Friday, September 24, 2021
I'm so excited to present later this morning at the University of Tennessee College of Law Connecting the Threads Conference today at 10:45 EST. Here's the abstract from my presentation. In future posts, I will dive more deeply into some of these issues. These aren't the only ethical traps, of course, but there's only so many things you can talk about in a 45-minute slot.
All lawyers strive to be ethical, but they don’t always know what they don’t know, and this ignorance can lead to ethical lapses or violations. This presentation will discuss ethical pitfalls related to conflicts of interest with individual and organizational clients; investing with clients; dealing with unsophisticated clients and opposing counsel; competence and new technologies; the ever-changing social media landscape; confidentiality; privilege issues for in-house counsel; and cross-border issues. Although any of the topics listed above could constitute an entire CLE session, this program will provide a high-level overview and review of the ethical issues that business lawyers face.
Specifically, this interactive session will discuss issues related to ABA Model Rules 1.5 (fees), 1.6 (confidentiality), 1.7 (conflicts of interest), 1.8 (prohibited transactions with a client), 1.10 (imputed conflicts of interest), 1.13 (organizational clients), 4.3 (dealing with an unrepresented person), 7.1 (communications about a lawyer’s services), 8.3 (reporting professional misconduct); and 8.4 (dishonesty, fraud, deceit).
Discussion topics will include:
- Do lawyers have an ethical duty to take care of their wellbeing? Can a person with a substance use disorder or major mental health issue ethically represent their client? When can and should an impaired lawyer withdraw? When should a lawyer report a colleague?
- What ethical obligations arise when serving on a nonprofit board of directors? Can a board member draft organizational documents or advise the organization? What potential conflicts of interest can occur?
- What level of technology competence does an attorney need? What level of competence do attorneys need to advise on technology or emerging legal issues such as SPACs and cryptocurrencies? Is attending a CLE or law school course enough?
- What duties do lawyers have to educate themselves and advise clients on controversial issues such as business and human rights or ESG? Is every business lawyer now an ESG lawyer?
- What ethical rules apply when an in-house lawyer plays both a legal role and a business role in the same matter or organization? When can a lawyer representing a company provide legal advice to an employee?
- With remote investigations, due diligence, hearings, and mediations here to stay, how have professional duties changed in the virtual world? What guidance can we get from ABA Formal Opinion 498 issued in March 2021? How do you protect confidential information and also supervise others remotely?
- What social media practices run afoul of ethical rules and why? How have things changed with the explosion of lawyers on Instagram and TikTok?
- What can and should a lawyer do when dealing with a businessperson on the other side of the deal who is not represented by counsel or who is represented by unsophisticated counsel?
- When should lawyers barter with or take an equity stake in a client? How does a lawyer properly disclose potential conflicts?
- What are potential gaps in attorney-client privilege protection when dealing with cross-border issues?
If you need some ethics CLE, please join in me and my co-bloggers, who will be discussing their scholarship. In case Joan Heminway's post from yesterday wasn't enough to entice you...
Professor Anderson’s topic is “Insider Trading in Response to Expressive Trading”, based upon his upcoming article for Transactions. He will also address the need for business lawyers to understand the rise in social-media-driven trading (SMD trading) and options available to issuers and their insiders when their stock is targeted by expressive traders.
Professor Baker’s topic is “Paying for Energy Peaks: Learning from Texas' February 2021 Power Crisis.” Professor Baker will provide an overview of the regulation of Texas’ electric power system and the severe outages in February 2021, explaining why Texas is on the forefront of challenges that will grow more prominent as the world transitions to cleaner energy. Next, it explains competing electric power business models and their regulation, including why many had long viewed Texas’ approach as commendable, and why the revealed problems will only grow more pressing. It concludes by suggesting benefits and challenges of these competing approaches and their accompanying regulation.
Professor Heminway’s topic is “Choice of Entity: The Fiscal Sponsorship Alternative to Nonprofit Incorporation.” Professor Heminway will discuss how for many small business projects that qualify for federal income tax treatment under Section 501(a) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, the time and expense of organizing, qualifying, and maintaining a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation may be daunting (or even prohibitive). Yet there would be advantages to entity formation and federal tax qualification that are not available (or not easily available) to unincorporated business projects. Professor Heminway addresses this conundrum by positing a third option—fiscal sponsorship—and articulating its contextual advantages.
Professor Moll’s topic is “An Empirical Analysis of Shareholder Oppression Disputes.” This panel will discuss how the doctrine of shareholder oppression protects minority shareholders in closely held corporations from the improper exercise of majority control, what factors motivate a court to find oppression liability, and what factors motivate a court to reject an oppression claim. Professor Moll will also examine how “oppression” has evolved from a statutory ground for involuntary dissolution to a statutory ground for a wide variety of relief.
Professor Murray’s topic is “Enforcing Benefit Corporation Reporting.” Professor Murray will begin his discussion by focusing on the increasing number of states that have included express punishments in their benefit corporation statutes for reporting failures. Part I summarizes and compares the statutory provisions adopted by various states regarding benefit reporting enforcement. Part II shares original compliance data for states with enforcement provisions and compares their rates to the states in the previous benefit reporting studies. Finally, Part III discusses the substance of the benefit reports and provides law and governance suggestions for improving social benefit.
All of this and more from the comfort of your own home. Hope to see you on Zoom today and next year in person at the beautiful UT campus.
September 24, 2021 in Colleen Baker, Compliance, Conferences, Contracts, Corporate Governance, Corporate Personality, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Delaware, Ethics, Financial Markets, Haskell Murray, Human Rights, International Business, Joan Heminway, John Anderson, Law Reviews, Law School, Lawyering, Legislation, Litigation, M&A, Management, Marcia Narine Weldon, Nonprofits, Research/Scholarhip, Securities Regulation, Shareholders, Social Enterprise, Teaching, Unincorporated Entities, White Collar Crime | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, August 16, 2021
At UT Law, our orientation period for the new academic year began on Friday. I am back in the classroom today teaching a two-session introductory period course on case briefing and legal analysis. Regular classes begin on Wednesday.
The struggle I had in creating my syllabi this year was real. Under current prescriptions and proscriptions, we are teaching in person, with no physical distancing, masked. But masks are not required throughout the building. Moreover, while vaccination is encouraged, it is not required for faculty, staff, or students, and we are prohibited from asking faculty and staff colleagues and students about vaccination status. There have been more student accommodation requests than usual in my large-section course. In general, COVID-19, the political divide, and social (especially racial) unrest--which overlap to create a veritable triple pandemic--are seemingly collectively conspiring against us in so many ways, including in the educational setting. I am feeling the weight of it all.
But undaunted, I move forward in my law teaching! I have addressed some key concerns in my syllabi this semester. I include two sections from my syllabi below that may be of interest. Feel free to dismiss or use these as you will. Most of the substance of the "COVID-19;community heatlh" piece is from language provided to campus faculty by our Provost's office, through our Teaching & Learning Innovation group (part of our Division of Faculty Affairs). The rest comes from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidance.
COVID-19; community health: The campus administration has advised us that, with the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, students, faculty, and staff will be required to wear masks in classrooms, labs, and for indoor academic events required for students such as orientation. This requirement will remain in place until conditions improve and the university communicates new instructions.
The university strongly recommends that all members of the campus community be vaccinated for their own protection, to prevent disruption to the semester, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Vaccination information and appointment signups are available at tiny.utk.edu/vaccine. The Student Health Center medical staff is available to students to answer questions or discuss concerns about vaccines, and the center provides vaccines free of charge for anyone 18 years or older who would like one.
If you think you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, you should contact the Student Health Center or your preferred health care provider. You can also contact the university’s COVID-19 support team for guidance by filling out the COVID-19 self-isolation form at covidform.utk.edu.
You must not attend class if you have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in the isolation period, if you have COVID-19 symptoms and have not been cleared by a medical provider, or if you are an unvaccinated close contact in the quarantine period.
If you need to miss class for illness, please contact me by telephone at 865-974-3813 or by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the course of the semester, you can find more information and updates at utk.edu/coronavirus.
We also are advised that following other simple practices also promotes good health in and outside the classroom. These include:
- maintaining physical distance from others when possible;
- avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces;
- frequent and thorough hand-washing;
- covering coughs and sneezes;
- cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces; and
- monitoring your personal health daily.
More information on observing solid general health practices in the current environment is available here.
I know this is not where we all wanted to be right now in terms of public health risks in our activities together. It remains a lot for us to deal with mentally and emotionally, as well as physically. We remain committed to the safety and health of everyone in our community—a professional education community within a larger university campus. As service professionals, we are counseled in the Preamble to the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct to “demonstrate respect for the legal system and for those who serve it.” And those of you who consider yourselves to be VFLs (Vols for Life) likely know that the Volunteer Creed—the heart of our campus values—similarly reminds us that we bear the torch in order to give light to others. As aspiring legal professionals and Tennessee Volunteers (a/k/a Law Vols), we therefore commit to caring for one another and for the members of the communities in which we live, work, and learn. It is important that we demonstrate professionalism and the Volunteer spirit by following health requirements and guidance as the same becomes available to us.
Civil, inclusive, professional environment: Our classroom and course website are professional education and work settings within our overall College of Law community. As such, they are places for open, frank, and sometimes difficult conversations and debates. Respect, inclusion, reflection, and tolerance are values inherent to this environment. Each class member is responsible for upholding these values in communications and other conduct. I note also in this regard the campus principles of civility and community, which can be found at http://civility.utk.edu. (I make a cameo appearance in the video on the principles that is found here.) These principles are at the core of what we do.
Please help me in creating a welcoming environment for our class community. If you use a name or pronouns other than what is represented in the course roll or might expect, please email me with your preferred name or pronouns. Also, please offer me help in pronouncing your name correctly—either in advance or through critical feedback if I err.
There obviously is a lot of customization in this language. But I hope that there are a few nuggets in these paragraphs that are useful to some of you. For the sake of completeness, I should note that I am using this text in a master course syllabus and have a separate reading syllabus for each course that only includes the assignments and related instructions.
I wish all well as we begin another semester and year.
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
In 2008, my university (Belmont University) was supposedly the first to offer a social entrepreneurship major. Since then, not only have the schools offering majors in social entrepreneurships grown, but many schools have created centers, institutes, or programs dedicated to the area. Below I try to gather these social enterprise centers in universities. The vast majority are in business schools, some are collaborative across campus, and a few are located in other schools such as law, social work, or design. A few have a specifically religious take on business and social good. Happy to update this list with any centers I missed.
Lewis Institute at Babson https://www.babson.edu/academics/centers-and-institutes/the-lewis-institute/about/#
Christian Collective for Social Innovation at Baylor https://www.baylor.edu/externalaffairs/compassion/index.php?id=976437
Center for Social Innovation at Boston College https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/schools/ssw/sites/center-for-social-innovation/about.html
Watt Family Innovation Center at Clemson https://www.clemson.edu/centers-institutes/watt/
Center for the Integration of Faith and Work at Dayton https://udayton.edu/business/experiential_learning/centers/cifw/index.php
CASE i3 at Duke https://sites.duke.edu/casei3/
Social Innovation Collaboratory at Fordham https://www.fordham.edu/info/23746/social_innovation_collaboratory
Social Enterprise & Nonprofit Clinic at Georgetown https://www.law.georgetown.edu/experiential-learning/clinics/social-enterprise-and-nonprofit-clinic/
and Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown https://beeckcenter.georgetown.edu
Global Social Entrepreneurship Institute at Indiana https://kelley.iu.edu/faculty-research/centers-institutes/international-business/programs-initiatives/global-social-entrepreneurship-institute.html
Business + Impact at Michigan https://businessimpact.umich.edu
Social Enterprise Institute at Northeastern https://www.northeastern.edu/sei/
Center for Ethics and Religious Values in Business at Notre Dame https://cerv-mendoza.nd.edu
Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford https://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/research/centres-and-initiatives/skoll-centre-social-entrepreneurship
Wharton Social Impact Iniviative at Penn https://socialimpact.wharton.upenn.edu/
and Center for Social Impact Strategy at Penn https://csis.upenn.edu
Faith and Work Initiative at Princeton https://faithandwork.princeton.edu/about-us
Center for Faithful Business at Seattle Pacific https://cfb.spu.edu
Center for Social Innovation at Stanford https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/faculty-research/centers-initiatives/csi
Social Innovation Initiative at Texas https://www.mccombs.utexas.edu/Centers/Social-Innovation-Initiative
Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane https://taylor.tulane.edu/about/
Social Innovation Cube at UNC https://campusy.unc.edu/cube/
Social Innovation at the Wond’ry at Vanderbilt https://www.vanderbilt.edu/thewondry/programs/social-innovation/
Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest: https://leadershipandcharacter.wfu.edu/#
Program on Social Enterprise at Yale https://som.yale.edu/faculty-research/our-centers/program-social-enterprise/programs
Monday, June 28, 2021
Earlier in the year, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Mike Madison at Pitt Law about my work, including my business law and leadership teaching and scholarship. Mike hosts and produces a nifty podcast called The Future Law. The subject matter of his podcasts ranges across a spectrum of law and innovation topics.
Last month, he posted the edited recording of our interview under the title: Joan Heminway, on Corporate Law and Leadership. It is about a half hour in length. Many readers already know me and my work pretty well (but if you want to know more in a quick fashion, feel free to read this campus Faculty Spotlight that was published earlier this spring). However, I thought those of you who teach in law schools might appreciate knowing about (and maybe even listening to) this podcast. Among other things, I walk through UT Law's leadership courses and explain their content and context and talk a bit about the natural overlap between business law and leadership (which I earlier wrote about here).
As Mike notes, we met as fellow presenters earlier this year at Santa Clara Law's symposium on Lawyers, Leadership, and Change: Addressing Challenges and Opportunities in Unprecedented Times. My essay emanating from that presentation will be published by the Santa Clara Law Review later this year. (Some of you may recall that I presented an idea paper on teaching change leadership to law students at the 2021 Association of American Law Schools conference back in January. The Santa Clara Law Review essay is the long-playing version of that idea paper.)
As the Interim Director of UT Law's Institute for Professional Leadership, I am spending part of my summer reviewing and assessing the leadership curriculum at UT Law and connecting with other leadership educators across our campus. I also am working with an amazing rising 3L (my 2021-22 fellow at UT Law's Institute for Professional Leadership) to plan for the coming academic year. He and I are continuing to edit and publish our Leading as Lawyers blog throughout the summer. It is energizing to be working on all of this alongside my business law scholarship this summer--especially in a work environment that is free of emergency planning and lessons on hybrid and online teaching methods and technology, the use of personal protective equipment, and the institution of new public health precautions in our law schools. I hope to accomplish a few things over the course of the next six weeks and have more to write about on this topic as plans and initiatives progress.
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Grading done? Join in for an engaged, energizing day with fellow business law profs to start the summer.
Grading not done? This is sure to be a fun and enlightening distraction--better than house cleaning or laundry!
Not grading at all (you lucky ducky)? Clear the decks of other impediments and come join us for what always is a super day filled with teaching tips and catalysts for scholarship and service.
REGISTER NOW! CONFERENCE IS JUNE 4th!
Emory Law's 7th biennial conference on the teaching of transactional law and skills is just a few days away! Register here and join us on Friday, June 4th. (Note: The Registration Fee for this one-day, online conference is $50.) A copy of the Conference schedule is posted here.
Connect with transactional law and skills educators across the country to ponder our theme - "Emerging from the Crisis: The Future of Law and Skills Education." You'll hear illuminating keynote addresses from three leaders in our field - Joan MacLeod Heminway, Marcia Narine Weldon, and Robert J. Rhee. And you'll participate in exciting presentations and try-this exercises designed to help us all become better teachers.
At day's end, we'll hold a Vision Workshop to synthesize our vision for the future. We'll also announce the winner of the Tina L. Stark Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Transactional Law and Skills, chosen from a group of illustrious nominees.
Special Note: The State Bar of Georgia has approved our conference for four CLE credits. We will provide attendance certificates for other states.
Friday, May 28, 2021
A reminder that Emory’s 2021 conference on transactional law and skills education is next Friday, June 4, 2021. It is virtual and registration is only $50. Register here.
Today, I'm submitting a guest post by Professor Jen Randolph Reise of Mitchell Hamline School of Law. On Friday the 11th, I'll post my reflections from the Emory conference. Jen and I have bonded over our mission to bring practical skills into the classroom. Her remarks are below:
I’m looking forward to hearing from many leaders in transactional legal education, including keynote speakers Joan MacLeod Heminway, Marcia Narine Weldon, and Robert J. Rhee on the theme of “Emerging from the Crisis: Future of Transactional Law and Skills Education.” Marcia will also be talking about her experience launching a transactional program at Miami, joined by three of her adjunct professors.
For my part, I’ll be presenting a Try-This session sharing how I have used exercises that integrate key technological resources and techniques into teaching doctrinal courses. I’ve written in this blog before in praise of practice problems, especially in the asynchronous or flipped classroom. These exercises take that one step farther by creating a self-paced, guided discovery and low-stakes practice of some skills and resources they will need to be transactional lawyers.
Specifically, participants in the Try-This session will be introduced to, and invited to try, three exercises I have created and used in Business Organizations and M&A:
1) a State Filings Exercise, which facilitates student discovery of their state’s business entity statutes and secretary of state filing site (for example, they learn how to form an LLC, and what information on LLCs is publicly accessible);
2) a Public Company Filings Exercise, which guides students through accessing and understanding the structure of public company SEC filings and how to retrieve pertinent information from EDGAR; and
3) a Working with Definitive Agreements Exercise, which introduces M&A students to drafting based on samples and from a term sheet, and requires them to learn to create a redline using Word’s Compare feature.
I’d love to have you attend on Friday and share your experiences and feedback. Or, feel free to contact me at email@example.com or on Twitter @JensJourneyOn anytime for copies or to share ideas. As a transactional in-house lawyer, newly come to the academy, I’m passionate about students getting a foothold in the distinct perspective, skills, and technology they need to become successful transactional lawyers.
Monday, May 17, 2021
North Carolina Central University School of Law is seeking to hire a lateral professor at the Associate or Full rank to serve as the inaugural Intel Technology and Social Equity Endowed Chair. The person hired will be expected to teach two upper level technology law courses and one first year course. The areas of first-year course need include Contracts, Civil Procedure and Torts. The position will start July 1, 2022. Applicants should be willing and available to teach using in-person, remote, or hybrid formats, depending on the needs of the particular classes.
Applications will be considered until the position is filled. For priority consideration, please apply by July 1, 2021. Application materials should include a cover letter, CV, and the names and contact information of at least three references. Application materials and general inquiries should be submitted to April Dawson, Associate Dean of Technology and Innovation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Carolina Central University School of Law was founded in 1939 to provide an opportunity for legal education to African Americans. The School of Law now provides this opportunity to a more diverse student body than any other in the nation, as it pertains to race and gender. This environment of diversity better prepares our students to effect positive change in the broader society. The student body consists of approximately 400 students and 31 full-time faculty members.
North Carolina Central University, an EEOC/AA employer, complies with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. All new employees must provide original documents verifying identity and employability within the first three (3) days of employment with the University. Accommodations for applicants who qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, are available upon request.
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
I’m finishing my second semester of teaching Legal Environment of Business, an introductory undergraduate business law course, asynchronously. One of the challenges of an asynchronous course is creating a sense of community among students. I’ve previously blogged about using negotiation exercises in my business law courses (here and here). In this post, I want to share with readers how I’ve continued to use such materials in my asynchronous courses to promote experiential learning and to create a sense of community.
Canvas is the learning management system for my courses. My asynchronous courses are organized into weekly modules. Students can find all materials for a specific week (assigned readings, videos, assignments etc.) in that week’s module. The feedback I’ve received indicates that students find this an easy to follow format. So, for any week in which there is a negotiation exercise, the students’ role assignments, the negotiation materials, and the assignment itself will be posted in that week’s module. For each exercise, I use Canvas groups to randomly organize students into negotiation teams. Use of Canvas groups also facilitate students’ ability to contact each other, coordinate their negotiation, and complete their assignment. I group students into a different team for each negotiation. Students can negotiate by Zoom or in person. I recommend that a date be set by which students must have a date/time arranged for the negotiation and the completion of the assignment. In the related assignment, students are generally asked to reflect upon the negotiation and to apply the related chapter materials to the negotiation context. Readers are welcome to reach out to me for additional logistical details/advice/assignment information. In the remainder of this post, I’ll mention a bit about each negotiation exercise that I’ve used in my asynchronous courses this semester.
House on Elm Street. I use this negotiation with the chapter on business ethics. It’s a great exercise and its free (thank you, Professor George Siedel)! It not only raises ethical issues, but it also powerfully demonstrates the importance of creative thinking and of understanding your negotiation counterparty’s underlying interests.
Waltham Construction Supply Corp. v. Foster Fuels, Inc. In this negotiation, Waltham trucking alleges that antifreeze purchased from Foster Fuels had a corrosive impact on its trucks. I use this negotiation with the chapter covering alternative dispute resolution because the materials themselves include both a bilateral negotiation and a video mediation of the case. Students can watch the video after the exercise to learn about mediation. Another great thing about this exercise is that once the video is purchased from Harvard’s Program on Negotiation (PON), you can use the accompanying negotiation materials without paying additional fees.
DirtyStuff II. In this negotiation, a variety of stakeholders are negotiating the text for an administrative agency rule set for proposal about the regulation of an industrial by-product. Naturally, I use this six-student negotiation in covering administrative law. I think it’s a great way to promote students’ understanding of the administrative rulemaking process.
Super Slipster. I love this negotiation because it reminds me of using backyard water slides when I was a kid! From a quick Google search, I see that these slides are way fancier now than back then (well, I guess it has been a few years…)! Fortunately, I don’t recall anyone becoming seriously injured from such products. Unfortunately, Adam Sidwell suffers serious injuries after using the Super Slipster, making this negotiation exercise a perfect accompaniment in covering tort law/products liability.
Finally, Harborco, a six-player negotiation about the building of a new port, is one of PON’s most popular exercises and generally a student favorite. It’s a great capstone exercise (I use it at the end of the course) and way to have students apply contract law in an experiential context.
Friday, March 26, 2021
Yesterday, I had the honor of leading a roundtable discussion on women and the practice of business law. The roundtable was part of a series convened by UT Law's Student Council on Diversity and Inclusion, and this specific roundtable was hosted by our Black Law Student Association. Here's the promotional flyer from the event.
In preparing for the session, I had occasion to review two ABA reports from the past few years: Roberta D. Liebenberg & Stephanie A. Scharf, Walking Out The Door : The Facts, Figures, and Future of Experienced Women Lawyers in Private Practice (ABA 2019), and Destiny Peery, Paulette Brown & Eileen Letts, Left Out or Left Behind: The Hurdles, Hassles, and Heartaches of Achieving Long-term Legal Careers for Women of Color (ABA 2020). I was reminded of the fall-off in female lawyers in BigLaw over the course of their careers. Quoting from the first report:
BigLaw is no stranger to the loss of experienced women attorneys. While entering associate classes have been comprised of approximately 45% women for several decades, in the typical large firm, women constitute only 30% of non-equity partners and 20% of equity partners. Women lawyers face many other challenging hurdles as they seek to advance into senior roles: the number of lawyers named as new equity partners at big firms has declined by nearly 30% over the past several years, and firms are increasingly relying on the hiring of lateral partners, over 70% of whom are men.
At the event, I noted this data and the principal reasons why women self-reported that they left practice. These include: care-taking obligations, workplace stress levels, responsibilities for marketing/originating business, billable hour requirements, loss of the desire to practice law, work/life balance dissatisfaction, and concerns about personal or family health.
I also noted specific difficulties faced by women of color. In that regard, I referenced the following quote from a Black female lawyer in her late 40s (included in the second ABA report mentioned above).
Some of the barriers you can’t do [anything] about—like the(mis)perceptions people have in their own minds about your race or your sex or your background. So you start by having to overcome those negative assumptions, stereotypes, and presumptions. And then there’s the ‘black tax’ of having to demonstrate outsized achievements just to get the same opportunities as everyone else. It’s not by accident that at the firms at which I worked, every single black associate had at least two Ivy League degrees. Majority associates? Not so much.
There were no real surprises for me in these two reports. Having said that, I must note that they capture important data and reflections. I recommend that everyone read them.
Of course, only some female law graduates (a relatively small number/percentage) start their careers in business finance or governance. The number/percentage of female lawyers in large business law practices typically does not increase over time; it decreases. Therefore, the number/percentage of women in those practice areas at the partner/shareholder/senior leadership level is relatively small. (By the way, please let me know if you know where I can find some recent reliable data on all this.)
I noted the relatively small percentage of women who enroll in my upper division advanced business law courses (a maximum in any course of 33-1/3%, and that's pretty rare). I asked the student participants for their ideas on why more women do not take these courses or, in general, express a desire to practice business law. Among the responses were the following: not having been exposed to business lawyers or business operations, being intimidated by the subject matter, and being concerned that too much math may be involved. I also asked them how we might work to correct the imbalance in business law and more generally. Students volunteered their observations and ideas. The were thoughtful, reflecting on their own experiences while also working hard to appreciate the circumstances of others. One of the female students pressed her male colleagues to contribute. It was a super discussion. Several students contacted me after the roundtable to follow up on some points.
We only had an hour together, which was barely enough time to begin to scope out these issues. There was certainly more that could have been said had there been more time. I invited students to continue the conversation among themselves and with me and other faculty. I have hope they will do that. I want to ensure that business law knowledge and practice is accessible to all, and I could use their help in accomplishing that goal.
Monday, March 22, 2021
Registration is Open!
It is our great pleasure to announce that registration is now open for the seventh biennial transactional law and skills education conference to be held virtually on June 4, 2021. Please join us to celebrate and explore our theme – Emerging from the Crisis: The Future of Transactional Law and Skills Education with you. This year, we have reduced the registration fee to $50 per person. Secure your space today!
Call for Proposals
Please take a moment to review the Call for Proposals and submit your proposal here. Also, please share the CFP with your colleagues who may not have attended the Conference before. Consider forwarding it to adjuncts and professors teaching relevant subjects. Can you also think of any teachers who might be interested in attending or presenting?
The Call for Proposals deadline is 5 p.m. April 15, 2021. We look forward to receiving your proposals.
Last, but certainly not least, at this year’s Conference, we will announce the winner of the second Tina L. Stark Award for Teaching Excellence. Would you like to nominate yourself or a colleague for this award? More information will be forthcoming regarding award eligibility and the nomination process.
If you have questions regarding any of this information, please contact Kelli Pittman, Program Coordinator, at email@example.com or 404.727.3382.
We look forward to “seeing” you in June!
Sue Payne | Executive Director
Katherine Koops | Assistant Director
Kelli Pittman | Program Coordinator
Monday, February 8, 2021
I tell my students that the participants in securities transactions are "the three Is" or "I3": issuers, intermediaries, and investors. Tomorrow morning, having covered the definition of a security and the concept of materiality, I offer some foundational words on investors.
What to tell? Of course, I will talk a bit about investment theory, the investor protection policy and mechanisms of federal securities law, the composition/demographics of the typical equity ownership of a public company, etc. But what do I say about GameStop Corp.? Set forth below is a chart summarizing the trading in GameStop common stock for the past five days: (courtesy of Google Finance):
Who are the investors in the market for GameStop common stock, options, and short positions now? Who will they be in a month or six months or a year (assuming a trading market can be sustained)? And what do the changes in GameStop's investor profile say about the firm itself, about the New York Stock Exchange, and about various related aspects of securities regulation?
There remain few answers to the fundamental question of who owns or is trading in GameStop's publicly traded common stock. Nevertheless, there are many worthy conversation starters around the GameStop phenomenon that raise interesting opportunities for longer-term exploration. More on all this as time marches on. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more . . . ."
[Editorial note (2/9/2021): I should have mentioned that I do plan to use John Anderson's post from Saturday (which echos points he made in our UT Law roundtable last week) to talk about whether some of the people he mentions or alludes to (thrill-seekers, political speech purveyors, trading gamers, populist performers, nostalgic market-watchers) are or should be considered to be investors.]
Monday, February 1, 2021
Wow. All I can say is . . . wow. Last Monday, GameStop Corp. was, for me, just a dinosaur in the computer gaming space--a firm with a bricks-and-mortar retail store in our local mall that I have visited maybe once or twice. What a difference a week makes . . . .
Now, GameStop is: frequent email messages in my in box; populist investor uprisings against establishment institutional investors; concern about students investing through day-trading accounts; news and opinion commentary on all of the foregoing (and more); compulsion to inform an under-informed (and, in some cases, bewildered) community of friends and family. This change of circumstances, which is centered on, but not confined to, the volatile market for GameStop's common stock, raises many, many questions--legal questions and factual questions. Some are definitively answerable, others are not.
The legal questions run the gamut from possibilities of securities fraud (including insider trading) and market manipulation, to the governance of trading platforms, the propriety of trading limitations and halts, and the authority and control of clearinghouses. Co-blogger Ben Edwards published a post here last Thursday on the trading halts in GameStop stock, the role of clearinghouses, and the possibility of market manipulation. Others also have written about these and other legal issues--including the role of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as the cop on the beat (see, e.g., here and here).
But there are few answers to these legal queries given that many facts remain unknown. Who are the short-sellers in these stocks? Who are the community members on electronic bulletin boards (and elsewhere) urging active trading in the stock of GameStop and other firms that have been subject to significant short-selling that has led to perceived under-valuation by others in the market? Who are the populist traders actively bidding up the price of these firms? What knowledge do all of these people have about GameStop and the trading of its securities? Assumptions are being made about all of these things and more. However, our current knowledge is limited and, as time progresses, the composition of these groups undoubtedly has changed and will continue to change as traders rapidly enter and exit the market for these securities.
As many of our law schools hold forums on the GameStop phenomenon (UT Law has a roundtable featuring some of your favorite BLPB editors on Wednesday), more legal and factual questions will be raised. The situation will be dynamic, and regulators and policymakers will enter the fray in unknown (and perhaps unanticipated) ways. As I teach Securities Regulation and Advanced Business Associations this semester, all of this will be happening. Some of the topics of conversation would not normally be part of my course plans. But, like others I know who teach business law courses, I am pivoting to meet the need to respond to these evolving circumstances in our securities markets. Throughout, there are many roles that lawyers (and law professors) are playing and will continue to play. I suspect GameStop will be an asset this semester in educating our students on securities law and much more.
Monday, January 18, 2021
As we launch into another online/hybrid semester of legal education, I want to share a new article by Jen Randolph Reise: Moving Ahead: Finding Opportunities for Transactional Training in Remote Legal Education. Here’s the abstract:
This article builds on the many calls for teaching business acumen and transactional skills in law school with a timely insight: the shift to remote legal education creates opportunities to do so, in particular by incorporating practice problems and mini-simulations in doctrinal courses. Weaving together the literature on emerging best practices in online legal education, cognitive psychology, and the science of teaching and learning, Professor Reise argues that adding formative assessments and experiential education is effective in teaching and is critical in remote learning.
Offering vivid examples from her experience teaching Business Organizations online, she urges legal instructors to use the opportunity presented by the shift to remote education to incorporate problems and simulations as an effective way to motivate students to prepare for class, to expose them to transactional practice skills, and to effectively teach them key doctrinal concepts.
For those of you who do not know Jen, she is currently a Visiting Professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law (Twitter: @jenreise). She and I have communicated/traded information on transactional business law teaching. I am grateful that she brought this article to my attention--and effectively authored this post! I look forward to continuing to engage with her on teaching and scholarship in our mutual areas of interest.
Monday, January 4, 2021
As our legal academy readers know, this week features the annual conference of the Association of American Law Schools ("AALS"), the professional association for law schools and their faculty and staff. I am sure many of us will publish posts now and later about the conference and its varied programs. I focus today on the Section on Leadership, of which my Dean (Doug Blaze) is the current chair. Doug has been among the national leaders in the movement to teach leadership in law schools. Among other things, he was a founder of the section and of the Institute for Professional Leadership at UT Law (of which I am the current Interim Director).
I highlight two things in this post.
First, the Fall 2020 section newsletter deserves attention. The entire issue focuses on racism. It includes a number of short articles written by a variety of contributors, including (but not limited to) law professors. Tony Thompson, Professor of Clinical Law at NYU Law, introduces the issue, referencing the events that catapulted racism and racial injustice into the legal news and public eye in meaningful ways earlier this year. He writes: "T]he public protests have . . . sparked . . . a relentless insistence that we acknowledge the stark reality that racism infects every system in this country. We as lawyers, as law teachers, as people who care about justice must actively work toward a genuine reckoning on race and racism in this country." Among the contributions are articles written by Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a prep school student from Newark, New Jersey, and our Visiting Leadership Fellow at UT Law, David Gibbs. The issue makes for thought-provoking end-of-year reading and inspires leadership on race issues in and through law teaching (among many other things).
Second, I want to promote the four programs sponsored or co-sponsored by the AALS Section on Leadership. They are listed below.
- Calling Out and Leaning In to Racial and Class Inequities in Experiential Learning Opportunities (Wednesday, January 6, 11:00 am - 12:15 pm)
- Never Let A Good Crisis Go To Waste; The Pedagogy of Leadership During Crisis—Student Engagement (Thursday, January 7, 11:00 am - 12:15 pm)
- Legal and Judicial Ethics in the Post-#MeToo World (Thursday, January 7, 2:45 pm - 4:00 pm)
- Teaching Leadership Skills in a Time of Crisis (Saturday, January 9, 2:45 pm - 4:00 pm)
I have the honor of presenting a short "idea paper" on teaching change leadership to law students at the Thursday morning session. I hope that you will join me in attending some or all of these programs if you are registered to attend the conference. Our students are the legal and community leaders of tomorrow. Studying and practicing leadership in law school can help them to see their leadership potential, harness it, and use it constructively in and outside law practice.
The entire program for this year's AALS annual meeting can be found here.
Monday, December 28, 2020
This post catches up on a few recent position listings that may be of interest to business law faculty and have not yet been posted here.
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY BEASLEY SCHOOL OF LAW
LOW INCOME TAXPAYER CLINIC DIRECTOR
AND VISITING PRACTICE PROFESSOR OF LAW
Position Summary: The Temple University Beasley School of Law was recently notified that it will receive funding from the IRS to open and operate a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) on its Main Campus in North Philadelphia which will also serve taxpayers in northeastern Pennsylvania. It is therefore soliciting applications for the position of Visiting Practice Professor of Law and Director of the LITC, which is expected to operate on a part-time basis during 2021. The position will begin on January 15, 2021 or as soon thereafter as practicable, and will run through the end of the calendar year. The Clinic Director will be expected to establish and operate the LITC, including developing a panel of pro bono attorneys and performing community outreach, and to take a leadership role in applying to the IRS for a multi-year grant, which will likely need to be submitted in June, 2021. In addition, the Clinic Director will be expected to develop and teach a course through which students can enroll to participate in the LITC for academic credit in 2021.
It is anticipated that this part-time, visiting position will be enhanced and converted into a clinical faculty position upon receipt of a multi-year grant from the IRS. A national search for an individual to fill the clinical faculty position will be conducted if the multi-year grant is received; the individual selected to fill the part-time visiting position will be eligible for consideration for the clinical faculty position.
Minimum Qualifications: Candidates must have an excellent academic record and a J.D. degree, as well as experience working in an LITC or equivalent organization, either as a student or practicing lawyer, or other tax practice experience. Candidates must have sufficient tax law expertise to perform and oversee the substantive and procedural aspects of client representation, and be either admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court or eligible for such admission.
Temple University values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity for all persons regardless of age, color, disability, ethnicity, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other status protected by law; it is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, and strongly encourages veterans, women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQI individuals, and members of other groups that traditionally have been underrepresented in law teaching to apply.
To Apply: Potential candidates are encouraged to contact the selection committee’s Chair, Professor Alice Abreu, at firstname.lastname@example.org with the following: 1) cover letter and/or statement of interest; 2) resume or CV; 3) the names, affiliations, and contact information for at least three individuals who can serve as professional references; and 4) any other material that demonstrates the candidate’s ability to succeed in the position, such as a publication, brief, or similar document.
Applications should be submitted as soon as possible; interviews, which will be conducted online, could begin as early as January 4, 2021. The position will remain open until filled.
BU/MIT TECHNOLOGY LAW CLINIC
VISITING CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
BU Law is hiring for a Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor to teach in the BU/MIT Technology Law Clinic, part of BU Law’s unique collaboration with MIT to provide legal assistance to current MIT and BU students. This is a two-year position, for the 2021–22 and 2022–23 academic years.
BU Law believes that the cultural and social diversity of our faculty, staff, and students is vitally important to the distinction and excellence of our academic programs. To that end, we are especially eager to hear from applicants who support our institutional commitment to BU as an inclusive, equitable, and diverse community.
More information and application instructions are available at https://sites.bu.edu/techlaw/2020/12/14/vcap/. Applications received before January 31, 2021 will be given full consideration.
Monday, December 14, 2020
Few of the ten preceding posts I have offered on teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic (links provided at the end of this post) have even mentioned assessment. Given that the semester's classes have ended almost everywhere, now seems like a good time to say a few words on that topic, focusing in on written final examinations. As with everything else in the COVID-19 era, the traditional written, timed final (f/k/a "in class") examination has received some serious scrutiny and reconsideration in 2020. The UT Law faculty shared ideas and opinions on the topic of online examinations in a number of faculty meetings and forums. Perhaps predictably, faculty members teaching in different parts of the curriculum (substantively and otherwise) had individualized views about how their own learning objectives could best be met in an online assessment environment.
After much discussion, UT Law ended up offering multiple options to instructors. For essay questions, we had the choice of using our proprietary portal's exam feature (with download/upload capabilities and full use of all computer functionality, including the Internet) or exam software. We had the choice of engaging monitoring or not. Multiple choice questions could be submitted electronically on the portal and hand-graded by the instructor or submitted electronically using exam software and machine-graded. Bonus: in the end, our Dean of Students offered us the opportunity to have our exams printed--an unexpected (and, in my case, welcomed) addition to the mix.
My Business Associations students took my two-hour written final exam twelve days ago. I chose a portal-based essay exam with machine-graded multiple choice questions. I had the exams printed out. I have not heard back yet from students on the exam process or anything else (for obvious reasons). But from my standpoint, the exam submission and transmission process seemed to work smoothly. It differed little, in the end, as a matter of process, from exams I have given in person in the past. I am so grateful to our academic deans (and the rest of the faculty), our Dean of Students, and the staff from our student records office for all they did to make this exam period safe, manageable, and (yes) possible.
Of course, until I finish grading and can talk to students about their part of the experience, this is about all I can say. Student views may be wildly different. I did learn (in the process of working through the exam details with them) that they are not fond of using our exam software for essay questions, since they cannot be looking at the question as they type their answer. In any event, I will look forward to sharing anything I hear in a later post.
What were your experiences with online written exams this semester? What are your preferences as to how they are best set up and managed--and why? I am interested in what others are doing in this regard and what they are learning from those experiences. Post comments or send me an email message if you have thoughts on any of this.
Links to prior posts on Teaching Through the Pandemic
(Note: Since I only began adding subtitles after the fourth post, I have added parenthetical topic information for the first four posts.)
Teaching Through the Pandemic - Part I (early distance education and Zoom tips)
Teaching Through the Pandemic - Part II (Zoom connectivity tips)
Teaching Through the Pandemic - Part III (questions about a greater movement to online education)
Teaching Through the Pandemic - Part IV (advanced Zoom tips)
Saturday, December 5, 2020
This coming spring, I am on sabbatical.
Typically, I teach 4 courses per semester – each with 5 to 8 decent-sized assessments. Among other responsibilities, I am a pre-law advisor for our undergraduate students. So the school year tends to be a bit of blur.
Our fall semester ended just before Thanksgiving, and I already miss teaching. That said, I do feel fortunate to be on sabbatical during what will be another hybrid-teaching semester for us. While hybrid, masked teaching was O.K., it did not hold a candle to typical in-person teaching in my opinion.
In any event, I have my main writing project for the spring (somewhat) mapped out, but would love thoughts on sabbaticals in general for those who have taken them. Some of my plans are a bit uncertain, given the pandemic. In addition to research/writing, a few things I hope to do are – take another Open Yale Course, connect/reconnect with business lawyers/judges in Nashville, and give a few presentations (if COVID allows).
Anyway, feel free to e-mail me here or leave a comment below.
Monday, November 23, 2020
I wanted to get there first, but friend, co-blogger, and Nova Southeastern Law colleague Jim Levy beat me to it. In a blog post for Legal Skills Prof Blog, Jim wrote about the incredible similarities between the game show Hollywood Squares and Zoom teaching. As I teach my last classes of the semester today--all online (thanks to our dean's promotion of online teaching for the last two class days of the semester)--I continue to be stuck on and struck by this similarity. We are not the only ones to note this comparison, of course. See, e.g., here and here and here.
I have called the Zoom squares the Hollywood Squares more than once during my class sessions this semester. Unlike Jim, however, I have not yet endeavored to "play host" in a way that mimics the show. He recalls (as do I) Peter Marshall's lengthy stint as the show's host. But it does turn out there were others.
As I bid goodbye to the Fall 2020 semester, I leave you with a picture (above) of one of my class meetings earlier this fall. UT Law alum and entrepreneur Mason Jones (founder of Volunteer Traditions, Inc.) visited our class to talk about the formation and basic governance attributes of the corporation he organized to conduct his business. It's a super-fun story--very instructive, too--and he is a humble and entertaining guy. We were delighted to have him join our Hollywood Squares (and even be spotlighted, as he is here!) for this class day. (Note that I was wearing a hat and t-shirt from his collection that afternoon while teaching. Go Vols!)
I am still formulating some additional substantive thoughts on my first full semester of pandemic teaching. I will post those reflections on a later date or dates. For today, however, in this Thanksgiving week, I merely want to express gratitude--for the Hollywood Squares that are our Zoom teaching world and, more importantly, for my continued good health, my supportive family, my hardworking students, and my student-focused faculty and staff colleagues. Without these blessings in my life, teaching through the pandemic would be so very much harder, if not impossible.
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.
Friday, November 13, 2020
Some time ago, one of my students reached out to me about strategies for improving race relations at our law school. After some discussion, we arrived at the idea of starting an informal brown-bag lunch group that would discourse on race. The student invited 10 students, taking care that the group would be diverse as to race. He explained that the goals of the group would be to:
(1) Gain some new appreciation of racial diversity;
(2) Gain some new understanding of people with a different racial identity;
(3) Learn about ways of using diversity to the advantage of your legal practice/business/personal life/community;
(4) Change negative assumptions about race to positive assumptions; and
(5) Motivate every participant to leave his/her comfort zone and take some positive step towards change and reconciliation.
We developed a simple exercise for the first meeting. We put together a questionnaire (in Microsoft Word) and emailed it to all the participants in advance of the meeting. We asked them to complete the questionnaire in the word document (so no identifying handwriting), print it out, and bring it to the lunch. We explained that the questionnaires were to be anonymous, and we asked students to take care not to leave any names or other identifying information on their printed answers. When the students arrived for lunch, we asked them to drop them in a box at the entrance. Once everyone had arrived, we (a) shuffled up the papers in the box, (b) pulled them out, (c) picked one question, (d) read ALL the answers back to back, and then (e) discussed.
We thought we would get through all or most of the questions at the first lunch. We ended up only getting through two! The discussion was so rich, honest, and enlightening. I left feeling like I had just experienced something very special—like the scales had fallen from my eyes. The anonymity offered an opportunity for every participant to really let loose! They had no fear of offending others, or of being judged. It was a free space—and there was real, authentic discourse—not debate or argument. We ended up meeting every other week for the rest of the year. We never did finished all the questions on the questionnaire, but we sure grew closer and gained a better understanding of one another.
Here are some sample questions we included on the questionnaire:
- Use one word to describe the current state of race relations in the U.S. today.
- Use one word to describe the current state of race relations here at the law school/at this firm/at this company.
- What is most likely to frustrate/anger you when conversation turns to race?
- How do you explain race?
- What does “diversity” mean to you?
- What does “inclusion” mean to you?
- List one positive impact someone of another race has had in your life.
- List one misconception you think people of other races have about members of your race.
- When are you most uncomfortable talking about race? (With family? With friends? Among members of another race? With strangers?)
- How could those around you make it easier to talk about race?
- What generalizations/stereotypes about your race upset you most?
- Are there any generalizations/stereotypes about your own race that you think have validity?
- What is a question you have always wanted to ask someone of another race, but would be afraid or embarrassed to ask?
- What is your most optimistic vision for race relations in the future?
The exercise developed out of a lunch group, but it can be employed in the classroom as well. It can also be an effective instrument for improving race relations in law firms and businesses.
Monday, November 2, 2020
Since almost all of us are thinking about Election Day 2020 (tomorrow!), I am taking a moment here to reflect on conversations I recently have had with my students about parallels in political and corporate governance. Although current conversations center around the fiduciary duties of those charged with governance (a topic that I will leave for another day), just a few weeks ago, we were focused on voting (both shareholder and director voting). The above photo shows me--sporting wet hair and rain-spotted, fogged-up glasses--waiting in line to vote early last week. I admit that while I routinely vote in political elections, I have only been to a shareholder meeting once, and then as an advisor to the corporation, not to actually vote any shares held. Having said that, in my fifteen years of law practice, I did draft proxy materials, structure shareholder meetings, and address concerns associated with shareholder voting.
My students are always curious about shareholder voting and most intrigued by proxy voting. Corporate governance activities are, of course, not very transparent in daily life for most folks. A course covering corporate law introduces both new terms to a student's lexicon and new concepts to a student's base of knowledge.
Shareholder voting certainly has some commonalities with political voting (for example, proxy cards and ballots have a similar "feel" to them, and both systems of voting involve elections and may also involve the solicitation of approvals for other matters of governance and finance). Yet the system of proxy voting in the corporate world knows no real parallel in political governance, and the Electoral College knows no parallel in corporate shareholder voting. Moreover, the hullabaloo in 2020 about voting fraud in the political realm seems very foreign in a corporate space that allows people to appoint others to vote for them under the authority of a signature. (I say this knowing that proxy voting can be affected by miscounts and that challenges can be made to proxy cards in proxy contests in the "snake pit" or "pit," as it may be referred to more informally.)
The system of shareholder voting sometimes seems a bit old-school, despite the advent of electronic proxy materials, online voting, and virtual shareholder meetings--a hot topic of conversation this year, starting back in the spring, when many firms had to move to virtual meetings on an emergency basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic (as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and others well recognized). Although shareholder voting on blockchains may be the wave of the future (see my coauthored article referencing that, available here), today's shareholder voting mechanics still involve somewhat traditional balloting and ballot tabulation. Because shareholders can vote in person at the shareholder meeting (even if that may rarely be done), both digital and manual systems must be available to count votes. Although, when a quorum is present, the election of directors may be ordained before the meeting even begins (especially when plurality voting obtains), the election results cannot be released until the voting ends. That happens at the shareholder meeting.
Political voting also can seem a bit antiquated--especially with this year's hand-marked ballots replacing electronic voting machines because of COVID-19. Registered voters can cast their ballots early in many states or can vote in person on election day. Depending on circumstances, some registered voters may be able to vote by absentee ballot or by mail, but in any case, their votes are tabulated electronically. There are no quorum or meeting requirements. The required vote typically is a plurality, which may be difficult to ascertain on Election Day (depending on how many absentee ballots are received and when/how they are counted). Given the fact that a vote of the Electoral College, rather than the popular vote, actually elects the President of the United States (i.e., voters merely determine the composition of the Electoral College), in close presidential elections, the election results may not be available on or even soon after Election Day. Thus, while there are common elements to shareholder and political voting, especially as to elections (other than those for the President), voting in corporate governance and voting in political governance situations can be quite different.
Having noted these comparative and contrasting reflections on voting in the corporate and political contexts in honor of Election Day, I recognize that, for many, it is difficult to be impassive about Election Day and voting this year. Students, colleagues, friends, and family members have expressed to me their hopes, fears, enthusiasm, and anxiety about, in particular, tomorrow's presidential election. Whatever the result, some will be relieved, and some will be disappointed.
As a student and teacher of mindfulness practices, I am compelled to note that they can be very useful in moments like these. They can promote calm, considered, dispassionate reactions and decision-making, and research evidences they can have impacts on the brain that are correlated with stress reduction. Of course, I recommend mindful yoga. But meditation, breath work, mindful walking, and other activities through which the brain is able to focus on what is here now, in the present moment (and not on what was or will be), can be helpful in producing a calmer state of mind.
Cheers to voting and mindfulness practices! I recommend both as Election Day fast approaches. And I have already done the voting part . . . .