordance with the UNGPs, should a city do more than the national government? Should FIFA look at issues such as the effect of the games on the cities beyond revenue that will enrich only a few?
  2. Cities have a human rights obligation to protect their citizens but what responsibility do companies have to make sure they don't exacerbate pre-existing homelessness issues?
  3. Does it matter if the company sponsoring is Nike (directly working with athletes), Coca Cola (providing beverages), or another company that's just an advertiser? Is there a difference in the degree of corporate responsibility (if any)?
  4. Commentators have accused Nike and other companies of using forced labor in China. Is there a conflict with their support of Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement while also participating in events where there are alleged human rights abuses?
  5. What about the issue of human trafficking and megasporting events? It's such a big problem that the NFL has partnered with US Customs and Border Patrol for a public service announcement about it in light of the Superbowl. Are public service announcements enough?
  6. Should athletes boycott events in countries with poor human rights records? How would that affect their sponsorships and their other contractual obligations? A Boston Celtic called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, but who's really listening?
  7. How do what athletes say about Black Lives Matter and taking a knee square with participating in events in China? Should athletes, who are businesses, just shut up and dribble? If an athlete/businessman like LeBron James takes on Black Lives Matter does he have an equal obligation to protest against the use of forced labor in China?
  8. FIFA and the International Olympic Committee are corporations that base their human rights policies in part on the UNGPs. They have spoken out against discrimination, human rights, and  racism in sport.  Is it too much or too little? How far should a company like FIFA or the NFL go before they alienate fans by talking about hot button issues?
  9. Should fans boycott events that are known for human rights abuses? How does that affect the livelihood of the workers who depend on that revenue? Would a boycott benefit or hurt those who need the support the most?

I look forward to a lively discussion in class on Wednesday about the respective roles and responsibilities of the state, the companies, and the fans. Will you look at sports any differently after reading this post?  If you have thoughts, please leave a comment or email me at mweldon@law.miami.edu.

 

 

 

February 11, 2022 in Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Human Rights, International Business, Law School, Marcia Narine Weldon, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Kindness in Law

In 2013, acclaimed short-story writer George Saunders gave a commencement speech on kindness at Syracuse University. The speech went viral, the transcript landed on The New York Times blog, and the talk later became the basis of a book

The entire speech is well worth listening to, but the gist is Saunders saying: “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”

Oxford English Dictionary defines “kindness” as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”

When I think of the profession of law, “kindness,” “friendly,” “generous,” and “considerate” are sadly not among the first words that come to mind. “Analytical,” “bold,” “competitive,” “critical,” and “justice” were the first five words I would use to describe our field. 

As C.S. Lewis reportedly said, “love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness,” but I am not sure love is ever less than kindness. There may be ways, as negotiation theory teaches us, to “be soft on the person, but hard on the problem.” We can tackle injustice with vigor, but be mindful of the people across the tables from us. 

Pre-pandemic, I put a real premium on “tough love” and preparing students for the rigors of practice. While I still think there is a place for the critical and exacting skills that law training tends to emphasize, I also think we would all do well to increase our focus on kindness.

February 5, 2022 in Books, Business School, Haskell Murray, Law School, Teaching, Wellness | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 31, 2022

Honoring Peter J. Henning

image from people.wayne.edu

I have been remiss in writing to honor the life and legacy of one of our colleagues (and one of my friends), Peter J. Henning.  Peter, a Professor at Wayne State University Law School until his untimely passing, died earlier this month after wrestling with a long-term, debilitating illness.  Our mutual friend, Stetson Law Professor Ellen Podgor, published a post in his memory back on the 18th on the White Collar Crime Prof Blog.  In the post, she reflected on their long-term friendship and initial co-editorship on the White Collar Crime Prof Blog.  She began by saying: "Peter Henning was an incredible writer, scholar, and teacher. Most of all to me - he was a good friend."  I could have started this post the same way . . . .  Ellen also linked to the announcement posted by Wayne State Law.

Peter was one among a number of colleagues whom I believe understood me and my work well.  He valued my practice experience and encouraged my use of it in research and writing.  While our work intersected most in the insider trading realm, he motivated and supported my scholarship and teaching more broadly.  He enjoyed our discussion groups at the Association of American Law Schools and Southeastern Association of Law Schools conferences (although my recollection is that he had to skip out on a bunch of the latter because of conflicting wedding anniversary celebrations . . .).

I was invited to speak at Wayne State Law (and write for the Wayne Law Review) twice at his suggestion.  Each time, he was the consummate host.   I remember hm taking me to a local eatery on one of those trips--a burger and beer place, as I recall.  I was too late for the normal lunch hour, but he wanted to make sure I had a bite to eat.  He was concerned that it was not upscale enough for me.  I assured him that it was just my style (which it was!).

His pieces for The New York Times were spot on.  You can find his columns for the paper's White Collar Watch here.  His work will continue to bless and inform us all for many years to come. 

I miss Peter for all this and more.  He was a great colleague and leader.  I know he is now free of his earthly burdens, which does give me some solace.  May he rest in eternal peace.

January 31, 2022 in Current Affairs, Joan Heminway, Law School, White Collar Crime | Permalink | Comments (1)

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, 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)

Friday, December 24, 2021

ESG in 2022- Pt 1

I’ve been thinking about environmental, social, and governance issues (“ESG”) for almost twenty years -- long before they became mainstream. As an in-house lawyer at a public company prior to joining academia, I had no choice. I teach, research, and consult on these issues now and have a whole lot of thoughts about them, which I'll share in coming posts. 

I had the honor of presenting on "ESG and India in 2022" yesterday. ESG is a hot topic in India, as it is everywhere - - I have either attended or spoken on half a dozen panels on ESG this year to introduce the topic to lawyers. If you're not familiar with the term or think it's completely irrelevant to what you do for a living, here are some common classifications for investors that integrate ESG into their portfolio selection and investment process. 

Environmental: climate change, water, alternative energy, pollution & waste management

Social: human rights, workplace standards, worker health safety, diversity & equal opportunity, labor relations, land grabs

Governance: bribery & corruption, board diversity, corporate political contributions, executive compensation, disclosure & transparency, board independence, tax avoidance

If you're a transactional lawyer, chances are you or your clients deal with at least one these issues directly or indirectly.

Here are some interesting statistics from the 2021 RBC Global Asset Management Responsible Investment Survey, which had over 800 respondents from all over the world. For context, almost half of the respondents had over one billion in assets under management:

  • 72% of global investors integrate ESG principles in their investment approach and decision-making.
  • 96% of respondents in Europe, 81% in Canada (down from 89%), and 65% in US say they use ESG in decision making.
  • 83% of global investors said ESG-integrated portfolios are likely to do as well or better than non-ESG-integrated portfolios, about the same as last year.
  • 97% of EU and 75% of US investors believe ESG-integrated portfolios perform as well as or better than non-ESG integrated portfolios.

During my talk, I focused on the following topics at the audience's request:

1. What is Environmental Social Governance (ESG) and why is sustainability is important?

2. How can investors apply these non-financial factors as a part of their analysis process to identify material risk and growth opportunities?

3. What is sustainable investing? How does it differ from ESG integration?

4. Co-relation between a smart investment and sustainable innovation.

5. Did this pandemic teach us a lesson about ESG? How is it going to affect the call for the climate change issue?

6. Responsibility, sustainability, and diversity are the pillars of ESG. How are MNCs are adopting this?

7.What do ESG practitioners do and what is the scope for growth/ global career opportunities in ESG?

It was an honor to talk about ESG to an audience from a country where these issues are a literally a matter of life and death. For example, almost 20% of deaths in India in 2019 were attributable in part to pollution. I’ve also been thrilled to introduce my law students to these concepts and help them discern the facts from the hype. If they are any indication, the next generation of lawyers will think of ESG as a matter of course and not as a special category of legal or business issues. 

 

 

 

 

December 24, 2021 in Compliance, Conferences, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Financial Markets, Human Rights, International Business, International Law, Law School, Lawyering, Marcia Narine Weldon, Securities Regulation, Social Enterprise, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 24, 2021

Ten Ethical Traps for Business Lawyers

I'm so excited to present later this morning at the University of Tennessee College of Law Connecting the Threads Conference today at 10:45 EST. Here's the abstract from my presentation. In future posts, I will dive more deeply into some of these issues. These aren't the only ethical traps, of course, but there's only so many things you can talk about in a 45-minute slot. 

All lawyers strive to be ethical, but they don’t always know what they don’t know, and this ignorance can lead to ethical lapses or violations. This presentation will discuss ethical pitfalls related to conflicts of interest with individual and organizational clients; investing with clients; dealing with unsophisticated clients and opposing counsel; competence and new technologies; the ever-changing social media landscape; confidentiality; privilege issues for in-house counsel; and cross-border issues. Although any of the topics listed above could constitute an entire CLE session, this program will provide a high-level overview and review of the ethical issues that business lawyers face.

Specifically, this interactive session will discuss issues related to ABA Model Rules 1.5 (fees), 1.6 (confidentiality), 1.7 (conflicts of interest), 1.8 (prohibited transactions with a client), 1.10 (imputed conflicts of interest), 1.13 (organizational clients), 4.3 (dealing with an unrepresented person), 7.1 (communications about a lawyer’s services), 8.3 (reporting professional misconduct); and 8.4 (dishonesty, fraud, deceit).  

Discussion topics will include:

  1. Do lawyers have an ethical duty to take care of their wellbeing? Can a person with a substance use disorder or major mental health issue ethically represent their client? When can and should an impaired lawyer withdraw? When should a lawyer report a colleague?
  2. What ethical obligations arise when serving on a nonprofit board of directors? Can a board member draft organizational documents or advise the organization? What potential conflicts of interest can occur?
  3. What level of technology competence does an attorney need? What level of competence do attorneys need to advise on technology or emerging legal issues such as SPACs and cryptocurrencies? Is attending a CLE or law school course enough?
  4. What duties do lawyers have to educate themselves and advise clients on controversial issues such as business and human rights or ESG? Is every business lawyer now an ESG lawyer?
  5. What ethical rules apply when an in-house lawyer plays both a legal role and a business role in the same matter or organization? When can a lawyer representing a company provide legal advice to an employee?
  6. With remote investigations, due diligence, hearings, and mediations here to stay, how have professional duties changed in the virtual world? What guidance can we get from ABA Formal Opinion 498 issued in March 2021? How do you protect confidential information and also supervise others remotely?
  7. What social media practices run afoul of ethical rules and why? How have things changed with the explosion of lawyers on Instagram and TikTok?
  8. What can and should a lawyer do when dealing with a businessperson on the other side of the deal who is not represented by counsel or who is represented by unsophisticated counsel?
  9. When should lawyers barter with or take an equity stake in a client? How does a lawyer properly disclose potential conflicts?
  10. What are potential gaps in attorney-client privilege protection when dealing with cross-border issues? 

If you need some ethics CLE, please join in me and my co-bloggers, who will be discussing their scholarship. In case Joan Heminway's post from yesterday wasn't enough to entice you...

Professor Anderson’s topic is “Insider Trading in Response to Expressive Trading”, based upon his upcoming article for Transactions. He will also address the need for business lawyers to understand the rise in social-media-driven trading (SMD trading) and options available to issuers and their insiders when their stock is targeted by expressive traders.

Professor Baker’s topic is “Paying for Energy Peaks: Learning from Texas' February 2021 Power Crisis.” Professor Baker will provide an overview of the regulation of Texas’ electric power system and the severe outages in February 2021, explaining why Texas is on the forefront of challenges that will grow more prominent as the world transitions to cleaner energy. Next, it explains competing electric power business models and their regulation, including why many had long viewed Texas’ approach as commendable, and why the revealed problems will only grow more pressing. It concludes by suggesting benefits and challenges of these competing approaches and their accompanying regulation.

Professor Heminway’s topic is “Choice of Entity: The Fiscal Sponsorship Alternative to Nonprofit Incorporation.” Professor Heminway will discuss how for many small business projects that qualify for federal income tax treatment under Section 501(a) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, the time and expense of organizing, qualifying, and maintaining a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation may be daunting (or even prohibitive). Yet there would be advantages to entity formation and federal tax qualification that are not available (or not easily available) to unincorporated business projects. Professor Heminway addresses this conundrum by positing a third option—fiscal sponsorship—and articulating its contextual advantages.

Professor Moll’s topic is “An Empirical Analysis of Shareholder Oppression Disputes.” This panel will discuss how the doctrine of shareholder oppression protects minority shareholders in closely held corporations from the improper exercise of majority control, what factors motivate a court to find oppression liability, and what factors motivate a court to reject an oppression claim. Professor Moll will also examine how “oppression” has evolved from a statutory ground for involuntary dissolution to a statutory ground for a wide variety of relief.

Professor Murray’s topic is “Enforcing Benefit Corporation Reporting.” Professor Murray will begin his discussion by focusing on the increasing number of states that have included express punishments in their benefit corporation statutes for reporting failures. Part I summarizes and compares the statutory provisions adopted by various states regarding benefit reporting enforcement. Part II shares original compliance data for states with enforcement provisions and compares their rates to the states in the previous benefit reporting studies. Finally, Part III discusses the substance of the benefit reports and provides law and governance suggestions for improving social benefit.

All of this and more from the comfort of your own home. Hope to see you on Zoom today and next year in person at the beautiful UT campus.

September 24, 2021 in Colleen Baker, Compliance, Conferences, Contracts, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Delaware, Ethics, Financial Markets, Haskell Murray, Human Rights, International Business, Joan Heminway, John Anderson, Law Reviews, Law School, Lawyering, Legislation, Litigation, M&A, Management, Marcia Narine Weldon, Nonprofits, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation, Shareholders, Social Enterprise, Teaching, Unincorporated Entities, White Collar Crime | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 16, 2021

Starting the Academic Year in a Triple Pandemic (Again)

At UT Law, our orientation period for the new academic year began on Friday.  I am back in the classroom today teaching a two-session introductory period course on case briefing and legal analysis.  Regular classes begin on Wednesday.  

The struggle I had in creating my syllabi this year was real.  Under current prescriptions and proscriptions, we are teaching in person, with no physical distancing, masked.  But masks are not required throughout the building.  Moreover, while vaccination is encouraged, it is not required for faculty, staff, or students, and we are prohibited from asking faculty and staff colleagues and students about vaccination status.  There have been more student accommodation requests than usual in my large-section course.  In general, COVID-19, the political divide, and social (especially racial) unrest--which overlap to create a veritable triple pandemic--are seemingly collectively conspiring against us in so many ways, including in the educational setting.  I am feeling the weight of it all.

But undaunted, I move forward in my law teaching!  I have addressed some key concerns in my syllabi this semester.  I include two sections from my syllabi below that may be of interest.  Feel free to dismiss or use these as you will.  Most of the substance of the "COVID-19;community heatlh" piece is from language provided to campus faculty by our Provost's office, through our Teaching & Learning Innovation group (part of our Division of Faculty Affairs).  The rest comes from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance.

COVID-19; community health:  The campus administration has advised us that, with the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks in classrooms, labs, and for indoor academic events required for students such as orientation. This requirement will remain in place until conditions improve and the university communicates new instructions.

The university strongly recommends that all members of the campus community be vaccinated for their own protection, to prevent disruption to the semester, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination information and appointment signups are available at tiny.utk.edu/vaccine. The Student Health Center medical staff is available to students to answer questions or discuss concerns about vaccines, and the center provides vaccines free of charge for anyone 18 years or older who would like one.

If you think you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, you should contact the Student Health Center or your preferred health care provider. You can also contact the university’s COVID-19 support team for guidance by filling out the COVID-19 self-isolation form at covidform.utk.edu.

You must not attend class if you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in the isolation period, if you have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been cleared by a medical provider, or if you are an unvaccinated close contact in the quarantine period.

If you need to miss class for illness, please contact me by telephone at 865-974-3813 or by electronic mail at jheminwa@tennessee.edu.

Over the course of the semester, you can find more information and updates at utk.edu/coronavirus.

We also are advised that following other simple practices also promotes good health in and outside the classroom.  These include:

    • maintaining physical distance from others when possible;
    • avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces;
    • frequent and thorough hand-washing;
    • covering coughs and sneezes;
    • cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces; and
    • monitoring your personal health daily.

More information on observing solid general health practices in the current environment is available here

I know this is not where we all wanted to be right now in terms of public health risks in our activities together.  It remains a lot for us to deal with mentally and emotionally, as well as physically.  We remain committed to the safety and health of everyone in our community—a professional education community within a larger university campus.  As service professionals, we are counseled in the Preamble to the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct to “demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it.”  And those of you who consider yourselves to be VFLs (Vols for Life) likely know that the Volunteer Creed—the heart of our campus values—similarly reminds us that we bear the torch in order to give light to others. As aspiring legal professionals and Tennessee Volunteers (a/k/a Law Vols), we therefore commit to caring for one another and for the members of the communities in which we live, work, and learn. It is important that we demonstrate professionalism and the Volunteer spirit by following health requirements and guidance as the same becomes available to us.

Civil, inclusive, professional environment:  Our classroom and course website are professional education and work settings within our overall College of Law community.  As such, they are places for open, frank, and sometimes difficult conversations and debates.  Respect, inclusion, reflection, and tolerance are values inherent to this environment.  Each class member is responsible for upholding these values in communications and other conduct.  I note also in this regard the campus principles of civility and community, which can be found at http://civility.utk.edu.  (I make a cameo appearance in the video on the principles that is found here.)  These principles are at the core of what we do.

Please help me in creating a welcoming environment for our class community.  If you use a name or pronouns other than what is represented in the course roll or might expect, please email me with your preferred name or pronouns.  Also, please offer me help in pronouncing your name correctly—either in advance or through critical feedback if I err.

There obviously is a lot of customization in this language.  But I hope that there are a few nuggets in these paragraphs that are useful to some of you.  For the sake of completeness, I should note that I am using this text in a master course syllabus and have a separate reading syllabus for each course that only includes the assignments and related instructions.

I wish all well as we begin another semester and year.

August 16, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Social Enterprise Centers

In 2008, my university (Belmont University) was supposedly the first to offer a social entrepreneurship major. Since then, not only have the schools offering majors in social entrepreneurships grown, but many schools have created centers, institutes, or programs dedicated to the area. Below I try to gather these social enterprise centers in universities. The vast majority are in business schools, some are collaborative across campus, and a few are located in other schools such as law, social work, or design. A few have a specifically religious take on business and social good. Happy to update this list with any centers I missed. 

Lewis Institute at Babson https://www.babson.edu/academics/centers-and-institutes/the-lewis-institute/about/# 

Christian Collective for Social Innovation at Baylor https://www.baylor.edu/externalaffairs/compassion/index.php?id=976437

Center for Social Innovation at Boston College https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/schools/ssw/sites/center-for-social-innovation/about.html

Watt Family Innovation Center at Clemson https://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/watt/

Center for the Integration of Faith and Work at Dayton https://udayton.edu/business/experiential_learning/centers/cifw/index.php

CASE i3 at Duke https://sites.duke.edu/casei3/

Social Innovation Collaboratory at Fordham https://www.fordham.edu/info/23746/social_innovation_collaboratory

Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Clinic at Georgetown  https://www.law.georgetown.edu/experiential-learning/clinics/social-enterprise-and-nonprofit-clinic/

and Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown https://beeckcenter.georgetown.edu

Global Social Entrepreneurship Institute at Indiana https://kelley.iu.edu/faculty-research/centers-institutes/international-business/programs-initiatives/global-social-entrepreneurship-institute.html

Business + Impact at Michigan https://businessimpact.umich.edu

Social Enterprise Institute at Northeastern https://www.northeastern.edu/sei/

Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business at Notre Dame https://cerv-mendoza.nd.edu

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/research/centres-and-initiatives/skoll-centre-social-entrepreneurship

Wharton Social Impact Iniviative at Penn https://socialimpact.wharton.upenn.edu/

and Center for Social Impact Strategy at Penn https://csis.upenn.edu

Faith and Work Initiative at Princeton https://faithandwork.princeton.edu/about-us

Center for Faithful Business at Seattle Pacific https://cfb.spu.edu

Center for Social Innovation at Stanford https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/centers-initiatives/csi

Social Innovation Initiative at Texas https://www.mccombs.utexas.edu/Centers/Social-Innovation-Initiative

Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane https://taylor.tulane.edu/about/

Social Innovation Cube at UNC https://campusy.unc.edu/cube/

Social Innovation at the Wond’ry at Vanderbilt https://www.vanderbilt.edu/thewondry/programs/social-innovation/

Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Foresthttps://leadershipandcharacter.wfu.edu/#

Program on Social Enterprise at Yale https://som.yale.edu/faculty-research/our-centers/program-social-enterprise/programs

 

 

July 6, 2021 in Business School, CSR, Entrepreneurship, Ethics, Haskell Murray, Law School, Religion, Social Enterprise, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 28, 2021

Teaching Leadership in/and Law

Earlier in the year, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Mike Madison at Pitt Law about my work, including my business law and leadership teaching and scholarship. Mike hosts and produces a nifty podcast called The Future Law.  The subject matter of his podcasts ranges across a spectrum of law and innovation topics. 

Last month, he posted the edited recording of our interview under the title: Joan Heminway, on Corporate Law and Leadership.  It is about a half hour in length.  Many readers already know me and my work pretty well (but if you want to know more in a quick fashion, feel free to read this campus Faculty Spotlight that was published earlier this spring).  However, I thought those of you who teach in law schools might appreciate knowing about (and maybe even listening to) this podcast.  Among other things, I walk through UT Law's leadership courses and explain their content and context and talk a bit about the natural overlap between business law and leadership (which I earlier wrote about here).

As Mike notes, we met as fellow presenters earlier this year at Santa Clara Law's symposium on Lawyers, Leadership, and Change: Addressing Challenges and Opportunities in Unprecedented Times.  My essay emanating from that presentation will be published by the Santa Clara Law Review later this year.  (Some of you may recall that I presented an idea paper on teaching change leadership to law students at the 2021 Association of American Law Schools conference back in January.  The Santa Clara Law Review essay is the long-playing version of that idea paper.)

As the Interim Director of UT Law's Institute for Professional Leadership, I am spending part of my summer reviewing and assessing the leadership curriculum at UT Law and connecting with other leadership educators across our campus.  I also am working with an amazing rising 3L (my 2021-22 fellow at UT Law's Institute for Professional Leadership) to plan for the coming academic year.  He and I are continuing to edit and publish our Leading as Lawyers blog throughout the summer.  It is energizing to be working on all of this alongside my business law scholarship this summer--especially in a work environment that is free of emergency planning and lessons on hybrid and online teaching methods and technology, the use of personal protective equipment, and the institution of new public health precautions in our law schools.  I hope to accomplish a few things over the course of the next six weeks and have more to write about on this topic as plans and initiatives progress.

June 28, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Adjuncts needed for Transactional Skills Class ASAP- can teach remotely

Our relatively new Transactional Skills program has been such a success that we need to hire one or two additional adjuncts immediately for the Fall.  Our current adjuncts work for BigLaw, in-house, and boutique firms. Classes start in August but the current sections are full and 2Ls start registration on Tuesday. 


The course description is below:

This interactive, practice-oriented course will be structured around the acquisition of an asset or business and some of the key agreements required to complete the transaction. Students will act as junior associates and work on one deal throughout the semester representing either the buyer or seller. Although the class will focus on certain provisions common to all contracts, students will negotiate and draft documents which may include a non-disclosure agreement, letter of intent outlining the main terms, due diligence memo, portions of an asset purchase agreement, a licensing agreement, or an employment agreement. Students will also communicate in writing to their clients throughout the duration of the transaction and will learn the proper selection and use of form agreements. Grades will be based on class participation, group and individual assignments, and a take-home exam, which will consist of writing an agreement. Students will watch videos each week from Professor Weldon discussing foundational drafting concepts and common contracts used in commercial transactions and will work in small groups with practitioners in class to work on drafting, negotiations, and simulations. 

There is a small stipend but the real reward is when you hear students say that this was the most valuable course they took in law school. If you live in South Florida, you can choose to teach in person or online.  It’s a lot of work but I prepare all materials.  The adjunct brings in experiences and  forms (not required);  has one mandatory meeting with the student; and marks up an NDA and the final contract.  

If you or someone you know has at least ten years of experience as a transactional lawyer and has an interest, please email a resume to me at mweldon@law.miami.edu. I’m happy to answer questions if you want more information before applying.

We would like to get adjuncts  on board ASAP so that we can add sections. Students are already registering and the current sections have waiting lists. 

 

June 27, 2021 in Contracts, Jobs, Law School, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Reforming Meritocracy

Recently, I finished two similar books on problems with extreme meritocracy in the United States: The Tyranny of Merit by Harvard philosophy professor Michael Sandel and The Meritocracy Trap by Yale law professor Daniel Markovits. Law schools and entry level legal jobs tend to be intensely meritocratic. The more competitive entry level legal jobs rely very heavily on school rank and student class rank. Once in a private firm, billable hours seem to be the main metric for bonuses and making partner.

Sandel describes at least three problems with meritocracy: (1) people are not competing on an even playing field in the US "meritocracy" (e.g., children of top 1% in income are 77x more likely to attend an Ivy League school than children of bottom 20%); (2) even if there were an even playing field, natural talents that fit community preferences would lead to wild inequality in a pure meritocracy and those natural advantages are not “earned,” (3) a strict meritocracy leads to excessive hubris among the “winners” and shame among the “losers” who believe they deserve their place in society. 

Markovits hits a lot of the same notes, but pays more attention to how the elite “exploit themselves” trying to keep themselves and their children in the shrinking upper class. While the $50,000/year competitive preschools Markovits describes are mostly limited to NYC and Silicon Valley now, the expenditures on the education and extracurriculars of children of the wealthy seems to be increasing exponentially everywhere. He also notes the lengthening work hours for the “elite” and the increasing percentage of wealth tied to labor. For example, Markovits points out that the ABA assumed that lawyers would bill 1300 hours a year in 1962 (and 1400 in 1977). As legal readers know, many firms now require 2000+ billable hours a year (which means working 2500+ hours in most cases).

Both Sandel and Markovits do a thorough job explaining the problems of meritocracy, but are fairly brief on proposed solutions. Sandel thinks meritocracy could be made more fair through elite schools eliminating SAT/ACT requirements (that tend to track family income), engaging in more aggressive class-based affirmative action, and using a lottery to admit baseline qualified students. He thinks the last suggestion would reduce the hubris of those admitted to elite schools, and acknowledge an element of luck in their selection. Sandel also suggests more government expenditures on training and retraining programs, as most economically advanced countries spend a much higher percentage of GDP on these programs (0.1% vs. 0.5% to 1.0%). He also suggests using the tax system to reward “productive labor” by, for example, “lower[ing] or even eliminat[ing] payroll taxes and rais[ing] revenue instead by taxing consumption, wealth, and financial transactions.” (218).

Markovits proposes that private schools should lose their tax-exempt status if at least half of their students do not come from the bottom two-thirds of the income distribution. Markovits also suggests promoting more mid-skill production; by, for example, reducing regulation to allow more work to be done by nurse practitioners (rather than doctors) and legal technicians (rather than lawyers.) He suggests uncapping payroll tax (so that the wealthy pay more of their share), introducing wage subsidies for middle class jobs, and raising the minimum wage.

As Ivy League professors, I think they overestimate the role of their schools in shaping the rest of the country, though they may be right about their influence among certain segments of the wealthy. And while their solutions are rather thin, I think they raise issues with meritocracy worth addressing.  As Henri Nouwen acknowledged more than 50 years ago in his book Reaching Out, “people are in growing degree exposed to the contagious disease of loneliness in a world in which a competitive individualism [ a/k/a "meritocracy"] tries to reconcile itself with a culture that speaks about togetherness, unity, and community as the ideals to strive for.”

June 8, 2021 in Books, Ethics, Haskell Murray, Law School, Lawyering, Management | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 28, 2021

Transactional Law, Skills, and Tech Competency

A reminder that Emory’s 2021 conference on transactional law and skills education is next Friday, June 4, 2021. It is virtual and registration is only $50. Register here.

Today, I'm submitting a guest post by Professor Jen Randolph Reise of Mitchell Hamline School of Law.  On Friday the 11th, I'll post my reflections from the Emory conference. Jen and I have bonded over our mission to bring practical skills into the classroom. Her remarks are  below:

I’m looking forward to hearing from many leaders in transactional legal education, including keynote speakers Joan MacLeod Heminway, Marcia Narine Weldon, and Robert J. Rhee on the theme of “Emerging from the Crisis: Future of Transactional Law and Skills Education.” Marcia will also be talking about her experience launching a transactional program at Miami, joined by three of her adjunct professors.

For my part, I’ll be presenting a Try-This session sharing how I have used exercises that integrate key technological resources and techniques into teaching doctrinal courses. I’ve written in this blog before in praise of practice problems, especially in the asynchronous or flipped classroom. These exercises take that one step farther by creating a self-paced, guided discovery and low-stakes practice of some skills and resources they will need to be transactional lawyers.

Specifically, participants in the Try-This session will be introduced to, and invited to try, three exercises I have created and used in Business Organizations and M&A:

1) a State Filings Exercise, which facilitates student discovery of their state’s business entity statutes and secretary of state filing site (for example, they learn how to form an LLC, and what information on LLCs is publicly accessible);

2) a Public Company Filings Exercise, which guides students through accessing and understanding the structure of public company SEC filings and how to retrieve pertinent information from EDGAR; and

3) a Working with Definitive Agreements Exercise, which introduces M&A students to drafting based on samples and from a term sheet, and requires them to learn to create a redline using Word’s Compare feature.

I’d love to have you attend on Friday and share your experiences and feedback. Or, feel free to contact me at jen.reise@mitchellhamline.edu or on Twitter @JensJourneyOn anytime for copies or to share ideas. As a transactional in-house lawyer, newly come to the academy, I’m passionate about students getting a foothold in the distinct perspective, skills, and technology they need to become successful transactional lawyers.

May 28, 2021 in Conferences, Joan Heminway, Law School, M&A, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Peer Reputation Score v. Overall Rank

"Peer assessment score" - the opinion of deans and certain faculty about the overall quality of a law school - accounts for 25% of a school's score in the U.S. News ranking. It is the most heavily weighted item. Bar passage, for comparison, is just a bit over 2%. When told this my pre-law students almost inevitably say --- "why would I care what deans and faculty at other schools think?"  

Below are the 25 schools that have the lowest peer assessment relative to overall rank and the 25 schools with the highest peer assessment relative to overall rank. Tier 2 schools are not included because they do not have a specific overall rank. TaxProfBlog provided the data

I am not unbiased here. I teach in the business school at Belmont University, and our law school has the biggest negative gap between peer assessment and overall rank. There are some reasonable reasons for this gap --- e.g., the school is young (the law school founded in 2011, though the university was founded in 1890) and a lot of deans/faculty may not know that the law school is doing well on incoming student credentials, bar passage, and employment. FIU, the #2 school is also relatively young (founded in 2000). But it seems to me that the fact Belmont University is a Christian school and (former attorney general under George W. Bush) Alberto Gonzales is our dean is doing at least some of this work. 

10 out of the 25 biggest gaps are among religious law schools (in bold below). George Mason also likely gets hit for being openly conservative. Granted, this cannot be the only driver of the gaps . Also, there are 6 religious schools among the list of schools that have a high peer assessment relative to rank, so religion doesn't seem disqualifying. That said, there are exactly 0 Protestant schools among the high relative peer assessment score list (and I am not sure any of them are significantly conservative in reputation...so maybe it is the conservative reputation more than the religious reputation doing the work). 

Anyway, I'm pretty interested in these gaps. Peer Assessment is supposed to measure overall quality of the school. What part of that "overall quality" is not already captured in the rest of the measures? Faculty research? Faculty Twitter followers? Faculty SEALS/AALS attendees? Moot Court National Championships? Something else? Feel free to leave comments below.  

Updated to correct confusion between FIU and Florida Coastal (H/T Matt Bodie); Updated to show San Diego and Seattle are religious.

Low Peer Assessment v. Overall Rank

  1. Belmont (-43)
  2. Florida Int'l (-31)
  3. New Hampshire (-31)
  4. Wayne State (-30)
  5. Baylor (-25)
  6. Drake (-25)
  7. Texas Tech (-25)
  8. Cleveland-Marshall (-25)
  9. BYU (-23)
  10. George Mason (-23)
  11. Missouri (Columbia) (-23)
  12. Penn State-Dickinson (-23)
  13. St. John's (-23)
  14. Dayton (-22)
  15. Duquesne (-22)
  16. Villanova (-20)
  17. Samford (-20)
  18. Pepperdine Caruso (-18)
  19. Washburn (-18)
  20. Tulsa (-16)
  21. South Dakota (-16)
  22. St. Thomas (MN) (-15)
  23. Cincinnati (-14)
  24. Drexel (-14)
  25. Penn State-University Park (-13)

High Peer Assessment v. Overall Rank

  1. Santa Clara (+53)
  2. Howard (+43)
  3. Seattle (+43)
  4. Loyola-New Orleans (+37)
  5. American (+33)
  6. San Diego (+30)
  7. Indiana (McKinney) (+28)
  8. Rutgers (+27)
  9. Hawaii (+25)
  10. Denver (+22)
  11. Georgia State (+22)
  12. Baltimore (+22)
  13. Gonzaga (+22)
  14. Arkansas-Little Rock (+22)
  15. Tulane (+20)
  16. Miami (+20)
  17. Idaho (+20)
  18. New Mexico (+19)
  19. Chicago-Kent (+18)
  20. Brooklyn (+17)
  21. Maine (+17)
  22. Memphis (+17)
  23. UC-Irvine (+16)
  24. Loyola-L.A. (+16)
  25. Oregon (+16)

 

March 31, 2021 in Haskell Murray, Law School, Pre-Law, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, March 26, 2021

Women & Business Law

Yesterday, I had the honor of leading a roundtable discussion on women and the practice of business law.  The roundtable was part of a series convened by UT Law's Student Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and this specific roundtable was hosted by our Black Law Student Association.  Here's the promotional flyer from the event.

SCDIRoundtableAnnouncement

In preparing for the session, I had occasion to review two ABA reports from the past few years: Roberta D. Liebenberg & Stephanie A. Scharf, Walking Out The Door : The Facts, Figures, and Future of Experienced Women Lawyers in Private Practice (ABA 2019), and Destiny Peery, Paulette Brown & Eileen Letts, Left Out or Left Behind: The Hurdles, Hassles, and Heartaches of Achieving Long-term Legal Careers for Women of Color (ABA 2020). I was reminded of the fall-off in female lawyers in BigLaw over the course of their careers.  Quoting from the first report:

BigLaw is no stranger to the loss of experienced women attorneys. While entering associate classes have been comprised of approximately 45% women for several decades, in the typical large firm, women constitute only 30% of non-equity partners and 20% of equity partners. Women lawyers face many other challenging hurdles as they seek to advance into senior roles: the number of lawyers named as new equity partners at big firms has declined by nearly 30% over the past several years, and firms are increasingly relying on the hiring of lateral partners, over 70% of whom are men.

At the event, I noted this data and the principal reasons why women self-reported that they left practice. These include: care-taking obligations, workplace stress levels, responsibilities for marketing/originating business, billable hour requirements, loss of the desire to practice law, work/life balance dissatisfaction, and concerns about personal or family health.

I also noted specific difficulties faced by women of color.  In that regard, I referenced the following quote from a Black female lawyer in her late 40s (included in the second ABA report mentioned above).

Some of the barriers you can’t do [anything] about—like the(mis)perceptions people have in their own minds about your race or your sex or your background. So you start by having to overcome those negative assumptions, stereotypes, and presumptions. And then there’s the ‘black tax’ of having to demonstrate outsized achievements just to get the same opportunities as everyone else. It’s not by accident that at the firms at which I worked, every single black associate had at least two Ivy League degrees. Majority associates? Not so much.

There were no real surprises for me in these two reports. Having said that, I must note that they capture important data and reflections.  I recommend that everyone read them.

Of course, only some female law graduates (a relatively small number/percentage) start their careers in business finance or governance.  The number/percentage of female lawyers in large business law practices typically does not increase over time; it decreases.  Therefore, the number/percentage of women in those practice areas at the partner/shareholder/senior leadership level is relatively small.  (By the way, please let me know if you know where I can find some recent reliable data on all this.)  

I noted the relatively small percentage of women who enroll in my upper division advanced business law courses (a maximum in any course of 33-1/3%, and that's pretty rare).  I asked the student participants for their ideas on why more women do not take these courses or, in general, express a desire to practice business law.  Among the responses were the following: not having been exposed to business lawyers or business operations, being intimidated by the subject matter, and being concerned that too much math may be involved.  I also asked them how we might work to correct the imbalance in business law and more generally.  Students volunteered their observations and ideas.  The were thoughtful, reflecting on their own experiences while also working hard to appreciate the circumstances of others.  One of the female students pressed her male colleagues to contribute.  It was a super discussion.  Several students contacted me after the roundtable to follow up on some points.

We only had an hour together, which was barely enough time to begin to scope out these issues.  There was certainly more that could have been said had there been more time.  I invited students to continue the conversation among themselves and with me and other faculty.  I have hope they will do that.  I want to ensure that business law knowledge and practice is accessible to all, and I could use their help in accomplishing that goal.

March 26, 2021 in Joan Heminway, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, February 26, 2021

My Thoughts on "The Marxism In Your Diversity Training"

This isn't the post I had planned to write. In fact, I had two other ideas. But I feel compelled to write this, knowing that it may cause more controversy than it's worth. 

My colleague Stefan Padfield wrote a post called "The Marxism In Your Diversity Training" that some would call provocative. Others would call it offensive. I had planned to comment on it, but he's taken it down. Did I agree with everything he said? No. Did I disagree with everything he said? Also no. 

I have a unique perspective. I'm a Black female. I protested about race and gender issues in college and law school. I've been a management-side employment lawyer for 25 years both as outside counsel and in house. I still consult with companies, deliver training on EEO laws and polices, conduct discrimination investigations, and advise plaintiffs. I work hard to make sure that companies do the right thing. I've posted here before about my skepticism about certain diversity mandates. Not that we don't need MUCH more work in this area, but I'm not sure the approaches that some states and companies are taking will have long-term benefits.

My law school, like all others, is trying to figure out how to deal with race and social justice in the classroom. My conversations with some students and certain faculty members have been painful, draining, and exhausting. Closer to home, I have a 25-year old Black son. He's a gifted artist, has gone to school in Paris, has visited almost 20 countries, and wouldn't hurt a fly, but he's more likely to get stopped, frisked, arrested, or shot by police than his friends because of his skin color and hair style. If I don't hear from in within a 24-hour period, I panic. 

So I have lots of thoughts about Stefan's post. Right or wrong, Stefan said what a lot of people that our students will encounter think. We owe it to them and each other to use our analytical skills and face volatile issues. 

I've listened to presentations by outside speakers at my law school in the face of protests by some of our students because I believe in teaching and learning through reasoned debate, when possible. But I can't comment on Stefan's post because he took it down in the face of criticism. So I'm sad, but not for the reason that most would think. I'm sad because I think we could have had a thoughtful dialogue on some uncomfortable topics and been an example on how to disagree without being disagreeable. And that's a loss for everyone. 

February 26, 2021 in Current Affairs, Law School, Marcia Narine Weldon, Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

VISITING CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, BU/MIT Startup Law Clinic -- Boston University School of Law

A job posting that may be of interest to some of our readers.

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Job Description
BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, a top-tier law school with an international reputation, is a community of leading legal scholars, teachers, students, and alumni, dedicated to providing one of the finest legal educations in the world. The breadth and depth of our curriculum, especially our clinical program, as well as our innovative spirit are distinctive in American legal education.

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 School of Law believes that the cultural and social diversity of our faculty, staff, and students is vitally important to the distinction and excellence of our academic programs. To that end, we are especially eager to hear from applicants who support our institutional commitment to BU as an inclusive, equitable, and diverse community.

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 24, 2021.

Since we opened our doors in 1872, Boston University School of Law has been committed to admitting and building our classes without regard to race, gender, or religion. We are dedicated to building a just, inclusive, and engaged community of faculty and students. We have more work to do to make our environment more just. Boston University School of Law is committed not only to the ideals of faculty diversity and inclusion but also to the work of creating and implementing practices that combat exclusion and inequity by race, gender, gender identity, disability status, religion, or other identities subject to historical subordination. We strive to foster a more inclusive intellectual culture that represents and encourages a broad range of intellectual traditions and approaches to the law. We welcome expressions of interest from applicants of all identities, intellectual traditions, and perspectives.

DO NOT APPLY THROUGH THE BU WEBSITE:
Applicants should send a letter of interest and a resume to Jim Wheaton, Clinical Associate Professor and Director of the Startup Law Clinic. Email applications are encouraged and should be sent to lclinic2@bu.edu. Applications received on or before January 31, 2021 will be given full consideration.

To learn more about the law school, visit our website at www.bu.edu/law, and to learn more about the Clinic, please visit https://sites.bu.edu/startuplaw/. If you have specific questions about the position, contact Jim Wheaton at jwheaton@bu.edu.

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. We are a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

Job Location
BOSTON, Massachusetts, United States
Position Type
Full-Time/Regular
Salary Grade
Competitive

December 1, 2020 in Clinical Education, Haskell Murray, Intellectual Property, Jobs, Law School, Lawyering | Permalink | Comments (0)