Wednesday, March 16, 2016
While we adjust to the departure of our long-time contributor (and friend) Steve Bradford and plan for the future, the Business Law Professor Blog editors seek interested guest bloggers willing to write one or more substantive posts on a business law topic (scholarship, doctrinal development, current event, etc.). We are open to a variety of business law backgrounds with a particular interest in adding coverage of commercial law and related topics. For questions or if you would like to nominate yourself or a colleague to guest blog between now and the end of summer 2016, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "BLPB Guest Blogger". Our selection process will depend upon the volume and variety of responses.
Monday, March 14, 2016
And everything that seemed possible at twenty-four, twenty-five, is now just such a joke, such a ridiculous fiction, every birthday an atrocity.
-Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Today is my 60th birthday. It’s also the end of my blogging here on the Business Law Prof Blog.
No, we don’t have a mandatory retirement program. I’ve just run out of interesting things to say. (Some of you would say that happened months ago.)
Having interesting things to say is not a requirement for blogging. The blogosphere is filled with writers who keep churning away even though they haven’t had a fresh thought in years. But I’m not motivated solely by the sound of my own voice. I don’t want to keep writing if I’m not contributing anything worthwhile. I’m stepping aside to make room for those younger than me with fresher ideas.
Thank you to my co-bloggers, all of whom are younger than me and have fresher ideas: Ann, Anne, Haskell, Joan, Josh, Marcia, and Stefan. They always have interesting things to say and I’ve learned a lot from them, both on and off the blog. I will continue to read their thoughtful posts, even though I won’t be contributing myself.
Thanks also to my readers, especially those of you who commented on what I wrote. I appreciate your attention to what I had to say. I learned from your comments, even when I didn’t agree with you. “The vanity of teaching often tempteth a man to forget he is a blockhead.” (George Savile) You let me know when I was a being a blockhead.
I hope I’ve kept you informed, entertained, and amused.
Never miss a good chance to shut up.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
A year ago today, President Obama shocked the world and enraged many in Congress by announcing normalization of relations with Cuba. A lot of the rest of the United States didn’t see this as much of a big deal, but here in Miami, ground zero for the Cuban exile community, this was a cataclysmic event. Now Miami is one of the biggest sources of microfinance for the island.
Regular readers of this blog know that I have been writing about the ethical and governance issues of doing business with the island since my 10-day visit last summer. I return to Cuba today on a second research trip to validate some of my findings for my second article on governance and compliance risks and to begin work on my third article related to rule of law issues, the realities of foreign direct investment and arbitration, what a potential bilateral or multilateral investment agreement might look like, and the role that human rights requirements in these agreements could play.
This is an interesting time to be visiting Cuba. The Venezuelan government, a large source of income for Cuba has suffered a humiliating defeat. Will this lead to another “special period” for the nation similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union? Major league baseball players who defected from Cuba just a few years ago announced a homecoming trip today. Yesterday, the US government authorized commercial flights to return to Cuba. The property claims for the multinationals and families who had homes and business confiscated by Castro are being worked out, or so some say.
Over the next few days in between touring Old Havana and fishing villages, I will learn from lawyers and professors discussing arbitration law in Cuba, foreign investment law 118/2014, tax and labor implications for the foreign investor, the 2015 amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, requirements for gaining government approval and forming state partnerships, and the Cuban banking system.
Strangely, I am excited. While I should be decompressing from the shock of reading student exams discussing “creepy tender offers” and “limited liability corporations,” I can’t wait to delve into the next phase of my research and practice my business Spanish at the bar of the Parque Central in La Habana. My internet access will be spotty and expensive but if you can think of any pressing questions I should ask leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
December 17, 2015 in Comparative Law, Compliance, Corporate Governance, Corporations, CSR, Current Affairs, Ethics, Food and Drink, Human Rights, International Business, International Law, Law Reviews, Marcia Narine Weldon, Religion, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Monday, November 30, 2015
I never thought I would say this, but my favorite book this year is about punctuation. That’s right. Punctuation! The book is Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation, by David Crystal, and it's well worth reading.
It’s an enjoyable romp through the English language, with limited attention to writing in other languages as well. (I just placed something in a German English-language publication and discovered that Germans don’t know how to “correctly” use quotation marks.)
This isn’t a rule book; Crystal talks about current usage, including areas where the “experts” disagree. (Oxford comma, anyone?) But he also covers the history—how the use of punctuation has evolved over time. One of the book's recurring themes is how two functions of punctuation--clarifying the writer's meaning and providing cues to speakers--can sometimes be at odds.
The history is fascinating. I have to admit that, after reading this book and seeing what excellent writers have done in the past, it’s harder to argue for a prescriptive position. I don’t always agree with Crystal’s position on disputed issues, but his case is always cogent.
Crystal covers all the major punctuation marks: , , ;, :, . . . , ., and ( ). (Yes, I did write this sentence just to see what it would look like.) But he also covers other lesser-known punctuation marks that have fallen into disuse, as well as the use of capital letters and spacing. (I was surprised to learn that early Anglo-Saxon writing often didn’t have spacing between words.)
I’m a writing geek, so I love to read books like this. But this book isn’t just for people like me. Anyone who writes for a living or wants to write for a living—and that includes all lawyers and law students—should read this book. Making a Point is entertaining and informative, and the writing is clear. (I almost restrained the urge to write “crystal-clear.”) Check it out.
Friday, October 23, 2015
This week I thanked the law review editors at the West Virginia Law Review for their hard work on my forthcoming article. They seemed truly grateful for the thanks, which was well deserved, and it made me think that I should thank law review editors more often.
Law review editors put in a tremendous amount of time working on our articles, often well after-hours given all of their other commitments. Even when the process is frustrating, I think we need to be thankful and professional. Also, given that I have had a few rough editing experiences, I now state my preferences up front, which (at least this time) led to better results.
Personally, I don't have a problem with exploding offers, and I actually think more law reviews should use them. The submission game incentivizes submission to many journals and trading up multiple times. This process wastes an incredible amount of student editor time and they have every right to effectively shut down the expedite process.
As I have mentioned before, the exclusive submission window is an elegant solution to the expedite problem. Under this strategy, the law review promises a prompt decision and the professor promises to accept the offer if made. The only downside to the exclusive submission window is that the professor usually cannot shop the article during that window, so it slows the submission process.
Maybe the solution is to allow multiple submissions, but prevent professors from trading-up. If that were the rule, professors would be incentivized to submit only to journals where they would be happy to publish and the process would be faster.
Finally, I can't have a post about law reviews without asking, again, why more law reviews have not moved to blind review. I cannot think of a good reason, but am I missing something?
Monday, September 28, 2015
I detest bad legal writing. (I detest bad writing of all kinds, but this is a law blog, so I’ll limit my rant to legal writing.) I don’t like to read it and I hate it when I (sometimes?) write it. I’m not a great writer, but I appreciate lawyers and legal scholars who can write clear, concise prose. Unfortunately, although writing is an essential element of legal practice, many lawyers do not write well.
If you care about legal writing, and you should, the Scribes Journal of Legal Writing recently published a short piece you might want to read: Legal-Writing Myths, by Judge Gerald Lebovits.
I knew after reading the first paragraph that I was going to like Judge Lebovits’s article. His first sentence rejects the prohibition on beginning a sentence with a conjunction. His second sentence rejects the prohibition on ending a sentence with a preposition. And [remember his first sentence?] his third sentence rejects the prohibition on splitting infinitives.
I was not disappointed as I read the rest of the article. In just a few pages, Judge Lebovits artfully rebuts ten myths of legal writing.
My favorite myths:
- “Writing a lengthy brief is harder and takes more time than writing a short one.”
- “Good legal writers rarely need time to edit between drafts.”
Check it out. It’s definitely worth reading. Judge Lebovits has written a number of other interesting articles on legal writing. You can find many of them here.
Friday, August 21, 2015
One of the hardest things for me as a writer is knowing when I'm done. September's Harvard Business Review (p. 128) has a great quote from Salman Rushdie on that question. They asked him how he knows he's finished a book. He says:
"There's a point at which you're not making it better; you're just making it different. You have to be good at recognizing that point."