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Full-Text Articles in Law

Private Equity's Governance Advantage: A Requiem, Elisabeth De Fontenay Jan 2019

Private Equity's Governance Advantage: A Requiem, Elisabeth De Fontenay

Faculty Scholarship

Private equity’s original purpose was to optimize companies’ governance and operations. Reuniting ownership and control in corporate America, the leveraged buyout (or the mere threat thereof) undoubtedly helped reform management practices in a broad swath of U.S. companies. Due to mounting competitive pressures, however, private equity is finding relatively fewer underperforming companies to fix. This is particularly true of U.S. public companies, which are continuously dogged by activist hedge funds and other empowered shareholders looking for any sign of slack.

In response, private equity is shifting its center of gravity away from governance reform, towards a dizzying ...


Delaware's Retreat: Exploring Developing Fissures And Tectonic Shifts In Delaware Corporate Law, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2018

Delaware's Retreat: Exploring Developing Fissures And Tectonic Shifts In Delaware Corporate Law, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


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 ...


Individual Autonomy In Corporate Law, Elisabeth De Fontenay Jan 2018

Individual Autonomy In Corporate Law, Elisabeth De Fontenay

Faculty Scholarship

The field of corporate law is riven with competing visions of the corporation. This Article seeks to identify points of broad agreement by negative implication. It examines two developments in corporate law that have drawn widespread criticism from corporate law scholars: the Supreme Court's recognition of corporate religious rights in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and the Nevada legislature's decision to eliminate mandatory fiduciary duties for corporate directors and officers. Despite their fundamental differences, both resulted in expanding individual rights or autonomy within the corporation-for shareholders and managers, respectively.

The visceral critiques aimed at these two developments suggest a ...


Corporate Officers As Agents, Deborah A. Demott Jan 2017

Corporate Officers As Agents, Deborah A. Demott

Faculty Scholarship

Although officers are crucial to corporate operations, scholarly and theoretical accounts tend to slight officers and amalgamate them with directors into a single category, "managers." This essay anchors officers within the common law of agency-as does black-letter law-which crisply differentiates officers from directors. Understanding that agency is central of the legal account of officers' positions and responsibilities is crucial to seeing why, like directors, officers are fiduciaries, but distinctively so, not as instances of generic "corporate fiduciaries." Officers, like directors, owe duties of loyalty, but also particularized duties of care, competence, and diligence. Additionally, officers' duties of performance encompass two ...


Controlling Systemic Risk Through Corporate Governance, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2017

Controlling Systemic Risk Through Corporate Governance, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

Most of the regulatory measures to control excessive risk taking by systemically important firms are designed to reduce moral hazard and to align the interests of managers and investors. These measures may be flawed because they are based on questionable assumptions. Excessive corporate risk taking is, at its core, a corporate governance problem. Shareholder primacy requires managers to view the consequences of their firm’s risk taking only from the standpoint of the firm and its shareholders, ignoring harm to the public. In governing, managers of systemically important firms should also consider public harm. This proposal engages the long-standing debate ...


Too Big To Fool: Moral Hazard, Bailouts, And Corporate Responsibility, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2017

Too Big To Fool: Moral Hazard, Bailouts, And Corporate Responsibility, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

Domestic and international regulatory efforts to prevent another financial crisis have been converging on the idea of trying to end the problem of “too big to fail”—that systemically important financial firms take excessive risks because they profit from success and are (or at least, expect to be) bailed out by government money to avoid failure. The legal solutions being advanced to control this morally hazardous behavior tend, however, to be inefficient, ineffective, or even dangerous—such as breaking up firms and limiting their size, which can reduce economies of scale and scope; or restricting central bank authority to bail ...


Rethinking Corporate Governance For A Bondholder Financed, Systemically Risky World, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2017

Rethinking Corporate Governance For A Bondholder Financed, Systemically Risky World, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

This Article makes two arguments that, combined, demonstrate an important synergy: first, including bondholders in corporate governance could help to reduce systemic risk because bondholders are more risk averse than shareholders; second, corporate governance should include bondholders because bonds now dwarf equity as a source of corporate financing and bond prices are increasingly tied to firm performance.


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 ...


Regulatory Competition And The Market For Corporate Law, Ofer Eldar, Lorenzo Magnolfi Jan 2017

Regulatory Competition And The Market For Corporate Law, Ofer Eldar, Lorenzo Magnolfi

Faculty Scholarship

This article develops an empirical model of firms’ choice of corporate laws under inertia. Delaware dominates the incorporation market, though recently Nevada, a state whose laws are highly protective of managers, has acquired a sizable market share. Using a novel database of incorporation decisions from 1995- 2013, we show that most firms dislike protectionist laws, such as anti-takeover statutes and liability protections for officers, and that Nevada’s rise is due to the preferences of small firms.Our estimates indicate that despite inertia, Delaware would lose significant market share and revenues if it adopted protectionist laws. Our findings support the ...


The Role Of Social Enterprise And Hybrid Organizations, Ofer Eldar Jan 2017

The Role Of Social Enterprise And Hybrid Organizations, Ofer Eldar

Faculty Scholarship

Recent years have brought remarkable growth in hybrid organizations that combine profit-seeking and social missions. Despite popular enthusiasm for such organizations, legal reforms to facilitate their formation and growth—particularly, legal forms for hybrid firms—have largely been ineffective. This shortcoming stems in large part from the lack of a theory that identifies the structural and functional elements that make some types of hybrid organizations more effective than others. In pursuit of such a theory, this Article focuses on a large class of hybrid organizations that has been effective in addressing development problems, such as increasing access to capital and ...


Misalignment: Corporate Risk-Taking And Public Duty, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2016

Misalignment: Corporate Risk-Taking And Public Duty, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

This article argues for a “public governance duty” to help manage excessive risk-taking by systemically important firms. Although governments worldwide, including the United States, have issued an array of regulations to attempt to curb that risk-taking by aligning managerial and investor interests, those regulations implicitly assume that investors would oppose excessively risky business ventures. That leaves a critical misalignment: because much of the harm from a systemically important firm’s failure would be externalized onto the public, including ordinary citizens impacted by an economic collapse, such a firm can engage in risk-taking ventures with positive expected value to its investors ...


Quieting The Sharholders' Voice: Empirical Evidence Of Pervasive Bundling In Proxy Solicitations, James D. Cox, Fabrizio Ferri, Colleen Honigsberg, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2016

Quieting The Sharholders' Voice: Empirical Evidence Of Pervasive Bundling In Proxy Solicitations, James D. Cox, Fabrizio Ferri, Colleen Honigsberg, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

The integrity of shareholder voting is critical to the legitimacy of corporate law. One threat to this process is proxy “bundling,” or the joinder of more than one separate item into a single proxy proposal. Bundling deprives shareholders of the right to convey their views on each separate matter being put to a vote and forces them to either reject the entire proposal or approve items they might not otherwise want implemented.

In this Paper, we provide the first comprehensive evaluation of the anti-bundling rules adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) in 1992. While we find that the ...


Corporate Darwinism: Disciplining Managers In A World With Weak Shareholder Litigation, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2016

Corporate Darwinism: Disciplining Managers In A World With Weak Shareholder Litigation, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

Because representative shareholder litigation has been constrained by numerous legal developments, the corporate governance system has developed new mechanisms as alternative means to address managerial agency costs. We posit that recent significant governance developments in the corporate world are the natural consequence of the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of shareholder suits to address certain genre of managerial agency costs. We thus argue that corporate governance responses evolve to fill voids caused by the inability of shareholder suits to monitor and discipline corporate managers.

We further claim that these new governance responses are themselves becoming stronger due in part to the rising ...


Addressing Agency Costs Through Private Litigation In The U.S: Tensions, Disappointments, And Substitutes, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas Jan 2015

Addressing Agency Costs Through Private Litigation In The U.S: Tensions, Disappointments, And Substitutes, James D. Cox, Randall S. Thomas

Faculty Scholarship

Many scholars argue that over the past seventy years, shareholder representative litigation has acted as an important policing mechanism of managerial abuses at U.S. public companies. Different types of representative litigation have had their moment in the sun – derivative suits early on, followed by federal securities class actions, and most recently merger litigation – often producing benefits for shareholders, but posing difficult challenges as well. In particular, the benefits are qualified by another concern, the litigation agency costs that surround shareholder suits. This form of agency costs arises since the suits are invariably representative with no requirement that the named ...


Corporate Law And The Limits Of Private Ordering, James D. Cox Jan 2015

Corporate Law And The Limits Of Private Ordering, James D. Cox

Faculty Scholarship

Solomon-like, the Delaware legislature in 2015 split the baby by amending the Delaware General Corporation Law to authorize forum-selection bylaws and to prohibit charter or bylaw provisions that would shift to the plaintiff defense costs incurred in connection with shareholder suits that were not successfully concluded. The legislature acted after the Boilermakers Local 154 Retirement Fund. v. Chevron Corp ATP Tour, Inc. v. Deutscher Tennis Bund, broadly empowered the board vis-à-vis the shareholders through the board’s power to amend the bylaws. Repeatedly the analysis used by each court referenced the contractual relationship the shareholders had through the articles of ...


Forum-Selection Bylaws Refracted Through An Agency Lens, Deborah A. Demott Jan 2015

Forum-Selection Bylaws Refracted Through An Agency Lens, Deborah A. Demott

Faculty Scholarship

Both praise and controversy surround director-adopted bylaws that affect shareholders' litigation rights. Recent bylaws specify an exclusive forum for litigation of corporate governance claims, limit shareholder claims to resolution through arbitration, and (most controversially) impose a one-way regime of fee shifting on shareholder litigants. To one degree or another, courts have legitimated each development, while commentators differ in their assessments. This Article brings into clear focus issues so far blurred in debates surrounding these types of bylaws. Focusing on forum-selection bylaws, and on Delaware precedents, I argue that beginning from the standpoint of common law agency reveals the attenuated and ...


The Governance Structure Of Shadow Banking, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2014

The Governance Structure Of Shadow Banking, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

No abstract provided.


Does Board Independence Reduce The Cost Of Debt?, Michael Bradley, Dong Chen Jan 2014

Does Board Independence Reduce The Cost Of Debt?, Michael Bradley, Dong Chen

Faculty Scholarship

Using the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the associated change in listing standards as a natural experiment, we find that while board independence decreases the cost of debt when credit conditions are strong or leverage low, it increases the cost of debt when credit conditions are poor or leverage high. We also document that independent directors set corporate policies that increase firm risk. These results suggest that, acting in the interest of shareholders, independent directors are increasingly costly to bondholders with the intensification of the agency conflict between these two stakeholders.


A Difficult Conversation: Corporate Directors On Race And Gender, Kimberly D. Krawiec, John M. Conley, Lissa L. Broome Jan 2014

A Difficult Conversation: Corporate Directors On Race And Gender, Kimberly D. Krawiec, John M. Conley, Lissa L. Broome

Faculty Scholarship

This symposium essay summarizes our ongoing ethnographic research on corporate board diversity, discussing the central tension in our respondents’ views – their overwhelmingly enthusiastic support of board diversity coupled with an inability to articulate coherent accounts of board diversity benefits that might rationalize that enthusiasm. As their reactions make clear, frank dialogue about race and gender – even a seemingly benign discussion of diversity’s benefits – can be a difficult conversation.


Private Equity Firms As Gatekeepers, Elisabeth De Fontenay Jan 2014

Private Equity Firms As Gatekeepers, Elisabeth De Fontenay

Faculty Scholarship

Notwithstanding the considerable attention private equity receives, there continues to be substantial confusion about what private equity does and whether this creates value. Calls for more aggressive regulation of the industry reflect a skeptical view of private equity as—at best—a zero-sum game, in which profits are generated only at the expense of other constituencies. The standard defense of private equity points to its corporate governance advantages as a source of value. This Article identifies an overlooked and increasingly important way in which private equity creates value: private equity firms act as gatekeepers in the debt markets. As repeat ...


The Governance Structure Of Shadow Banking: Rethinking Assumptions About Limited Liability, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2014

The Governance Structure Of Shadow Banking: Rethinking Assumptions About Limited Liability, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

In an earlier article, I argued that shadow banking — the provision of financial services and products outside of the traditional banking system, and thus without the need for bank intermediation between capital markets and the users of funds — is so radically transforming finance that regulatory scholars need to rethink their basic assumptions. This article attempts to rethink the corporate governance assumption that owners of firms should always have their liability limited to the capital they have invested. In the relatively small and decentralized firms that dominate shadow banking, equity investors tend to be active managers. Limited liability gives these investor-managers ...


The Danger Of Difference: Tensions In Directors’ View Of Corporate Board Diversity, Kimberly D. Krawiec, John M. Conley, Lissa L. Broome Jan 2013

The Danger Of Difference: Tensions In Directors’ View Of Corporate Board Diversity, Kimberly D. Krawiec, John M. Conley, Lissa L. Broome

Faculty Scholarship

This Article describes the results from fifty-seven interviews with corporate directors and a limited number of other persons (including institutional investors, search firm personnel, and the like) regarding their views on corporate board diversity. It highlights numerous tensions in these views. Most directors, for instance, proclaim that diverse boards are good, but very few directors can articulate their reasons for this belief. Some directors have suggested that diverse boards work better than non-diverse boards, but gave relatively few concrete examples of specific instances where a female or minority board member made a special contribution related to that director’s race ...


Ring-Fencing, Steven L. Schwarcz Jan 2013

Ring-Fencing, Steven L. Schwarcz

Faculty Scholarship

“Ring-fencing” is often touted as a regulatory solution to problems in banking, finance, public utilities, and insurance. However, both the precise meaning of ring-fencing, as well as the nature of the problems that ring-fencing regulation purports to solve, are ill defined. This article examines the functions and conceptual foundations of ring-fencing. In a regulatory context, the term can best be understood as legally deconstructing a firm in order to more optimally reallocate and reduce risk. So utilized, ring-fencing can help to protect public-benefit activities performed by private-sector firms, as well as to mitigate systemic risk and the too-big-to-fail problem inherent ...


Does Critical Mass Matter? Views From The Board Room, Lissa Lamkin Broome, John M. Conley, Kimberly D. Krawiec Jan 2011

Does Critical Mass Matter? Views From The Board Room, Lissa Lamkin Broome, John M. Conley, Kimberly D. Krawiec

Faculty Scholarship

In this Article, we report and analyze the results of forty-six wide-ranging interviews with corporate directors and other relevant insiders on the general topic of whether and how the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of corporate boards matters. In particular, we explore their views on the concept of “critical mass” — that is, the theory that women and racial or ethnic minorities are unlikely to have an impact in the boardroom until they grow from a few tokens into a considerable minority of the board.

In contrast to other recent qualitative research on corporate boards, we find more limited support among ...


Potentially Perverse Effects Of Corporate Civil Liability, Samuel W. Buell Jan 2011

Potentially Perverse Effects Of Corporate Civil Liability, Samuel W. Buell

Faculty Scholarship

Inadequate civil regulatory liability can be an incentive for public enforcers to pursue criminal cases against firms. This incentive is undesirable in a scheme with overlapping forms of liability that is meant to treat most cases of wrongdoing civilly and to reserve the criminal remedy for the few most serious institutional delicts. This effect appears to exist in the current scheme of liability for securities law violations, and may be present in other regulatory structures as well. In this chapter for a volume on "Prosecutors in the Boardroom," the author argues that enhancements of the SEC's enforcement processes likely ...


Showcasing Diversity, Mitu Gulati, Patrick S. Shin Jan 2011

Showcasing Diversity, Mitu Gulati, Patrick S. Shin

Faculty Scholarship

Diversity initiatives are commonplace in today’s corporate America. Large and successful firms frequently tout their commitments to diversity, sometimes appointing women and racial minorities to highly visible posts, including seats on their boards of directors. Why would a profit-minded firm engage in such behavior? One frequently voiced explanation is that by creating such diversity, firms send out a positive signal about their attributes: a firm’s willingness to expend resources on diversity shows its commitment to workplace fairness and equality, which makes it more attractive to potential employees, customers and financiers. This claim has considerable surface appeal not only ...


The Milieu Of The Boardroom And The Precinct Of Employment, Deborah A. Demott Jan 2011

The Milieu Of The Boardroom And The Precinct Of Employment, Deborah A. Demott

Faculty Scholarship

This Commentary explores differences between employer-employee relationships and service on a board of directors. Against this backdrop, this Commentary argues that the research findings surveyed by Brooke and Tyler (Jennifer K. Brooke & Tom R. Tyler, Diversity and Corporate Performance: A Review of the Psychological Literature, 89 N.C. L. REV. 715 (2011)), although specific to the employment context, may be salient in assessing the impact of diversity among members of a board of directors.


Showcasing: The Positive Spin, Katharine T. Bartlett Jan 2011

Showcasing: The Positive Spin, Katharine T. Bartlett

Faculty Scholarship

This Commentary outlines the positive case for showcasing diversity. Patrick Shin and Mitu Gulati criticize showcasing on the grounds that appointing women and minorities to board directorships is unreliable as a sign of true commitment to diversity and, further, that showcasing is detrimental to women and minorities because it treats them as objects or “prized trophies.” Drawing on social psychology, this Commentary highlights the mechanisms through which showcasing, despite the negative features emphasized by Shin and Gulati, also reinforces diversity values and strengthens the existing societal consensus in favor of diversity.


Dangerous Categories: Narratives Of Corporate Board Diversity, Lissa Lamkin Broome, John M. Conley, Kimberly D. Krawiec Jan 2011

Dangerous Categories: Narratives Of Corporate Board Diversity, Lissa Lamkin Broome, John M. Conley, Kimberly D. Krawiec

Faculty Scholarship

In this article, we report the results of a series of interviews with corporate directors about racial, ethnic, and gender diversity on corporate boards. On the one hand, our respondents were clear and nearly uniform in their statements that board diversity was an important goal worth pursuing. Yet when asked to provide examples or anecdotes illustrating why board diversity matters, many subjects acknowledged difficulty in illustrating theory with reference to practice.

This expressed reluctance to come to specific terms with general claims about the value of director diversity inspired our title phrase: dangerous categories. That is, while "diversity" evokes universal ...