Tuesday, June 11, 2024

What is Equity, Anyway?

I just came back on Sunday from the 2024 Law and Society Association Annual Meeting in Denver.  It was, as always, a stimulating few days.  A number of us business law profs were in attendance.  The corporate and securities law collaborative research network (CRN46) habitually organizes several programs.  This year was no exception.  I was privileged to be featured in two.  But I will say more on my participation in the conference later.

Today, I want to highlight an interesting piece that was presented at the conference during one of the CRN46 paper panels: "The Original Meaning of Equity " by Asaf Raz (forthcoming in the Washington University Law Review).  The SSRN abstract follows:

Equity is seeing a new wave of attention in scholarship and practice. Yet, as this Article argues, our current understanding of equity is divided between two distinct meanings: on one side, the federal courts, guided by the Supreme Court, tend to discuss equity as the precise set of remedies known at a fixed point in the past (static equity). On the other, state courts—most prominently, in Delaware—administer equity to preserve the correct operation of law in unforeseeable situations (substantive equity). Only the latter interpretation complies with the historical and functional idea of equity.

This Article makes the first detailed argument for resolving the problem of static equity, and reinvigorating substantive equity in the federal judiciary and the broader legal community. To do so, this Article takes a highly innovative step, by connecting the federal discussion with an in-depth analysis of the legal scene where equity is employed most systematically (and most faithfully to its historical roots): Delaware law, including its corporate law. As this Article demonstrates, substantive equity is fully compatible with originalism and textualism; the "equity" mentioned in the Constitution and later federal texts is substantive, not static, equity. Federal law has always operated within the sphere of the common law, and this Article offers a new bridge between the two, exposing the members of each community to insights from the other, in a manner that promotes both the original understanding of the legal text, justice, and the rule of law.

Asaf's presentation of the piece at the conference generated several questions and an interesting extended discussion.  The term "equity" has many meanings in law that we must be conversant with in our work.  We also need to help students define "equity" in context and sort out its varied meanings as they learn about law in its multifarious manifestations.  These factors alone make the article a valuable read.  However, more centrally, I applaud Asaf for taking on the task of adding some clarity to the term and on connecting his research to both federal (including constitutional) and Delaware law in novel ways.  I look forward to spending more time with this piece.  And I know Asaf welcomes your comments!

June 11, 2024 in Conferences, Delaware, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 22, 2024

Fiduciary Duties: A Tale of Two Families

Check out the third issue of volume 73 of the DePaul Law Review!  It includes a series of papers emanating from the HBO series Succession.  As you may recall, I posted a call for papers for this issue about a year ago.  Most of the papers in the issue came from a venture originated and organized by Susan Bandes and Diane Kemker called the Waystar Royco School of Law.  I wrote about that enterprise here.  

I participated in the Waystar Royco School of Law Zoom meetings as the “Roy/Demoulas Distinguished Professor of Law and Business.”  I presented on fiduciary duty issues comparing the principals of two family businesses--The Demoulas family from Northern Massachusetts and Succession's Roy family from New York.  You can find my Zoom session here (Passcode: #hN+7J5N).  That presentation resulted in an essay that I wrote for the DePaul Law Review issue as well as an advanced business associations course based on the Succession series. I finish teaching that course this week.  I also presented on the topic of my Succession essay at the Popular Culture Association conference back in March.  I include a screenshot of my cover slide below.

I just posted the essay to SSRN.  The piece is entitled What the Roys Should Learn from the Demoulas Family (But Probably Won’t).  The SSRN abstract is set forth below.

This essay offers a comparison of the actions taken by members of two families: the Demoulas family, best known as owner-operators of northeastern regional supermarkets, and the Roy family featured in HBO's series "Succession." The comparative appraisal focuses principally on the selfish pursuit of individualized financial, social, and familial status by key members of both the Demoulas and Roy families as they relate to the law of business associations (principally corporate law). At the heart of the matter is the legal concept of fiduciary duty. A comparison of the two families’ exploits reveals that lessons earlier learned by the Demoulas family (and observers of the multifaceted, multi-year litigation involving them and their business undertakings) fail to positively impact the destiny and legacy of Succession’s Roy family—at least as far as the Roy family story has been told to date. Although hope may be limited, there is still time for the remaining Roy family members to take heed and make changes.

To execute and comment on the comparison of these two families, the essay starts by outlining relevant information concerning legally recognized fiduciary duties in the corporate (and, to a lesser degree, partnership) contexts. Next, the essay offers background information about the Demoulas and Roy families and their respective businesses (both organized as corporations) and selected business dealings and governance, noting actual and potential breaches of fiduciary duty in each case. A brief conclusion offers comparative observations about the actions taken by members of the Demoulas and Roy families that contravene or challenge applicable fiduciary duties and the opportunity for general reflection. Of particular note is the observation that the ability of corporate directors and officers to comply with their fiduciary duties may become more difficult and complicated when integrating family dynamics and business succession issues into business decisions in a family business context.

I have enjoyed the research and teaching I have done in this area over the past year.  It always is nice to take a fresh approach to familiar concepts.  I daresay my students have felt the same way in covering business associations topics through the lens of the happenings in the series.  They certainly have been attentive and communicative, which is what I had been shooting for in teaching corporate and other business associations law through the course.  I am happy to answer questions about the course and provide my syllabi to anyone who wants to see what I assigned and did for the course.  Just ask.

Screen Shot 2024-04-21 at 6.42.58 PM

April 22, 2024 in Business Associations, Corporate Finance, Corporations, Current Affairs, Family Business, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 1, 2024

Finfluencers and the Reasonable Retail Investor

Calling attention today to Sue Guan's paper, Finfluencers and the Reasonable Retail Investor, posted on SSRN and forthcoming to the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online.  The abstract is copied in below.

Much recent commentary has focused on the dangers of finfluencers. Finfluencers are persons or entities that have outsize impact on investor decisions through social media influence. These finfluencers increasingly drive investing and trading trends in a wide range of asset markets, from stocks to cryptocurrency. They do so because they can provide powerful coordination mechanisms across otherwise diffuse investor and trader populations. Of course, the more influence wielded over their followers, the easier it is for finfluencers to perpetrate fraud and manipulation.

The increase in finfluencing has highlighted a gray area in the securities laws: a finfluencer's statements may not be factually untrue or clearly deceptive, but they can be interpreted as misleading depending on the context and the particular beliefs held by the finfluencer’s social media followers. Moreover, such statements can harm investors who buy or sell based on their interpretation of the finfluencer's activity. In other words, finfluencers can easily profit off of their followers' trading activity while steering clear of the securities laws.

A recent case has narrowed finfluencers' ability to do so. This Piece argues that In re Bed Bath and Beyond provides a path to holding finfluencers accountable even when they have not made clearly untrue statements. In considering materiality, In re Bed Bath and Beyond focuses on the reasonable retail investor. This places primacy on retail investors’ interpretation of social media activity and narrows a gap in securities oversight, demonstrating that existing securities laws can be flexible enough to deter and punish a significant portion of problematic finfluencer behavior. In doing so, it opens a path forward for harmed retail investors to seek redress from careless finfluencers.

Sue offers a video summary here

In this work, Sue takes on one of my favorite topics: materiality.  She sees the potential for courts to use the reasonable retail investor--as opposed to the reasonable investor--as the reference point for materiality analysis in securities fraud actions.  Truly interesting.

Social media does move markets.  Investors, retail investors, act on what they read in social media.  They may even act based on interpretations of emojis, as  Sue suggests.  I appreciate her taking on the legal aspects of market behavior in this context.  I am confident more will be said about this as additional cases are brought.

April 1, 2024 in Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Remembering Roberta Karmel

I learned earlier this week of the death of Brooklyn Law Professor Roberta Karmel.  Roberta was extraordinary, and I miss her already.  Much has been written about her role in our profession--including her service as the first female commissioner at the Securities and Exchange Commission.  I will only add a few personal reflections here.

Roberta was both exacting and compassionate--traits that we sometimes think of as being mutually exclusive.  Small in stature, she somehow was still formidable.  When I first met her in a setting where she was commenting on academic work, I was impressed and intimidated.  Despite my extroversion, I was hesitant to introduce myself and reach out to her in friendship.  When I later admitted that to her, she laughed and (in that inimitable voice we all know and will remember) let me know how silly that was.

Roberta was the honored keynote speaker at our 2009 law graduation (hooding) ceremony at The University of Tennessee College of Law.  She was invited by a student committee that understood well her significance to the law and legal education communities.  She shared details of her life and career with us.  It was inspirational for me, even though I knew parts of the story.  Hearing that history in her own voice was priceless.

I was blessed to be part of a symposium held back in May 2021 to honor Roberta's career.  My paper from that symposium reflects on and extends an earlier published piece of her work.  I offered a post on that paper here.  As I note in that post, having the opportunity to review and dissect Roberta's work helped me in my own.

Thinking about all of this today does make me sad. Roberta's wisdom and voice will no longer add new ideas to the mix.  However, there also is cause for gratitude and hope.  She has left a strong legacy--one that we all can continue to reflect on and use in our work for many years to come.

March 30, 2024 in Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation, Service | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 26, 2024

Are Lawyers, Lawmakers, and Law Professors Really Ready for AI in 2024?

We just finished our second week of the semester and I’m already exhausted, partly because I just submitted the first draft of a law review article that’s 123 pages with over 600 footnotes on a future-proof framework for AI regulation to the University of Tennessee Journal of Business Law. I should have stuck with my original topic of legal ethics and AI.

But alas, who knew so much would happen in 2023? I certainly didn’t even though I spent the entire year speaking on AI to lawyers, businesspeople, and government officials. So, I decided to change my topic in late November as it became clearer that the EU would finally take action on the EU AI Act and that the Brussels effect would likely take hold requiring other governments and all the big players in the tech space to take notice and sharpen their own agendas.

But I’m one of the lucky ones because although I’m not a techie, I’m a former chief privacy officer, and spend a lot of time thinking about things like data protection and cybersecurity, especially as it relates to AI. And I recently assumed the role of GC of an AI startup. So, because I’m tech-adjacent, I’ve spent hours every day immersed in the legal and tech issues related to large and small language models, generative AI (GAI), artificial general intelligence (AGI), APIs, singularity, the Turing test, and the minutiae of potential regulation around the world. I’ve become so immersed that I actually toggled between listening to the outstanding Institute for Well-Being In Law virtual conference and the FTC’s 4-hour tech summit yesterday with founders, journalists, economists, and academics. Adding more fuel to the fire, just before the summit kicked off, the FTC announced an inquiry into the partnerships and investments of  Alphabet, Inc., Amazon.com, Inc., Anthropic PBC, Microsoft Corp., and OpenAI, Inc. Between that and the NY Times lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft alleging billions in damages for purported IP violations, we are living in interesting times.

If you’ve paid attention to the speeches at Davos, you know that it was all AI all the time. I follow statements from the tech leaders like other people follow their fantasy football stats or NCAA brackets. Many professors, CEOs, and general consumers, on the other hand, have been caught by surprise by the very rapid acceleration of the developments, particularly related to generative AI.

However, now more members of the general public are paying attention to the concept of deepfakes and demanding legislation in part because the supernova that is Taylor Swift has been victimized by someone creating fake pornographic images of her. We should be even more worried about the real and significant threat to the integrity of the fifty global elections and occurring in 2024 where members of the public may be duped into believing that political candidates have said things that they did not, such as President Biden telling people not to vote in the New Hampshire primary and to save their votes for November.

For those of us who teach in law schools in the US and who were either grading or recovering from grading in December, we learned a few days before Christmas that Lexis was rolling out its AI solution for 2Ls and 3Ls. Although I had planned to allow and even teach my students the basics of prompt engineering and using AI as a tool (and not a substitute for lawyering) in my business associations, contract drafting, and business and human rights class, now I have to also learn Lexis’ solution too. I feel for those professors who still ban the use of generative AI or aren’t equipped to teach students how to use it ethically and effectively.

Even so, I’m excited and my students are too. The legal profession is going to change dramatically over the next two years, and it’s our job as professors to prepare our students. Thompson Reuters, the ABA, and state courts have made it clear that we can’t sit by on the sidelines hoping that this fad will pass.

Professionally, I have used AI to redraft an employee handbook in my client’s voice (using my employment law knowledge, of course), prepare FAQs for another client’s code of conduct in a very specialized industry, prepare interview questions for my podcast, and draft fact patterns for simulations for conferences and in class. I’ve also tested its ability to draft NDAs and other simple agreements using only ChatGPT. It didn’t do so well there, but that’s because I know what I was looking for. And when I gave additional instructions, for example, about drafting a mutual indemnification clause and then a separate supercap, it did surprisingly well. But I know what should be in these agreements. The average layperson does not, something that concerns Chief Justice Roberts and should concern us all.

How have you changed your teaching with the advent of generative AI? If you’re already writing or teaching about AI or just want more resources, join the 159 law professors in a group founded by Professors April Dawson and Dan Linna. As for my law review article, I’m sure a lot of it will be obsolete by the time it’s published, but it should still be an interesting, if not terrifying, read for some.

January 26, 2024 in Business Associations, Compliance, Consulting, Contracts, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Human Rights, Intellectual Property, International Law, Jobs, Law Firms, Law School, Lawyering, Legislation, Marcia Narine Weldon, Research/Scholarhip, Science, Teaching, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 27, 2023

Of Directorships: Reconfiguring the Theory of the Firm

It always is a great pleasure to pass along and promote the work of a colleague.  And today, I get to post about the work of a UT Law colleague!  Many of you know Tomer Stein, who came to join us at UT Law back in the summer.  He is such an ideal colleague and, like many of us, has broad interests across business finance and governance.

This post supports a recent draft governance piece, the title of which is the same as this post--Of Directorships: Reconfiguring the Theory of the Firm.  You can find the draft here.  The abstract is included below.

This Article develops a novel account of directorships and then uses it to reconfigure the theory of the firm. This widely accepted theory holds that firms emerge to satisfy the economic need for carrying out vertically integrated business activities under a fiduciary contract that substitutes for the owners’ multiple agreements with contractors and suppliers. As per this theory, the fiduciary contract is inherently incomplete, yet often preferable: while it cannot address all future contingencies in the firm, it will effectively direct all unaccounted-for firm events by placing them under the owners’ purview as a matter of default, or residual right. Under this contractual mechanism, firm owners, such as corporate shareholders, acquire the status of residual claimants who have the power to decide on all contractually unenumerated contingencies.

This view of the firm is conceptually flawed and normatively mistaken. Firms do carry vertically integrated business activities managed by their fiduciaries, but those fiduciaries—agents, trustees, and directors—are not functional equivalents from either the legal or economic standpoint. Unlike agents and trustees who receive commands from principals and settlors, respectively, directors manage the firm’s business by exercising decisional autonomy. Conceptually, shareholders who hire directors do not run the firm’s business as residual claimants. Rather, it is the directors who manage the firm as residual obligors—all contractually unaccounted for contingencies are placed under the fiduciary’s purview as a matter of obligation. This feature makes directorship an attractive management mechanism that often outperforms other fiduciary mechanisms, and the residual-claimant structure that stands behind them, in a broad variety of contexts. By developing this critical insight, the Article proposes not only to reconfigure the prevalent theory of the firm, but also to redesign both federal and state laws in a way that will facilitate directorships not only in corporations, but also across several indispensable dimensions of our financial, communal, and familial organizations.

As someone who understands both the central role of the director in corporate governance and the incomplete and inaccurate principal/agent relationship between shareholders and directors, I have enthusiasm for this project!  But I also am intrigued by the thought that the ideas in the paper can be translated to non-business institutions and groups.

Read on, and enjoy!

November 27, 2023 in Agency, Business Associations, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Shareholders | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Berkeley Law/CSLS - 2024-25 Visiting Scholar Application Period Open

Berkeley Center for the Study of Law and Society

Applications for Visiting Scholars Program

 

THE APPLICATION PERIOD FOR THE 2024-25 ACADEMIC YEAR IS NOW OPEN. 

Please submit your application by December 1, 2023 by e-mail to [email protected](link sends e-mail) 

 Inquiries may be made to CSLS at [email protected]

 

For more information about the Visiting Scholars program and the Center for the Study of Law and Society, see here.

September 2, 2023 in Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Call for Papers: Second Annual Junior Faculty Business and Financial Law Workshop

INSTITUTE FOR LAW & ECONOMICS
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA CAREY LAW SCHOOL

SECOND ANNUAL JUNIOR FACULTY BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL LAW WORKSHOP

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Institute for Law & Economics (ILE) at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School is pleased to announce its second annual Junior Faculty Business and Financial Law Workshop. The Workshop will be held in person on December 7, 2023 at Penn Carey Law.

The Workshop supports and recognizes the work of untenured legal scholars in the business and financial fields, including accounting, banking, bankruptcy, corporations, economics, finance, tax and securities, while promoting interactions with such scholars, selected tenured faculty and practitioners. By providing a forum for the exchange of creative ideas in these areas, ILE also aims to encourage new and innovative scholarship in the business and financial arena.

Approximately 6-8 papers will be chosen from those submitted for presentation at the Workshop. One or more senior scholars and practitioners will comment on each paper, followed by a general discussion of each paper among all participants. The Workshop audience will include invited untenured scholars, faculty from Penn Carey Law, The Wharton School, and other institutions, practitioners, and invited guests.

We welcome submissions from scholars within the U.S. and abroad who hold a full-time tenure-track academic appointment but have not yet received tenure as of the submission date. Scholars who do not yet hold a full-time tenure-track academic appointment such as PhD or doctoral candidates, or visiting or academic fellows without a full-time tenure-track academic appointment are not eligible for consideration. Co-authored submissions are welcome so long as each of the authors individually meet the submission criteria. Work that is published or is expected to be published by the date of the Workshop is not eligible for submission. However, submissions may include work that has been accepted for publication so long as such work is still capable of incorporating substantive edits. ILE will cover reasonable travel, hotel, and meal expenses of all presenters.

Those interested in presenting a paper at the Workshop should submit by e-mail on or before September 8, 2023. Submissions may be in the form of an abstract, summary or draft. Please submit using the following format for your file name – author’s last name.first name.title. Direct your submission, along with any inquiries related to the Workshop, to:

Professor Lisa M. Fairfax
University of Pennsylvania Carey law School
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6204
[email protected]

Submissions will be selected after review by members of ILE. Authors of accepted submissions will be notified by October 6, 2023. Please feel free to share this Call for Papers with any colleagues who may be interested.

August 24, 2023 in Call for Papers, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The LLC As a Corporation -- The Hits Keep Coming

A new opinion this week tells us that "Defendant, Intermed Resources TN, LLC, [is] a Tennessee limited liability company that markets medical equipment."  Camber Spine Technologies v. Intermed Resources TN, LLC, No. CV 22-3648, 2023 WL 5182597, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 11, 2023). The opinion later, though, tells us that Intermed is a "Tennessee limited liability corporation." It was right, before it was wrong. 

The United States Supreme Court has told us that the test for general personal jurisdiction for LLCs is the same test that is used for corporations. Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 123 (2014). Unfortunately, in that case, Justice Ginsburg referred to "MBUSA" as "a Delaware limited liability corporation." MBUSA is an LLC, not a corporation. It's a little less clear in cases of specific jurisdiction, so there is least some potential litigation value in the getting this right, in addition the more general principle of being accurate. 

Camber Spine was one the case calling an LLC a corporation that I found this week. Last week there were four more: 

  1.  Ocean Tomo LLC v. Golabs, Inc., No. 22 C 4966, 2023 WL 4930348, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 2, 2023) )" Plaintiff is a limited liability corporation with a principal place of business in Illinois . . . ."). 
  2. Jackson v. Reliance Constr. Servs., LLC, No. 1:20-CV-799, 2023 WL 4933269, at *2 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 2, 2023) ("Defendant Reliance Construction is a limited liability corporation that is currently unrepresented.").
  3. Universitas Educ., LLC v. Benistar, No. 3:20-CV-00738 (KAD), 2023 WL 4932034, at *4 (D. Conn. Aug. 2, 2023) ("Greyhound Partners is a Connecticut limited liability corporation with the following current members: Greyhound Management Inc. and Constance Ann Carpenter.") 
  4. NetApp, Inc. v. Cinelli, No. 2020-1000-LWW, 2023 WL 4925910, at *12, n.172 (Del. Ch. Aug. 2, 2023) (citing "Metro Communication Corp. BVI v. Advanced Mobilecomm Techs. Inc., 854 A.2d 121, 153-55 (Del. Ch. 2004)  and stating that "imputing fraud to the corporation where the manager of a limited liability corporation designated by the corporation made false statements.")

I suppose it is painfully obvious I am not going to let this go. If nothing else, these cases are reinforcing the need for my new paper, with Samantha Prince (available on SSRN): An LLC By Any Other Name Is Still Not A Corporation. We're still talking to editors for those interested in helping us clean up this mess.  One day, we hope to put an end to this madness.

August 15, 2023 in Corporations, Joshua P. Fershee, Litigation, LLCs, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

New Paper: An LLC By Any Other Name Is Still Not A Corporation

It's been little while since I posted here, but long-time readers of theis blog will not be surprised by the topic.  I am happy to say that, after a lot of work with an exceptional co-author who shares my concerns, Professor Samantha Prince from Penn State Dickinson Law, we have an article documenting the problems with mislabeling LLCs and providing a variety of solutions.  I have been writing on this for nearly 15 years, and unfortunately, not a lot has changed. 

The article, An LLC By Any Other Name Is Still Not A Corporation, is now available on SSRN, here, and has been submitted for publication. In the meantime, we welcome thoughts and comments.  

Here is the abstract: 

Business entities have their own unique characteristics. Entrepreneurs and lawyers who represent them select an entity structure based on the business’s current and projected needs. The differing needs of each business span across myriad topics such as capital requirements, taxation, employee benefits, and personal liability protection. These choices present advantages and disadvantages many of which are built into the type of entity chosen.

It is critically important that people, especially lawyers, recognize the difference between entities such as corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs). It is an egregious, nearly unforgivable, error in our view to call an LLC a “limited liability corporation.” In part, this is because lawyers should try to get things right, but it is also because conflating the two entity types can lead to unpredictable outcomes. Perhaps more important, it could lead to incorrect and unjust outcomes. A prime example lies within the veil piercing context.

Lest you think that this is not a prevalent occurrence, there are nearly 9,000 references to the phrase “limited liability corporation” in court cases. Practicing attorneys are not the only people messing this up. Judges, legislators, federal and state agency officials, and media pundits are also getting it wrong. Most recently, Justice Samuel Alito scribed an op-ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal where he misused the term. Even the TV show Jeopardy! allowed as correct the answer, “What is a limited liability corporation?,” during one episode.

Enter artificial intelligence. AI relies on information it can find, and therefore AI generators, like ChatGPT, replicate the incorrect term. With a proliferation of users and programs using ChatGPT and other AI, the use of incorrect terminology will balloon and exacerbate the problem. Perhaps one day, AI can be used to correct this problem, but that cannot happen until there is widespread understanding of the distinct nature of LLCs and a commitment to precise language when talking about them.

This article informs of the looming harms of misidentifying and conflating LLCs with corporations. Additionally, it presents a warning together with ideas on how to assist with correcting the use of incorrect terminology in all contexts surrounding LLCs.

August 8, 2023 in Business Associations, Corporations, Joshua P. Fershee, LLCs, Partnership, Research/Scholarhip, Shareholders, Teaching, Unincorporated Entities, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 7, 2023

Matteo Gatti on Corporate Governing

I am excited to highlight the recent posting by Matteo Gatti of his draft paper entitled Corporate Governing: Promises and Risks of Corporations as Socio-Economic Reformers.  I got a preview of this work at the National Business Law Scholars Conference back in June.  The title of the paper is both descriptive and clever, as the abstract below reveals.

Corporations are involved in public affairs: racial equity, women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, climate efforts are just a few examples of an increasingly long list of areas in which corporations are active and vocal. One phenomenon is well-known: corporations promote, contrast, or finetune governmental initiatives through political messaging. In addition, corporations perform quasi-governmental functions when the actual government cannot (because of its dysfunction) or does not want to (because of its political credo) perform such functions. Economists, legal scholars, and policymakers are split as to whether corporations should take this role.

This Paper contributes to the literature in several ways. First, it maps various areas of reform by corporations in the socio-economic sphere. Then, it provides legal and policy frameworks for corporate governing by analyzing the underlying conducts under our current laws and by evaluating its multifaceted normative merits: Is there a business case for corporate governing? Is corporate governing strategically wise for corporations? Does it help social advocacy and society at large? Does corporate governing undermine actual government and imperil democratic institutions? Further, this Paper assesses corporate governing by looking into its promises and risks from a corporate and from a societal perspective and singles out two risks. First, corporate governing cannot help society in fields in which corporations have a conflicting interest, like on themes such as antitrust, tax, labor, privacy, financial and corporate reform. Second, with corporations having a greater role in policymaking, citizens may become less accustomed to expecting reform via traditional politics: addressing this risk requires efforts from citizens, civil society, and politicians to preserve democratic values and institutions—corporate governance can help but cannot be the driving force.

The article offers helpful, coherent observations about and analyses of the roles business firms play--and should play--in political governance, as well as the possible effects of those political governance engagements.  I look forward to spending more time with this work!

August 7, 2023 in Corporate Governance, Corporations, Current Affairs, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 26, 2023

Trust in Business Associations: Fiduciary Duties

The University of Tennessee College of Law's business law journal, Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law, recently published my essay, "The Fiduciary-ness of Business Associations."  You can find the essay here.  This essay--or parts of it, anyway--has been rattling around in my brain for a bit.   It is nice on a project like this to be able to get the words out on a page and release all that tension building up inside as you fashion your approach.

The abstract for the essay is included below. 

This essay offers a window and perspective on recent fiduciary-related legislative developments in business entity law and identifies and reflects in limited part on related professional responsibility questions impacting lawyers advising business entities and their equity owners. In addition—and perhaps more pointedly—the essay offers commentary on legal change and the legislative process for state law business associations amendments in and outside the realm of fiduciary duties. To accomplish these purposes, the essay first provides a short description of the position of fiduciary duties in U.S. statutory business entity law and offers a brief account of 21st century business entity legislation that weakens the historically central role of fiduciary duties in unincorporated business associations. It then reflects on these changes as a matter of theory, policy, and practice before briefly summarizing and offering related reflections in concluding.

Although I always welcome thoughts on my work, I am especially interested in your thoughts on this essay. It relates to all three of my activities as a law professor--my scholarship, teaching, and service.  And I know that fiduciary duty waivers and opt-ins have different impacts in different business sectors . . . .  So, let me know what you think.

June 26, 2023 in Corporate Governance, Corporations, Entrepreneurship, Ethics, Joan Heminway, Lawyering, Legislation, LLCs, Management, Partnership, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, June 12, 2023

National Business Law Scholars 2023 - This Thursday and Friday!

If you happen to be traveling in the region of Knoxville, Tennessee on Thursday or Friday, feel free to stop by and catch all or part of this year's National Business Law Scholars Conference, hosted by the Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law at The University of Tennessee College of Law.  The final schedule will be posted on the conference website within the next day, but I can tell you now that we start at 8:15 am for breakfast on Thursday (9:15 am for the program) and run through a 5:30 pm reception, and we start at at 8:00 am for breakfast on Friday (8:45 am for the program) and run until 3:30 pm. We have, as usual, a number of engaging plenary programs, but the conference mostly consists of scholarly paper panels.  As always, the schedule has been produced by the incomparable Eric Chaffee (who is moving to Case Western Law this summer).  He is amazing.

The morning plenaries (which start the conference proceedings each day) focus on entrepreneurship, a topic of focus for and strength of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and The University of Tennessee College of Law, working through our Transactional Law Clinic.  Thursday's morning plenary panel focuses on the engagement of law schools with university and community venture activity.  Friday's morning plenary session features an interview with two lawyer entrepreneurs who will help us explore our ability, as business law professors, to help prepare our students for entrepreneurship.

The third plenary session (Thursday, just after lunch) is an author-meets-readers program on Adam Pritchard's recently released book, A HISTORY OF SECURITIES LAW IN THE SUPREME COURT (Oxford University Press 2023).  Adam previewed aspects of the book in a presentation at the Neel Corporate Governance Center last fall.  We are in for a real treat!  UT Law is so pleased to be able to host this session at the conference.  Adam has been a regular National Business Law Scholars Conference attendee and frequently offers constructive comments on other business law scholars' works at the conference.

I look forward to seeing many of you later in the week!  We are so glad to have everyone at UT Law in person this year for the conference.

June 12, 2023 in Books, Conferences, Entrepreneurship, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 27, 2023

Stetson Law Symposium: Elon Musk and the Law

Last Friday, I had the privilege of speaking, with other colleagues, at the 2023 Stetson Law Review Symposium on "Elon Musk and the Law."  (See the flyer on the program, below.)  This symposium grew out of a discussion group I organized at the 2022 Southeastern Association of Law Schools Conference.  I posted about it here back in May of last year.

I could not have been happier with the way the symposium worked out.  The Stetson Law students, faculty, and administration were well organized, kind, and fun--a total pleasure to work with.  And I got excellent questions and feedback on my early draft paper, Representing Elon Musk, which focuses attention on the lawyer-client relationship under the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  I look forward to seeing the final published proceedings in two forthcoming books of the Stetson Law Review.

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Stetson2023(flyer)

March 27, 2023 in Conferences, Current Affairs, Ethics, Joan Heminway, Law Reviews, Research/Scholarhip, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 20, 2023

2023 Emory Law Transactional Law and Skills Conference & Tennessee's Business Law Journal

For those of you who may have been wondering about Emory Law's biennial Conference on the Teaching of Transactional Law and Skills, I have posted current information below.  I am pleased to see that our business law journal, Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law, is again publishing the proceedings.  This has been a great partnership between Emory Law and Tennessee Law over the years.  The proceedings of the 2021 Emory Law conference can be found here.

Just as I was ready to post this, I heard from the 2023-24 Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Bethany Wilson, that we are currently accepting articles for the Fall 2023 edition of Transactions. The articles published by Transactions typically focus on transitional business law issues and topics, including agency, antitrust, arbitration, bankruptcy, business associations, contracts, insurance, intellectual property, labor and employment, property, real estate, secured transactions, securities regulation, shareholder litigation, and tax. If you have any articles that you would be interested in having published by Transactions, please send them our way. Articles can be submitted via Scholastica or by emailing an abstract and copy of the article to [email protected].

 

image from dim.mcusercontent.com

February 20, 2023 in Conferences, Joan Heminway, Law Reviews, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 28, 2022

Criminal Insider Trading in Personal Networks

Earlier today, friend-of-the-BLPB Andrew Jennings released a podcast in his Business Scholarship Podcast series featuring me talking about my forthcoming piece in the Stetson Business Law Review, "Criminal Insider Trading in Personal Networks."  You may recall me blogging about this piece as part of my report on the 2022 Law and Society Association's 7th Global Meeting on Law and Society this past summer.  The SSRN abstract is as follows:

This Article describes and comments on criminal insider trading prosecutions brought over an eleven-year period. The core common element among these cases is that they all involve alleged tipper/tippee insider trading or misappropriation insider trading implicating information transfers between or among friends or family members (rather than merely business connections). The ultimate objectives of the Article are to explain and comment on the nature of these criminal friends-and-family insider trading cases and to posit reasons why friends and family become involved in criminal tipping and misappropriation--conduct that puts both the individual friends and family members and the relationships between and among them at risk.

I am grateful to be in the position of publishing this work in the near future (after a number of years of work on the larger project that includes the featured criminal cases).  I enjoyed talking to Andrew about it.  His podcast series has been a welcomed and valuable contribution to our field.  You can find out a lot about current business law research by listening to even a few of his podcasts.

The podcast featuring me is available through any of the following links:

Apple Podcasts and other podcast apps: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/joan-macleod-heminway-on-friends-and-family-insider/id1470002641?i=1000587717188

YouTube: Business Scholarship Podcast - Ep.164 – Joan MacLeod Heminway on Friends-and-Family Insider Trading

Website url: https://andrewkjennings.com/2022/11/27/joan-macleod-heminway-on-friends-and-family-insider-trading/

Check it out.  Consider subscribing!

November 28, 2022 in Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation, White Collar Crime | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 12, 2022

Financial Restructuring Roundtable - Call for Papers

BLPBimage001

Financial Restructuring Roundtable
Call for Papers 

The Financial Restructuring Roundtable (formerly the West Coast Bankruptcy Roundtable) will be held in person on April 6, 2023 in New York City. Spearheaded by Tony Casey, Samir Parikh, Robert Rasmussen, and Michael Simkovic, this invitation-only event brings together practitioners, jurists, scholars, and finance industry professionals to discuss important financial restructuring and business law issues. 

The Roundtable invites the submission of papers. Selected participants will receive a $2,000 stipend and have the opportunity to workshop their papers in an intimate, collegial setting. Last year’s attendees included Ken Ayotte, Douglas Baird, Bruce Bennett, Jared Ellias, Anna Gelpern, Marshall Huebner, Ed Morrison, Mark Roe, David Skeel, and Jamie Sprayregen. 

We seek papers exploring diverse topics and will be interested in interdisciplinary perspectives. Papers will be selected through a blind review process. Scholars are invited to submit a 3 – 5 page overview of a proposed paper. Submissions may be an introduction, excerpt from a longer paper, or extended abstract. The submission should be anonymized, and – aside from general citations to the author’s previous articles – all references to the author should be removed.

Please submit proposals by October 1, 2022. Invitations will be issued via email by November 1.  Working drafts of papers must be available for circulation to participants by February 10, 2023.  

Proposals – as well as questions and concerns – should be directed to Samir Parikh at [email protected]

The Financial Restructuring Roundtable is hosted by the University of Chicago Law School, USC Gould School of Law, and Lewis & Clark Law School in partnership with the Penn Restructuring Institute and Sidley Austin.

August 12, 2022 in Call for Papers, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 11, 2022

2022 Law and Society Association - 7th Global Meeting on Law and Society

image from www.lawandsociety.orgLast night, I happily found myself sitting at a café table above the River Douro in Porto, Portugal (see photo below) as part of a two-day hiatus before the Global Meeting on Law and Society in Lisbon.  I look forward to the conference and the rest of my time in this beautiful country.  Viva Portugal!

I am participating in a number of programs over the course of the conference as part of CRN 46 (Corporate and Securities Law in Society), a Law and Society Association collaborative research network that started as a female business law prof group that routinely organized programs at the annual conferences of the Law and Society Association.  I am very proud of this heritage.  The group continues to promote and support the scholarship of women and other underrepresented populations in the business law scholarly realm.

I no doubt will have more to say about the meeting once it has ended and I am back in the United States.  (I also am taking a personal trip to the Catalonia region of Spain before I return to Knoxville.)  But for today, I will offer information about my academic paper presentation at the conference.

On Saturday, July 16, I will present my paper entitled "Criminal Insider Trading in Personal Networks."  This piece was written for the 2022 Stetson Business Law Review symposium, held back in February, and will be published in a forthcoming issue of this new student-edited business law  journal.  (Readers may recall that I posted a call-for-papers almost a year ago for the symposium.) The abstract I posted for the Global Meeting on Law and Society is set forth below.

This article describes and makes observations about a proprietary data set comprising criminal insider trading prosecutions brought between 2008 and 2018. The core common element among these cases is that they all involve tipper-tippee insider trading or misappropriation insider trading involving friends or family members (rather than business connections). The ultimate objectives of the article are (1) to understand and comment on the nature of the friends-and-family criminal insider trading cases that are prosecuted and (2) to posit reasons why friends and family become involved in criminal tipping and misappropriation. Observations will include insights founded in legal doctrine, theory, and policy as well as psychology and sociology. The article is part of a larger project on friends-and-family insider trading cases.

As I work on finishing a paper on my larger project describing the entirety of the data set that I have been working on for the past few years (with several cohorts of students, who deserve massive credit), it seemed interesting--and potentially important--to share this piece of the puzzle with the Stetson Business Law Review symposium attendees and the audience at the Global Meeting on Law and Society.  I hope to get new insights on the article as well as the larger project from the audience at this international presentation.  Of course, if anyone who is not attending the meeting or this particular session has relevant thoughts on the article or the overall project, I welcome them.  Feel free to ask for a draft.

Saúde! (Toasting to your health, in Portuguese, with some vinho verde, also pictured below.)

Me(PortoCafe-July2022)

VinhoVerde(July2022)

 

July 11, 2022 in Conferences, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation, Travel, White Collar Crime | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 4, 2022

Celebrating Independence without the Trappings: A Business Law Prof "Take"

Stefan's Independence Day post is far more erudite than mine.  Kudos and thanks to him for the substantive legal content.  This post covers more of a teaching point--one that I often think about in the background but want to being to the fore here.

I am focused in writing this on things like family reunions, local holiday festivities, grilling out, and fireworks.  It has been a rocky road to the Fourth in these and other aspects this year.  Overlapping causes can easily be identified.  As if the continuing COVID-19 nightmare were not enough . . . .

I will start with COVID-19, however.  I have heard of many who are missing family and other events this weekend because of positive COVID-19 diagnoses, test results, or exposures.  I was sad to learn, for example, that Martina Navratilova had to miss the historic Wimbledon centennial celebration, including the Parade of Champions, yesterday.  But there is more.

The air travel debacles have been well publicized.  Weather, labor shortages, and other issues contribute to the flight changes and cancellations airlines need to make on this very popular travel weekend--expected to set records.  And gas prices have stymied the trips of some by land (again, at a time during which travel was expected to be booming), although news of some price drops in advance of the weekend was certainly welcomed.  Even for those who are well and able to travel to spend holiday time with family, it has been a challenge.

The cost of your cookout this year also may be higher, should you choose to have one.  Supply chain turmoils and the effects of inflation and the war in Ukraine all are listed as contributing factors.  (The linked article does note that strawberries are a good buy, nevertheless, which is welcome news to me.)

And yes, fireworks displays also have been disrupted.  The causes include both concerns about weather (dry conditions and flammables do not mix well!) as well as the impact of labor shortages, inflation, and other factors influencing the supply of goods.  Of course, there also is a high demand for fireworks in the re-opened socio-economic environment.  All have been widely reported.  See here, here, here, and here.

These holiday weekend disappointments create personal strife.  But why should a business law prof care about all of this? 

I find that stepping back and looking at the state of business at given times can be instructive in reflecting on the ways in which business law policy, theory, and doctrine do and should operate in practice.  In an inflationary period with labor shortages, what profit-seeking business would not be looking at customers, clients, and employees as an important constituencies?  In an era of supply chain dislocations, what business managers would not be focused on strong, positive relationships with those who sell them goods and services significant to their business?  And, of course, with investment returns of direct and indirect import to the continued supply of funding to business ventures, firms need to pay heed to investor concerns.  Note how these observations allow for commentary on principles of/underlying contract law, contract drafting, securities regulation, fiduciary duty in (and other elements of) business associations law, insurance law, and more.

Looking at legal theory, policy, and doctrine in practical contexts can useful to a business law prof for teaching, scholarship, and service--depending on the nature of a person's appointment and the institution at which the prof teaches.  The current Fourth of July woes are but one example of how those connections can be made.  But I want to invite folks to make them, especially in their teaching--in current courses (if you are teaching over the summer) and in fall and spring course planning, which I know many folks are now doing.

In closing, I send sympathetic vibes to all who had plans foiled by (or who decided to have a "staycation" and avoid) some or all of the holiday weekend dislocations I highlight in this post.  I hope you found joy in your Independence Day weekend nonetheless.

July 4, 2022 in Business Associations, Contracts, Corporate Finance, Current Affairs, Financial Markets, Insurance, Joan Heminway, Law School, Lawyering, Research/Scholarhip, Service, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

New Scholarly Journal Focused on Law Pedagogy!

This exciting news came to us earlier today from Emily Grant, Professor of Law and Co-Director, of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning at Washburn University School of Law:

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning is thrilled to be launching a new scholarly journal. The Journal of Law Teaching and Learning will publish scholarly articles about pedagogy and will provide authors with rigorous peer review. We hope to publish our first issue in Fall 2023.

If you have a scholarly article that might fit the needs of The Journal of Law Teaching and Learning, please consider submitting it directly to us via email at [email protected] or through the Scholastica platform.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Emily!  I know there is lots of good business law teaching going on out there that all can learn from.  I hope that some of you will consider sharing your teaching wisdom.

May 31, 2022 in Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)