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Seattle University Law Review

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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

Berle X: Berle And His World: An Homage To William W. Bratton, Charles R. T. O'Kelley Feb 2019

Berle X: Berle And His World: An Homage To William W. Bratton, Charles R. T. O'Kelley

Seattle University Law Review

An introduction to the Berle X symposium, honoring William W. (Bill) Bratton.


Made For This Moment: The Enduring Relevance Of Adolf Berle’S Belief In A Global New Deal, Leo E. Strine Jr. Feb 2019

Made For This Moment: The Enduring Relevance Of Adolf Berle’S Belief In A Global New Deal, Leo E. Strine Jr.

Seattle University Law Review

At a time when the insecurity of working people in the United States and Europe is being exploited by nativist forces, the concept of a global New Deal is more relevant than ever. But, instead of a global New Deal, the predominant force in international trade in recent decades has been spreading pre-New Deal, laissez-faire approaches to markets, without extending with equal vigor the regulations essential to providing ordinary people economic security. Adolf Berle recognized that if the economy did not work for all, the worst impulses in humanity could be exploited by demagogues and authoritarians, having seen this first ...


Looking Forward In A Failing World: Adolf A. Berle, Jr., The United States, And Global Order In The Interwar Years, Jessica Wang Feb 2019

Looking Forward In A Failing World: Adolf A. Berle, Jr., The United States, And Global Order In The Interwar Years, Jessica Wang

Seattle University Law Review

This essay explores Berle’s understanding of American power and its relationship to global order in the era between the First and Second World Wars. I first survey the history of progressive internationalism in the 1920s in order to situate Berle’s approach to U.S. foreign relations and global affairs, before proceeding to a close examination of Berle’s immediate response to the aftermath of World War I, and then his foreign policy activities as part of the Roosevelt administration in the late 1930s and early 1940s. My analysis focuses in particular on his public efforts to promote a ...


Quasi Governments And Inchoate Law: Berle’S Vision Of Limits On Corporate Power, Elizabeth Pollman Feb 2019

Quasi Governments And Inchoate Law: Berle’S Vision Of Limits On Corporate Power, Elizabeth Pollman

Seattle University Law Review

This Berle X Symposium essay gives prominence to distinguished corporate law scholar Adolf A. Berle, Jr. and his key writings of the 1950s and 1960s. Berle is most famous for his work decades earlier, in the 1930s, with Gardiner Means on the topic of the separation of ownership and control, and for his great debate of corporate social responsibility with E. Merrick Dodd. Yet the world was inching closer to our contemporary one in terms of both business and technology in Berle’s later years and his work from this period deserves attention.


Democracy In America At Work: The History Of Labor’S Vote In Corporate Governance, Ewan Mcgaughey Feb 2019

Democracy In America At Work: The History Of Labor’S Vote In Corporate Governance, Ewan Mcgaughey

Seattle University Law Review

Can there be democracy in America at work? The historical division between democracy in politics and hierarchy in the economy is under strain. Hierarchical interests in the economy are shifting their model of power into politics, and yet a commitment to revive the law is resurgent. Central examples are the proposed Accountable Capitalism Act, Reward Work Act, Workplace Democracy Acts, and Employees’ Pension Security Acts. They would create a right for employees to elect 40% of directors on $1 billion company boards, a right for employees to elect one-third of directors on other listed company boards and require one-half employee ...


Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review Feb 2019

Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review

Seattle University Law Review

No abstract provided.


On The Origins Of The Modern Corporation And Private Property, Bernard C. Beaudreau Feb 2019

On The Origins Of The Modern Corporation And Private Property, Bernard C. Beaudreau

Seattle University Law Review

The Modern Corporation and Private Property (MCPP) by Adolf A. Berle Jr. and Gardiner Means, published in 1932, is undisputedly the most influential work ever written in the field of corporate governance. In a nutshell, Berle and Means argued that corporate control had been usurped by a new class of managers, the result of which included (1) shareholder loss of control (a basic property right), (2) questionable corporate objectives and behavior, and (3) the potential breakdown of the market mechanism. In this paper, I examine the origins of MCPP, paying particular attention to the authors’ underlying motives. I argue that ...


Technological And Institutional Crossroads: The Life And Times Of Adolf A. Berle Jr., Bernard C. Beaudreau Feb 2019

Technological And Institutional Crossroads: The Life And Times Of Adolf A. Berle Jr., Bernard C. Beaudreau

Seattle University Law Review

In this paper, I examine the life and times of Adolf A. Berle Jr., perhaps the most influential scholar in the field of corporate governance. Specifically, I examine his contribution in light of the technological and institutional changes that occurred in the late nineteenth century—changes that were germane to his thinking and understanding of corporate governance. I argue that, despite his perspicacity, he failed to appreciate the changing role of corporate officers—that is, from that of fiduciary agent to that of visionary, founder, and essential element in corporate success. Put differently, in the early twentieth century, the key ...


“In Time Of Stress, A Civilization Pauses To Take Stock Of Itself”: Adolf A. Berle And The Modern Corporation From The New Era To 1933, Mark Hendrickson Feb 2019

“In Time Of Stress, A Civilization Pauses To Take Stock Of Itself”: Adolf A. Berle And The Modern Corporation From The New Era To 1933, Mark Hendrickson

Seattle University Law Review

This Article demonstrates three things. First, an examination of Berle’s work and thinking in this critical period reveals the ways in which public problems and the need to “know capitalism,” to borrow a phrase from Mary Furner, converged in the post-WWI era in remarkable and unprecedented ways that would shape New Deal and post-New Deal politics and policy. Berle’s gift for synthesizing evidence and constructing narratives that explained complex events were particularly well suited to this era that prized the expert. Second, identifying a problem and developing a persuasive narrative is one thing, but finding solutions is another ...


The ‘Berle And Means Corporation’ In Historical Perspective, Eric Hilt Feb 2019

The ‘Berle And Means Corporation’ In Historical Perspective, Eric Hilt

Seattle University Law Review

This Article presents new evidence on the evolution of the business corporation in America and on the emergence of what is commonly termed the “Berle and Means corporation.” Drawing on a wide range of sources, I investigate three major historical claims of The Modern Corporation: that large corporations had displaced small ones by the early twentieth century; that the quasi-public corporations of the 1930s were much larger than the public corporations of the nineteenth century; and that ownership was separated from control to a much greater extent in the 1930s compared to the nineteenth century. I address each of these ...


The Rise And Fall (?) Of The Berle–Means Corporation, Brian R. Cheffins Feb 2019

The Rise And Fall (?) Of The Berle–Means Corporation, Brian R. Cheffins

Seattle University Law Review

This Article forms part of the proceedings of the 10th Annual Berle Symposium (2018), which focused on Adolf Berle and the world he influenced. He and Gardiner Means documented in The Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932) what they said was a separation of ownership and control in major American business enterprises. Berle and Means became sufficiently closely associated with the separation of ownership and control pattern for the large American public firm to be christened subsequently the “Berle–Means corporation.” This Article focuses on the “rise” of the Berle–Means corporation, considering in so doing why ownership became divorced ...


Berle And Corporation Finance: Everything Old Is New Again, Frank Partnoy Feb 2019

Berle And Corporation Finance: Everything Old Is New Again, Frank Partnoy

Seattle University Law Review

In this essay, I want to illustrate how Adolf A. Berle Jr.’s Studies in the Law of Corporation Finance1 was prescient about the kinds of financial innovation that are central to today’s markets. For scholars who are not familiar with this publication, Corporation Finance is a compilation of edited versions of several of Berle’s articles, along with some new material, most of which is focused on 1920s corporate practice. My primary goal here is simply to shine a light on this work and to memorialize for scholars the key passages that echo many of today’s challenges ...


Merrick Dodd And The Great Depression: A Few Historical Corrections, Charles R. T. O'Kelley Feb 2019

Merrick Dodd And The Great Depression: A Few Historical Corrections, Charles R. T. O'Kelley

Seattle University Law Review

Merrick Dodd is remembered primarily for his role as coprotagonist, with Adolf Berle, in the famous Berle–Dodd debate. Dodd’s contribution to that debate—For Whom are Corporate Managers Trustees?—has generally been interpreted as the inspiration for modern stakeholder theory. Berle’s contribution has generally been viewed as the foundation on which shareholder primacy rests. Both of these views have been clarified by the nuanced work of Bratton and Wachter. Oddly, while scholars have devoted a great deal of attention to Berle’s actual life story, there is almost no scholarship that sheds light on Merrick Dodd, the ...


Berle And Means’S The Modern Corporation And Private Property: The Military Roots Of A Stakeholder Model Of Corporate Governance, Andrew Smith, Kevin D. Tennent, Jason Russell Feb 2019

Berle And Means’S The Modern Corporation And Private Property: The Military Roots Of A Stakeholder Model Of Corporate Governance, Andrew Smith, Kevin D. Tennent, Jason Russell

Seattle University Law Review

The Modern Corporation and Private Property by Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means (1932) remains one of the most cited works in management studies. Our paper shows that Berle and Means espoused a stakeholder theory of corporate governance that challenged the then-hegemonic idea that the sole purpose of a corporation is to create value for the shareholders. We argue that Berle and Means’s support for stakeholder theory can be associated with their earlier service in the U.S. military, an organization which then inculcated an ethos of public service in its members. Our paper, which is based on archival research ...


Corporate Lessons For Public Governance: The Origins And Activities Of The National Budget Committee, 1919–1923, Jesse Tarbert Feb 2019

Corporate Lessons For Public Governance: The Origins And Activities Of The National Budget Committee, 1919–1923, Jesse Tarbert

Seattle University Law Review

There is a peculiar disconnect between the way specialists view the 1920s and the way the decade is understood by non-specialists and the general public. Casual observers tend to view the 1920s as a conservative or reactionary interlude between the watershed reform periods of the Progressive Era and New Deal. Although many scholars have abandoned the traditional view of the 1920s, their work has not yet penetrated the generalizations of non-specialists. Even readers familiar with specialist accounts portraying the New Era as the age of “corporate liberalism” or the “Associative State” tend to view these concepts as just another way ...


The Modern Corporation And Private Property Revisited: Gardiner Means And The Administered Price, William W. Bratton Feb 2019

The Modern Corporation And Private Property Revisited: Gardiner Means And The Administered Price, William W. Bratton

Seattle University Law Review

This essay casts additional light on The Modern Corporation’s corporatist precincts, shifting attention to the book’s junior coauthor, Gardiner C. Means. Means is accurately remembered as the generator of Book I’s statistical showings—the description of deepening corporate concentration and widening separation of ownership and control. He is otherwise more notable for his absence than his presence in today’s discussions of The Modern Corporation. This essay fills this gap, describing the junior coauthor’s central concern—a theory of administered prices set out in a Ph.D. dissertation Means submitted to the Harvard economics department after ...


“All Lawyers Are Somewhat Suspect”: Adolf A. Berle And The Modern Legal Profession, Harwell Wells Feb 2019

“All Lawyers Are Somewhat Suspect”: Adolf A. Berle And The Modern Legal Profession, Harwell Wells

Seattle University Law Review

Adolf A. Berle was perhaps the preeminent scholar of the modern corporation. He was also an occasional scholar of the modern legal profession. This Article surveys his writings on the legal profession from the 1930s to the 1960s, from the sharp criticisms he leveled at lawyers, particularly corporate lawyers, during the Great Depression, to his sunnier account of the lawyer’s role in the postwar era. I argue that Berle’s views were shaped both by the reformist tradition he inherited from Louis Brandeis and his writings on the corporation, which left him convinced that the fate of the legal ...


Adolf Berle During The New Deal: The Brain Truster As An Intellectual Jobber, Robert B. Thompson Feb 2019

Adolf Berle During The New Deal: The Brain Truster As An Intellectual Jobber, Robert B. Thompson

Seattle University Law Review

Adolf Berle’s ideas have attained a remarkable longevity in corporate law with an influence exceeding that of any other twentieth century law professor. Participants in the now ten Berle symposia often have framed the discussion of his career as an intellectual history, usually built around the powerful transformative effect of The Modern Corporation and Private Property (MCPP). Yet this approach is insufficient to explain large parts of Berle’s professional career, including what Berle did during the twelve years of the Roosevelt Administration that immediately followed MCPP. This Article offers an alternative focus that better accounts for the career ...


Collected Lectures And Talks On Corporate Law, Legal Theory, History, Finance, And Governance, William W. Bratton Feb 2019

Collected Lectures And Talks On Corporate Law, Legal Theory, History, Finance, And Governance, William W. Bratton

Seattle University Law Review

A collection of eighteen speeches and lectures, from 2003 to 2018, discussing and expanding on the writings and theories of Adolf Berle and Gardiner Means.


“Who Will Judge The Many When The Game Isthrough?”: Considering The Profound Differencesbetween Mental Health Courts And “Traditional”Involuntary Civil Commitment Courts, Michael L. Perlin Jun 2018

“Who Will Judge The Many When The Game Isthrough?”: Considering The Profound Differencesbetween Mental Health Courts And “Traditional”Involuntary Civil Commitment Courts, Michael L. Perlin

Seattle University Law Review

For forty years, we have known that involuntary civil commitment hearings are—in most jurisdictions—“charades.” When the Supreme Court noted, in Parham v. J.R., that the average length of a civil commitment hearing ranged from 3.8 to 9.2 minutes, the reaction of many who had done these cases was, “What? So long?!” The characterization of such hearings as being a “greased runway” to a state institution has never been disputed. Lawyers representing these individuals were bored or contemptuous; judges simply wanted to get cases moving; opposing counsel looked at their wrist watches to see when the ...


The English East India Company And The Modern Corporation: Legacies, Lessons, And Limitations, Philip J. Stern Mar 2016

The English East India Company And The Modern Corporation: Legacies, Lessons, And Limitations, Philip J. Stern

Seattle University Law Review

The English East India Company was first chartered in 1600, endured until the late nineteenth century, and, in a clever act of corporate resurrection, has even recently returned as a global, upmarket retail outlet selling fine foods and commemorative coins. It has also endured in the popular imagination and culture, churning out heroes and villains alike in film, television, and video games. The script writer for a forthcoming BBC miniseries, in which the East India Company stars as the prime antagonist, even noted recently that the Company was like “the CIA, the NSA, and the biggest, baddest multinational corporation on ...


Closing The Doors To Justice: A Critique Of Pimentel V. Dreyfus And The Application Of Legal Formalism To The Elimination Of Food Assistance Benefits For Legal Immigrants, Hannah Zommick Nov 2014

Closing The Doors To Justice: A Critique Of Pimentel V. Dreyfus And The Application Of Legal Formalism To The Elimination Of Food Assistance Benefits For Legal Immigrants, Hannah Zommick

Seattle University Law Review

This Comment contends that the Ninth Circuit’s opinion in Pimentel v. Dreyfus employed a legal formalist approach and that by applying this framework, the court prevented legal immigrants, who were caught between the strict eligibility restrictions of welfare reform, from asserting their rights through the justice system. The legal formalist approach “treats the law as a set of scientific formulae or principles that are derived from the study of case law. These principles create an internal analytical framework which, when applied to a set of facts, leads the decision maker, through logical deduction, to the correct outcome in a ...


What Is A Corporation? Liberal, Confucion, And Socialist Theories Of Enterprise Organization (And State, Family, And Personhood), Teemu Ruskola Mar 2014

What Is A Corporation? Liberal, Confucion, And Socialist Theories Of Enterprise Organization (And State, Family, And Personhood), Teemu Ruskola

Seattle University Law Review

What is a corporation? An easy, but not very informative, answer is that it is a legal person. More substantive answers suggest it is a moral person, a person/thing, a production team, a nexus of private agreements, a city, a semi-sovereign, or a (secular) God. Despite the economic, political, and social importance of the corporate form, we do not have a generally accepted legal theory of what a corporation is, apart from the law’s questionable assertion that it is a “person.” In this Article, the author places the idea, and law, of the corporation in a comparative context ...


Corporate Power In The Public Eye: Reassessing The Implications Of Berle’S Public Consensus Theory, Marc T. Moore, Antoine Rebérioux Jan 2010

Corporate Power In The Public Eye: Reassessing The Implications Of Berle’S Public Consensus Theory, Marc T. Moore, Antoine Rebérioux

Seattle University Law Review

We analyze Berle’s overall corporate governance project in accordance with what we see as its four core sub-themes: (A) the limitations of external market forces as a constraint on managerial decision-making power; (B) the desirability of internal (corporate) over external (market) actors in allocating corporate capital; (C) civil society and the public consensus as a continuous informal check on managerial decision-making power; and (D) shareholder democracy (as opposed to shareholder primacy or shareholder wealth maximization) as a socially instrumental institution. We seek to debunk the popular misconception that Berle’s early work was a defense of the orthodox shareholder ...


The Birth Of Corporate Governance, Harwell Wells Jan 2010

The Birth Of Corporate Governance, Harwell Wells

Seattle University Law Review

Part I of this Article briefly examines the concept of “corporate governance” and argues for dating the concept’s origins to the debates of the 1920s. Part II then moves on to examine early scholarly and popular discussions of the separation of ownership and control. After surveying the historical developments that produced the recognizably modern corporate economy around the turn of the century, it examines early scholarly and popular discussions of the separation of ownership and control, focusing on three major thinkers, Louis D. Brandeis, Walter Lippmann, and Thorstein Veblen. It argues that, while each of these authors examined the ...


Securities Intermediaries And The Separation Of Ownership From Control, Jill E. Fisch Jan 2010

Securities Intermediaries And The Separation Of Ownership From Control, Jill E. Fisch

Seattle University Law Review

The Modern Corporation & Private Property is a paradigm-shifting analysis of the modern corporation. The book is perhaps best known for the insights of Berle and Means about the separation of ownership from control and the consequences of that separation for the allocation of power within the corporation. The Berle and Means story focuses on the shareholder as the owner of the corporation. Berle and Means saw the mechanism of centralized management—in which the shareholder retains the economic interest but not the control rights associated with ownership—as threatening the conception of shareholder interests in terms of property rights. In ...


Foreword: In Berle’S Footsteps, Charles R.T. O'Kelley Jan 2010

Foreword: In Berle’S Footsteps, Charles R.T. O'Kelley

Seattle University Law Review

On the weekend of November 6–8, 2009, scholars from around the world gathered in Seattle for a symposium—In Berle’s Footsteps—celebrating the launch of the Adolf A. Berle, Jr. Center on Corporations, Law and Society. As founding director of the Berle Center, I described our undertaking: “It is with a profound sense of obligation to the legacy that has been entrusted to my care, that I announce the launching of the Adolf A. Berle, Jr. Center on Corporations, Law and Society. It is a privilege to follow in Berle’s footsteps.”


Monitoring To Reduce Agency Costs: Examining The Behavior Of Independent And Non-Independent Boards, Anita Anand, Frank Milne, Lynnette Purda Jan 2010

Monitoring To Reduce Agency Costs: Examining The Behavior Of Independent And Non-Independent Boards, Anita Anand, Frank Milne, Lynnette Purda

Seattle University Law Review

Berle and Means’s analysis of the corporation—in particular, their view that those in control are not the owners of the corporation—raises questions about actions that corporations take to counter concerns regarding management’s influence. What mechanisms, if any, do corporations implement to balance the distribution of power in the corporation? To address this question, we analyze boards of directors’ propensity to voluntarily adopt recommended corporate governance practices. Because board independence is one way to enhance shareholders’ ability to monitor management, we probe whether firms with independent boards of directors (which we define as boards with either an ...


See No Evil? Revisiting Early Visions Of The Social Responsibility Of Business: Adolf A. Berle’S Contribution To Contemporary Conversations, Erika George Jan 2010

See No Evil? Revisiting Early Visions Of The Social Responsibility Of Business: Adolf A. Berle’S Contribution To Contemporary Conversations, Erika George

Seattle University Law Review

Much corporate legal scholarship considers such fact patterns as beyond the scope of the discipline’s core concerns. Yet, increasingly, questions are asked concerning the scale and scope of modern corporate power. This Article will challenge the conventional understanding of what the core discipline of corporate law should encompass and argues that the failure to focus on precisely these sorts of factual scenarios involving allegations of corporate complicity in human rights violations and environmental degradation is misguided and short-sighted.


Then And Now: Professor Berle And The Unpredictable Shareholder, Jennifer G. Hill Jan 2010

Then And Now: Professor Berle And The Unpredictable Shareholder, Jennifer G. Hill

Seattle University Law Review

Shareholders, and the relationship between shareholders and management, lay at the heart of Professor Berle’s scholarship. The goal of this Article is to compare the image of shareholders emerging from The Modern Corporation and Private Property and the Berle/Dodd debate with a range of contemporary visions of the shareholder that underpin some international regulatory responses to recent financial debacles, from Enron to the current global financial crisis. As the Article dis- cusses, these recent developments in the era of financial crises have prompted a reevaluation of the traditional image of the shareholder—and the role of the shareholder ...