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Corporate Governance Reform And The Sustainability Imperative, Christopher Bruner Feb 2022

Corporate Governance Reform And The Sustainability Imperative, Christopher Bruner

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Recent years have witnessed a significant upsurge of interest in alternatives to shareholder-centric corporate governance, driven by a growing sustainability imperative—widespread recognition that business as usual, despite the short-term returns generated, could undermine social and economic stability and even threaten our long-term survival if we fail to grapple with associated costs. We remain poorly positioned to assess corporate governance reform options, however, because prevailing theoretical lenses effectively cabin the terms of the debate in ways that obscure many of the most consequential possibilities. According to prevailing frameworks, our options essentially amount to board-versus-shareholder power, and shareholder-versus stakeholder purpose. This narrow …


Artificially Intelligent Boards And The Future Of Delaware Corporate Law, Christopher Bruner Jan 2022

Artificially Intelligent Boards And The Future Of Delaware Corporate Law, Christopher Bruner

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The prospects for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to impact the development of Delaware corporate law are at once over- and under-stated. As a general matter, claims to the effect that AI systems might ultimately displace human directors not only exaggerate the foreseeable technological potential of these systems, but also tend to ignore doctrinal and institutional impediments intrinsic to Delaware's competitive model – notably, heavy reliance on nuanced and context-specific applications of the fiduciary duty of loyalty by a true court of equity. At the same time, however, there are specific applications of AI systems that might not merely be accommodated by …


Artificially Intelligent Boards And The Future Of Delaware Corporate Law, Christopher Bruner Jan 2022

Artificially Intelligent Boards And The Future Of Delaware Corporate Law, Christopher Bruner

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This article argues that the prospects for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to impact corporate law are at once over- and under-stated, focusing on the law of Delaware – the predominant jurisdiction of incorporation for US public companies. Claims that AI systems might displace human directors not only exaggerate AI’s foreseeable technological potential, but ignore doctrinal and institutional impediments intrinsic to Delaware’s competitive model – notably, heavy reliance on nuanced applications of the fiduciary duty of loyalty by a true court of equity. At the same time, however, there are discrete AI applications that might not merely be accommodated by Delaware corporate …


Challenging Gender Discrimination In Closely Held Firms: The Hope And Hazards Of Corporate Oppression Doctrine, Meredith R. Miller Jan 2021

Challenging Gender Discrimination In Closely Held Firms: The Hope And Hazards Of Corporate Oppression Doctrine, Meredith R. Miller

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The #MeToo Movement has ushered sexual harassment out of the shadows and thrown a spotlight on the gender pay gap in the workplace. Harassment and unfair treatment have, however, been difficult to extinguish. This has been true for all workers, including partners – those women who are owners in their firms and claim that they have suffered harassment or unfair treatment based on gender. That is because a partner’s lawsuit for discrimination often will suffer an insurmountable hurdle: plaintiff’s status as a partner in the firm means that they may not be considered an “employee” under the relevant employment discrimination …


Dual Class Stock In Comparative Context, Christopher Bruner Jan 2020

Dual Class Stock In Comparative Context, Christopher Bruner

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Review of the article by Marc T. Moore, Designing Dual Class Sunsets: The Case for a Transfer-Centered Approach, University College London Faculty of Laws Working Paper No. 9/2019, available at SSRN.


Do Conflicts Of Interest Require Outside Boards? Yes. Bsps? Maybe., Usha Rodrigues Jan 2019

Do Conflicts Of Interest Require Outside Boards? Yes. Bsps? Maybe., Usha Rodrigues

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From the Symposium: Outsourcing the Board: How Board Service Providers Can Improve Corporate Governance

Boards of directors are curious creatures. The law generally requires corporations to have them—indeed, they are the focus of the corporate law we teach in Business Associations in U.S. law schools. The corporation is managed by directors or under their direction; directors hire and fire officers; directors are necessary for fundamental transactions.

But the reason why corporations have directors is not entirely clear. In the prototypical privately held corporation, the family firm, the same individuals serve both as directors and officers. The CEO (better known as …


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

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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 …


Law And The Blockchain, Usha Rodrigues Jan 2019

Law And The Blockchain, Usha Rodrigues

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All contracts are necessarily incomplete. The inefficiencies of bargaining over every contingency, coupled with humans’ innate bounded rationality, mean that contracts cannot anticipate and address every potential eventuality. One role of law is to fill gaps in incomplete contracts with default rules. The blockchain is a distributed ledger that allows the cryptographic recording of transactions and permits “smart” contracts that self-execute automatically if their conditions are met. Because humans code the contracts of the blockchain, gaps in these contracts will arise. Yet in the world of “smart contracting” on the blockchain, there is no place for the law to step …


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

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

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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 …


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

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


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

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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 …


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

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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 examines …


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

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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 …


Shareholder Wealth Maximization As A Function Of Statutes, Decisional Law, And Organic Documents, Joan Macleod Heminway Apr 2017

Shareholder Wealth Maximization As A Function Of Statutes, Decisional Law, And Organic Documents, Joan Macleod Heminway

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In context, corporate law is often credited with creating, hewing to, or reinforcing a shareholder wealth maximization norm. The now infamous opinion in Dodge v. Ford Motor Co. describes the norm in a relatively bald and narrow way: "A business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders." As a matter of theory and policy, commentators from the academy (law and business) and practice (lawyers and judges) have taken various views on this asserted norm — ranging from characterizing the norm as nonexistent or oversimplified to maintaining it as simple fact.

In an effort to …


The Fiduciary Enterprise Of Corporate Law, Christopher Bruner Jan 2017

The Fiduciary Enterprise Of Corporate Law, Christopher Bruner

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No abstract provided.


The Prudential Third Party Standing Of Family-Owned Corporations, Matthew I. Hall, Benjamin Means Jan 2014

The Prudential Third Party Standing Of Family-Owned Corporations, Matthew I. Hall, Benjamin Means

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On November 26, 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to decide whether for-profit corporations or their shareholders have standing to challenge federal regulations that implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). At issue in the two cases consolidated for appeal, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, are regulations mandating that employers with fifty or more employees offer health insurance that includes coverage for all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The plaintiffs assert that providing certain types of contraceptive care would be contrary to their religious beliefs and allege, therefore, that the mandate violates the Religious …


Rationalizing Entity Law: Corporate Law And Alternative Entities (Part Ii), Joan Macleod Heminway Dec 2013

Rationalizing Entity Law: Corporate Law And Alternative Entities (Part Ii), Joan Macleod Heminway

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No abstract provided.


Is The Corporate Director's Duty Of Care A "Fiduciary' Duty? Does It Matter?, Christopher M. Bruner Jan 2013

Is The Corporate Director's Duty Of Care A "Fiduciary' Duty? Does It Matter?, Christopher M. Bruner

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While reference to "fiduciary duties" (plural) is routinely employed in the United States as a convenient short-hand for a corporate director's duties of care and loyalty, other common-law countries generally treat loyalty as the sole "fiduciary duty." This contrast prompts some important questions about the doctrinal structure for duty of care analysis adopted in Delaware, the principal jurisdiction of incorporation for U.S. public companies. Specifically, has the evolution of Delaware's convoluted and problematic framework for evaluating disinterested board conduct been facilitated by styling care a "fiduciary" duty? If so, then how should Delaware lawmakers and judges respond moving forward?

In …


Spacs And The Jobs Act, Usha Rodrigues Oct 2012

Spacs And The Jobs Act, Usha Rodrigues

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The law has long confined the average investor to trading in public securitieswhile allowing wealthy—or “accredited”—individual investors access to a panoply of private securities, including investment vehicles such as hedge funds and private equity funds. Nevertheless, pressure to let the general public into private equity has been growing. Two forces have contributed to this mounting pressure. First, public investors are eager to try their hand at investing in private enterprise. Second, private firms need capital. In the face of these forces, the sharp line that has long separated public and private firms has become increasingly blurred

Consider the story of …


Exit, Voice, And Reputation: The Evolution Of Spacs, Usha Rodrigues, Mike Stegemoller Jan 2012

Exit, Voice, And Reputation: The Evolution Of Spacs, Usha Rodrigues, Mike Stegemoller

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This Article tells the story of a new type of business—the special purpose acquisition corporation ("SPAC"). The promoters of a SPAC begin by forming a shell corporation with no assets. They then take the company public on little more than a promise that they will strive to complete the acquisition of a target in the near future. We present the first empirical study of the SPAC contract design, and use a hand-collected dataset to trace its evolution over the past nine years.

While SPACs are a new form, their contract design borrows heavily from private equity's playbook. Private equity managers …


Federal Income Tax Issues Of Financially Troubled Corporations, Don Leatherman Jan 2012

Federal Income Tax Issues Of Financially Troubled Corporations, Don Leatherman

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No abstract provided.


Good Faith In Revlon-Land, Christopher M. Bruner Jan 2011

Good Faith In Revlon-Land, Christopher M. Bruner

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The Delaware Supreme Court has set a very high hurdle for plaintiffs challenging directors' good faith in the sale of a company. In Lyondell Chemical Company v. Ryan, the court held that unconflicted directors could be found to have breached the good faith component of their duty of loyalty in the transactional context only if they "knowingly and completely failed to undertake," and "utterly failed to attempt" to discharge their duties.

In this essay I argue that the Lyondell standard effectively imports into the transactional context the exacting standard previously applied in the oversight context — a move clearly aimed …


The Enduring Ambivalence Of Corporate Law, Christopher M. Bruner Oct 2008

The Enduring Ambivalence Of Corporate Law, Christopher M. Bruner

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Prevailing theories of corporate law tend to rely heavily on strong claims regarding the corporate governance primacy and legitimacy of either the board or the shareholders, as the case may be. In this article I challenge the descriptive power of these theories as applied to widely held public corporations and advance an alternative, arguing that corporate law is, and will remain, deeply ambivalent - both doctrinally and morally - with respect to three fundamental and related issues: the locus of ultimate corporate governance authority, the intended beneficiaries of corporate production, and the relationship between corporate law and theachievement of the …


Good Faith, State Of Mind, And The Outer Boundaries Of Director Liability In Corporate Law, Christopher M. Bruner Jan 2006

Good Faith, State Of Mind, And The Outer Boundaries Of Director Liability In Corporate Law, Christopher M. Bruner

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The Delaware General Corporation Law was amended in 1986 to permit shareholder-approved exculpatory charter provisions shielding corporate directors from monetary liability for certain fiduciary duty breaches not including (among other things) breaches of the duty of loyalty and acts not in good faith. This article examines the development of corporate fiduciary duty doctrine in Delaware leading up to and following this statutory amendment, focusing particularly on the Delaware courts' evolving conception of the meaning anddoctrinal status of the good faith concept employed in recent cases to permit a non-exculpable cause ofaction for conscious nonfeasance.

The article argues that Delaware's good …


Affiliated And Related Corporations, Don Leatherman Jul 2005

Affiliated And Related Corporations, Don Leatherman

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No abstract provided.


Two Cheers For Specialization, Jeffrey W. Stempel Jan 1995

Two Cheers For Specialization, Jeffrey W. Stempel

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Professor Dreyfuss adopts what might be termed the more conservative and deferential view of the efficacy of Delaware corporate law in her paper and her presentation. This approach generally views the market as making a statement with which one should not lightly quarrel. Because Delaware continues to attract incorporations, this view posits that the state's attraction is the superiority of its corporate law compared to other states, which lack a semi-specialized Chancery Court. Consequently, in a race to the top of corporate standards, legal rules and adjudications, Delaware's success in the market suggests that Delaware's legal product is good.

Other …