Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Articles 1 - 16 of 16

Full-Text Articles in Law

Contested Visions: The Value Of Systems Theory For Corporate Law, Tamara Belinfanti, Lynn A. Stout Feb 2018

Contested Visions: The Value Of Systems Theory For Corporate Law, Tamara Belinfanti, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Despite the dominant role corporations play in our economy, culture, and politics, the nature and purpose of corporations remains hotly contested. This conflict was brought to the fore in the recent Supreme Court opinions in Citizens United and Hobby Lobby. Although the prevailing narrative for the past quarter-century has been that corporations “belong” to shareholders and should pursue “shareholder value,” support for this approach, which has been justified as essential for managerial accountability, is eroding. It persists today primarily in the form of the argument that corporations should seek “long-term” shareholder value. Yet, as this Article shows, when shareholder value ...


Lawyers And Fools: Lawyer-Directors In Public Corporations, Lubomir P. Litov, Simone M. Sepe, Charles K. Whitehead Jan 2014

Lawyers And Fools: Lawyer-Directors In Public Corporations, Lubomir P. Litov, Simone M. Sepe, Charles K. Whitehead

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The accepted wisdom—that a lawyer who becomes a corporate director has a fool for a client—is outdated. The benefits of lawyer-directors in today’s world significantly outweigh the costs. Beyond monitoring, they help manage litigation and regulation, as well as structure compensation to align CEO and shareholder interests. The results have been an average 9.5% increase in firm value and an almost doubling in the percentage of public companies with lawyer-directors.

This Article is the first to analyze the rise of lawyer-directors. It makes a variety of other empirical contributions, each of which is statistically significant and ...


On The Rise Of Shareholder Primacy, Signs Of Its Fall, And The Return Of Managerialism (In The Closet), Lynn A. Stout Jan 2013

On The Rise Of Shareholder Primacy, Signs Of Its Fall, And The Return Of Managerialism (In The Closet), Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


New Thinking On "Shareholder Primacy", Lynn A. Stout Jan 2012

New Thinking On "Shareholder Primacy", Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, many observers had come to believe that U.S. corporate law should, and does, embrace a "shareholder primacy" rule that requires corporate directors to maximize shareholder wealth as measured by share price. This Essay argues that such a view is mistaken.

As a positive matter, U.S. corporate law and practice does not require directors to maximize "shareholder value" but instead grants them a wide range of discretion, constrained only at the margin by market forces, to sacrifice shareholder wealth in order to benefit other constituencies and the firm itself. Although recent "reforms ...


Why Not A Ceo Term Limit?, Charles K. Whitehead May 2011

Why Not A Ceo Term Limit?, Charles K. Whitehead

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In this Essay, I ask: Why not require a mandatory CEO term limit? My purpose is not to propose a term limit, but rather to ask why CEO term limits are out-of-bounds – not addressed within the corporate governance scholarship – when they have long been advocated for directors and, more recently, public company auditors.

The traditional answer has been that CEOs are agents of the corporation, subject to control by the board, which holds primary responsibility for the firm’s business and affairs. Senior officers are largely shielded from outside interference, permitting them to execute consistent, long-term business strategies under board ...


Behind Close Doors: Governance Issues In Private Equity Driven Industries – The Close Corporation Paradox And Its Impact On Private Equity In The Us And Sweden, Kristian Hermanrud Apr 2009

Behind Close Doors: Governance Issues In Private Equity Driven Industries – The Close Corporation Paradox And Its Impact On Private Equity In The Us And Sweden, Kristian Hermanrud

Cornell Law School Inter-University Graduate Student Conference Papers

Publicly traded companies make up only a small fraction of the vast number of corporations operating in the US today. Only about 10,000 companies are traded publicly while there are roughly 20 million corporations doing business in the US. Likewise, over 245 private corporations’ annual revenues exceed $1 billion. Among these, more than twelve employ more than 50,000 employees. Despite the influence on vast amounts of people and capital legislature has, to a large degree, focused on publicly traded companies. The reasons for this stem, in large, back to the years of the market crash in the early ...


The Evolution Of Debt: Covenants, The Credit Market, And Corporate Governance, Charles K. Whitehead Apr 2009

The Evolution Of Debt: Covenants, The Credit Market, And Corporate Governance, Charles K. Whitehead

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


An Overview Of Brazilian Corporate Governance, Bernard S. Black, Antonio Gledson De Carvalho, Érica Gorga Jul 2008

An Overview Of Brazilian Corporate Governance, Bernard S. Black, Antonio Gledson De Carvalho, Érica Gorga

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

We provide the first detailed picture of firm-level corporate governance practices in an emerging market. We report on the corporate governance practices of Brazilian public companies, based primarily on an extensive 2005 survey of 116 companies. Most firms have a controlling shareholder or group. Board independence is an area of weakness. The boards of most Brazilian private firms are comprised entirely or almost entirely of insiders or representatives of the controlling family or group. Many firms have no independent directors. Financial disclosure is a second area of weakness. Only a minority of firms provide a statement of cash flows or ...


Fiduciary Duties For Activist Shareholders, Iman Anabtawi, Lynn A. Stout Mar 2008

Fiduciary Duties For Activist Shareholders, Iman Anabtawi, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Corporate law and scholarship generally assume that professional managers control public corporations, while shareholders play only a weak and passive role. As a result, corporate officers and directors are understood to be subject to extensive fiduciary duties, while shareholders traditionally have been thought to have far more limited obligations. Outside the contexts of controlling shareholders and closely held firms, many experts argue shareholders have no duties at all.

The most important trend in corporate governance today, however, is the move toward "shareholder democracy." Changes in financial markets, in business practice, and in corporate law have given minority shareholders in public ...


Deconstructing Equity: Public Ownership, Agency Costs, And Complete Capital Markets, Charles K. Whitehead, Ronald J. Gilson Jan 2008

Deconstructing Equity: Public Ownership, Agency Costs, And Complete Capital Markets, Charles K. Whitehead, Ronald J. Gilson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The traditional law and finance focus on agency costs presumes that the premise that diversified public shareholders are the cheapest risk bearers is immutable. In this Essay, we raise the possibility that changes in the capital markets have called this premise into question, drawn into sharp relief by the recent private equity wave in which the size and range of public companies being taken private expanded significantly. In brief, we argue that private owners, in increasingly complete markets, can transfer risk in discrete slices to counterparties who, in turn, can manage or otherwise diversify away those risks they choose to ...


The Mythical Benefits Of Shareholder Control, Lynn A. Stout May 2007

The Mythical Benefits Of Shareholder Control, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In "The Myth of the Shareholder Franchise," Professor Lucian Bebchuk elegantly argues that the notion that shareholders in public corporations have the power to remove directors is a myth. Although a director facing a proxy contest might find this to be a bit of an overstatement, the core idea is sound. In a public company with widely dispersed share ownership, it is difficult and expensive for shareholders to overcome obstacles to collective action and wage a proxy battle to oust an incumbent board. Nor is success likely when directors can use corporate funds to solicit proxies to stay in place ...


The Mythical Benefits Of Shareholder Control, Lynn A. Stout Apr 2007

The Mythical Benefits Of Shareholder Control, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In a forthcoming Virginia Law Review article, Professor Lucian Bebchuk argues that the notion that shareholders in public corporations have the power to remove directors is a myth. This is perhaps an overstatement, but Bebchuk is correct to suggest that in a public company with widely dispersed share ownership, it is difficult and expensive for shareholders to overcome obstacles to collective action and wage a proxy battle to oust an incumbent board. Nor is success likely when directors can use corporate funds to solicit proxies to stay in place. The end result, as Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means famously observed ...


On The Nature Of Corporations, Lynn A. Stout Jan 2005

On The Nature Of Corporations, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Legal experts traditionally distinguish corporations from unincorporated business forms by focusing on corporate characteristics like limited shareholder liability, centralized management, perpetual life, and free transferability of shares. While such approaches have value, this essay argues that the nature of the corporation can be better understood by focusing on a fifth, often-overlooked, characteristic of corporations: their capacity to "lock in" equity investors' initial capital contributions by making it far more difficult for those investors to subsequently withdraw assets from the firm. Like a tar pit, a corporation is much easier for equity investors to get into, than to get out of ...


Legal And Ethical Duties Of Lawyers After Sarbanes-Oxley, Roger C. Cramton, George M. Cohen, Susan P. Koniak Jan 2004

Legal And Ethical Duties Of Lawyers After Sarbanes-Oxley, Roger C. Cramton, George M. Cohen, Susan P. Koniak

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Director Accountability And The Mediating Role Of The Corporate Board, Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout Jan 2001

Director Accountability And The Mediating Role Of The Corporate Board, Margaret M. Blair, Lynn A. Stout

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

One of the most pressing questions facing both corporate scholars and businesspeople today is how corporate directors can be made accountable. Before addressing this issue, however, it seems important to consider two antecedent questions: To whom should directors be accountable? And for what?

Contemporary corporate scholarship often starts from a "shareholder primacy" perspective that holds that directors of public corporations ought to be accountable only to the shareholders, and ought to be accountable only for maximizing the value of the shareholders' shares. This perspective rests on the conventional contractarian assumption that the shareholders are the sole residual claimants and risk ...


Larger Board Size And Decreasing Firm Value In Small Firms, Theodore Eisenberg, Stefan Sundgren, Martin T. Wells Apr 1998

Larger Board Size And Decreasing Firm Value In Small Firms, Theodore Eisenberg, Stefan Sundgren, Martin T. Wells

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Several studies hypothesize a relation between board size and financial performance. Empirical tests of the relation exist in only a few studies of large U.S. firms. We find a significant negative correlation between board size and profitability in a sample of small and midsize Finnish firms. Finding a board-size effect for a new and different class of firms affects the range of explanations for the board-size effect.