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Articles 1 - 30 of 32

Full-Text Articles in Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics

Criminally Bad Management, Samuel W. Buell Jan 2018

Criminally Bad Management, Samuel W. Buell

Faculty Scholarship

Because of their leverage over employees, corporate managers are prime targets for incentives to control corporate crime, even when managers do not themselves commit crimes. Moreover, the collective actions of corporate management — producing what is sometimes referred to as corporate culture — can be the cause of corporate crime, not just a locus of the failure to control it. Because civil liability and private compensation arrangements have limited effects on management behavior — and because the problem is, after all, crime — criminal law is often expected to intervene. This handbook chapter offers a functional explanation for corporate criminal liability: individual criminal liability ...


Seeking An Objective For Regulating Insider Trading Through Texas Gulf Sulphur, James D. Cox Jan 2018

Seeking An Objective For Regulating Insider Trading Through Texas Gulf Sulphur, James D. Cox

Faculty Scholarship

Data summarized in the opening of this article document that inside trading is a growth industry. And, as deals get ever bigger, the growth curve becomes steeper as more the data confirms intuition that the more who know about a good thing the more who will seek to harvest its benefits. Even though insider trading appears to have thrived during the fifty years after Texas Gulf Sulphur, we gather in this symposium to celebrate the decision. But why? As developed below, the Second Circuit’s landmark decision gave way to the Supreme Court’s erection of a fiduciary framework that ...


Fiduciary Principles In Agency Law, Deborah A. Demott Jan 2018

Fiduciary Principles In Agency Law, Deborah A. Demott

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


The Responsibility Gap In Corporate Crime, Samuel W. Buell Jan 2017

The Responsibility Gap In Corporate Crime, Samuel W. Buell

Faculty Scholarship

In many cases of criminality within large corporations, senior management does not commit the operative offense — or conspire or assist in it — but nonetheless bears serious responsibility for the crime. That responsibility can derive from, among other things, management’s role in cultivating corporate culture, in failing to police effectively within the firm, and in accepting lavish compensation for taking the firm’s reins. Criminal law does not include any doctrinal means for transposing that form of responsibility into punishment. Arguments for expanding doctrine — including broadening of the presently narrow “responsible corporate officer” doctrine — so as to authorize such punishment ...


Keynote Address, Regulating Corporate Governance In The Public Interest: The Case Of Systemic Risk, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2016

Keynote Address, Regulating Corporate Governance In The Public Interest: The Case Of Systemic Risk, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

There’s long been a debate whether corporate governance law should require some duty to the public. The accepted wisdom is not to require such a duty—that corporate profit maximization provides jobs and other public benefits that exceed any harm. This is especially true, the argument goes, because imposing specific regulatory requirements and making certain actions illegal or tortious can mitigate the harm without unduly impairing corporate wealth production. Whether that is true in other contexts, this paper—delivered as the keynote address at the June 2016 National Business Law Scholars Conference at The University of Chicago Law School ...


Fiduciary Breach, Once Removed, Deborah A. Demott Jan 2016

Fiduciary Breach, Once Removed, Deborah A. Demott

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Relationships Of Trust And Confidence In The Workplace, Deborah A. Demott Jan 2015

Relationships Of Trust And Confidence In The Workplace, Deborah A. Demott

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Fiduciary Discretion, D. Gordon Smith, Jordan C. Lee Jun 2014

Fiduciary Discretion, D. Gordon Smith, Jordan C. Lee

Faculty Scholarship

Discretion is an important feature of all contractual relationships. In this Article, we rely on incomplete contract theory to motivate our study of discretion, with particular attention to fiduciary relationships. We make two contributions to the substantial literature on fiduciary law. First, we describe the role of fiduciary law as “boundary enforcement,” and we urge courts to honor the appropriate exercise of discretion by fiduciaries, even when the beneficiary or the judge might perceive a preferable action after the fact. Second, we answer the question, how should a court define the boundaries of fiduciary discretion? We observe that courts often ...


Facilitating Successful Failures, Michelle M. Harner, Jamie Marincic Griffin Jan 2014

Facilitating Successful Failures, Michelle M. Harner, Jamie Marincic Griffin

Faculty Scholarship

Approximately 80,000 businesses fail each year in the United States. This article presents an original empirical study of over 400 business restructuring professionals focused on a critical, arguably contributing factor to these failures—the conduct of boards of directors and management. Anecdotal evidence suggests that management of distressed companies often bury their heads in the sand until it is too late to remedy the companies’ problems, a phenomenon commonly called “ostrich syndrome.” The data confirm this behavior, show a prevalent use of loss framing, and suggest trends consistent with prospect theory. The article draws on these data and behavioral ...


Deal Deconstructions, Case Studies, And Case Simulations: Toward Practice Readiness With New Pedagogies In Teaching Business And Transactional Law, Michelle M. Harner, Robert J. Rhee Jan 2014

Deal Deconstructions, Case Studies, And Case Simulations: Toward Practice Readiness With New Pedagogies In Teaching Business And Transactional Law, Michelle M. Harner, Robert J. Rhee

Faculty Scholarship

In this short commentary, we explore the use of two interrelated pedagogical methods for teaching transactional and business law. The first method is deal deconstruction, which analyzes the set of final deal documents and outcomes. This method is backward-looking, conducting a post-mortem on business transactions and analyzing the parties’ choices memorialized in the agreement against the legal and financial alternatives. The second method involves case studies and simulations, which are commonly seen in business schools. This method is forward-looking, exposing students to the uncertainties and situational contexts of doing deals and deal-related litigation. Together, these complementary methods help students understand ...


Contractually Adopted Fiduciary Duty, D. Gordon Smith Oct 2013

Contractually Adopted Fiduciary Duty, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

The Delaware Supreme Court recently referred to “contractually adopted fiduciary duties.” Although some commentators, including Larry Ribstein, view fiduciary duties as a type of contract term, the notion of contractually adopted fiduciary duties is incoherent. The need to opt in to fiduciary duties would arise in only two circumstances: (1) fiduciary relationships that do not invoke fiduciary duties without contractual authorization, and (2) nonfiduciary relationships in which the parties wish to invoke fiduciary duties that would otherwise be absent. The first category of relationships does not exist, as courts impose fiduciary duties when the structure of a relationship indicates that ...


The Tort Foundation Of Duty Of Care And Business Judgment, Robert J. Rhee Jan 2013

The Tort Foundation Of Duty Of Care And Business Judgment, Robert J. Rhee

Faculty Scholarship

This Article corrects a misconception in corporation law – the belief that principles of tort law do not apply to the liability scheme of fiduciary duty. A board’s duty of care implies exposure to liability, but the business judgment rule precludes it. Tort law finds fault; corporation law excuses it. The conventional wisdom says that the tort analogy fails. This dismissal of tort prinicples is wrong. Although shareholder derivative suits and ordinary tort cases properly yield systemically antipodal outcomes, they are bound by a common analytical framework. The principles of board liability are rooted in tort doctrines governing duty, customs ...


A More Realistic Approach To Directors' Duties, Michelle M. Harner Jan 2013

A More Realistic Approach To Directors' Duties, Michelle M. Harner

Faculty Scholarship

Expectations for what fiduciary duties can achieve in the corporate context are unrealistic. This segment of the law—and the alleged deficiencies therein—are blamed for corporate scandals, securities fraud, failed business plans, and even a company's insolvency. Risk is, however, inherent in business, and human beings are flawed. Fiduciary duty law cannot change these basic facts. To the extent we think it can, we will continue to be disappointed and frustrated. This essay considers recasting (and to a greater extent codifying) directors’ duties in a positive frame to help foster better director oversight. It does not suggest that ...


Lawyers In The Shadows: The Transactional Lawyer In A World Of Shadow Banking, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2013

Lawyers In The Shadows: The Transactional Lawyer In A World Of Shadow Banking, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

This article, which is based on the author’s keynote address at an April 5, 2013 conference at American University Washington College of Law on “Transactional Lawyering: Theory, Practice, & Pedagogy,” examines the role of transactional lawyers in a world of shadow banking. By reducing the dominance of banks as financial intermediaries, shadow banking has transformed the financial system, causing transactional lawyers to face an array of novel issues. This article focuses on one of those issues: To what extent should transactional lawyers address the potential systemic consequences of their client’s actions? First, the article shows that the legal system ...


Message In Mortgage: What Dodd-Frank's 'Qualified Mortgage' Tells Us About Ourselves, David Reiss Jan 2012

Message In Mortgage: What Dodd-Frank's 'Qualified Mortgage' Tells Us About Ourselves, David Reiss

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Ethical Issues In Business And The Lawyer's Role, Robert J. Rhee, Carol Morgan, Tamar Frankel, Mark Fagan Jan 2011

Ethical Issues In Business And The Lawyer's Role, Robert J. Rhee, Carol Morgan, Tamar Frankel, Mark Fagan

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


International Movement To Deter Corruption: Should China Join?, Paul D. Carrington Jan 2010

International Movement To Deter Corruption: Should China Join?, Paul D. Carrington

Faculty Scholarship

Global concerns over the corruption of weak governments by firms engaged in transnational business are the source of an international movement that emerged in 1997. Special concern is presently directed at the weakness of enforcement of laws enacted in recent times to deter corrupt business practices in international trade that were enacted in response to that movement. One cause of weakness in law enforcement is the failure of China to share actively in those concerns and the efforts to address them. This essay will briefly record steps taken in other nations to address the concerns and the limited effectiveness of ...


The Dystopian Potential Of Corporate Law, D. Gordon Smith Dec 2008

The Dystopian Potential Of Corporate Law, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

The community of corporate law scholars in the United States is fragmented. One group, heavily influenced by economic analysis of corporations, is exploring the merits of increasing shareholder power vis-a-vis directors. Another group, animated by concern for social justice, is challenging the traditional, shareholder-centric view of corporate law, arguing instead for a model of stakeholder governance. The current disagreement within corporate law is as fundamental as in any area of law, and the debate is more heated than at any time since the New Deal. This paper is part of a debate on the audacious question, Can Corporate Law Save ...


Understanding The ‘Corporate’ In Corporate Social Responsibility, Barak D. Richman, Aaron K. Chatterji Jan 2008

Understanding The ‘Corporate’ In Corporate Social Responsibility, Barak D. Richman, Aaron K. Chatterji

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


The "Branding Effect" Of Contracts, D. Gordon Smith Apr 2006

The "Branding Effect" Of Contracts, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

In his case study of the MasterCard IPO and its predecessor piece on the Google IPO, Victor Fleischer claims to find evidence of a branding effect of legal infrastructure. The branding effect is not aimed at reducing the potential for opportunism by a counterparty to a contract, but rather at increasing the attractiveness of a product to present and future users or improving the image of a company in the eyes of regulators, judges, and juries. In this essay commenting on Fleischer's work, I endorse the notion that deal structures have branding effects and position Fleischer's work within ...


The Exit Structure Of Venture Capital, D. Gordon Smith Dec 2005

The Exit Structure Of Venture Capital, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

Venture capital contracts contain extensive provisions regulating exit by the venture capitalists. In this Article, Professor Smith employs financial contracting theory in conjunction with original data collected from 367 venture-backed companies to analyze these exit provisions. He concludes that the combination of exit provisions in a typical venture capital relationship serves to lock venture capitalists into the investment during the initial stage. In later stages of the relationship, the venture capitalists acquire increasing control over exit by securing additional seats on the board of directors and by obtaining contractual exit rights. The result is a sophisticated transfer of control from ...


Spare The Rod, Spoil The Director? Revitalizing Directors' Fiduciary Duty Through Legal Liability, Lisa M. Fairfax Nov 2005

Spare The Rod, Spoil The Director? Revitalizing Directors' Fiduciary Duty Through Legal Liability, Lisa M. Fairfax

Faculty Scholarship

It appears that our society has tacitly agreed to spare corporate directors any significant legal liability—which includes both financial and incarceration—for failing to perform their duties as board members. Thus, over the last twenty years, there has been a virtual elimination of legal liability—particularly in the form of financial penalties—for directors who breach their fiduciary duty of care. This is true despite the fact that we entrust directors with the awesome responsibility of monitoring all of America's corporations as well as the officers and agents within those corporations. More surprisingly, this tacit agreement against legal ...


The Exit Structure Of Strategic Alliances, D. Gordon Smith Apr 2005

The Exit Structure Of Strategic Alliances, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

Today, many biotechnology firms use strategic alliances to contract with other companies. This article contends that the governance structure of these alliances - specifically, the contractual board - provides an integrated restraint on opportunism. While an alliance agreement's exit structure could provide a check on opportunism by allowing the parties to exit at will, such exit provisions also can be used opportunistically. Most alliance agreements, therefore, provide for contractual lock in of the alliance partners, with only limited means of exit. Lock in, of course, raises its own concerns, and the contractual board - which typically is composed of representatives from each ...


Independent Legal Significance, Good Faith, And The Interpretation Of Venture Capital Contracts, D. Gordon Smith Mar 2004

Independent Legal Significance, Good Faith, And The Interpretation Of Venture Capital Contracts, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

Venture capital contracts are inherently incomplete. When interpreting such contracts, courts could deal with the expectations of parties formally by inquiring only about the plain meaning of the contract or qualitatively by enforcing the presumed expectations of the parties, regardless of whether those expectations are expressed in the contract. The Delaware courts have opted for a formal approach. In doing so, they appear to be engaged in an effort to force contracting parties toward completeness. While the duty of good faith appears to respond to the inevitable incompleteness of contracts, the courts largely ignore this duty in preferred stock cases ...


The Critical Resource Theory Of Fiduciary Duty, D. Gordon Smith Nov 2002

The Critical Resource Theory Of Fiduciary Duty, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

This Article proposes a new theory to unify the law of fiduciary duty. The prevailing view holds that fiduciary law is atomistic, arising for varied reasons in established categories of cases (such as trustee-beneficiary and director-shareholder) and ad hoc in relationships where one person trusts another and becomes vulnerable to harm as a result. By contrast, the critical resource theory of fiduciary duty holds that every relationship properly designated as fiduciary conforms to the following pattern: one party (the fiduciary) acts on behalf of another party (the beneficiary) while exercising discretion with respect to a critical resource belonging to the ...


Toward A New Theory Of The Shareholder Role: A Sacred Space In Corporate Transactions, Robert B. Thompson, D. Gordon Smith Dec 2001

Toward A New Theory Of The Shareholder Role: A Sacred Space In Corporate Transactions, Robert B. Thompson, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

Corporate law expresses a profound ambiguity toward the role of shareholders. Courts announce that shareholders are critical to the theory that legitimates the exercise of power - by directors and officers over vast aggregations of property that they do not own. At the same time shareholders have a very difficult time actually making any corporate decisions. In this Article, we strive to define a new role for shareholders by drawing on economic theories of the firm and the structure of corporate law. More particularly we examine the role of shareholders in hostile corporate takeovers, the area where the interests of shareholders ...


A Proposal To Eliminate Director Standards From The Model Business Corporations Act, D. Gordon Smith May 1999

A Proposal To Eliminate Director Standards From The Model Business Corporations Act, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

The Committee on Corporate Laws of the Business Section of the American Bar Association recently adopted amendments to the section of the Model Business Corporation Act (MBCA) enunciating standards of director performance. In place of the current section 8.30, which has been adopted by 42 states, the Committee has adopted two sections - one defining a standard of conduct and one defining a standard of liability for corporate directors. This paper argues that these new standards do not achieve the goals of bifurcation. Moreover, if adopted and used, the new standards will engender confusion and possibly inequitable results. This paper ...


Team Production In Venture Capital Investing, D. Gordon Smith May 1999

Team Production In Venture Capital Investing, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists engage in team production. Inherent in team production is an incentive problem: team members have an incentive to shirk. The incentive to shirk derives from the inability to monitor team members perfectly and compensate them based on productivity. Economic models of team production teach that solutions to shirking must involve (1) a principal (2) with authority to break the budget by realigning the claims of team members through use of a penalty or a bonding arrangement (3) based only on observations of team output, not on monitoring of individual inputs. This paper analyzes the team production ...


The Shareholder Primacy Norm, D. Gordon Smith Dec 1998

The Shareholder Primacy Norm, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

Corporate directors have a fiduciary duty to make decisions in the best interests of the shareholders. This aspect of fiduciary duty is often called the shareholder primacy norm. Legal scholars generally assume that the shareholder primacy norm is a major factor considered by boards of directors of publicly traded corporations in making ordinary business decisions and that changing the shareholder primacy norm would have an effect on the substance of those decisions. This Article challenges this view and argues that the shareholder primacy norm was never equipped to mediate conflicts between shareholders and nonshareholder constituencies of a corporation. The origins ...


Venture Capital Contracting In The Information Age, D. Gordon Smith Jul 1998

Venture Capital Contracting In The Information Age, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

Most venture capitalists provide services to their portfolio companies beyond capital investment. Although these services form an important part of the bargain between the venture capitalists and the entrepreneur, they are rarely specified or even capable of specification in venture capital contracts. This article examines the moral hazard and adverse selection problems facing entrepreneurs who hire venture capitalists to provide value-added services and describes the role of the market for venture capitalist reputation in addressing those problems. Further, the Article speculates about whether advances in information technology - specifically, the World Wide Web - are likely to improve the efficiency of the ...