Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Back to Basics: The Reciprocal Nature of Agency and Partnership Relationships

In Business Organizations, I am in the early part of teaching agency and partnership. In my last class, we discuss Cargill, which is a fairly typical case to open agency discussions.  I like Cargill, and I think it is a helpful teaching tool, but I think one needs to go beyond the case and facts to give a full picture of agency. 

Of note, the case deals only with "actual agency" -- for whatever reason, the plaintiffs did not argue "apparent agency" or estoppel in the alternative.  A. Gay Jenson Farms Co. v. Cargill, Inc., 309 N.W.2d 285, 290 n.6 (Minn. 1981) (“At trial, plaintiffs sought to establish actual agency by Cargill's course of dealing between 1973 and 1977 rather than 'apparent' agency or agency by estoppel, so that the only issue in this case is one of actual agency. ”). I think this explains a lot about how the case turns out.  That is, the court recognized that to find for the farmer, there had to be an actual agency relationship.  

I don't love this outcome because one of the hallmarks of an agency relationship is its reciprocal nature. That is, once we find an agency relationship, the principal is bound to the third party and the third party is bound to the principal. In contrast, in a case of estoppel, the principal may be bound (estopped from claiming there is not an agency relationship), but that finding only runs one way. The principal still cannot bind the third party.  

This is a problem for me in Cargill. That is, I don't see a scenario where a court would bind the farmers to Cargill on similar facts. (I know I am not the first to make this observation, but it seemed worth exploring a bit.) As such, I don't think it can rightly be deemed an agency relationship.  

Assume the facts from the case to show agency, but suppose instead Cargill was suing the farmers because the grain prices had increased dramatically and that the farmers had a contract with Warren (the purported agent) to deliver grain at $5/bushel.  However, spot prices were now $15/bushel.  Warren had not paid the farmers for a prior shipment and did not have the ability to pay now. If the contract is with Warren, the farmers should be able to now sell that grain in the market and take the extra $10/bushel for themselves.  However, if Cargill were really the principal on that contract, Cargill would have a right to buy it at $5/bushel.  I just don't see a court making such a ruling on these facts.  

For what it's worth, I do think there is an estoppel argument here, and I think the court Cargill court had ample facts to support finding Cargill a guarantor through other actions (promises to pay, name on checks, etc.), some of which might support an apparent authority argument, too. But because I don't see this relationship as an agency relationship as a two-way street, I don't think it can be an "actual agency" relationship. 

Incidentally, I see this reciprocal nature test as proper for partnerships, too.  That is, unless a court, on similar facts, would be willing to find a partnership where it works to the detriment of the plaintiffs, one cannot find a partnership.  Think, for example, of another classic case, Martin v. Peyton, 246 N.Y. 213 (N.Y. 1927).  There, creditors of the financial firm KNK sued KNK, as well as Peyton, Perkins, and Freeman (PPF) who had loaned KNK money. The claim was that PPF was not a mere lender, but had instead become partners of KNK because of the amount of control and profit sharing included in the loan arrangement.  If PPF were deemed partners of KNK, of course, PPF would be liable to the KNK creditors.  Here, the court determines that no partnership exists.  

While a reasonably close call,  I think this is right.  I don't think, based on a similar set of facts, that a court would find for PPF if the dispute were such that finding a partnership between PPF and KNK would reduce the amount KNK would pay its investors. If it can't run both ways, the partnership cannot exist.  I appreciate that in some cases, there simply is not analog to test the reciprocal nature of the relationship.  But where it's possible, I think this is a good test to determine whether there really is an agency or partnership relationship or if, instead, what we really have is a sympathetic plaintiff.   

 

January 22, 2019 in Agency, Business Associations, Joshua P. Fershee, Partnership, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 21, 2019

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

image from pixabay.com

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

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

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

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

(emphasis in the original)

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

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

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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Best/Worst Depictions of M & A Deals on TV or At The Movies?

I wasn't one of those people who decided to become a lawyer after watching To Kill a Mockingbird, Witness for the Prosecution, and Twelve Angry Men, but they were some of my favorite movies. These movies and TV shows like Suits, How to Get Away with Murder, and Law & Order "teach" students and the general public that practicing law is sexy and/or confrontational. When I teach, I try to demystify and clear up some of the falsehoods, and that's easy with litigation-type courses. When I taught Business Associations, it was a bit tougher but we often used movies or TV shows to illustrate the right and wrong ways to do things. As an extra credit assignment, I asked students to write a critique of what the writers missed, misrepresented, or completely misunderstood.

This semester, I will be teaching a transactional drafting course where the students represent either the buyer or the seller of a small, privately owned business. I would like to recommend movies or TV shows that don't deal with multibillion dollar mergers, but I haven't been watching too much TV lately. I'm looking for suggestions along the lines of Silicon Valley (which past students have loved) or Billions. If you have any suggestions, please comment below or email me at mweldon@law.miami.edu.

 

 

 

January 11, 2019 in Corporations, Current Affairs, Film, Law School, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching, Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, January 7, 2019

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

ILT&LHeader

CALL FOR PRESENTATION PROPOSALS

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

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

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

Accordingly, the Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses. Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants.  The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice on designing their presentations to be interactive.

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 17, 2018

New M&A Hornbook - Gevurtz & Sautter

image from images.westacademic.com

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 19, 2018

Teaching Corporate Fiduciary Duties, Again . . . .

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 29, 2018

Valuing and Visioning Collaboration - Thank You, Haskell!

Last Friday, I had the honor of being the keynote speaker for the 64th annual conference of the Southeastern Academy of Legal Studies in Business (SEALSB).  The invitation for this appearance was extended to me months ago by BLPB contributing editor Haskell Murray.  It was a treat to have the opportunity to mingle and talk shop with the attendees (some of whom I already knew).

The participants in SEALSB are largely business law faculty members teaching at business schools.  Having never before attended one of their meetings and as a bit of a "foreigner" in their midst, I wondered for quite a bit about what I should talk about.  Should I take the conservative route and present some of my work, hoping to dazzle the group with my legal knowledge (lol), or should I take a riskier approach and tell them what was really on my heart when I accepted Haskell's kind invitation?

I chose the latter.  I spoke for 15-20 minutes on "Valuing and Visioning Collaboration" between business law faculties in business and law schools and then took about 10 minutes of questions.  I started with the stories of two of my students--who could have been the students of anyone in the room.  Sarah took a business (accounting) major as an undergraduate and then came to law school; Ryan completed law school and went on to an MBA.  Both achieved lofty learning objectives and engaged in productive scholarship.  Both landed the jobs they wanted--ironically at the same firm (but years apart).  For me, the stories of these two students--what they did and how they became successful--illustrates both the power of business school law faculty and law school business law faculty working together and the high value in that relationship as to both teaching and scholarship.

I noted that, in these two (of the three principal) aspects of our common academic existence, teaching and scholarship, there are a number of ways that we can collaborate, offering examples of each:

  • conference organization and attendance;
  • work in interdisciplinary centers;
  • scholarship co-authorships;
  • co-teaching and teaching for each other;
  • co-currocular and extra-curricular programs (e.g., competitions and journals);
  • curriculum development; and
  • blogging.

I bet you can guess what blog I mentioned as an example in addressing that last collaborative method . . . .

I also noted, however, that there are barriers to these collaborations--or at least to some of them in certain contexts.  Those barriers may include: the fact that reaching across the aisle may be, for the relevant institutions and faculty members, new--that there is no history--and that it may therefore be more of a challenge to scope out and implement collaboration; differences in methodology, norms, and terminology; potential disagreements about institutional or personal credit allocation (including because of ego); questions about the necessary sources of funding and human capital; and overall, a lack of institutional or departmental incentives and rewards for collaboration (including credit in tenure and promotion deliberations at many schools).

Nevertheless, I offered that, even if institutions do not act to support collaborative efforts, we should strike out to overcome the barriers and engage with each other because the benefits are worth the costs.  To do so, however, we must both understand and truly appreciate the benefits of collaboration.  We also must be willing to take some attendant risk (or pick collaborative methods that avoid or limit risk).  I indicated that I plan to head down the collaborative path with increased focus.

To conclude my remarks, in the spirit of my invitation from Haskell to attend and speak at SEALSB, I encouraged the assembled crowd to join me on that collaborative journey, quoting from Patrick Lencioni's book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.  In that book, he wrote: "Remember teamwork begins by building trust.  And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability." [p. 58; emphasis added]  Here, I invite all of you who teach business law in a business or law school setting to embrace vulnerability and reach across the aisle to work with your business law colleagues.  And if you already have done so, please leave a comment on the outcome--positive or negative.

October 29, 2018 in Business School, Conferences, Haskell Murray, Joan Heminway, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Business Law Professor Jobs - Posted in 2018/2019

I may update this list from time to time; feel free to e-mail me with additions. Looks like a pretty strong hiring season for business law. Updated 12/04/18.

Law School Professor Positions – Business Specialty Sought

  1. Barry University 
  2. Belmont University
  3. Campbell University
  4. Cardozo
  5. Case Western University
  6. Duke University
  7. Drake University (Director of the Entrepreneurial/Transactional Law Clinic)
  8. Drake University (Assistant, Associate, or Professor of Law)
  9. Drexel University
  10. Emory University
  11. Florida A&M University 
  12. Louisiana State University
  13. Mercer University 
  14. Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  15. Saint John’s University
  16. Seton Hall University
  17. Southern Illinois University Carbondale (Professor of Practice) (9/17/18 deadline or until filled)
  18. University of Alabama
  19. University of Arizona (International Business Law Focus) (Review begins 9/28/18)
  20. University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  21. University of Buffalo
  22. University of California, Berkeley (initial review 8/15/18; accepted through 3/1/19)
  23. University of California, Davis
  24. University of California, Irvine
  25. University of Connecticut
  26. University of Kentucky
  27. University of Louisville
  28. University of Miami
  29. University of Nebraska
  30. University of New Mexico (Oil & Gas Focus)
  31. University of North Texas at Dallas
  32. University of Oregon (Business Law Clinic)
  33. University of Pittsburgh
  34. University of Richmond
  35. University of Saint Thomas (Miami)
  36. University of South Carolina
  37. University of Wyoming 
  38. Washington & Lee University
  39. Washington University (St. Louis)
  40. Willamette University

Legal Studies Professor Positions (Mostly Business Schools)

  1. Angelo State University
  2. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (10/1/18 first consideration)
  3. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (9/17/18 review begins)
  4. College of Charleston
  5. Community College of Philadelphia
  6. Contra Costa Community College (1/24/19 review closes)
  7. Dutchess Community College 
  8. James Madison University
  9. Kean University (Wenzhou, China) (posted 11/26/18)
  10. Indiana University, Bloomington (10/18/18 best consideration date) (and non-tenure track)
  11. Los Angeles Film School (Entertainment Business/Law Instructor)
  12. Mercy College (Director of Legal Studies)
  13. Morgan State University (opens 10/31/18 - closes 1/31/19)
  14. New Mexico University
  15. Prairie View A&M University 
  16. Princeton University (Fellowships) (11/14/18 deadline)
  17. Quinnipiac University
  18. Saint Joseph's University (Visiting Instructor)
  19. Saint Joseph's University (Assistant Professor)
  20. Santa Monica College
  21. State University of New York at Oswego (Instructor) (11/1/18 review begins)
  22. SUNY-Oswego (Instructor)
  23. Tulane University (Lecturers) and (Professors of Practice)
  24. University of the Bahamas (PHD in Law required)
  25. University of Georgia
  26. University of Michigan (10/15/18 guaranteed consideration)
  27. University of South Florida (Instructor) (JD/LLM or JD/PHD only)
  28. Virginia Tech (Instructor)
  29. Western Carolina University (10/1/18 review begins)

September 19, 2018 in Business Associations, Business School, Haskell Murray, Jobs, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Helping Business Law Students Develop Judgment, Wisdom . . .

I am still basking in the warm glow of having hosted a number of my fellow Business Law Prof Blog editors in Knoxville last week for our second annual "Connecting the Threads" event.  What a great day we had on Friday.  I could listen to these folks talk about business law until the cows come home (so to speak--no actual cows here!).

As BLPB readers may recall, the title of my paper for the 2018 "Connecting the Threads II" symposium is Lawyering for Social Enterprise.  I am sure that I will blog more on that topic in this space later--when my paper from the symposium has been published--but I want to offer here the three paragraphs of conclusion to the handout I prepared for the continuing legal education materials for the program, which focus on the need of judgment, discretion, and even wisdom.

Advising entrepreneurs, founders, promoters, and directors of social enterprises can be both satisfying and frustrating. The satisfaction most often comes from helping these businesses achieve financial success while also serving the public good. The frustration comes from the difficulty of the task in providing the necessary counsel—both in selecting the optimal legal form for the firm and in advising management as the business operates over time. These legal advisory contexts involving social enterprises are richly textured and immerse legal counsel in multi-level decision-making that impacts both internal and external business constituencies. The overall advisory environment implicates, among other things, hortatory text in the Preamble to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct providing that “[a] lawyer should strive to attain the highest level of skill, to improve the law and the legal profession and to exemplify the legal profession's ideals of public service.” In lawyering for social enterprise, the legal advisor’s skill and public service responsibilities interact meaningfully.

Said another way, the complex decision-making involved in lawyering for social enterprise presents obvious challenges for business venturers and their legal counsel that involve not only baseline professional responsibility matters of competence (comprising doctrinal knowledge and solid, rational legal analysis), diligence (by offering patient and perceptive insights in helping the client to choose from among available alternatives), and communication (with the goal of ensuring informed client decision-making), but also the exercise of appropriate discretion and professionalism that require the savvy built from doctrinal, theoretical, and practical experience and leadership capabilities. As Professor Jeff Lipshaw has written in his intriguing and engaging book Beyond Legal Reasoning: A Critique of Pure Lawyering, “I am firmly convinced that great lawyers . . . bring something more than keen analytical skills to the table. They bring some kind of wisdom—a metaphorical creativity—that transcends disciplinary boundaries, both within the law and without.” That brand of wisdom is especially important in the kinds of questions that arise in lawyering for social enterprise.

Accordingly, as lawyers representing social enterprises, we need to develop knowledge of a complex set of laws and well-practiced, contextual legal reasoning skills. But that, while necessary, is insufficient to the task. We also must impose judgment borne of a deep understanding of the nature of social enterprise and of our clients and their representatives working in that space. Only then can we fulfill our professional promise as legal advisors: to provide clients with both “an informed understanding of . . . legal rights and obligations” and an explanation of “their practical implications.”

(footnotes omitted; hypertext links added).

Agree?  Disagree?  Can we help students (and inexperienced members of the bar) develop complex decision-making rubrics that incorporate judgment and wisdom?  Can we teach judgment, wisdom, and the like to law students?  Forever the optimist, I have an intuition that we can.

And with that thought in mind, I close with a picture of a UT Law student who gives me that hope.  He commented on my draft paper at the symposium on Friday.  He has been in my classroom for two semesters now (taking Advanced Business Associations, Corporate Finance, and Mergers & Acquisitions).  He spoke about why limited liability companies may be a better legal option for organizing social enterprise firms than corporations.  Proud moment for him and for me.  He aced it.

TransactionsBLPB2018(Adgent)

 

September 17, 2018 in Joan Heminway, Lawyering, Social Enterprise, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Should Corporate Lawyers and Business Law Professors Be Talking About DAOs?

Did I lose you with the title to this post? Do you have no idea what a DAO is? In its simplest terms, a DAO is a decentralized autonomous organization, whose decisions are made electronically by a written computer code or through the vote of its members. In theory, it eliminates the need for traditional documentation and people for governance. This post won't explain any more about DAOs or the infamous hack of the Slock.it DAO in 2016. I chose this provocative title to inspire you to read an article entitled Legal Education in the Blockchain Revolution.

The authors Mark Fenwick, Wulf A. Kaal, and Erik P. M. Vermeulen discuss how technological innovations, including artificial intelligence and blockchain will change how we teach and practice law related to real property, IP, privacy, contracts, and employment law. If you're a practicing lawyer, you have a duty of competence. You need to know what you don't know so that you avoid advising on areas outside of your level of expertise. It may be exciting to advise a company on tax, IP, securities law or other legal issues related to cryptocurrency or blockchain, but you could subject yourself to discipline for doing so without the requisite background. If you teach law, you will have students clamoring for information on innovative technology and how the law applies. Cornell University now offers 28 courses on blockchain, and a professor at NYU's Stern School of Business has 235 people in his class. Other schools are scrambling to find professors qualified to teach on the subject. 

To understand the hype, read the article on the future of legal education. The abstract is below:

The legal profession is one of the most disrupted sectors of the consulting industry today. The rise of Legal Tech, artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, and, most importantly, blockchain technology is changing the practice of law. The sharing economy and platform companies challenge many of the traditional assumptions, doctrines, and concepts of law and governance, requiring litigators, judges, and regulators to adapt. Lawyers need to be equipped with the necessary skillsets to operate effectively in the new world of disruptive innovation in law. A more creative and innovative approach to educating lawyers for the 21st century is needed.

For more on how blockchain is changing business and corporate governance, come by my talk at the University of Tennessee on September 14th where you will also hear from my co-bloggers. In case you have no interest in my topic, it's worth the drive/flight to hear from the others. The descriptions of the sessions are below:

Session 1: Breach of Fiduciary Duty and the Defense of Reliance on Experts

Many corporate statutes expressly provide that directors in discharging their duties may rely in good faith upon information, opinions, reports, or statements from officers, board committees, employees, or other experts (such as accountants or lawyers). Such statutes often come into play when directors have been charged with breaching their procedural duty of care by making an inadequately informed decision, but they can be applicable in other contexts as well. In effect, the statutes provide a defense to directors charged with breach of fiduciary duty when their allegedly uninformed or wrongful decisions were based on credible information provided by others with appropriate expertise. Professor Douglas Moll will examine these “reliance on experts” statutes and explore a number of questions associated with them.

Session 2: Fact or Fiction: Flawed Approaches to Evaluating Market Behavior in Securities Litigation

Private fraud actions brought under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act require courts to make a variety of determinations regarding market functioning and the economic effects of the alleged misconduct. Over the years, courts have developed a variety of doctrines to guide how these inquiries are to be conducted. For example, courts look to a series of specific, pre-defined factors to determine whether a market is “efficient” and thus responsive to new information. Courts also rely on a variety of doctrines to determine whether and for how long publicly-available information has exerted an influence on security prices. Courts’ judgments on these matters dictate whether cases will proceed to summary judgment and trial, whether classes will be certified and the scope of such classes, and the damages that investors are entitled to collect. Professor Ann M. Lipton will discuss how these doctrines operate in such an artificial manner that they no longer shed light on the underlying factual inquiry, namely, the actual effect of the alleged fraud on investors.

Session 3: Lawyering for Social Enterprise

Professor Joan Heminway will focus on salient components of professional responsibility operative in delivering advisory legal services to social enterprises. Social enterprises—businesses that exist to generate financial and social or environmental benefits—have received significant positive public attention in recent years. However, social enterprise and the related concepts of social entrepreneurship and impact investing are neither well defined nor well understood. As a result, entrepreneurs, investors, intermediaries, and agents, as well as their respective advisors, may be operating under different impressions or assumptions about what social enterprise is and have different ideas about how to best build and manage a sustainable social enterprise business. Professor Heminway will discuss how these legal uncertainties have the capacity to generate transaction costs around entity formation and management decision making and the pertinent professional responsibilities implicated in an attorney’s representation of such social enterprises.

Session 4: Beyond Bitcoin: Leveraging Blockchain for Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Enterprise Risk Management

Although many people equate blockchain with bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts, Professor Marcia Narine Weldon will discuss how the technology also has the potential to transform the way companies look at governance and enterprise risk management. Companies and stock exchanges are using blockchain for shareholder communications, managing supply chains, internal audit, and cybersecurity. Professor Weldon will focus on eliminating barriers to transparency in the human rights arena. Professor Weldon’s discussion will provide an overview of blockchain technology and how state and nonstate actors use the technology outside of the realm of cryptocurrency.

Session 5: Crafting State Corporate Law for Research and Review

Professor Benjamin Edwards will discuss how states can implement changes in state corporate law with an eye toward putting in place provisions and measures to make it easier for policymakers to retrospectively review changes to state law to discern whether legislation accomplished its stated goals. State legislatures often enact and amend their business corporation laws without considering how to review and evaluate their effectiveness and impact. This inattention means that state legislatures quickly lose sight of whether the changes actually generate the benefits desired at the time off passage. It also means that state legislatures may not observe stock price reactions or other market reactions to legislation. Our federal system allows states to serve as the laboratories of democracy. The controversy over fee-shifting bylaws and corporate charter provisions offers an opportunity for state legislatures to intelligently design changes in corporate law to achieve multiple state and regulatory objectives. Professor Edwards will discuss how well-crafted legislation would: (i) allow states to compete effectively in the market for corporate charters; and (ii) generate useful information for evaluating whether particular bylaws or charter provisions enhance shareholder wealth.

Session 6: An Overt Disclosure Requirement for Eliminating the Duty of Loyalty

When Delaware law allowed parties to eliminate the duty of loyalty for LLCs, more than a few people were appalled. Concerns about eliminating the duty of loyalty are not surprising given traditional business law fiduciary duty doctrine. However, as business agreements evolved, and became more sophisticated, freedom of contract has become more common, and attractive. How to reconcile this tradition with the emerging trend? Professor Joshua Fershée will discuss why we need to bring a partnership principle to LLCs to help. In partnerships, the default rule is that changes to the partnership agreement or acts outside the ordinary course of business require a unanimous vote. See UPA § 18(h) & RUPA § 401(j). As such, the duty of loyalty should have the same requirement, and perhaps that even the rule should be mandatory, not just default. The duty of loyalty norm is sufficiently ingrained that more active notice (and more explicit consent) is necessary, and eliminating the duty of loyalty is sufficiently unique that it warrants unique treatment if it is to be eliminated.

Session 7: Does Corporate Personhood Matter? A Review of We the Corporations

Professor Stefan Padfield will discuss a book written by UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler, “We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights.” The highly-praised book “reveals the secret history of one of America’s most successful yet least-known ‘civil rights movements’ – the centuries-long struggle for equal rights for corporations.” However, the book is not without its controversial assertions, particularly when it comes to its characterizations of some of the key components of corporate personhood and corporate personality theory. This discussion will unpack some of these assertions, hopefully ensuring that advocates who rely on the book will be informed as to alternative approaches to key issues.

 

September 1, 2018 in Ann Lipton, Compliance, Conferences, Contracts, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, Current Affairs, Employment Law, Human Rights, Intellectual Property, International Business, Joan Heminway, Joshua P. Fershee, Law School, Lawyering, LLCs, Marcia Narine Weldon, Real Property, Shareholders, Social Enterprise, Stefan J. Padfield, Teaching, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 24, 2018

If Rockefeller Were A Coder- Business Entity Selection and Blockchain

Two weeks ago, I blogged about why lawyers, law professors, and judges should care about blockchain. I'll be speaking about blockchain, corporate governance, and enterprise risk management on September 14th at our second annual BLPB symposium at UT. To prepare, I'm reading as many articles as I can on blockchain, but it can be a bit mind numbing with all of the complexity. After hearing Carla Reyes speak at SEALS, I knew I had to read hers, if only because of the title If Rockefeller Were A Coder.

I recommend this article in general, but especially for those who teach business organizations and want to find a way to enliven your entity selection discussions. The abstract is below. 

The Ethereum Decentralized Autonomous Organization (“The DAO”), a decentralized, smart contract-based, investment fund with assets of $168 million, spectacularly crashed when one of its members exploited a flaw in the computer code and stole $55 million. In the wake of the exploit, many argued that participants in the DAO could be jointly and severally liable for the loss as partners in a general partnership. Others claimed that the DAO evidenced an entirely new form of business entity, one that current laws do not contemplate. Ultimately, the technologists cleaned up the exploit via technological means, and without engaging in any further legal analysis, many simply concluded that the DAO, other decentralized autonomous organizations, and the Ethereum protocol itself signify opportunities to do away with legal business organizational forms as they presently exist. In this Article, I argue that precisely the opposite is true. Instead of creating a new type of corporate entity through computer code, The DAO and other smart contract-based organizations may resurrect a very old, frequently forgotten, business entity—the business trust, which Rockefeller first used to solve the technology-business organization law divide of his time. 

This Article offers the first analysis of blockchain-based business ventures under business organization law at three separate levels of the technology: protocols, smart contracts and decentralized autonomous organizations. The Article first reveals the practical and theoretical deficits of using partnership as the only default entity option for blockchain-based business ventures. The Article then demonstrates that incorporation and LLC formation will also pose both practical and doctrinal difficulties for some such businesses. When faced with a similar conundrum in the nineteenth century, Rockefeller turned to the common law business trust as a substitute business entity. This Article argues that if Rockefeller were a coder building a blockchain-based business, he would again turn to the business trust as an additional choice of entity. The Article concludes by considering, in light of Rockefeller’s history, whether the law should anticipate any challenges with the rise of blockchain-based business trusts.

 

August 24, 2018 in Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, Current Affairs, Marcia Narine Weldon, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Why Lawyers, Law Professors, and Judges Should Care About Blockchain

We’re a month away from our second annual Business Law Professor Blog CLE, hosted at the University of Tennessee on Friday, September 14, 2018. We’ll discuss our latest research and receive comments from UT faculty and students. I’ve entitled my talk Beyond Bitcoin: Leveraging Blockchain for Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Enterprise Risk Management, and will blog more about that after I finish the article. This is a really long post, but it’s chock full of helpful links for novices and experts alike and highlights some really interesting work from our colleagues at other law schools.

Two weeks ago, I posted some resources to help familiarize you with blockchain. Here’s a relatively simple definition from John Giordani at Forbes:

Blockchain is a public register in which transactions between two users belonging to the same network are stored in a secure, verifiable and permanent way. The data relating to the exchanges are saved inside cryptographic blocks, connected in a hierarchical manner to each other. This creates an endless chain of data blocks -- hence the name blockchain -- that allows you to trace and verify all the transactions you have ever made. The primary function of a blockchain is, therefore, to certify transactions between people. In the case of Bitcoin, the blockchain serves to verify the exchange of cryptocurrency between two users, but it is only one of the many possible uses of this technological structure. In other sectors, the blockchain can certify the exchange of shares and stocks, operate as if it were a notary and "validate" a contract or make the votes cast in online voting secure and impossible to alter. One of the greatest advantages of the blockchain is the high degree of security it guarantees. In fact, once a transaction is certified and saved within one of the chain blocks, it can no longer be modified or tampered with. Each block consists of a pointer that connects it to the previous block, a timestamp that certifies the time at which the event actually took place and the transaction data.

These three elements ensure that each element of the blockchain is unique and immutable -- any request to modify the timestamp or the content of the block would change all subsequent blocks. This is because the pointer is created based on the data in the previous block, triggering a real chain reaction. In order for any alterations to happen, it would be necessary for the 50%-plus-one of the network to approve the change: a possible but hardly feasible operation since the blockchain is distributed worldwide between millions of users.

In case that wasn’t clear enough, here are links to a few of my favorite videos for novices. These will help you understand the rest of this blog post.

To help prepare for my own talk in Tennessee, I attended a fascinating discussion at SEALS on Thursday moderated by Dean Jon Garon of Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law called Blockchain Technology and the Law.

For those of you who don’t know how blockchain technology can relate to your practice or teaching, I thought I would provide a few questions raised by some of the speakers. I’ve inserted some (oversimplified)links for definitions. The speakers did not include these links, so if I have used one that you believe is incomplete or inaccurate, do not attribute it to them.

Professor Del Wright, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law;

Del started the session by talking about the legal issues in blockchain consensus models. He described consensus models as the backbones for users because they: 1) allow users to interact with each other in a trustless manner; 2) ensure the integrity of the ledger in both normal and adversarial situations; and 3) create a “novel variety of networks with extraordinary potential” if implemented correctly. He discussed both permissioned (e.g. Ripple) and permissionless (Bitcoin) systems and how they differ. He then explained Proof of Work blockchains supported by miners (who solve problems to add blocks to the blockchain) and masternodes (who provide the backbone support to the blockchain). He pointed out how blockchains can reduce agency costs and problems of asymmetrical information and then focused on their utility in financial markets, securities regulation, and corporate governance. Del compared the issues related to off-chain governance, where decisionmaking first takes place on a social level and is then actively encoded into the protocol by the developers (used by Bitcoin and Ethereum) to on-chain governance, where developers broadcast their improvement protocols on-chain and then, once approved, those improvements are implemented into the code. He closed by listing a number of “big unanswered issues” related to regulatory guidance, liability for the performance of the technology and choice of consensus, global issues, and GDPR and other data privacy issues.

Professor Catherine Christopher, Texas Tech University School of Law;

Catherine wants to help judges think about smart contracts. She asked, among other things, how judges should address remedies, what counts as substantial performance, and how smart contract audits would work. She questioned whether judges should use a consumer protection approach or instead follow a draconian approach by embracing automation and enforcing smart contracts as drafted to discourage their adoption by those who are not sophisticated enough to understand how they work.

Professor Tonya Evans, University of New Hampshire School of Law (follow her on Twitter; see her blog on blockchain here);

Tonya focuses on blockchain and intellectual property. Her talked raised the issues of non-fungible tokens generated through smart contracts and the internet of value. She used the example of cryptokitties, where players have the chance to collect and breed digital cats. She also raised the question of what kind of technology can avoid infringement. For more on how blockchain can disrupt copyright law, read her post here.

Professor Rebecca Bratspies, CUNY School of Law;

In case you didn’t have enough trust issues with blockchain and cryptocurrency, Rebecca’s presentation focused on the “halo of immutability” and asked a few central questions: 1) why should we trust the miners not to collude for a 51% attack 2) why should we trust wallets, which aren’t as secure as people think; and 3) why should we trust the consensus mechanism? In response, some members of the audience noted that blockchain appeals to a libertarian element because of the removal of the government from the conversation.

Professor Carla Reyes, Michigan State University College of Law- follow her on Twitter at Carla Reyes (@Prof_CarlaReyes);

Carla talked about crypto corporate governance and the potential fiduciary duties that come out of thinking of blockchains as public trusts or corporations. She explained that governance happens on and off of the blockchain mechanisms through social media outlets such as Redditt. She further noted that many of those who call themselves “passive economic participants” are actually involved in governance because they comment on improvement processes. She also noted the paradox that off chain governance doesn’t always work very well because participants don’t always agree, but when they do agree, it often leads to controversial results like hard forks. Her upcoming article will outline potential fiduciaries (miner and masternode operators for example), their duties, and when they apply. She also asked the provocative question of whether a hard fork is like a Revlon event.

Professor Charlotte Tschider, William Mitchell College of Law (follow her on Twitter);

As a former chief privacy officer, I have to confess a bias toward Charlotte’s presentation. She talked about blockchain in healthcare focusing on these questions: will gains in cybersecurity protection outweigh specific issues for privacy or other legal issues (data ownership); what are the practical implications of implementing a private blockchain (consortium, patient-initiated, regulatory-approved); can this apply to other needed uses, including medical device applications; how might this technology work over geographically diverse regulatory structures; and are there better applications for this technology (e.g. connected health devices)? She posited that blockchain could work in healthcare because it is decentralized, has increased security, improves access controls, is more impervious to unauthorized change, could support availability goals for ransomware attacks and other issues, is potentially interoperable, could be less expensive, and could be controlled by regulatory branch, consortium, and the patient. She closed by raising potential legal issues related to broad data sharing, unanswered questions about private implementations, privacy requirements relating to the obligation of data deletion and correction (GDPR in the EU, China’s cybersecurity law, etc); and questions of data ownership in a contract.

Professor Eric Chason, William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law;

Eric closed by discussing the potential tax issue for hard forks. He explained that after a hard fork, a new coin is created, and asked whether that creates income because the owner had one entitlement and now has two pieces of ownership. He then asked whether hard forks are more like corporate reorganizations or spinoffs (which already have statutory taxation provisions) or rather analogous to a change of wealth. Finally, he asked whether we should think about these transactions like a contingent right to do something in the future and how that should be valued.

Stay tuned for more on these and other projects related to blockchain. I will be sure to post them when they are done. But, ignore blockchain at your peril. There’s a reason that IBM, Microsoft, and the State Department are spending money on this technology. If you come to UT on September 15th, I’ll explain how other companies, the UN, NASDAQ, and nation states are using blockchain beyond the cryptocurrency arena.

 

August 12, 2018 in Commercial Law, Compliance, Conferences, Contracts, Corporate Governance, Corporations, Current Affairs, Entrepreneurship, Human Rights, Law School, Lawyering, Legislation, Marcia Narine Weldon, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation, Shareholders, Teaching, Technology, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Business and Environmental Law Professor Openings at University of Miami School of Law

The University of Miami School of Law seeks entry-level and tenured candidates to join our intellectual community beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year. While these faculty hires are open to a variety of teaching and scholarly interests, the Law School has particular needs in Environmental Law and Business Law.
 
The Law School is committed to diversity of all kinds in its faculty, students, and staff and encourages applications from candidates who will increase the diversity of the Miami Law community.  The University of Miami is an Equal Opportunity Employer that does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, disability, religion, age, status in the uniformed services of the United States (including veteran status), marital status, status as a victim of domestic violence, citizenship status, genetic predisposition, carrier status, or any other classification protected under federal, state, or local law.
 
Entry-level applicants are encouraged to use the AALS submission process to apply.  Lateral applicants may submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, draft work-in-progress, and teaching evaluations (if available) in PDF format to Professor Drew Dawson, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, at adawson@law.miami.edu.

August 10, 2018 in Business Associations, Jobs, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 16, 2018

On Losing A Rising Star Business Law Colleague - A Tribute to Jonathan G. Rohr

Had I not been taking pictures on the beach during a morning walk with dear college friends on the New England shoreline, I would not have seen the incoming call on my silenced cell phone--a call from a business law colleague from UT Law that I figured I ought to answer.  But the call was not, as I expected, a request for help with a research or teaching question.  Instead, this colleague was calling to inform me of an email message from our Dean letting us know that our junior business law colleague, Jonathan Rohr, had died the day before.  (I am linking here to a YouTube video featuring Jonathan, which will tell you much more about the man that he was than any CV or website.)

Jonathan came into my life almost two years ago when he interviewed with UT Law for a permanent, tenure track position after VAP-ing at his law alma mater, Cardozo.  From the start, Jonathan impressed me and others on the Appointments Committee with his intellect, his enthusiasm for the faculty task, and his intensity.  He survived the appointments tournament and came to work with us last summer.  Before his untimely death, he already had been invited to comment on a paper at last year's AALS annual meeting and had symposium and virtual symposium invitations--as a first-year tenure-track colleague.  His scholarship was thoughtful and lucidly written.  He worked hard to make every piece better and better and better through editing.  He was a popular and revered teacher.  He was contributing to our College of Law community in significant ways.   I could not have been prouder to have him as a colleague and tried to introduce him to everyone imaginable to get his permanent teaching career off to the right start. 

I think it's fair to say that no one was more excited for Jonathan's arrival at UT Law than I.  He was what my dear husband calls a "Mini-Me"--someone at the early stages of a career trajectory with a similar professional background who aspires to similar career goals and seeks to be mentored by me along the way.  Most of the Mini-Mes that I have worked with were and are law practice colleagues and students.  Jonathan was my first faculty Mini-Me.  I had plans for our ongoing work together.  I think he had plans of that kind, too.  We had started working in a number of areas informally.  We drank beer and discussed strategies for research, teaching, tenure, promotion, etc.  The one academic year that we had together was idyllic in so many ways--too good to be true, for me, as I often observed.  Our last conversation about his current work and my current work was last week.  He was writing a guest post for this blog.  He promised to send me his most recent essay in draft form for review.  On July 11, he sent the essay to me and a few others.  Two days later, he was no longer with us.  Unbelievable.

And so, on Saturday, after my colleague delivered the news during that beach walk, I stopped and cried.  I asked "why?" so many times and shook my head in disbelief as I moaned and the tears fell.  What else could I do?  The once colorful, happy beach scene turned gray.  Over 20 years ago, I remember my husband relating that the colors were taken from him when his Dad, a vibrant graphic artist, died too young (but at a much older age than Jonathan).  I understood in that moment on the beach exactly what my husband meant.  Yet, I knew I had to move on.  My friends were way down the beach by that time.  They needed to know what had transpired.  I needed their support and love; and I knew I needed them to to try help me make sense out of the world around me.  Everything was and remains a bit off-kilter.  I know many of you can identify with that feeling.

As I walked down the beach, head bowed low, the first thing that stood out for me on the bland, gray sand was this rock.

BeachRock

It appeared blue in the sunshine--a striking blue in the dull sandy grayness--although in other lights it takes on more charcoal color, as it does in this photo.  Like Jonathan, it stood out as special, a near-perfect specimen among many others.  In finishing the walk, I picked up several other objects that stood out from others on the beach.  Somehow, that effort comforted me.  I cannot really say why . . . .

Over the past few years, those of us who research and teach business law have mourned the loss of a number of amazing colleagues.  These passings have hit all of us hard, professionally and personally.  But the loss of Jonathan Rohr from our midst feels qualitatively different to me, as a close colleague and mentor.  It will take time for me and many others who knew him to even begin to process this tragic loss.  Perhaps this post will begin a process of healing for me.  But I do not know that I ever will make sense out of this.  We have lost a man that many had loved and respected.  In his way-too-short life, he touched colleagues and students, as well as family and friends.  His enthusiasm and love for life was so palpable and contagious; I still feel that energy now.  I hope that sense of connection lingers.  It also is a comfort.  

I dedicate this post to Jonathan, with offers of sympathy and love to his wonderful wife, Jing, and the rest of their family.  I am so glad that he became part of my life and so mournfully sad that he has left us.

July 16, 2018 in Joan Heminway, Law School, Research/Scholarhip, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (13)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Adjuncts Needed for New 1L Skills Course at U.C. Davis

I received the following today through the AALS teaching listserv.  It may be of interest to some of you or to folks you may know in the region.

++++++++++++++

Dear Friends:

I am happy to report that the UC Davis School of Law is offering a mandatory skills course for 1Ls starting in Spring 2019. It will include segments on negotiation and client interviewing. If you are in northern California, or plan to be January through March 2019, I hope you will consider applying for one of the six adjunct positions relating to this exciting new course. Information here: https://recruit.ucdavis.edu/apply/JPF02281

Donna Shestowsky, J.D., Ph.D.
Director of Lawyering Skills Education
Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law
Martin Luther King Jr. Research Scholar
Affiliated Faculty, Department of Psychology, UC Davis
dshest@ucdavis.edu
Phone: (530) 754-5693
My latest research, published in the Harvard Negotiation Law Review, can be found here:
https://ssrn.com/abstract=2945706

July 2, 2018 in Joan Heminway, Jobs, Law School, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Emory Law Transactional Law and Skills Conference

It was great to see co-blogger Marcia Narine Weldon (albeit briefly) at the Sixth Biennial Conference: To Teach is to Learn Twice: Fostering Excellence in Transactional Law and Skills Education hosted by Emory Law's Center for Transactional Law and Practice.  I had the opportunity to present and attend some of the presentations on Friday.  I had to leave Saturday morning to teach Contract Law to ProMBA students in Knoxville Saturday afternoon, however, and missed hearing half the conference program as a result.  Even on Friday, due to the number of super concurrent sessions, I had to forego a lot of great presentations.  Consequently, I was delighted to read Marcia's post on Tina Stark's presentation.  Great stuff.

At the conference, I offered insights on my document "treasure hunt" teaching method in a "try this" session on Friday afternoon.  More specifically, I talked about and demonstrated a corporate finance treasure hunt.  After laying a substantive and practical foundation, I sent the audience, some of whom are not corporate finance folks, on a search for blank check preferred stock provisions in Delaware corporate charters.  Then, I called on them to share their search logic and make observations about what they found, relating their treasure to the example I had given them.  They did so well with this exercise!  Everyone found a blank check stock provision, and many in the audience were willing to talk about what they found.

I went to several other "try this" sessions on Friday (billed as forums "for individual presenters to demonstrate in-class activities").  They included:

The Creative Aspect of Transactional Lawyering: Structuring the Transaction and Drafting the Agreement to Resolve a Legal Issue

John F. Hilson
UCLA School of Law

Stephen L. Sepinuck
Gonzaga University School of Law

Teaching Contract Law, Terms, and Practice Skills Through Problems

Nadelle Grossman
Marquette University Law School

Teach the Basics of Contract Drafting, Corporate Governance & Transactional Law in One Sentence

Neil J. Wertleib
UCLA School of Law

Each session offered much to think about, a hallmark of this conference.  I plan to consider over the course of the summer--and beyond--how I may use some of the demonstrated techniques in my teaching and writing.  The proceedings of the conference will be published in principal part in Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law, UT Law's business law journal, during the 2018-19 academic year.  I will try to remember to let folks know when that volume of Transactions is available.

This week, I am off to New York and Toronto for two additional conferences (in New York, the Impact Investing Legal Working Group (IILWG)/Grunin Center for Law and Social Entrepreneurship’s 2018 Conference on “Legal Issues in Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing–in the US and Beyond,” and in Toronto, the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting on "Law at the Crossroads: Le Droit à la Croisée des Chemins").  I am at the airport waiting for my first (delayed) flight as a type this.  I expect to be able to report out on both next week.

June 4, 2018 in Conferences, Corporate Finance, Joan Heminway, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Does Every Law Student Need to Learn Transactional Lawyering Skills?

Greetings from Atlanta, Georgia, site of the Emory Transactional Law & Skills Conference. After only a few hours of presentations, I'm already inspired to make some changes in my new transactional lawyering class. I will write about some of the lessons learned next week. Today, I want to share some of Tina Stark's remarks from the conference dinner that ended moments ago. Although she initially teased the audience by stating that she would make "subversive" statements, nothing that she said would scandalize most law students or surprise practicing lawyers.

Her "radical" proposal entailed having transactional skills education be a part of every law student's curriculum. In support, she cited ABA Standard 301(a), which states:

OBJECTIVES OF PROGRAM OF LEGAL EDUCATION (a) A law school shall maintain a rigorous program of legal education that prepares its students, upon graduation, for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession.

She argued that for the academy to meet this standard, schools must go beyond a narrow reading of ABA rules and provide every student with the foundation to practice transactional law, particularly because half of graduates will practice in that area even if they don't know it while they are in law school. She also referenced ABA Standard 302, which states in part:

LEARNING OUTCOMES A law school shall establish learning outcomes that shall, at a minimum, include competency in the following: (a) Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law; (b) Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context.

Stark correctly observed that notwithstanding the litigation focus in law school, lawyers write more than predictive memos and briefs. She emphasized that competency in oral and communication skills is particularly important for deal lawyers.

If she came even close to being "radical," (and I don't think she did), it's because she went beyond calling on more schools to offer, much less require drafting courses. Instead, she recommended that schools add at least one credit to the first year contracts course so that students can learn the structure of contracts and build a foundation for more advanced work. She likened law students failing to learn the parts of a contract to medical students studying anatomy without doing dissections. 

She anticipated the argument that schools do not have enough time to add an extra credit to the basic contracts course by countering that another first year course could be moved to the second year. This would allow professors to spend the first part of the semester teaching 1Ls to read and analyze a contract so that they can understand business drivers when reading cases in contracts and property class. 

Although some in the academy might resist the proposal, I believe that members of the bar and business community would applaud this move. If the long waiting list for my transactional lawyering course and similar ones around the country are any indication, law students would appreciate more balance in the curriculum as well. 

 

 

June 1, 2018 in Conferences, Contracts, Corporations, Law School, Lawyering, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching, Writing | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Teaching Corporate Law Globally - Recommended Text

I am committed to introducing my business law students to business law doctrine and policy both domestically and internationally.  The Business Associations text that I coauthored has comparative legal observations in most chapters.  I have taught Cross-Border Mergers & Acquisitions with a group of colleagues and will soon be publishing a book we have coauthored.  And I taught comparative business law courses for four years in study abroad programs in Brazil and the UK.  

In the study abroad programs, I struggled in finding suitable texts, cobbling together several relatively small paperbacks and adding some web-available materials.  The result was suboptimal.  I yearned for a single suitable text.  In my view, texts for study abroad courses should be paperback and cover all of the basics in the field in a succinct fashion, allowing for easy portability and both healthy discussion to fill gaps and customization, as needed, to suit the instructor's teaching and learning objectives.

And so it was with some excitement--but also some healthy natural skepticism--that I requested a review copy of Corporations: A Comparative Perspective (International Edition), coauthored by my long-time friend Marco Ventoruzzo (Bocconi and Penn State) and five others (all scholars from outside the United States), and published by West Academic Publishing.  I am pleased to say that if/when I teach international and comparative corporate governance and finance (especially in Europe) in the future, I will/would assign this book.  It is a paperback text that, despite its 530 pages, is both reasonably comprehensive and manageable.

The book is divided into ten chapters, starting with basic "building blocks" of comparative corporate law and ending (before some brief final thoughts) with unsolicited business combinations.  U.S. law is, for the most part, the centerpiece of the chapters, which consist principally of original text, cases, statutes, law journal article excerpts, and (in certain circumstances) helpful diagrams.  The methodological introduction, which I found quite helpful and user-friendly, notes that the coauthors "often (not always) start our analysis with the U.S. perspective."  (xxvi)  Yet, despite the anchoring use of U.S. law throughout the book, it somehow has a very European feel.  The coauthors note the emphasis on "U.S., U.K., major European continental civil law systems (France, Germany, Italy) and European Union law, and Japan," (id.) but my observation is that the words and phrasing also have a European flair.  Of course, this is unsurprising, given that all but one of the coauthors hail from European universities.  I note this without praise or criticism, but I mention it so others can assess its impact in their own teaching environments.

I recommend that those teaching in study abroad (or other courses focusing on comparative corporate law) review a copy of this book.  I will look forward to teaching from it the next time I need an international or comparative law teaching text for use in or outside the United States.

March 26, 2018 in Business Associations, Comparative Law, Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Corporations, International Business, International Law, Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 19, 2018

2018 Emory Transactional Law and Skills Conference - Last Chance for Submissions

As you may recall, I posted back in January on Emory Law's upcoming biennial conference on transactional law and skills, “To Teach is to Learn Twice:  Fostering Excellence in Transactional Law and Skills Education.” The conference is scheduled for Friday, June 1, 2018 and Saturday, June 2, 2018. 

I learned earlier today that the conference organizers are offering one last chance for interested transactional law and skills instructors to submit a proposal and have extended the proposal deadline through Friday, March 30, 2018.  They do ask that folks submit proposals as soon as possible.  Even if you do not submit a proposal, you can register for the conference now.   

Our friends at Emory Law desire to reach far and wide to embrace the whole community of transactional law and skills educators, so please pass this on and encourage your colleagues–including new teachers and adjunct professors (both able to participate at reduced registration fees)–to attend.  I plan to be there again, although I can only attend the first day of the conference this year.  I always learn something at these conferences.  They attract a great, thoughtful community of teachers and scholars.

March 19, 2018 in Conferences, Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Seeking Advice on Transactional Drafting Summer Course

I love teaching courses that develop practical skills. This summer, I am teaching a 2-credit transactional drafting course for the first time. In the past, I have taught 2-credit skills courses that had a drafting element, but the students enrolled in those courses typically had taken business associations, and therefore we could do entity selection exercises, portions of bylaws, operating agreements,  asset purchase agreements, NDAs, and employment agreement clauses. This time, BA will not be a prerequisite, and I am likely to have a number of rising 2Ls enroll.

I have a pile of proposed textbooks that I'm looking to for inspiration (and to select for the course), but I'm specifically seeking tips and best practices for teaching these skills to students who are fresh off of their 1L year. I plan to have a number of practicing lawyers speak to the students about common pitfalls in negotiating and drafting because I have the luxury of one three-hour block of time per week. At a minimum, students will draft, edit, and redline (where appropriate) a retainer letter, time sheets, a nondisclosure agreement, an independent contractor or employment agreement, and a license or settlement agreement. The goal is to have them draft some documents from scratch, some from forms, learn interviewing and negotiation techniques, and apply some business judgment to address client concerns.

What has worked (or bombed) when you've taught a transactional drafting class, especially to those who have not taken BA? For the practicing attorneys, what would you want your interns or junior associates to have worked on prior to joining you? Inquiring minds want to know. Please comment below or feel free to email me at mweldon@law.miami.edu.

 

March 9, 2018 in Contracts, Law School, Marcia Narine Weldon, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)