Friday, February 27, 2015
SSRN Update: Articles on Public Interest Law, Church Bankruptcy, and Conservation
(1) Kathryn Sabbeth (UNC) has posted: "What's Money Got to Do With It?: Public Interest Lawyering and Profit." Here is the abstract:
Definitions of public interest lawyering influence financial support, regulation of lawyers, and professional identity. This Article examines three contexts in which legal institutions have operationalized the concept of public interest lawyering: tax exemptions, exceptions to solicitation prohibitions, and fee-shifting statutes. The Article critiques the common conception of public interest lawyering as work provided by non-profit organizations or through volunteer activities outside the mainstream market for legal services. It argues that interpreting public interest lawyering as a market exception not only is incomplete but also threatens the viability of important work.
(2) Pamela Foohey (Indiana) has posted "When Faith Falls Short: Bankruptcy Decisions of Churches." Here is the abstract:
What does a church do when it is about to go bust? Religious organizations, like any business, can experience financial distress. Leaders could try to solve their churches’ financial problems on their own. Perhaps leaders do not view the problems as addressable with law. Or perhaps they do not think, as a moral or spiritual matter, that they should resort to the legal system, such as bankruptcy, to deal with their churches’ inability to pay its debts. Yet about ninety religious organizations seek to reorganize under the Bankruptcy Code every year. This Article relies on interviews with forty-five of these organizations’ leaders and attorneys to examine how the leaders conceptualized their churches’ financial distress as legal problems and decided to address those legal problems with bankruptcy.
Through these inquiries, the Article sheds light on longstanding questions about how people and organizations decide to use the legal system versus doing nothing or solving problems through self-help. The Article thus provides one of the first assessments of how small organizations view their problems as legal problems, and the first assessment of how leaders of small organizations decide to file for bankruptcy.
Church leaders’ journeys began with struggling to solve their congregations’ financial problems themselves and proclaiming that “bankruptcy from a spiritual standpoint is a no-no.” Most often, creditors’ foreclosure threats brought law to leaders’ attention. Leaders then turned to social networks for help understanding their legal options. Drawing from these results, the Article also scrutinizes how leaders’ reliance on social networks and feelings of stigma and shame because of their decisions to file influence debates about restricting access to bankruptcy.
(3) Jesse Phelps (USDA) has posted "'A Tinge of Melancholy Lay Upon the Countryside': Agricultural Historic Resources Within Contemporary Agricultural and Historic Preservation Law." Here is the abstract:
Preservation of working lands and resources has become the focus of many interested in the protection of rural areas. Despite public support for such initiatives and quantifiable successes, preservation advocates have struggled to utilize the current tools available to safeguard historic resources. To address this gap, this Article first considers the unique nature of agricultural historic resources and the challenges they present from a preservation perspective. It then assesses the current framework of historic preservation laws, developed largely for urban neighborhoods, and the issues preservationists face in applying these tools to the rural context. Last, this Article proposes a series of policy solutions that would provide meaningful assistance to rural preservationists in achieving their objectives. Ultimately, historic preservation has the potential to play a strong role in preserving the character of rural areas, but only if this profound policy disconnect can begin to be bridged.