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Shareholder Primacy Versus Shareholder Accountability, William W. Bratton Jan 2024

Shareholder Primacy Versus Shareholder Accountability, William W. Bratton

Seattle University Law Review

When corporations inflict injuries in the course of business, shareholders wielding environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) principles can, and now sometimes do, intervene to correct the matter. In the emerging fact pattern, corporate social accountability expands out of its historic collectivized frame to become an internal subject matter—a corporate governance topic. As a result, shareholder accountability surfaces as a policy question for the first time. The Big Three index fund managers, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, responded to the accountability question with ESG activism. In so doing, they defected against corporate legal theory’s central tenet, shareholder primacy. Shareholder primacy builds …


Public Primacy In Corporate Law, Dorothy S. Lund Jan 2024

Public Primacy In Corporate Law, Dorothy S. Lund

Seattle University Law Review

This Article explores the malleability of agency theory by showing that it could be used to justify a “public primacy” standard for corporate law that would direct fiduciaries to promote the value of the corporation for the benefit of the public. Employing agency theory to describe the relationship between corporate management and the broader public sheds light on aspects of firm behavior, as well as the nature of state contracting with corporations. It also provides a lodestar for a possible future evolution of corporate law and governance: minimize the agency costs created by the divergence of interests between management and …


Corporate Law In The Global South: Heterodox Stakeholderism, Mariana Pargendler Jan 2024

Corporate Law In The Global South: Heterodox Stakeholderism, Mariana Pargendler

Seattle University Law Review

How do the corporate laws of Global South jurisdictions differ from their Global North counterparts? Prevailing stereotypes depict the corporate laws of developing countries as either antiquated or plagued by problems of enforcement and misfit despite formal convergence. This Article offers a different view by showing how Global South jurisdictions have pioneered heterodox stakeholder approaches in corporate law, such as the erosion of limited liability for purposes of stakeholder protection in Brazil and India, the adoption of mandatory corporate social responsibility in Indonesia and India, and the large-scale program of Black corporate ownership and empowerment in South Africa, among many …


Robo-Voting: Does Delegated Proxy Voting Pose A Challenge For Shareholder Democracy?, John Matsusaka, Chong Shu Jan 2024

Robo-Voting: Does Delegated Proxy Voting Pose A Challenge For Shareholder Democracy?, John Matsusaka, Chong Shu

Seattle University Law Review

Robo-voting is the practice by an investment fund of mechanically voting in corporate elections according to the advice of its proxy advisor— in effect fully delegating its voting decision to its advisor. We examined over 65 million votes cast during the period 2008–2021 by 14,582 mutual funds to describe and quantify the prevalence of robo-voting. Overall, 33% of mutual funds robo-voted in 2021: 22% with ISS, 4% with Glass Lewis, and six percent with the recommendations of the issuer’s management. The fraction of funds that robo-voted increased until around 2013 and then stabilized at the current level. Despite the sizable …


The Esg Information System, Stavros Gadinis, Amelia Miazad Jan 2024

The Esg Information System, Stavros Gadinis, Amelia Miazad

Seattle University Law Review

The mounting focus on ESG has forced internal corporate decision-making into the spotlight. Investors are eager to support companies in innovative “green” technologies and scrutinize companies’ transition plans. Activists are targeting boards whose decisions appear too timid or insufficiently explained. Consumers and employees are incorporating companies sustainability credentials in their purchasing and employment decisions. These actors are asking companies for better information, higher quality reports, and granular data. In response, companies are producing lengthy sustainability reports, adopting ambitious purpose statements, and touting their sustainability credentials. Understandably, concerns about greenwashing and accountability abound, and policymakers are preparing for action.

In this …


Stakeholder Governance On The Ground (And In The Sky), Stephen Johnson, Frank Partnoy Jan 2024

Stakeholder Governance On The Ground (And In The Sky), Stephen Johnson, Frank Partnoy

Seattle University Law Review

Professor Frank Partnoy: This is a marvelous gathering, and it is all due to Chuck O’Kelley and the special gentleness, openness, and creativity that he brings to this symposium. For more than a decade, he has been open to new and creative ways to discuss important issues surrounding business law and Adolf Berle’s legacy. We also are grateful to Dorothy Lund for co-organizing this gathering.

In introducing Stephen Johnson, I am reminded of a previous Berle, where Chuck allowed me some time to present the initial thoughts that led to my book, WAIT: The Art and Science of Delay. Part …


Stakeholder Capitalism’S Greatest Challenge: Reshaping A Public Consensus To Govern A Global Economy, Leo E. Strine Jr., Michael Klain Jan 2024

Stakeholder Capitalism’S Greatest Challenge: Reshaping A Public Consensus To Govern A Global Economy, Leo E. Strine Jr., Michael Klain

Seattle University Law Review

The Berle XIV: Developing a 21st Century Corporate Governance Model Conference asks whether there is a viable 21st Century Stakeholder Governance model. In our conference keynote article, we argue that to answer that question yes requires restoring—to use Berle’s term—a “public consensus” throughout the global economy in favor of the balanced model of New Deal capitalism, within which corporations could operate in a way good for all their stakeholders and society, that Berle himself supported.

The world now faces problems caused in large part by the enormous international power of corporations and the institutional investors who dominate their governance. These …


Delegated Corporate Voting And The Deliberative Franchise, Sarah C. Haan Jan 2024

Delegated Corporate Voting And The Deliberative Franchise, Sarah C. Haan

Seattle University Law Review

Starting in the 1930s with the earliest version of the proxy rules, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has gradually increased the proportion of “instructed” votes on the shareholder’s proxy card until, for the first time in 2022, it required a fully instructed proxy card. This evolution effectively shifted the exercise of the shareholder’s vote from the shareholders’ meeting to the vote delegation that occurs when the share-holder fills out the proxy card. The point in the electoral process when the binding voting choice is communicated is now the execution of the proxy card (assuming the shareholder completes the card …


A Different Approach To Agency Theory And Implications For Esg, Jonathan Bonham, Amoray Riggs-Cragun Jan 2024

A Different Approach To Agency Theory And Implications For Esg, Jonathan Bonham, Amoray Riggs-Cragun

Seattle University Law Review

In conventional agency theory, the agent is modeled as exerting unobservable “effort” that influences the distribution over outcomes the principal cares about. Recent papers instead allow the agent to choose the entire distribution, an assumption that better describes the extensive and flexible control that CEOs have over firm outcomes. Under this assumption, the optimal contract rewards the agent directly for outcomes the principal cares about, rather than for what those outcomes reveal about the agent’s effort. This article briefly summarizes this new agency model and discusses its implications for contracting on ESG activities.


Stakeholder Governance As Governance By Stakeholders, Brett Mcdonnell Jan 2024

Stakeholder Governance As Governance By Stakeholders, Brett Mcdonnell

Seattle University Law Review

Much debate within corporate governance today centers on the proper role of corporate stakeholders, such as employees, customers, creditors, suppliers, and local communities. Scholars and reformers advocate for greater attention to stakeholder interests under a variety of banners, including ESG, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and stakeholder governance. So far, that advocacy focuses almost entirely on arguing for an expanded understanding of corporate purpose. It argues that corporate governance should be for various stakeholders, not shareholders alone.

This Article examines and approves of that broadened understanding of corporate purpose. However, it argues that we should understand stakeholder governance as extending well …


The Need For Corporate Guardrails In U.S. Industrial Policy, Lenore Palladino Jan 2024

The Need For Corporate Guardrails In U.S. Industrial Policy, Lenore Palladino

Seattle University Law Review

U.S. politicians are actively “marketcrafting”: the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act collectively mark a new moment of robust industrial policy. However, these policies are necessarily layered on top of decades of shareholder primacy in corporate governance, in which corporate and financial leaders have prioritized using corporate profits to increase the wealth of shareholders. The Administration and Congress have an opportunity to use industrial policy to encourage a broader reorientation of U.S. businesses away from extractive shareholder primacy and toward innovation and productivity. This Article examines discrete opportunities within the …


Capitalism Stakeholderism, Christina Parajon Skinner Jan 2024

Capitalism Stakeholderism, Christina Parajon Skinner

Seattle University Law Review

Today’s corporate governance debates are replete with discussion of how best to operationalize so-called stakeholder capitalism—that is, a version of capitalism that considers the interests of employees, communities, suppliers, and the environment alongside (if not before) a company’s shareholders. So much focus has been dedicated to the question of capitalism’s reform that few have questioned a key underlying premise of stakeholder capitalism: that is, that competitive capitalism does not serve these various constituencies and groups. This Essay presents a different view and argues that capitalism is, in fact, the ultimate form of stakeholderism. As such, the Essay urges that the …


Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review Jan 2024

Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review

Seattle University Law Review

Table of Contents


The Structure Of Corporate Law Revolutions, William Savitt Jan 2024

The Structure Of Corporate Law Revolutions, William Savitt

Seattle University Law Review

Since, call it 1970, corporate law has operated under a dominant conception of governance that identifies profit-maximization for stockholder benefit as the purpose of the corporation. Milton Friedman’s essay The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits, published in September of that year, provides a handy, if admittedly imprecise, marker for the coronation of the shareholder-primacy paradigm. In the decades that followed, corporate law scholars pursued an ever-narrowing research agenda with the purpose and effect of confirming the shareholder-primacy paradigm. Corporate jurisprudence followed a similar path, slowly at first and later accelerating, to discover in the precedents and …


The Limits Of Corporate Governance, Cathy Hwang, Emily Winston Jan 2024

The Limits Of Corporate Governance, Cathy Hwang, Emily Winston

Seattle University Law Review

What is the purpose of the corporation? For decades, the answer was clear: to put shareholders’ interests first. In many cases, this theory of shareholder primacy also became synonymous with the imperative to maximize shareholder wealth. In the world where shareholder primacy was a north star, courts, scholars, and policymakers had relatively little to fight about: most debates were minor skirmishes about exactly how to maximize shareholder wealth.

Part I of this Essay discusses the shortcomings of shareholder primacy and stakeholder governance, arguing that neither of these modes of governance provides an adequate framework for incentivizing corporations to do good. …


Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review Oct 2023

Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review

Seattle University Law Review

Table of Contents


A Synthesis Of The Science And Law Relating To Eyewitness Misidentifications And Recommendations For How Police And Courts Can Reduce Wrongful Convictions Based On Them, Henry F. Fradella Jan 2023

A Synthesis Of The Science And Law Relating To Eyewitness Misidentifications And Recommendations For How Police And Courts Can Reduce Wrongful Convictions Based On Them, Henry F. Fradella

Seattle University Law Review

The empirical literature on perception and memory consistently demonstrates the pitfalls of eyewitness identifications. Exoneration data lend external validity to these studies. With the goal of informing law enforcement officers, prosecutors, criminal defense attorneys, judges, and judicial law clerks about what they can do to reduce wrongful convictions based on misidentifications, this Article presents a synthesis of the scientific knowledge relevant to how perception and memory affect the (un)reliability of eyewitness identifications. The Article situates that body of knowledge within the context of leading case law. The Article then summarizes the most current recommendations for how law enforcement personnel should—and …


Blood On The Tracks, Thomas D. Russell Jan 2023

Blood On The Tracks, Thomas D. Russell

Seattle University Law Review

Streetcars were the greatest American tortfeasors of the early twentieth century, injuring approximately one in 331 urban Americans in 1907. This empirical study presents never-before-assembled data concerning litigation involving streetcar companies in California during the early twentieth century.

This Article demonstrates the methodological folly of relying upon appellate cases to describe the world of trial court litigation. Few cases went to trial. Plaintiffs lost about half their lawsuits. When plaintiffs did win, they won very little money. Regarding the bite taken out of the street railway company, the Superior Court was a flea.

Professor Gary Schwartz and Judge Richard Posner …


Why Corporate Boards Should Include Lgbtq+ People, Jeremy Mcclane, Darren Rosenblum Jan 2023

Why Corporate Boards Should Include Lgbtq+ People, Jeremy Mcclane, Darren Rosenblum

Seattle University Law Review

Corporate boardrooms sit at the heart of most of society’s most consequential decisions but fall far short of the diversity of our society. The current movement toward board diversification aims to remedy the underrepresentation of marginalized groups on corporate boards. More recently, some efforts have included LGBTQ+ people, even though the basis for their inclusion on corporate boards remains largely unstated. This Article examines both the normative and instrumental bases for LGBTQ+ inclusion in board diversity initiatives, articulating unspoken assumptions and linking LGBTQ+ people to the broader inclusion effort. In so doing, it begins to surface the unique issues LGBTQ+ …


Selective Patronage, Omari Scott Simmons Jan 2023

Selective Patronage, Omari Scott Simmons

Seattle University Law Review

Contemporary academic corporate governance narratives have a blind spot. They focus on institutions, rules, regulations, processes, procedures, intermediaries, and market forces. Yet, missing in this narrative, is the impact of corporate leadership. Ignoring the “black box” of corporate leadership, particularly individual actors, renders an incomplete descriptive assessment as well as potential miscalculations. The examination of key historical figures and their corporate activism provides an important lens through which to identify potential challenges and opportunities related to the contemporary ESG movement.

Generally, this essay examines corporate leadership’s potential to address socio-political issues through the prism of Civil Rights Movement activism. Specifically, …


#Metoo And The Corporation In Popular Culture, Brenda Cossman Jan 2023

#Metoo And The Corporation In Popular Culture, Brenda Cossman

Seattle University Law Review

#MeToo’s initial virtual explosion in the fall of 2017 was very much about Hollywood, with famous actresses speaking out against famous producers, media moguls and celebrities, exposing the ubiquity of sexual harassment and sexual violence in and around the entertainment industry. Since then, #MeToo has made its way into Hollywood representations without much irony. Films and television shows have explicitly taken up the #MeToo themes, exploring issues of sexual harassment and violence and its afterlives. Many television shows, from the relaunched version of Murphy Brown to Brooklyn Nine-Nine to The Good Fight have incorporated #MeToo themes into episodes exploring the …


A Path Forward: Litigating The Treaty-Based Claims Of Children Sexually Abused In The Indian Health Service System, Peter B. Janci, Stephen F. Crew, Zachary Pangares Jan 2023

A Path Forward: Litigating The Treaty-Based Claims Of Children Sexually Abused In The Indian Health Service System, Peter B. Janci, Stephen F. Crew, Zachary Pangares

Seattle University Law Review

In 1855, representatives for the United States traveled to the Great Plains with orders to seek peace with Blackfoot Nation so the westward expansion of “civilized” white settlers could continue without interruption. After weeks of negotiations, the United States plan materialized. The terms of these promises were memorialized on October 17, 1855, in a treaty between the United States government and Blackfoot Nation.

One hundred and sixty-seven years later, representatives for the United States and the Blackfoot Nation convened in Rapid City, South Dakota to discuss the U.S. government’s breach of the treaty’s terms. Eight Native men, including three from …


Court’S Choice Of Law Ruling Undermines Washington Community Property Law: A Critique Of Shanghai Commercial Bank V. Chang, Brian D. Hulse Jan 2023

Court’S Choice Of Law Ruling Undermines Washington Community Property Law: A Critique Of Shanghai Commercial Bank V. Chang, Brian D. Hulse

Seattle University Law Review

This Article deals with the issues that arise when Washington courts face the following scenario. One spouse enters into a contract without the joinder (and perhaps without the knowledge) of the other spouse. Both spouses are domiciled in Washington. The contract has contacts with one or more jurisdictions other than Washington and is generally governed as to validity and interpretation by the law of another jurisdiction. The contracting spouse defaults and the other party to the contract obtains a judgment on the contract. The court confronts a question about the property to which the plaintiff will have recourse to collect …


Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review Jan 2023

Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review

Seattle University Law Review

Table of Contents


Pedaling Backwards: Examining The King County Board Of Health’S Choice To Repeal Its Bicycle Helmet Law, Schuyler M. Peters Jan 2023

Pedaling Backwards: Examining The King County Board Of Health’S Choice To Repeal Its Bicycle Helmet Law, Schuyler M. Peters

Seattle University Law Review

In Part I, this Comment will explain the Helmet Law itself and the timeline that ultimately led to its repeal. Part II will focus on the positive impact of the Helmet Law, the dangers associated with the repeal, why the repeal should not have occurred in the manner it did, and what societal costs stem from the BOH’s decision. Part III will address the actions that must be taken to revoke this repeal and the reasons behind these alternative pathways, including an Equity Impact Review study specifically on the consequences of repeal, a collaborative outreach program to bring helmets to …


Woke Capital Revisited, Jennifer S. Fan Jan 2023

Woke Capital Revisited, Jennifer S. Fan

Seattle University Law Review

Inclusive corporate leadership is now at the forefront of discussions related to corporate governance. Two corporate theories help to explain the rise in prominence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) efforts in corporate leadership. First, an expanded definition of corporate purpose which elevated the idea of the importance of stakeholders, contributed to the momentum from business and legal quarters for broader corporate inclusion. Second, the increasing publicness of corporations—the social expectation of how large, typically public corporations should act given their position of power—also led to corporations becoming more active in the DEI space. It is against this backdrop that …


Women In Shareholder Activism, Sarah C. Haan Jan 2023

Women In Shareholder Activism, Sarah C. Haan

Seattle University Law Review

Even a cursory review of the history of American environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) shareholder activism reveals the presence of women leaders. This Article sketches some of this history and interrogates the role of women in the shareholder activism movement. That movement typically has involved claims by minority shareholders to corporate power; activists are nearly always on the margins of power, though minority shareholders may, collectively, represent a majority interest. This Article ascribes women’s leadership in shareholder activism to their longstanding position as outsiders to corporate organization. Women’s participation in shaping corporate policy—even from the margins—has provided women with …


How Firms Turn Middle Managers Into Diversity Leaders, Alexandra Kalev, Frank Dobbin Jan 2023

How Firms Turn Middle Managers Into Diversity Leaders, Alexandra Kalev, Frank Dobbin

Seattle University Law Review

In 2007, the Conference Board published a piece calling middle managers “the biggest roadblock to diversity and inclusion” for standing in the way of change efforts. Today, many chief diversity officers report that they have failed both to diversify middle management and to get middle managers involved in promoting inclusion. We explore popular diversity programs that create “paper” or “symbolic” principles for achieving diversity (diversity policy statements and guidelines for hiring, promotion, and discharge), as well as programs that engage middle managers in promoting diversity (special recruitment and mentoring programs, and diversity task forces). “Paper” policies often fall flat, but …


Universal Forms Of Influence: Support For Women On Boards, Cindy A. Schipani, Paula J. Caproni Jan 2023

Universal Forms Of Influence: Support For Women On Boards, Cindy A. Schipani, Paula J. Caproni

Seattle University Law Review

There are various efforts underway to increase gender diversity on corporate boards, including legislation in California, a recent SEC approved comply or explain rule for companies listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, and efforts by institutional investors such as State Street and BlackRock to recognize the value diversity brings to corporate decisionmaking. Although some of these efforts are being contested in the courts, many companies have begun to comply with these initiatives.

This Article is organized as follows. Part I provides an overview of several efforts to increase gender diversity on boards along with numerous research studies showcasing the benefits …


Policing For Profit: A Constitutional Analysis Of Washington State’S Civil Forfeiture Laws, Julia Doherty Jan 2023

Policing For Profit: A Constitutional Analysis Of Washington State’S Civil Forfeiture Laws, Julia Doherty

Seattle University Law Review

The summer of 2020 reignited a conversation about the relationship between race and policing in the United States. While many have taken the opportunity to scrutinize the racially discriminate components of our criminal justice system, comparable aspects of civil law must be equally scrutinized. A particular area of concern pertains to racially biased policing and the concept of “policing for profits” with Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities (BIPOC), which is accomplished mainly through civil asset forfeiture at a state and federal level.