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Business Organizations Law

Corporate law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Commercial Law Intersections, Giuliano Castellano, Andrea Tosato Apr 2020

Commercial Law Intersections, Giuliano Castellano, Andrea Tosato

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Commercial law is not a single, monolithic entity. It has grown into a dense thicket of subject-specific branches that govern a broad range of transactions and corporate actions. When one of these events falls concurrently within the purview of two or more of these commercial law branches - such as corporate law, intellectual property law, secured transactions law, conduct and prudential regulation - an overlap materializes. We refer to this legal phenomenon as a commercial law intersection (CLI). Some notable examples of transactions that feature CLIs include bank loans secured by shares, supply chain financing arrangements, patent cross-licensing, and blockchain-based initial coin ...


The New Gatekeepers: Private Firms As Public Enforcers, Rory Van Loo Apr 2020

The New Gatekeepers: Private Firms As Public Enforcers, Rory Van Loo

Faculty Scholarship

The world’s largest businesses must routinely police other businesses. By public mandate, Facebook monitors app developers’ privacy safeguards, Citibank audits call centers for deceptive sales practices, and Exxon reviews offshore oil platforms’ environmental standards. Scholars have devoted significant attention to how policy makers deploy other private sector enforcers, such as certification bodies, accountants, lawyers, and other periphery “gatekeepers.” However, the literature has yet to explore the emerging regulatory conscription of large firms at the center of the economy. This Article examines the rise of the enforcer-firm through case studies of the industries that are home to the most valuable ...


Federal Rules Of Platform Procedure, Rory Van Loo Apr 2020

Federal Rules Of Platform Procedure, Rory Van Loo

Faculty Scholarship

Tech platforms serve as private courthouses for disputes about speech, lodging, commerce, elections, and reputation. After receiving allegations of defamatory content in top search results, Google must decide between protecting one person’s public image and another’s profits or speech. Amazon adjudicates disputes between consumers and third-party merchants about defective or counterfeit items. For many small businesses, layoffs and bankruptcy hang in the balance. This Article uncovers the processes that these platforms use to resolve disputes, and proposes reforms. Other powerful businesses that intermediate, such as credit card companies ruling on a disputed charge between a merchant and consumer ...


The Race To The Middle, William Magnuson Jan 2020

The Race To The Middle, William Magnuson

Faculty Scholarship

How does federalism affect the quality of law? It is one of the fundamental questions of our constitutional system. Scholars of federalism generally fall into one of two camps on the question. One camp argues that regulatory competition between states leads to a “race to the bottom,” in which states adopt progressively worse laws in order to pander to powerful constituencies. The other camp, conversely, argues that regulatory competition leads to a “race to the top,” incentivizing states to adopt progressively better laws in the search for more desirable outcomes for their constituencies. Despite their apparent differences, however, both the ...


Concept Release On Harmonization Of Securities Offering Exemptions; File Number S7-08-19, Robert Anderson, Samantha Prince, John Neil Conkle, Sarah Zomaya Sep 2019

Concept Release On Harmonization Of Securities Offering Exemptions; File Number S7-08-19, Robert Anderson, Samantha Prince, John Neil Conkle, Sarah Zomaya

Faculty Scholarly Works

No abstract provided.


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

Scholarly Articles

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 ...


Investing In Corporate Procedure, Jessica M. Erickson Jan 2019

Investing In Corporate Procedure, Jessica M. Erickson

Law Faculty Publications

Corporate litigation is in crisis. At the state level, shareholder lawsuits challenging mergers and other corporate decisions are ubiquitous but rarely end with meaningful relief for shareholders. At the federal level, securities class actions are rife with ethical challenges and low-value settlements. Over the last several decades, multiple groups — including judges, legislatures, and corporate boards — have tried to solve this problem, but all have come up short. This Article argues that the solution lies in rewriting the procedural rules that govern corporate lawsuits. New standing requirements would lead to better screening of these claims. Discovery limits and heightened pleading requirements ...


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 Corporate Purpose Of Social License, Hillary A. Sale Jan 2019

The Corporate Purpose Of Social License, 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 treated as “private” actors and thus are regulated by “private” corporate law. This construct allows for considerable latitude. Corporate actors are not, however, solely “private.” They 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 case studies, this Article explores ...


Who Is The Client? Rethinking Professional Responsibility For Benefit Corporations, Joseph Pileri Jan 2019

Who Is The Client? Rethinking Professional Responsibility For Benefit Corporations, Joseph Pileri

Articles in Law Reviews & Other Academic Journals

A growing social enterprise movement has led companies to increasingly opt into the benefit corporation form, and those companies are hiring lawyers. Benefit corporations challenge the notion that corporate law’s primary focus is on furthering shareholder interests. While many have written about the benefit corporation with respect to corporate fiduciary law, this Article is the first to explore the form’s ethical implications for lawyers. Ethical obligations necessarily reflect substantive law governing client organizations; changes to the corporate form presented by benefit corporation legislation should reverberate in legal ethics. The legal profession, however, has not addressed how to lawyer ...


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 ...


Disregarding The Salomon Principle: An Empirical Analysis, 1885–2014, Peter B. Oh, Alan J. Dignam Jan 2019

Disregarding The Salomon Principle: An Empirical Analysis, 1885–2014, Peter B. Oh, Alan J. Dignam

Articles

For over a century UK courts have struggled to negotiate a coherent approach to the circumstances in which the Salomon principle –that a corporation is a separate legal entity–will be disregarded. Empirical analysis can facilitate our understanding of this mercurial area of the law. Examining UK cases from 1885 to 2014, we created a final dataset of 213 cases coded for 15 different categories. Key findings confirm historical patterns of uncertainty and a low but overall fluctuating disregard rate, declining recently. Criminal/fraud/deception claims link strongly to disregard outcomes. Private law rates are low but tort claims have ...


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 ...


Corporate Law Federalism In Historical Context: Comparing Canada And The United States, Camden Hutchison Jan 2018

Corporate Law Federalism In Historical Context: Comparing Canada And The United States, Camden Hutchison

Faculty Publications

Although American and Canadian corporate law share many similarities, they are also marked by important institutional differences. Among the most notable are the differing roles of federal versus state/provincial policymaking in the two countries: While American corporate law has been deeply influenced by jurisdictional competition among the states, Canadian law has instead been shaped by federal legislative activity, as seen today in the standardizing influence of the Canada Business Corporations Act. These different institutional histories have led to distinct evolutionary paths, with important substantive consequences for contemporary corporate law. Despite considerable academic attention to the subject of corporate law ...


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 ...


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 ...


Tournament Of Managers: Lessons From The Academic Leadership Market, Usha Rodrigues Jan 2018

Tournament Of Managers: Lessons From The Academic Leadership Market, Usha Rodrigues

Scholarly Works

Why do firms usually make, not buy, their chief executive officers (CEOs)? Public corporations hire their CEOs from within the firm 78% of the time. They do so although earlier studies have found no clear evidence that internal hires perform better than external ones. So why do firms prefer them? Few scholars have focused on this simple question.

The reason why firms favor internal candidates matters not only in its own right, but also for an overlooked reason: it informs the controversial question of executive compensation. Currently board-compensation committees look to peer benchmarks to set executive pay. But, taking cues ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...