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Full-Text Articles in Law

Contractual Evolution, Matthew Jennejohn, Julian Nyarko, Eric L. Talley Jan 2021

Contractual Evolution, Matthew Jennejohn, Julian Nyarko, Eric L. Talley

Faculty Scholarship

Conventional wisdom portrays contracts as static distillations of parties’ shared intent at some discrete point in time. In reality, however, contract terms evolve in response to their environments, including new laws, legal interpretations, and economic shocks. While several legal scholars have offered stylized accounts of this evolutionary process, we still lack a coherent, general theory that broadly captures the dynamics of real-world contracting practice. This paper advances such a theory, in which the evolution of contract terms is a byproduct of several key features, including efficiency concerns, information, and sequential learning by attorneys who negotiate several deals over time. Each ...


Transactional Scripts In Contract Stacks, Shaanan Cohney, David A. Hoffman Jan 2020

Transactional Scripts In Contract Stacks, Shaanan Cohney, David A. Hoffman

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Deals accomplished through software persistently residing on computer networks—sometimes called smart contracts, but better termed transactional scripts—embody a potentially revolutionary contracting innovation. Ours is the first precise account in the legal literature of how such scripts are created, and when they produce errors of legal significance.

Scripts’ most celebrated use case is for transactions operating exclusively on public, permissionless, blockchains: such exchanges eliminate the need for trusted intermediaries and seem to permit parties to commit ex ante to automated performance. But public transactional scripts are costly both to develop and execute, with significant fees imposed for data storage ...


Revising Boilerplate: A Comparison Of Private And Public Company Transactions, Stephen J. Choi, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati Jan 2020

Revising Boilerplate: A Comparison Of Private And Public Company Transactions, Stephen J. Choi, Robert E. Scott, G. Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

The textbook model of commercial contracts between sophisticated parties holds that terms are proposed, negotiated and ultimately priced by the parties. Parties reach agreement on contract provisions that best suit their transaction with the goal of maximizing the joint surplus from the contract. The reality, of course, is that the majority of the provisions in contemporary commercial contracts are boilerplate terms derived from prior transactions and even the most sophisticated contracting parties pay little attention to these standard terms, focusing instead on the price of the transaction. With standard-form or boilerplate contracts, this dynamic of replicating by rote the terms ...


Innovation Versus Encrustation: Agency Costs In Contract Reproduction, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati, Robert E. Scott Jan 2020

Innovation Versus Encrustation: Agency Costs In Contract Reproduction, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati, Robert E. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

This article studies the impact of exogenous legal change on whether and how lawyers across four different deal types revise their contracts’ governing law clauses in order to solve the problem that the legal change created. The governing law clause is present in practically every contract across a wide range of industries and, in particular, it appears in deals as disparate as private equity M&A transactions and sovereign bond issuances. Properly drafted, the clause increases the ex ante economic value of the contract to both parties by reducing uncertainty and litigation risk. We posit that different levels of agency ...


The Evolution Of Entrepreneurial Finance: A New Typology, J. Brad Bernthal Jan 2018

The Evolution Of Entrepreneurial Finance: A New Typology, J. Brad Bernthal

Articles

There has been an explosion in new types of startup finance instruments. Whereas twenty years ago preferred stock dominated the field, startup companies and investors now use at least eight different instruments—six of which have only become widely used in the last decade. Legal scholars have yet to reflect upon the proliferation of instrument types in the aggregate. Notably missing is a way to organize instruments into a common framework that highlights their similarities and differences.

This Article makes four contributions. First, it catalogues the variety of startup investment forms. I describe novel instruments, such as revenue-based financing, which ...


Bespoke Discovery, Jessica Erickson Jan 2018

Bespoke Discovery, Jessica Erickson

Law Faculty Publications

The U.S. legal system gives contracting parties significant freedom to customize the procedures that will govern their future disputes. With forum selection clauses, parties can decide where they will litigate future disputes. With fee-shifting provisions, they can choose who will pay for these suits. And with arbitration clauses, they can make upfront decisions to opt out of the traditional legal system altogether. Parties can also waive their right to appeal, their right to a jury trial, and their right to file a class action. Bespoke procedure, in other words, is commonplace in the United States.

Far less common, however ...


Bankruptcy’S Uneasy Shift To A Contract Paradigm, David A. Skeel Jr., George Triantis Jan 2018

Bankruptcy’S Uneasy Shift To A Contract Paradigm, David A. Skeel Jr., George Triantis

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The most dramatic development in twenty-first century bankruptcy practice has been the increasing use of contracts to shape the bankruptcy process. To explain the new contract paradigm—our principal objective in this Article-- we begin by examining the structure of current bankruptcy law. Although the Bankruptcy Code of 1978 has long been viewed as mandatory, its voting and cramdown rules, among others, invite considerable contracting. The emerging paradigm is asymmetric, however. While the Code and bankruptcy practice allow for ex post contracting, ex ante contracts are viewed with suspicion.

We next use contract theory to assess the two modes of ...


Amending Corporate Charters And Bylaws, Albert H. Choi, Geeyoung Min Aug 2017

Amending Corporate Charters And Bylaws, Albert H. Choi, Geeyoung Min

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Recently, courts have embraced the contractarian theory that corporate charters and bylaws constitute a “contract” between the shareholders and the corporation and have been more willing to uphold bylaws unilaterally adopted by the directors. This paper examines the contractarian theory by drawing a parallel between amending charters and bylaws, on the one hand, and amending contracts, on the other. In particular, the paper compares the right to unilaterally amend corporate bylaws with the right to unilaterally modify contract terms, and highlights how contract law imposes various limitations on the modifying party’s discretion. More generally, when the relationship of contracting ...


Who Needs Contracts? Generalized Exchange Within Investment Accelerators, Brad Bernthal Jan 2017

Who Needs Contracts? Generalized Exchange Within Investment Accelerators, Brad Bernthal

Articles

This Article investigates why an expert volunteers on behalf of startups that participate in a novel type of small venture capital (“VC”) fund known as a mentor-driven investment accelerator (“MDIA”). A MDIA organizes a pool of seasoned individuals – called “mentors” – to help new companies. An obvi- ous organizational strategy would be to contract with mentors. Mentors in- stead voluntarily assist. Legal studies of norm-based exchanges do not explain what this Article calls the “mentorship conundrum”—i.e., the puzzling moti- vation of a mentor to volunteer within otherwise for-profit environments. This Article is the first to bridge the insights of ...


The Macpherson-Henningsen Puzzle, Victor P. Goldberg Jan 2017

The Macpherson-Henningsen Puzzle, Victor P. Goldberg

Faculty Scholarship

In the landmark case of MacPherson v. Buick, an automobile company was held liable for negligence notwithstanding a lack of privity with the injured driver. Four decades later, in Henningsen v. Bloomfield Motors, the court held unconscionable the standard automobile company warranty which limited its responsibility to repair and replacement, even in a case involving physical injury. This suggests a puzzle: if it were so easy for firms to contract out of liability, did MacPherson accomplish anything?


Newsroom: Guiding Startups Through Legal Pickles 11-14-2016, Jill Rodrigues, Roger Williams University School Of Law Nov 2016

Newsroom: Guiding Startups Through Legal Pickles 11-14-2016, Jill Rodrigues, Roger Williams University School Of Law

Life of the Law School (1993- )

No abstract provided.


Law School News Guiding Startups Through Legal Pickles: Law Students Launch Artisan Pickler And Other Businesses To Success 11/09/2016, Jill Rodriques Nov 2016

Law School News Guiding Startups Through Legal Pickles: Law Students Launch Artisan Pickler And Other Businesses To Success 11/09/2016, Jill Rodriques

Life of the Law School (1993- )

No abstract provided.


The Corporation As Courthouse, Rory Van Loo Jan 2016

The Corporation As Courthouse, Rory Van Loo

Faculty Scholarship

Despite the considerable attention paid to mandatory arbitration, few consumer disputes ever reach arbitration. By contrast, institutions such as Apple’s customer service department handle hundreds of millions of disputes annually. This Article argues that understanding businesses’ internal dispute processes is crucial to diagnosing consumers’ procedural needs. Moreover, businesses’ internal processes interact with a larger system of private actors. These actors include ratings websites that mete out reputational sanctions. The system also includes other corporations linked to the transaction, such as when American Express adjudicates a contested sale between a shopper and Home Depot. This vast private order offers promise ...


The “Ensuing Loss” Clause In Insurance Policies: The Forgotten And Misunderstood Antidote To Anti-Concurrent Causation Exclusions, Chris French Jan 2012

The “Ensuing Loss” Clause In Insurance Policies: The Forgotten And Misunderstood Antidote To Anti-Concurrent Causation Exclusions, Chris French

Journal Articles

As a result of the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco which destroyed the city, a clause known as the “ensuing loss” clause was created to address concurrent causation situations in which a loss follows both a covered peril and an excluded peril. Ensuing loss clauses appear in the exclusions section of such policies and in essence they provide that coverage for a loss caused by an excluded peril is nonetheless covered if the loss “ensues” from a covered peril. Today, ensuing loss clauses are found in “all risk” property and homeowners policies, which cover all losses except for ...


Contracts As Organizations, D. Gordon Smith, Brayden G. King Mar 2011

Contracts As Organizations, D. Gordon Smith, Brayden G. King

Faculty Scholarship

Empirical studies of contracts have become more common over the past decade, but the range of questions addressed by these studies is narrow, inspired primarily by economic theories that focus on the role of contracts in mitigating ex post opportunism. We contend that these economic theories do not adequately explain many commonly observed features of contracts, and we offer four organizational theories to supplement-and in some instances, perhaps, challenge-the dominant economic accounts. The purpose of this Article is threefold: first, to describe how theoretical perspectives on contracting have motivated empirical work on contracts; second, to highlight the dominant role of ...


The “Non-Cumulation Clause”: An “Other Insurance” Clause By Another Name, Chris French Jan 2011

The “Non-Cumulation Clause”: An “Other Insurance” Clause By Another Name, Chris French

Journal Articles

How long-tail liability claims such as asbestos bodily injury claims and environmental property damage claims are allocated among multiple triggered policy years can result in the shifting of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars from one party to another. In recent years, insurers have argued that clauses commonly titled, “Prior Insurance and Non-Cumulation of Liability” (referred to herein as “Non-Cumulation Clauses”), which are found in commercial liability policies, should be applied to reduce or eliminate their coverage responsibilities for long-tail liability claims by shifting their coverage responsibilities to insurers that issued policies in earlier policy years. The insurers’ argument ...


The Law Of Unintended Consequences: A Critique Of The Dilutive Effects And Efficiency Costs Of Multilayer Regulation, Ilya O. Podolyako Apr 2009

The Law Of Unintended Consequences: A Critique Of The Dilutive Effects And Efficiency Costs Of Multilayer Regulation, Ilya O. Podolyako

Student Scholarship Papers

This Article examines the role obstruction charges play in the regulatory framework covering modern public corporations and their members. It finds that prosecutors’ reliance on obstruction charges undermines the legitimacy of substantive rules for enterprise behavior. This pattern not only causes significant inefficiency on its own, but indicates a broader problem with multilayer regulation. That is, in a previously regulated arena, the pre-existing legal environment may warp a new set of rules in undesirable ways. The Article concludes by proposing a means to address this problem generally and remove unnecessary costs associated with the compliance regime specifically.


The Economics Of Deal Risk: Allocating Risk Through Mac Clauses In Business Combination Agreements, Robert T. Miller Apr 2009

The Economics Of Deal Risk: Allocating Risk Through Mac Clauses In Business Combination Agreements, Robert T. Miller

Working Paper Series

In any large corporate acquisition, there is a delay between the time the parties enter into a merger agreement (the signing) and the time the merger is effected and the purchase price paid (the closing). During this period, the business of one of the parties may deteriorate. When this happens to a target company in a cash deal, or to either party in a stock-for-stock deal, the counterparty may no longer want to consummate the transaction. The primary contractual protection parties have in such situations is the merger agreement’s “material adverse change” (MAC) clause. Such clauses are heavily negotiated ...


Clawbacks: Prospective Contract Measures In An Era Of Excessive Executive Compensation And Ponzi Schemes, Miriam A. Cherry, Jarrod Wong Jan 2009

Clawbacks: Prospective Contract Measures In An Era Of Excessive Executive Compensation And Ponzi Schemes, Miriam A. Cherry, Jarrod Wong

All Faculty Scholarship

In the spring of 2009, public outcry erupted over the multi-million dollar bonuses paid to AIG executives even as the company was receiving TARP funds. Various measures were proposed in response, including a 90% retroactive tax on the bonuses, which the media described as a "clawback." Separately, the term "clawback" was also used to refer to remedies potentially available to investors defrauded in the multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff. While the media and legal commentators have used the term "clawback" reflexively, the concept has yet to be fully analyzed. In this article, we propose a doctrine of ...


Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2008

Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Most nations have enacted statutes governing business liquidation and reorganization. These statutes are the primary focus when policymakers and scholars discuss ways to improve laws governing business failure. This focus is misplaced, at least for distressed small businesses in the United States.

Evidence from a major credit bureau shows that over eighty percent of these businesses liquidate or reorganize without invoking the formal Bankruptcy Code.

The businesses instead invoke procedures derived from the laws of contracts, secured lending, and trusts. These procedures can be cheaper and speedier than a formal bankruptcy filing, but they typically require unanimous consent of senior ...


Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison Jan 2008

Bankruptcy's Rarity: An Essay On Small Business Bankruptcy In The United States, Edward R. Morrison

Faculty Scholarship

Most nations have enacted statutes governing business liquidation and reorganization. These statutes are the primary focus when policymakers and scholars discuss ways to improve laws governing business failure. This focus is misplaced, at least for distressed small businesses in the United States.

Evidence from a major credit bureau shows that over eighty percent of these businesses liquidate or reorganize without invoking the formal Bankruptcy Code.

The businesses instead invoke procedures derived from the laws of contracts, secured lending, and trusts. These procedures can be cheaper and speedier than a formal bankruptcy filing, but they typically require unanimous consent of senior ...


Contracting For Financial Privacy: The Rights Of Banks And Customers Under The Reauthorized Patriot Act, Aditi A. Prabhu Apr 2007

Contracting For Financial Privacy: The Rights Of Banks And Customers Under The Reauthorized Patriot Act, Aditi A. Prabhu

Student Scholarship Papers

The 2001 Patriot Act chipped away financial privacy protections by allowing law enforcement authorities easier access to bank customer records. Under the Patriot Act, federal authorities may access customer records by issuing formal subpoena-like requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or informal national security letters (NSLs) to banks while prohibiting notice to any affected customers. However, the 2006 revisions to the Patriot Act permit banks to challenge FISA requests and NSLs in federal court before releasing customer records. While the Act does not require banks to make these challenges on behalf of their customers, this Paper will argue ...


Holding Charities Accountable: Some Thoughts From An Ex-Regulator, Catharine P. Wells Dec 2006

Holding Charities Accountable: Some Thoughts From An Ex-Regulator, Catharine P. Wells

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

This paper recounts a number of lessons learned in the course of serving as the Director of Public Charities for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It incorporates these lessons into a discussion of the proper analysis of charitable organizations. Should charities be analogized to for-profit firms or are they something that is essentially different? The paper argues that they lack many of the attributes of Coasian firms and that they should be considered as “consumption groups” that have different methods of accountability.


The Story Of Nlrb V. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co.: The High Cost Of Solidarity, Thomas C. Kohler, Julius G. Getman Aug 2006

The Story Of Nlrb V. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co.: The High Cost Of Solidarity, Thomas C. Kohler, Julius G. Getman

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

In 1938, in NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co., the Supreme Court offered one of its earliest interpretations of the National Labor Relations Act. Although the Court’s holding provided that employers may not discriminate against employees for their union activity when the strike is over and workers are reinstated, dicta in the opinion also provided that under the NLRA employers enjoy an unrestricted right to replace strikers. In the 70 years since the Court’s announcement, scholars remain baffled by the contradictions presented by the “Mackay doctrine”—a rule that forbids employers from discharging legally protected strikers while, at ...


The Common Law As An Iterative Process: A Preliminary Inquiry, Lawrence A. Cunningham Jun 2006

The Common Law As An Iterative Process: A Preliminary Inquiry, Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

The common law often is casually referred to as an iterative process without much attention given to the detailed attributes such processes exhibit. This Article explores this characterization, uncovering how common law as an iterative process is one of endless repetition that is simultaneously stable and dynamic, self-similar but evolving, complex yet simple. These attributes constrain the systemic significance of judicial discretion and also confirm the wisdom of traditional approaches to studying and learning law. As an iterative system, common law exhibits what physicists call sensitive dependence on initial conditions. This generates a path dependency from which it may be ...


Language, Deals And Standards: The Future Of Xml Contracts, Lawrence A. Cunningham May 2006

Language, Deals And Standards: The Future Of Xml Contracts, Lawrence A. Cunningham

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

eXtensible Markup Language (XML) structures information in documentary systems ranging from financial reports to medical records and business contracts. XML standards for specific applications are developed spontaneously by self-appointed technologists or entrepreneurs. XML’s social and economic stakes are considerable, especially when developed for the private law of contracts. XML can reduce transaction costs but also limit the range of contractual expression and redefine the nature of law practice. So reliance on spontaneous development may be sub-optimal and identification of a more formal public standard setting model necessary. To exploit XML’s advantages while minimizing risks, this Article envisions creating ...


The "Branding Effect" Of Contracts, D. Gordon Smith Apr 2006

The "Branding Effect" Of Contracts, D. Gordon Smith

Faculty Scholarship

In his case study of the MasterCard IPO and its predecessor piece on the Google IPO, Victor Fleischer claims to find evidence of a branding effect of legal infrastructure. The branding effect is not aimed at reducing the potential for opportunism by a counterparty to a contract, but rather at increasing the attractiveness of a product to present and future users or improving the image of a company in the eyes of regulators, judges, and juries. In this essay commenting on Fleischer's work, I endorse the notion that deal structures have branding effects and position Fleischer's work within ...


The Entrepreneur And The Theory Of The Modern Corporation, Charles R.T. O'Kelley Apr 2006

The Entrepreneur And The Theory Of The Modern Corporation, Charles R.T. O'Kelley

Scholarly Works

The foremost description of the classic entrepreneur, immediately prior to the Great Depression and now, was presented by Frank Knight in his seminal work, RISK, UNCERTAINTY, AND PROFIT. In this Article, I will explicate Knight's theory of the entrepreneur and show how it relates to both the Berle-Means Paradigm and the nexus-of-contracts theory of the corporation. My effort here is in part intellectual history and in part the tentative beginnings of a new positive account of the corporation. In the latter regard, this Article takes only the first step in what may prove a quite exhaustive effort to re-plow ...


Fiduciary Duties And Unincorporated Business Entities: In Defense Of The "Manifestly Unreasonable" Standard, Mark J. Loewenstein Jan 2006

Fiduciary Duties And Unincorporated Business Entities: In Defense Of The "Manifestly Unreasonable" Standard, Mark J. Loewenstein

Articles

This article wades into the debate between contractarians and anti-contractarians over the extent to which statutes on unincorporated business entities should limit the ability of the participants in those entities to contract around fiduciary duties. Statutes enacted in the past several years provide considerable, but not complete, freedom to limit fiduciary duties. Contractarians argue that statutory limitations are inefficient and unnecessary, while anti-contractarians take the view that the statutes provide too much freedom of contract. This article stakes out a middle ground, arguing that the drafters of the statutes got it right and that in the absence of statutory limitations ...


Migrating Lawyers And The Ethics Of Conflict Checking, Paul R. Tremblay Sep 2005

Migrating Lawyers And The Ethics Of Conflict Checking, Paul R. Tremblay

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Lawyers often leave a practice setting and move to a new practice as their career paths advance or change. The incidence of lawyer migration has increased dramatically in the past decade, as law firms recruit more lateral hires and offer fewer partnership opportunities to their associates. As a lawyer prepares to change employment settings, her prospective new law firm asks her about the clients she has represented in the past. The new law firm must insist on this information, for without it the firm could not screen for possible conflicts of interest. Were the firm to hire a lawyer without ...