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Shareholder Primacy Versus Shareholder Accountability, William W. Bratton 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review

Seattle University Law Review

Table of Contents


The Structure Of Corporate Law Revolutions, William Savitt 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2024 Seattle University School of Law

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 2023 Seattle University School of Law

Table Of Contents, Seattle University Law Review

Seattle University Law Review

Table of Contents


Using What We Have: How Existing Legal Authorities Can Help Fix America's Nursing Home Crisis, Nina A. Kohn, Adrianna Duggan, Justin Cole, Nada Aljassar 2023 William & Mary Law School

Using What We Have: How Existing Legal Authorities Can Help Fix America's Nursing Home Crisis, Nina A. Kohn, Adrianna Duggan, Justin Cole, Nada Aljassar

William & Mary Law Review

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed systemic quality-of-care problems in American nursing homes as well as the deadly consequences of a regulatory system that has enabled nursing homes to divert funds needed for care to profit. Policy experts have responded by urging regulators to improve nursing-home oversight practices and by calling for new regulatory and statutory authority to increase accountability. These calls, however, have been met with sharp political headwinds. This Article suggests a path around the political impasse. Specifically, it identifies and explores four opportunities to leverage existing statutory schemes to create stronger incentives for nursing homes to provide high-quality care. …


Erisa’S Fiduciary Fantasy And The Problem Of Mass Health Claim Denials, Katherine T. Vukadin 2023 South Texas College of Law

Erisa’S Fiduciary Fantasy And The Problem Of Mass Health Claim Denials, Katherine T. Vukadin

University of Richmond Law Review

Over 100 million Americans face healthcare debt. Most of those in debt have health insurance, with the debt often springing from services people thought were covered. Before and even after receiving care, those seeking coverage must run a gauntlet of obstacles such as excessive pre-authorization requests, burdensome concurrent review of care, and retrospective review, which claws back payment after a treatment is pre-authorized and payment made. Increasingly, this procedural tangle leaves people with unwarranted and unexpected medical bills, quickly spiraling them into debt.

Who polices health insurers’ claims practices? What keeps insurance companies from designing overly burdensome pre-authorization requirements or …


The Exacerbating Role Of Technological And Connectivity Challenges On Older Detroiters’ Health In A Pandemic, Nicholas Schroeck, Carrie Leach 2023 University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

The Exacerbating Role Of Technological And Connectivity Challenges On Older Detroiters’ Health In A Pandemic, Nicholas Schroeck, Carrie Leach

Seattle Journal of Technology, Environmental & Innovation Law

The COVID-19 pandemic hit communities of color hard. The City of Detroit was particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 due to racial, socioeconomic, and environmental health factors. To analyze the exacerbating role of technology and connectivity challenges on older Detroiters' health in a pandemic, we first examined Detroit’s demographics. This analysis involved looking at the continued evolution of the City's population toward older adults, as well as the impact of COVID-19 and the healthcare services on Detroit’s elder population. Next, we examined Detroit’s internet access challenges, including the presence of digital exclusion among older adults in Detroit, the impact of COVID-19 on …


Legally Alone: The Redeemability Of Guardianship And Recommendations Toward Equitable Access, Patrick Hecker 2023 Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Legally Alone: The Redeemability Of Guardianship And Recommendations Toward Equitable Access, Patrick Hecker

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

American adult guardianship needs reform. Thankfully, there is a small but dedicated reform movement that sheds helpful light on problems of underfunding, inattention, and abuse. While the movement’s efforts are needed, this Note argues it is a mistake to focus solely on the ways the guardianship system is sometimes harmful to people who already have access to guardianship. Few reformers consider the needs of people who would benefit from a guardian but do not have anyone to petition the court on their behalf.

This Note first argues that guardianship, despite its detractors, is redeemable. It can be part of a …


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