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

Centros, California’S “Women On Boards” Statute And The Scope Of Regulatory Competition, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon May 2019

Centros, California’S “Women On Boards” Statute And The Scope Of Regulatory Competition, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

We examine the Centros decision through the lens of SB 826 – the California statute mandating a minimum number of women on boards. SB 826, like the Centros decision, raises questions about the scope of the internal affairs doctrine and its role in encouraging regulatory competition. Despite the claim that US corporate law is characterized by regulatory competition, in the US, the internal affairs doctrine has led to less variation in corporate law than in Europe. We theorize that this is due to the shareholder primacy norm in US corporate law which results in the internal affairs doctrine focusing on matters ...


Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch Apr 2019

Making Sustainability Disclosure Sustainable, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Sustainability is receiving increasing attention from issuers, investors and regulators. The desire to understand issuer sustainability practices and their relationship to economic performance has resulted in a proliferation of sustainability disclosure regimes and standards. The range of approaches to disclosure, however, limit the comparability and reliability of the information disclosed. The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has solicited comment on whether to require expanded sustainability disclosures in issuer’s periodic financial reporting, and investors have communicated broad-based support for such expanded disclosures, but, to date, the SEC has not required general sustainability disclosure.

This Article argues that claims about the relationship ...


Bankruptcy’S Uneasy Shift To A Contract Paradigm, David A. Skeel Jr., George Triantis Jun 2018

Bankruptcy’S Uneasy Shift To A Contract Paradigm, David A. Skeel Jr., George Triantis

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The most dramatic development in twenty-first century bankruptcy practice has been the increasing use of contracts to shape the bankruptcy process. To explain the new contract paradigm—our principal objective in this Article-- we begin by examining the structure of current bankruptcy law. Although the Bankruptcy Code of 1978 has long been viewed as mandatory, its voting and cramdown rules, among others, invite considerable contracting. The emerging paradigm is asymmetric, however. While the Code and bankruptcy practice allow for ex post contracting, ex ante contracts are viewed with suspicion.

We next use contract theory to assess the two modes of ...


Toward A Horizontal Fiduciary Duty In Corporate Law, Asaf Eckstein, Gideon Parchomovsky Feb 2018

Toward A Horizontal Fiduciary Duty In Corporate Law, Asaf Eckstein, Gideon Parchomovsky

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Fiduciary duty is arguably the single most important aspect of our corporate law system. It consists of two distinct sub-duties—a duty of care and a duty of loyalty—and it applies to all directors and corporate officers. Yet, under extant law, the duty only applies vertically, in the relationship between directors and corporate officers and the firm. At present, there exists no horizontal fiduciary duty: directors and corporate officers owe no fiduciary duty to each other. Consequently, if one of them fails her peers, they cannot seek direct legal recourse against her even when they stand to suffer significant ...


Governance By Contract: The Implications For Corporate Bylaws, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2018

Governance By Contract: The Implications For Corporate Bylaws, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Boards and shareholders are increasing using charter and bylaw provisions to customize their corporate governance. Recent examples include forum selection bylaws, majority voting bylaws and advance notice bylaws. Relying on the contractual conception of the corporation, Delaware courts have accorded substantial deference to board-adopted bylaw provisions, even those that limit shareholder rights.

This Article challenges the rationale for deference under the contractual approach. With respect to corporate bylaws, the Article demonstrates that shareholder power to adopt and amend the bylaws is, under Delaware law, more limited than the board’s power to do so. As a result, shareholders cannot effectively ...


The Shifting Tides Of Merger Litigation, Matthew D. Cain, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2018

The Shifting Tides Of Merger Litigation, Matthew D. Cain, Jill E. Fisch, Steven Davidoff Solomon, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In 2015, Delaware made several important changes to its laws concerning merger litigation. These changes, which were made in response to a perception that levels of merger litigation were too high and that a substantial proportion of merger cases were not providing value, raised the bar, making it more difficult for plaintiffs to win a lawsuit challenging a merger and more difficult for plaintiffs’ counsel to collect a fee award.

We study what has happened in the courts in response to these changes. We find that the initial effect of the changes has been to decrease the volume of merger ...


Perfectly Frank: A Reflection On Quality Lawyering In Honor Of R. Franklin Balotti, Leo E. Strine Jr., James J. Hanks Jr., John F. Olson, A. Gilchrist Sparks, E. Norman Veasey, Gregory P. Williams Apr 2017

Perfectly Frank: A Reflection On Quality Lawyering In Honor Of R. Franklin Balotti, Leo E. Strine Jr., James J. Hanks Jr., John F. Olson, A. Gilchrist Sparks, E. Norman Veasey, Gregory P. Williams

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This essay honoring the late R. Franklin Balotti focuses upon certain of the key attributes necessary to practice business law effectively and ethically. Among these attributes are a strong work ethic, the integrity to stand behind your own advice and candidly admit when things do not go according to plan, empathy for how others will view your client’s actions and the ability to communicate that perception to your client, the confidence to change the pace of a transaction when a slow down or time out is warranted, and the ability to have some fun and laugh (even at yourself ...


Who Bleeds When The Wolves Bite? A Flesh-And-Blood Perspective On Hedge Fund Activism And Our Strange Corporate Governance System, Leo E. Strine Jr. Apr 2017

Who Bleeds When The Wolves Bite? A Flesh-And-Blood Perspective On Hedge Fund Activism And Our Strange Corporate Governance System, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper examines the effects of hedge fund activism and so-called wolf pack activity on the ordinary human beings—the human investors—who fund our capital markets but who, as indirect of owners of corporate equity, have only limited direct power to ensure that the capital they contribute is deployed to serve their welfare and in turn the broader social good.

Most human investors in fact depend much more on their labor than on their equity for their wealth and therefore care deeply about whether our corporate governance system creates incentives for corporations to create and sustain jobs for them ...


The Separation Of Corporate Law And Social Welfare, William W. Bratton Jan 2017

The Separation Of Corporate Law And Social Welfare, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A half century ago, corporate legal theory pursued an institutional vision in which corporations and the law that creates them protect people from the ravages of volatile free markets. That vision was challenged on the ground during the 1980s, when corporate legal institutions and market forces came to blows over questions concerning hostile takeovers. By 1990, it seemed like the institutions had won. But a different picture has emerged as the years have gone by. It is now clear that the market side really won the battle of the 1980s, succeeding in entering a wedge between corporate law and social ...


Appraising Merger Efficiencies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2017

Appraising Merger Efficiencies, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Mergers of business firms violate the antitrust laws when they threaten to lessen competition, which generally refers to a price increase resulting from a reduction in output. However, a merger that threatens competition may also enable the post-merger firm to reduce its costs or improve its product. Attitudes toward mergers are heavily driven by assumptions about efficiency gains. If mergers of competitors never produced efficiency gains but simply reduced the number of competitors, a strong presumption against them would be warranted. We tolerate most mergers because of a background, highly generalized belief that most or at least many produce cost ...


Mutually Assured Protection Among Large U.S. Law Firms, Tom Baker, Rick Swedloff Jan 2017

Mutually Assured Protection Among Large U.S. Law Firms, Tom Baker, Rick Swedloff

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Top law firms are notoriously competitive, fighting for prime clients and matters. But some of the most elite firms are also deeply cooperative, willingly sharing key details about their finances and strategy with their rivals. More surprisingly, they pay handsomely to do so. Nearly half of the AmLaw 100 and 200 belong to mutual insurance organizations that require member firms to provide capital; partner time; and important information about their governance, balance sheets, risk management, strategic plans, and malpractice liability. To answer why these firms do so when there are commercial insurers willing to provide coverage with fewer burdens, we ...


The Bylaw Puzzle In Delaware Corporate Law, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2017

The Bylaw Puzzle In Delaware Corporate Law, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In less than a decade, Delaware’s legislature has overruled its courts and reshaped Delaware corporate law on two different occasions, with proxy access bylaws in 2009 and with shareholder litigation bylaws in 2015. Having two dramatic interventions in quick succession would be puzzling under any circumstances. The interventions are doubly puzzling because with proxy access, Delaware’s legislature authorized the use of bylaws or charter provisions that Delaware’s courts had banned; while with shareholder litigation, it banned bylaws or charter provisions that the courts had authorized. This Article attempts to unravel the puzzle.

I start with corporate law ...


Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose I: Evidence From My Hometown, Leo E. Strine Jr. Dec 2016

Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose I: Evidence From My Hometown, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper is the first in a series considering a rather tired argument in corporate governance circles, that corporate laws that give only rights to stockholders somehow implicitly empower directors to regard other constituencies as equal ends in governance. By continuing to suggest that corporate boards themselves are empowered to treat the best interests of other corporate constituencies as ends in themselves, no less important than stockholders, scholars and commentators obscure the need for legal protections for other constituencies and for other legal reforms that give these constituencies the means to more effectively protect themselves.

Using recent events in the ...


Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose Ii: An Encouragement For Future Consideration From Professors Johnson And Millon, Leo E. Strine Jr. Oct 2016

Corporate Power Is Corporate Purpose Ii: An Encouragement For Future Consideration From Professors Johnson And Millon, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This paper is the second in a series considering the argument that corporate laws that give only rights to stockholders somehow implicitly empower directors to regard other constituencies as equal ends in governance. This piece was written as part of a symposium honoring the outstanding work of Professors Lyman Johnson and David Millon, and it seeks to encourage Professors Johnson and Millon, as proponents of the view that corporations have no duty to make stockholder welfare the end of corporate law, to focus on the reality that corporate power translates into corporate purpose.

Drawing on examples of controlled companies that ...


The New Governance And The Challenge Of Litigation Bylaws, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2016

The New Governance And The Challenge Of Litigation Bylaws, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Corporate governance mechanisms designed to ensure that managers act in shareholders’ interest have evolved dramatically over the past forty years. “Old governance” mechanisms such as independent directors and performance-based executive compensation have been supplemented by innovations that give shareholders greater input into both the selection of directors and ongoing operational decisions. Issuer boards have responded with tools to limit the exercise of shareholder power both procedurally and substantively. This article terms the adoption and use of these tools, which generally take the form of structural provisions in the corporate charter or bylaws, the “new governance.”

Delaware law has largely taken ...


The Importance Of Being Dismissive: The Efficiency Role Of Pleading Stage Evaluation Of Shareholder Litigation, Lawrence A. Hamermesh, Michael L. Wachter Aug 2015

The Importance Of Being Dismissive: The Efficiency Role Of Pleading Stage Evaluation Of Shareholder Litigation, Lawrence A. Hamermesh, Michael L. Wachter

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

It has been claimed that the risk/reward dynamics of shareholder litigation have encouraged quick settlements with substantial attorneys’ fee awards but no payment to shareholders, regardless of the merits of the case. Fee-shifting charter and bylaw provisions may be too blunt a tool to control agency costs associated with excessive shareholder litigation, and are in any event now prohibited by Delaware statute. We claim, however, that active judicial supervision of public company shareholder litigation at an early stage reduces the costs of frivolous litigation to shareholders by separating meritorious from unmeritorious litigation before the full costs of discovery are ...


Tax Inertia: A General Framework With Specific Application To Business Tax Reform, Chris William Sanchirico Jun 2015

Tax Inertia: A General Framework With Specific Application To Business Tax Reform, Chris William Sanchirico

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A surprising degree of bipartisan consensus has lately formed in the United States around two propositions of business tax reform: that something should be done about the “lockout” of US multinationals’ foreign earnings; and that the corporate income tax rate should be reduced. This paper questions whether these two propositions are really consistent. In the process of attempting to provide an answer, it develops a framework for relating and measuring various forms of “tax inertia”: tax-based disincentives to alter investments. Applying this framework, the paper concludes that the current agreement on business tax reform is substantially in disagreement with itself.


Corporate Law Doctrine And The Legacy Of American Legal Realism, Edward B. Rock Jan 2015

Corporate Law Doctrine And The Legacy Of American Legal Realism, Edward B. Rock

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this contribution to a symposium on "Legal Realism and Legal Doctrine," I examine the role that jurisprudence plays in corporate law doctrine. Through an examination of paired cases from the United States and United Kingdom, I offer a case study of the contrasting influence on corporate law judging of American Legal Realism versus traditional U.K. Doctrinalism.

Specialist judges in both systems, aided by specialist lawyers, clearly identify and understand the core policy issues involved in a dispute and arrive at sensible results. Adjusting for differences in background law and institutions, it seems likely that the disputes would ultimately ...


The Mess At Morgan: Risk, Incentives And Shareholder Empowerment, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2015

The Mess At Morgan: Risk, Incentives And Shareholder Empowerment, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The financial crisis of 2008 focused increasing attention on corporate America and, in particular, the risk-taking behavior of large financial institutions. A growing appreciation of the “public” nature of the corporation resulted in a substantial number of high profile enforcement actions. In addition, demands for greater accountability led policymakers to attempt to harness the corporation’s internal decision-making structure, in the name of improved corporate governance, to further the interest of non-shareholder stakeholders. Dodd-Frank’s advisory vote on executive compensation is an example.

This essay argues that the effort to employ shareholders as agents of public values and, thereby, to ...


Introduction To Institutional Investor Activism: Hedge Funds And Private Equity, Economics And Regulation, William W. Bratton, Joseph A. Mccahery Jan 2015

Introduction To Institutional Investor Activism: Hedge Funds And Private Equity, Economics And Regulation, William W. Bratton, Joseph A. Mccahery

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The increase in institutional ownership of recent decades has been accompanied by an enhanced role played by institutions in monitoring companies’ corporate governance behaviour. Activist hedge funds and private equity firms have achieved a degree of success in actively shaping the business plans of target firms. They may be characterized as pursuing a common goal – in the words used in the OECD Steering Group on Corporate Governance, both seek ‘to increase the market value of their pooled capital through active engagement with individual public companies. This engagement may include demands for changes in management, the composition of the board, dividend ...


Rediscovering Corporate Governance In Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2015

Rediscovering Corporate Governance In Bankruptcy, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

In this Essay on Lynn LoPucki and Bill Whitford’s corporate reorganization project, written for a symposium honoring Bill Whitford, I begin by very briefly describing its historical antecedents. The project draws on the insights and perspectives of two closely intertwined traditions: the legal realism of 1930s, whose exemplars included William Douglas and other participants in the SEC study; and the law in action movement at the University of Wisconsin. In Section II, I briefly survey the key contributions of the corporate governance project, which punctured the then-conventional wisdom about the treatment of shareholders in bankruptcy, managers’ principal allegiance, and ...


Beyond Gilson: The Art Of Business Lawyering, Praveen Kosuri Jan 2015

Beyond Gilson: The Art Of Business Lawyering, Praveen Kosuri

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Thirty years ago, Ronald Gilson asked the question, “what do business lawyers really do?” Since that time legal scholars have continued to grapple with that question and the implicit question of how business lawyers add value to their clients. This article revisits the question again but with a more expansive perspective on the role of business lawyer and what constitutes value to clients.

Gilson put forth the theory of business lawyers as transaction cost engineers. Years later, Karl Okamoto introduced the concept of deal lawyer as reputational intermediary. Steven Schwarcz attempted to isolate the role of business lawyer from other ...


Empowering Employees To Prevent Fraud In Nonprofit Organizations, John M. Bradley Jan 2015

Empowering Employees To Prevent Fraud In Nonprofit Organizations, John M. Bradley

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This Article examines the significant problem of fraud within nonprofit organizations and demonstrates that current anti-fraud measures do not adequately reflect the important role employees play in perpetuating or stopping fraudulent activity. Psychological and organizational behavior studies have established the importance of (1) participation and (2) peers in shaping the behavior of individuals within the organizational context. This Article builds on that research and establishes that to successfully combat fraud, organizations must integrate employees into the design, implementation, and enforcement of anti-fraud strategy and procedures. Engaged, empowered employees will be less likely to commit fraud and more likely to dissuade ...


Framing A Purpose For Corporate Law, William W. Bratton Jul 2014

Framing A Purpose For Corporate Law, William W. Bratton

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This article seeks to frame a short statement of purpose for corporate law on which all reasonable observers can agree. The statement, in order to succeed at its intended purpose, must satisfy two strict conditions: first, it must have enough content to be meaningful; second, it must be completely uncontroversial, both descriptively and normatively. The exercise, thus described, involves avoiding the issues that occupy center stage in discussions about corporate law while at the same time highlighting the discussants’ generally held presuppositions. Three closely interconnected issues arise. First, whether the statement of the purpose of corporate law should speak in ...


Corporate Governance And Social Welfare In The Common Law World, David A. Skeel Jr. Jan 2014

Corporate Governance And Social Welfare In The Common Law World, David A. Skeel Jr.

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The newest addition to the spate of recent theories of comparative corporate governance is Corporate Governance in the Common-Law World: The Political Foundations of Shareholder Power, an important new book by Christopher Bruner. Focusing on the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia, Bruner argues that the robustness of the country’s social welfare system is the key determinant of the extent to which its corporate governance is shareholder-centered. This explains why corporate governance is so shareholder-oriented in the United Kingdom, which has universal healthcare and generous unemployment benefits, while shareholders’ powers are more attenuated in the United States ...


Bankers And Chancellors, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter Jan 2014

Bankers And Chancellors, William W. Bratton, Michael L. Wachter

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Delaware Chancery Court recently squared off against the investment banking world with a series of rulings that tie Revlon violations to banker conflicts of interest. Critics charge the Court with slamming down fiduciary principles of self-abnegation in a business context where they have no place or, contrariwise, letting culpable banks off the hook with ineffectual slaps on the wrist. This Article addresses this controversy, offering a sustained look at the banker-client advisory relationship. We pose a clear answer to the questions raised: although this is nominally fiduciary territory, both banker-client relationships and the Chancery Court’s recent interventions are ...


Who Calls The Shots?: How Mutual Funds Vote On Director Elections, Stephen J. Choi, Jill E. Fisch, Marcel Kahan Jan 2013

Who Calls The Shots?: How Mutual Funds Vote On Director Elections, Stephen J. Choi, Jill E. Fisch, Marcel Kahan

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Shareholder voting has become an increasingly important focus of corporate governance, and mutual funds control a substantial percentage of shareholder voting power. The manner in which mutual funds exercise that power, however, is poorly understood. In particular, because neither mutual funds nor their advisors are beneficial owners of their portfolio holdings, there is concern that mutual fund voting may be uninformed or tainted by conflicts of interest. These concerns, if true, hamper the potential effectiveness of regulatory reforms such as proxy access and say on pay. This article analyzes mutual fund voting decisions in uncontested director elections. We find that ...


A Transactional Genealogy Of Scandal: From Michael Milken To Enron To Goldman Sachs, William W. Bratton, Adam J. Levitin Jan 2013

A Transactional Genealogy Of Scandal: From Michael Milken To Enron To Goldman Sachs, William W. Bratton, Adam J. Levitin

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Three scandals have reshaped business regulation over the past thirty years: the securities fraud prosecution of Michael Milken in 1988, the Enron implosion of 2001, and the Goldman Sachs “ABACUS” enforcement action of 2010. The scandals have always been seen as unrelated. This Article highlights a previously unnoticed transactional affinity tying these scandals together—a deal structure known as the synthetic collateralized debt obligation involving the use of a special purpose entity (“SPE”). The SPE is a new and widely used form of corporate alter ego designed to undertake transactions for its creator’s accounting and regulatory benefit.

The SPE ...


The Long Road Back: Business Roundtable And The Future Of Sec Rulemaking, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2013

The Long Road Back: Business Roundtable And The Future Of Sec Rulemaking, Jill E. Fisch

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Securities and Exchange Commission has suffered a number of recent setbacks in areas ranging from enforcement policy to rulemaking. The DC Circuit’s 2011 Business Roundtable decision is one of the most serious, particularly in light of the heavy rulemaking obligations imposed on the SEC by Dodd-Frank and the JOBS Act. The effectiveness of the SEC in future rulemaking and the ability of its rules to survive legal challenge are currently under scrutiny.

This article critically evaluates the Business Roundtable decision in the context of the applicable statutory and structural constraints on SEC rulemaking. Toward that end, the essay ...


Adapting To The New Shareholder-Centric Reality, Edward B. Rock Jan 2013

Adapting To The New Shareholder-Centric Reality, Edward B. Rock

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

After more than eighty years of sustained attention, the master problem of U.S. corporate law—the separation of ownership and control—has mostly been brought under control. This resolution has occurred more through changes in market and corporate practices than through changes in the law. This Article explores how corporate law and practice are adapting to the new shareholder-centric reality that has emerged.

Because solving the shareholder–manager agency cost problem aggravates shareholder–creditor agency costs, I focus on implications for creditors. After considering how debt contracts, compensation arrangements, and governance structures can work together to limit shareholder–creditor ...