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Full-Text Articles in Law

Corporate Law And The Rhetoric Of Choice, Kent Greenfield Nov 2011

Corporate Law And The Rhetoric Of Choice, Kent Greenfield

Kent Greenfield

Rhetorically, the notion of choice has always been a powerful one in politics and law. This essay is intended to offer a note of caution about its use. Despite its progressive hue of individual freedom, the rhetoric of choice increasingly tends to be a notion used to defend and uphold existing matrices of economic and social power. This is because the rhetoric of choice is an excellent way to support exiting power relationships. The assertion that people acting within such power relationships are simply choosing their current situation undermines efforts to change those relationships. The powerful stay powerful; the weak …


The Misuse Of Tax Incentives To Align Management-Shareholder Interests, James R. Repetti Oct 2011

The Misuse Of Tax Incentives To Align Management-Shareholder Interests, James R. Repetti

James R. Repetti

The U.S. tax system contains many provisions which are intended to align management of large publicly traded companies more closely to stockholders. This article shows that many of the tax provisions that have been adopted are of questionable effectiveness because they fail to address the complexities of stockholder-management relations in attempting to motivate management to act in the best interests of stockholders. The article proposes that rather than Congress attempting to identify the best way that it can use the tax system to motivate management, Congress should eliminate tax provisions which subsidize management's inefficiencies in order to encourage stockholders, themselves, …


The Practical Soul Of Business Ethics: The Corporate Manager's Dilemma And The Social Teaching Of The Catholic Church, Leo L. Clarke, Bruce P. Frohnen, Edward C. Lyons Sep 2011

The Practical Soul Of Business Ethics: The Corporate Manager's Dilemma And The Social Teaching Of The Catholic Church, Leo L. Clarke, Bruce P. Frohnen, Edward C. Lyons

Edward C. Lyons

This Article focuses on and attempts to dispel an overly narrow view of the moral responsibilities of corporations and their managers. Many businessmen and lawyers, relying on prevailing approaches to business ethics, labor under the misperception that the moral ladder in the business world has only one rung: "Be honest." Americans, however, should, can and do expect more from the managers of our large corporations, and virtually every Fortune 100 company publicly espouses a "social responsibility" far exceeding mere honesty. Further, as is demonstrated, American jurisprudence is consistent with those expectations. This Article's thesis is that Catholic Social Teaching provides …


Legal Mechanization Of Corporate Social Responsibility Through Alien Tort Statute Litigation: A Response To Professor Branson With Some Supplemental Thoughts, Donald J. Kochan Jul 2011

Legal Mechanization Of Corporate Social Responsibility Through Alien Tort Statute Litigation: A Response To Professor Branson With Some Supplemental Thoughts, Donald J. Kochan

Donald J. Kochan

This Response argues that as ATS jurisprudence “matures” or becomes more sophisticated, the legitimate limits of the law regress. The further expansion within the corporate defendant pool – attempting to pin liability on parent, great grandparent corporations and up to the top – raises the stakes and complexity of ATS litigation. The corporate social responsibility discussion raises three principal issues about how a moral corporation lives its life: how a corporation chooses its self-interest versus the interests of others, when and how it should help others if control decisions may harm the shareholder owners, and how far the corporation must …


Strengthening Investment In Public Corporations Through The Uncorporation, Kelli A. Alces Jun 2011

Strengthening Investment In Public Corporations Through The Uncorporation, Kelli A. Alces

Seattle University Law Review

We cannot completely overcome the difficulties caused by the separation of ownership and control. In The Modern Corporation and Private Property, Adolf A. Berle and Gardiner Means focused our attention on what was then a relatively new phenomenon: widely dispersed public shareholding.1 They marveled at how, for the first time in the history of the American economy, the owners of assets had so little to do with the management of those assets, and managers had so much power over so much health that did not belong to them.2 Berle and Means described what we now call the Berle−Means corporation, the …


Mind Control: Firms And The Production Of Ideas, Anthony J. Casey Jun 2011

Mind Control: Firms And The Production Of Ideas, Anthony J. Casey

Seattle University Law Review

The central questions for economic theories of the firm concern how the production of a good is organized (in the market or within a firm) and why that organization prevails. Derivative to these questions, legal scholars ask how the law affects and is affected by any particular organizational structure. Emerging literature looks at these questions in connection with the law of intellectual property. The prevailing theories in that literature focus primarily, though not exclusively, on patent law and generally adopt a property-rights theory of the firm. Those theories, focusing on residual control and hold-up problems, have shown that as patent …


Theories Of The Firm And Judicial Uncertainty, Andrew S. Gold Jun 2011

Theories Of The Firm And Judicial Uncertainty, Andrew S. Gold

Seattle University Law Review

There is no necessary connection between academics’ theories of the firm and judicial theories of the firm. Economists and legal scholars may adopt one theory of the firm, and courts may adopt another. We might even predict this result. Judges are not economists, and as increasingly sophisticated theories of the firm emerge in the academic literature, judges are not well-positioned to keep pace with the evolving accounts. Indeed, judges may reasonably choose to adopt no theory at all. Given these premises, this Essay explores the relationship between academically developed theories of the firm and corporate legal doctrine. Legal scholars who …


Salomon Redux: The Moralities Of Business, Allan C. Hutchinson, Ian Langlois Jun 2011

Salomon Redux: The Moralities Of Business, Allan C. Hutchinson, Ian Langlois

Seattle University Law Review

In this Essay, we revisit the Salomon case and its related litigation not only from a legal standpoint but also from a broader moral perspective. 4 In the second Part, we offer a detailed context for and account of the Salomon litigation. The third Part focuses on the historical roots of the corporation and the judicial arguments in Salomon. In the fourth Part, we explore the moral and legal consequences of the Salomon decision. Throughout the Essay, our ambition will be not only to give the Salomon case a more contextual and richer spin but also to tackle the relationship …


Nevada And The Market For Corporate Law, Bruce H. Kobayashi, Larry E. Ribstein Jun 2011

Nevada And The Market For Corporate Law, Bruce H. Kobayashi, Larry E. Ribstein

Seattle University Law Review

Berle and Means’s view that managers rather than shareholders control our largest corporations finds important expression in William Cary’s famous article arguing that managers have led shareholders on a “race to the bottom” whose finish line is Delaware. These views, in turn, support supplanting state corporation law with federal regulation of corporate governance. Concerns about a race to the bottom lately focus on Nevada, which seeks to be Delaware’s first real competitor for out-of-state firms in the national incorporation market. Evidence suggests that Nevada’s strategy is to raise tax revenues by offering a significantly laxer corporate law than Delaware. We …


A Shallow Harbor And A Cold Horizon: The Deceptive Promise Of Modern Agency Law For The Theory Of The Firm, David A. Westbrook Jun 2011

A Shallow Harbor And A Cold Horizon: The Deceptive Promise Of Modern Agency Law For The Theory Of The Firm, David A. Westbrook

Seattle University Law Review

Modern agency law—the consensual agreement of one person to work for and under the control of another—has been widely used to provide a general framework for understanding a great deal of business law. Agency law concepts can be used to frame pedagogical, scholarly, institutional, and even political discourses. In so doing, modern agency law addresses concerns about the institution of the corporation, generally by reference to contract: institutions are created out of essentially consensual, and hence justifiable, relationships among autonomous individuals. So modern agency law is more than a “theory” of the firm in the narrow sense of theory; modern …


Order For The Courts: Reforming The Nollan/Dolan Threshold Inquiry For Exactions, Winfield B. Martin Jun 2011

Order For The Courts: Reforming The Nollan/Dolan Threshold Inquiry For Exactions, Winfield B. Martin

Seattle University Law Review

For decades prior to 2005, Fifth Amendment regulatory takings jurisprudence languished in a state of confused neglect. Rather than articulating a clearly discernable standard for determining whether a violation of the Takings Clause had occurred, Justices rebuffed government action that seemed to amount to “an out-and-out plan of extortion” and nodded in approval when they deemed the government to have “acted diligently and in good faith” or in furtherance of a “compelling interest.” In trying to parse this imprecise thicket, scholars have characterized the Court’s approach to regulatory takings as a “muddle,” in “disarray,” and “incoherent.” Professor Kent even noted …


The Post-Revolutionary Period In Corporate Law: Returning To The Theory Of The Firm, Matthew T. Bodie Jun 2011

The Post-Revolutionary Period In Corporate Law: Returning To The Theory Of The Firm, Matthew T. Bodie

Seattle University Law Review

The consensus on corporate law theory has narrowed the field’s doctrinal and methodological foci. Although the vibrancy of shareholder primacy has at times been called into question as a matter of law, both boardrooms and courts have taken the normative call for shareholder wealth maximization increasingly to heart. There is little doubt that the revolution has not only substantially affected legal theory but also legislation, court decisions, and corporate behavior. It achieved a level of success unusual for an academic discipline; it not only transformed the field but also the world. We now find ourselves in the post-revolutionary period. For …


Law And Legal Theory In The History Of Corporate Responsibility: Corporate Personhood, Lyman Johnson Jun 2011

Law And Legal Theory In The History Of Corporate Responsibility: Corporate Personhood, Lyman Johnson

Seattle University Law Review

This Article, the first of a multipart project, addresses the nature of corporate personhood, one area where law has played a central role in the history of corporate responsibility in the United States.1 The treatment will be illustrative, not exhaustive. Consistent with the theme of the larger project, the Article serves to make the simple but important point that a full historical understanding of corporate responsibility requires an appreciation of the law’s significant, if ultimately limited, contribution to the longstanding American quest for more responsible corporate conduct. On one hand, the spheres of law and corporate responsibility, although clearly complementary, …


We Don’T Need You Anymore: Corporate Social Responsibilities, Executive Class Interests, And Solving Mizruchi And Hirschman’S Paradox, Richard Marens Jun 2011

We Don’T Need You Anymore: Corporate Social Responsibilities, Executive Class Interests, And Solving Mizruchi And Hirschman’S Paradox, Richard Marens

Seattle University Law Review

Previously, Northern Italian, Dutch, and then English entrepreneurs had dominated global trade in turn, and when after a century or so their respective hegemonies began to show cracks, each group refocused its efforts in the service of tapping already-accumulated wealth through financial speculation and, in the process, also financed the rise of their successors.20 If Dahrendorf was correct, and American capital was managed during the era of American industrial dominance by “a class of career bureaucrats, whose primary loyalty lay with their employer rather than with a class of property owners,”21 there are good reasons to believe that that has …


Coase, Knight, And The Nexus-Of-Contracts Theory Of The Firm: A Reflection On Reification, Reality, And The Corporation As Entrepreneur Surrogate, Charles R.T. O'Kelley Jun 2011

Coase, Knight, And The Nexus-Of-Contracts Theory Of The Firm: A Reflection On Reification, Reality, And The Corporation As Entrepreneur Surrogate, Charles R.T. O'Kelley

Seattle University Law Review

Working within the nexus-of-contracts model, scholars have struggled to develop a rhetorical paradigm that accurately predicts or describes corporation law. This difficulty flows from twin flaws in the currently dominant model—the equation of the corporation and the firm and the exclusion of the entrepreneur. Coase and his progenitor, Frank Knight, saw the firm as having an “inside” and an “outside” and a distinct central actor—the entrepreneur. Contrary to the allocation of resources by the unconscious processes of the market fundamental to the perfect competition model favored by free-market, nexus-of-contracts theorists, Knight and Coase looked inside the firm and identified the …


The Evolution Of The American Corporation And Global Organizational Biodiversity, Ugo Pagano Jun 2011

The Evolution Of The American Corporation And Global Organizational Biodiversity, Ugo Pagano

Seattle University Law Review

The Evolution of the Modern Corporate Structure has been one of the most influential chapters of The Modern Corporation & Private Property. But Berle and Means’s superb analysis is framed in the American context and cannot be easily generalized to other experiences. Their corporate model arose in a democratic country where “production engineers” commanded more respect than financiers and capitalist dynasties. Other countries followed different organizational paths, characterized by different institutional complementarities between labor and financial markets that generated “concentrated equilibria” different from the American “dispersed equilibrium.” This Article argues that the divide can be traced to the different aristocratic …


The Future Of Socialism, Robert Paul Wolff Jun 2011

The Future Of Socialism, Robert Paul Wolff

Seattle University Law Review

An unpromising title, this, in the seventh year of the third millennium of the Common Era; rather like “Recent Developments in Ptolemaic Astronomy” or “Betamax—a Technology Whose Time Has Come.” My grandfather’s dream, the faith of my younger days, has turned to ashes. And yet, I remain persuaded that Karl Marx has something important to teach us about the world in which we live today. In what follows, I propose to take as my text a famous statement from Marx’s A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy1—a sort of preliminary sketch of Das Kapital2—and see what it can tell …


Consumer Lock-In And The Theory Of The Firm, David G. Yosifon Jun 2011

Consumer Lock-In And The Theory Of The Firm, David G. Yosifon

Seattle University Law Review

The advent of the modern corporation separated not only ownership from control but also production from consumption. The agency problem that arose between owners and managers of firms also emerged between producers and consumers. Just as corporations needed to lock-in capital to sustain large-scale operations, so too did they need to lock-in consumers to justify and reduce the risks of asset-specific investment. Large corporate operations succeeded because they solved both the capital and consumer lock-in challenges. This Article explores ways in which modern consumers, like shareholders, can find themselves in a very real sense locked into the corporations with which …


Rethinking The Nature Of The Firm: The Corporation As A Governance Object, Peer Zumbansen Jun 2011

Rethinking The Nature Of The Firm: The Corporation As A Governance Object, Peer Zumbansen

Seattle University Law Review

This Article attempts to bridge two discourses—corporate governance and contract governance. Regarding the latter, a group of scholars has recently set out to develop a more comprehensive research agenda to explore the governance dimensions of contractual relations, highlighting the potential of contract theory to develop a more encompassing theory of social and economic transactions. While a renewed interest in the contribution of economic theory for a concept of contract governance drives one dimension of this research, another part of this undertaking has been to move contract theory closer to theories of social organization. Here, these scholars emphasize the “social” or …


Hired To Invent Vs. Work Made For Hire: Resolving The Inconsistency Among Rights Of Corporate Personhood, Authorship, And Inventorship, Sean M. O'Connor Jun 2011

Hired To Invent Vs. Work Made For Hire: Resolving The Inconsistency Among Rights Of Corporate Personhood, Authorship, And Inventorship, Sean M. O'Connor

Seattle University Law Review

Corporations have long held core aspects of legal personhood, such as rights to own and divest property and to sue and be sued. U.S. copyright law allows corporations to be authors while U.S. patent law does not allow them to be inventors. To be sure, both copyright law and patent law allow corporations to own copyrights and patents as assignees. But only copyright law, through its work-made-for-hire doctrine, provides for the nonnatural person of the corporation to “be” the author in an almost metaphysical sense. Under patent law, the natural-person inventors must always be listed in the patent documents, even …


The Citizen Shareholder: Modernizing The Agency Paradigm To Reflect How And Why A Majority Of Americans Invest In The Market, Anne Tucker Jun 2011

The Citizen Shareholder: Modernizing The Agency Paradigm To Reflect How And Why A Majority Of Americans Invest In The Market, Anne Tucker

Seattle University Law Review

This Article examines corporate law from the perspective of personal investment and discusses the economic realities of modern investments in order to understand the role of shareholders within the agency paradigm. Corporate law, its scholars, and suggested reforms traditionally focus on the internal organization of the corporation. For example, agency principles inform corporate law by acknowledging a potential conflict of interest between the managers and shareholders of a corporation. Reforms such as increased shareholder voting rights and proxy access, which seek to give shareholders a more direct means to make their interests known to managers, illustrate corporate law’s focus on …


Corporate Obligations Under The Human Right To Water, Jernej Letnar Cernic Mar 2011

Corporate Obligations Under The Human Right To Water, Jernej Letnar Cernic

Jernej Letnar Černič

Almost a billion people do not have access to clean and safe water. Access to safe drinking water and sanitation is increasingly being considered a fundamental human right. Corporations play an important role in the realization of the right to water. For example, they can become violators of the right to water where their activities deny access to clean and safe water or where water prices increase without warning. Corporations can have a positive or negative impact on the human rights of individuals, wider communities and indigenous peoples. This paper argues that corporations bear a certain responsibility for the realization …


Board Diversity Revisited: New Rationale, Same Old Story, Lisa Fairfax Mar 2011

Board Diversity Revisited: New Rationale, Same Old Story, Lisa Fairfax

All Faculty Scholarship

Recently, board diversity advocates have relied on market- or economic-based rationales to convince corporate America to increase the number of women and people of color in the boardroom, in lieu of moral or social justifications. This shift away from moral or social justifications has been deliberate, and it stems from a belief that corporate America would better respond to justifications that centered on the corporate bottom line. However, recent empirical data reveals that despite the increased reliance on, and apparent acceptance of, market- or economic-based rationales for board diversity, there has been little change in actual board diversity. This Article …


The Corporation As Imperfect Society, Brian M. Mccall Dec 2010

The Corporation As Imperfect Society, Brian M. Mccall

Brian M McCall

Corporations are ubiquitous in modern society. They pervade every aspect of our life, consumer, professional, investment activity. Probably, people have more contact with corporations on a daily basis than any other institution, including government. From the South Sea Bubble to the Stock market Crash of 1929 to Enron to General Motors and Countrywide Mortgage, corporate scandals and controversies invite fundamental questions about corporate law. This article attempts to bring a fresh perspective to the question: “what is a corporation and how should the law treat it?” The article articulates a corporate metaphysics rooted in political philosophy. The dominant models of …