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Business Organizations Law

Corporate law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

De Facto Shareholder Primacy, Jeff Schwartz Jun 2019

De Facto Shareholder Primacy, Jeff Schwartz

Utah Law Faculty Scholarship

For generations, scholars have debated the purpose of corporations. Should they maximize shareholder value or balance shareholder interests against the corporation’s broader social and economic impact? A longstanding and fundamental premise of this debate is that, ultimately, it is up to corporations to decide. But this understanding is obsolete. Securities law robs corporations of this choice. Once corporations go public, the securities laws effectively require that they maximize share price at the expense of all other goals. This Article is the first to identify the profound impact that the securities laws have on the purpose of public firms — a ...


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 ...


Board Governance For The Twenty-First Century, Faith Stevelman, Sarah C. Haan Apr 2019

Board Governance For The Twenty-First Century, Faith Stevelman, Sarah C. Haan

Faculty Scholarship

A decade after the global financial crisis, corporate governance is in a state of flux. A conceptual shift is underway. Years ago, in "first wave" governance, boards had a cozy relationship with the company C-suite. In "second wave" governance, which took hold in the 1970s, legal academics reimagined the board's role, conceptualizing directors as monitors charged with limiting waste and abuse that can arise in agency relationships. Now, we find ourselves at the threshold of "third wave" governance, in which boards are asked to grapple immediately and candidly with both the financial aspects of business and new environmental, social ...


Explaining Choice-Of-Entity Decisions By Silicon Valley Start-Ups, Gregg Polsky Jan 2019

Explaining Choice-Of-Entity Decisions By Silicon Valley Start-Ups, Gregg Polsky

Scholarly Works

Perhaps the most fundamental role of a business tax advisor is to recommend the optimal entity choice for nascent business enterprises. Nevertheless, even in 2018, the choice-of-entity analysis remains highly muddled. Most tax practitioners across the United States consistently recommend flow-through entities, such as LLCs and S corporations, to their clients. In contrast, a discrete group of highly sophisticated tax professionals, those who advise start-ups in Silicon Valley and other hotbeds of start-up activity, prefer C corporations.

Prior commentary has described and tried to explain this paradox without finding an adequate explanation. These commentators have noted a host of superficially ...


The Compliance Process, Veronica Root Martinez Jan 2019

The Compliance Process, Veronica Root Martinez

Journal Articles

Even as regulators and prosecutors proclaim the importance of effective compliance programs, failures persist. Organizations fail to ensure that they and their agents comply with legal and regulatory requirements, industry practices, and their own internal policies and norms. From the companies that provide our news, to the financial institutions that serve as our bankers, to the corporations that make our cars, compliance programs fail to prevent misconduct each and every day. The causes of these compliance failures are multifaceted and include general enforcement deficiencies, difficulties associated with overseeing compliance programs within complex organizations, and failures to establish a culture of ...


Social License And Publicness, Hillary A. Sale Jan 2019

Social License And Publicness, Hillary A. Sale

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

This article deploys the sociological theory of social license, or the acceptance of a business or organization by the relevant communities and stakeholders, in the context of the board of directors and corporate governance. Corporations are generally regulated and treated as “private” actors, and corporate law falls into the zone of “private” law. The construct of the corporation as “private” allows for considerable latitude. Yet, corporate decision makers are the beneficiaries of economic and political power and, the decisions they make have impacts that extend well beyond the boundaries of the entities they represent. Using Wells Fargo and Uber as ...


The Diminishing Duty Of Loyalty, Julian Velasco Sep 2018

The Diminishing Duty Of Loyalty, Julian Velasco

Journal Articles

Fiduciary duties comprise an integral part of corporate law. It is generally understood that directors owe the corporation and its shareholders two fiduciary duties: the duty of care and the duty of loyalty. Although both duties are firmly established in corporate law, they are not treated equally. It is generally understood that the duty of loyalty is enforced far more rigorously than the duty of care. The justification for this dichotomy is twofold. First, differential treatment is appropriate because of the relative urgencies of the underlying subject matter: loyalty issues pose greater risks than do care issues. Second, the deference ...


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 ...


The Evolution Of Entrepreneurial Finance: A New Typology, J. Brad Bernthal Jan 2018

The Evolution Of Entrepreneurial Finance: A New Typology, J. Brad Bernthal

Articles

There has been an explosion in new types of startup finance instruments. Whereas twenty years ago preferred stock dominated the field, startup companies and investors now use at least eight different instruments—six of which have only become widely used in the last decade. Legal scholars have yet to reflect upon the proliferation of instrument types in the aggregate. Notably missing is a way to organize instruments into a common framework that highlights their similarities and differences.

This Article makes four contributions. First, it catalogues the variety of startup investment forms. I describe novel instruments, such as revenue-based financing, which ...


Distributed Ledgers, Traceable Shares, And The Division Of Power In Corporate Law, Christopher M. Bruner Jan 2018

Distributed Ledgers, Traceable Shares, And The Division Of Power In Corporate Law, Christopher M. Bruner

Scholarly Works

Review of Traceable Shares and Corporate Law, 113 Nw. U. L. Rev. __ by George S. Geis (forthcoming 2018)


Does Shareholder Voting Matter? Evidence From The Takeover Market, Paul Mason, Usha Rodrigues, Mike Stegemoller, Steven Utke Jan 2018

Does Shareholder Voting Matter? Evidence From The Takeover Market, Paul Mason, Usha Rodrigues, Mike Stegemoller, Steven Utke

Scholarly Works

Voting rights are a basic shareholder-protection mechanism. Outside of the core voting requirements state law imposes (election of directors and votes on fundamental changes), federal law grants shareholders additional voting rights. But these rights introduce concomitant costs into corporate governance. Each grant of a voting right thus invites the question: is the benefit achieved worth the cost the vote imposes?

The question is not merely a theoretical one. Recently the SEC, concerned about Nasdaq’s potential weakening of shareholder voting protections, has lamented that little evidence exists on the value of the shareholder vote. This Article provides that evidence. It ...


Center-Left Politics And Corporate Governance: What Is The 'Progressive' Agenda?, Christopher Bruner Jan 2018

Center-Left Politics And Corporate Governance: What Is The 'Progressive' Agenda?, Christopher Bruner

Scholarly Works

For as long as corporations have existed, debates have persisted among scholars, judges, and policymakers regarding how best to describe their form and function as a positive matter, and how best to organize relations among their various stakeholders as a normative matter. This is hardly surprising given the economic and political stakes involved with control over vast and growing "corporate" resources, and it has become commonplace to speak of various approaches to corporate law in decidedly political terms. In particular, on the fundamental normative issue of the aims to which corporate decision-making ought to be directed, shareholder-centric conceptions of the ...


Corporate Governance Reform In Post-Crisis Financial Firms: Two Fundamental Tensions, Christopher Bruner Jan 2018

Corporate Governance Reform In Post-Crisis Financial Firms: Two Fundamental Tensions, Christopher Bruner

Scholarly Works

The manner in which financial firms are governed directly impacts the stability and sustainability of both the financial sector and the "real" economy, as the financial crisis and associated regulatory reform efforts have tragically demonstrated. However, two fundamental tensions continue to complicate efforts to reform corporate governance in post-crisis financial firms. The first relates to reliance on increased equity capital as a buffer against shocks and a means of limiting leverage. The tension here arises from the fact that no corporate constituency desires risk more than equity does, and that risk preference only tends to be stronger in banks, and ...


Regulating Fintech, William Magnuson Jan 2018

Regulating Fintech, William Magnuson

Faculty Scholarship

The financial crisis of 2008 has led to dramatic changes in the way that finance is regulated: the Dodd-Frank Act imposed broad and systemic regulation on the industry on a level not seen since the New Deal. But the financial regulatory reforms enacted since the crisis have been premised on an outdated idea of what financial services look like and how they are provided. Regulation has failed to take into account the rise of financial technology (or “fintech”) firms and the fundamental changes they have ushered in on a variety of fronts, from the way that banking works, to the ...


The Public Cost Of Private Equity, William Magnuson Jan 2018

The Public Cost Of Private Equity, William Magnuson

Faculty Scholarship

This Article presents a theory of the corporate governance costs of private equity. In doing so, it challenges the common view that private equity’s governance structure has resolved, or at least significantly mitigated, one of the fundamental tensions in corporate law, that is, the conflict between management and ownership. The Article argues that this widespread perception about the corporate governance benefits of private equity overlooks the many ways in which the private equity model, far from eliminating agency costs, in fact exacerbates them. These governance costs include compensation structures that incentivize excessive risk-taking, governance rights that provide investors with ...


Evolving Norms Of Corporate Social Responsibility: Lessons Learned From The European Union Directive On Non-Financial Reporting, Constance Z. Wagner Jan 2018

Evolving Norms Of Corporate Social Responsibility: Lessons Learned From The European Union Directive On Non-Financial Reporting, Constance Z. Wagner

All Faculty Scholarship

This article examines an important development in the field of corporate social responsibility, namely theadoption of a 2014 European Union Directive (“2014 EU Directive”) mandating non-financial reporting by certain large companies. Such disclosure has traditionally been provided by businesses on a voluntary basis, but the 2014 EU Directive reflects an emerging global trends toward mandatory reporting. Such trend emerged in response to the perceived low quantity and poor quality of information disclosed voluntarily onsocial and environmental topics of importance to corporate stakeholders. The author analyzes the history and development of policy and legislation on this issue both at the European ...


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 ...


The Gatekeepers Of Shareholder Litigation, Jessica Erickson Jan 2017

The Gatekeepers Of Shareholder Litigation, Jessica Erickson

Law Faculty Publications

Concerns over agency costs dominate corporate law. The central challenge is ensuring that directors act in the corporation's best interests, rather than their own best interests. Shareholder litigation is a key tool in controlling these agency costs. If directors cross the line, the law provides an array of litigation options that shareholders can use to hold directors accountable. Shareholders can file securities class actions if directors lie to them. They can file shareholder derivative suits if directors engage in egregious misconduct. And they can file lawsuits under both state and federal law if directors try to sell the company ...


Corporate Family Law, Allison Anna Tait Jan 2017

Corporate Family Law, Allison Anna Tait

Law Faculty Publications

There is no such thing as corporate family law. But there are corporate families, and corporate families fight. What happens when corporate family members fight and the conflict is so severe that one or more of the parties wants out of the corporate relationship? Corporate law provides some solutions, but they are shaped by the assumption that all parties will bargain effectively for protections when seeking to exit a corporate relationship. Under this theory, family business is, after all, just business. The problem with this assumption is that corporate family members do not bargain the way that corporate law expects ...


The Fiduciary Enterprise Of Corporate Law, Christopher Bruner Jan 2017

The Fiduciary Enterprise Of Corporate Law, Christopher Bruner

Scholarly Works

No abstract provided.


A Critical Canadian Perspective On The Benefit Corporation, Carol Liao Jan 2017

A Critical Canadian Perspective On The Benefit Corporation, Carol Liao

Faculty Publications

There has been much fanfare surrounding the possible implementation of a legal model of social enterprise similar to the American benefit corporation in Canada. This article points out that some of the fundamental legal characteristics of the benefit corporation are already reflected in existing Canadian corporate laws, and in some instances Canadian laws are comparatively more progressive. Directors owe fiduciary duties to the best interests of the corporation, and minority protections such as the oppression remedy oblige directors to consider non-shareholder stakeholders. Landmark judgments from Canada’s highest court have affirmed the board requirement to consider stakeholder interests, and that ...


Law And Corporate Governance, Robert P. Bartlett, Eric L. Talley Jan 2017

Law And Corporate Governance, Robert P. Bartlett, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Pragmatic and effective research on corporate governance often turns critically on appreciating the legal institutions surrounding corporate entities – yet such nuances are often unfamiliar or poorly specified to economists and other social scientists without legal training. This chapter organizes and discusses key legal concepts of corporate governance, including statutes, regulations, and jurisprudential doctrines that “govern governance” in private and public companies, with concentration on the for-profit corporation. We review the literature concerning the nature and purpose of the corporation, the objects of fiduciary obligations, the means for decision making within the firm, as well as the overlay of state and ...


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 ...


“Oversight Of The False Claims Act” Testimony By Professor Larry D. Thompson Before The U.S. House Of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee On The Constitution And Civil Justice, Larry D. Thompson Apr 2016

“Oversight Of The False Claims Act” Testimony By Professor Larry D. Thompson Before The U.S. House Of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee On The Constitution And Civil Justice, Larry D. Thompson

Presentations and Speeches

Sibley Professor in Corporate and Business Law Larry D. Thompson testifies in a U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice hearing on “Oversight of the False Claims Act.” The purpose of the hearing was to examine the act’s success and seek ways “to prevent, detect and eliminate false claims costing taxpayer dollars, while ensuring fair and just results.”


Family Law And Entrepreneurial Action, D. Gordon Smith Mar 2016

Family Law And Entrepreneurial Action, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

In "The Contractual Foundation of Family-Business Law," Benjamin Means aspires to lay the groundwork for a law of family businesses. In this brief response essay, I suggest that a workable family-business law along the lines suggested by Means is consistent with an overarching policy in the United States of promoting entrepreneurial action, and I evaluate the proposal against this policy goal, with particular attention to Means’s arguments in favor of “family-business defaults” and his concern over the potentially disruptive role of fiduciary law.


A Defense Of The Corporate Law Duty Of Care, Julian Velasco Apr 2015

A Defense Of The Corporate Law Duty Of Care, Julian Velasco

Journal Articles

Most people would acknowledge the importance of the duty of loyalty, but the same is not true of the duty of care. Historically, the corporate law duty of care has been underenforced at best, and arguably unenforced entirely. Some scholars do not consider the duty of care to be a fiduciary duty at all, and there are those who would do away with it entirely. In this paper, I intend to provide a comprehensive defense of the corporate law fiduciary duty of care. I hope to show that the duty of care is not simply an ill-fitting appendage to the ...


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 ...


Progressive Legal Thought, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jan 2015

Progressive Legal Thought, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

A widely accepted model of American legal history is that "classical" legal thought, which dominated much of the nineteenth century, was displaced by "progressive" legal thought, which survived through the New Deal and in some form to this day. Within its domain, this was a revolution nearly on a par with Copernicus or Newton. This paradigm has been adopted by both progressive liberals who defend this revolution and by classical liberals who lament it.

Classical legal thought is generally identified with efforts to systematize legal rules along lines that had become familiar in the natural sciences. This methodology involved not ...


Income Inequality And Corporate Structure, Matthew T. Bodie Jan 2015

Income Inequality And Corporate Structure, Matthew T. Bodie

All Faculty Scholarship

Efforts to address income inequality generally focus on wealth redistribution through taxation and government benefits. But these efforts do not attack the core problem -- the unfair distribution of wealth at the firm level. This essay, a contribution to the "Inequality, Opportunity, and the Law of the Workplace" symposium, argues that workers need power within their firms to stake their claims to larger slices of the corporate pie. Even though the current law of the workplace does provide regulatory support for workers, it fails to change internal firm governance. Policymakers who want to take on income inequality as a structural matter ...