Tamar Frankel, Trailblazer

September 3, 2007

I am pleased to be involved in an exciting new project sponsored by the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.  The Commission is spearheading an oral history project called Women Trailblazers in the Law.

Wisely, the Commission has selected Boston University Law Professor Tamar Frankel to be profiled.  I have agreed to interview Professor Frankel for the project.  I will be taking a full-life oral history of Professor Frankel over the coming months.  The interviews will be taped and transcripts of the interviews will be preserved at the Library of Congress in Washington as a resource for future generations of lawyers and scholars.

Professor Frankel is a distinguished scholar and a pathbreaker in many ways.  As the first female professor on the tenure track at BU (and among the first women corporate law professors in the country) she is no doubt a trailblazer.  She is a leading expert on fiduciary law having written leading treatises on the Regulation of Money Managers and Securitization.  She recently published Trust and Honesty: America’s Business Culture at a Crossroad, which decries the erosion of a culture of ethics in American business. 

 In addition to her academic accomplishments, Professor Frankel has led a fascinating life. She was born and raised in Israel where she ran her own law practice before moving to the United States to study at Harvard Law School, where she earned her LLM and SJD degrees.  I am looking forward to learning more about her life as we move forward with the project.

Allan Hutchinson, Public Policy and Private Cupidity: Berle and Means Re-Visioned

July 18, 2007

Allan Hutchinsion (York University – Osgoode Hall Law School) has posted Public Policy and Private Cupidity: Berle and Means Re-Visioned on SSRN.  The article challenges the conventional interpretation of the Berle and Means classic work, The Modern Corporation and Private Property, and suggests instead other possible understandings that have been lost on corporate scholars.  Here is the abstract:

Adolph A. Berle and Gardiner C. Means’ The Modern Corporation and Private Property is one of law’s undisputed canonical texts. Its 75th anniversary is an occasion both to reassess its legacy and perhaps to rework its insights. Although Berle and Means’ work was intended to redirect the governance of corporate affairs away from furthering private cupidity and towards advancing public policy, their enslaving insights have done more harm than good; they have tended to reinforce the primacy of private cupidity or, perhaps more accurately, allowed subsequent theorists to prefer the pursuit of private cupidity by equating it with the development of public policy. This is not only unfortunate, but also unnecessary. Although Berle and Means’ The Modern Corporation forms the bedrock of the prevailing paradigm in corporate law and governance, it also contains some very suggestive materials from which to construct an alternative and more democratic way of proceeding which actually subverts and transforms the established model. In this essay, therefore, I want both to celebrate The Modern Corporation, but also to lament the enduring influence of its received understanding on corporate law scholarship and practice.

Two Books Explore the Link Between Corporations and Democracy

May 30, 2007

In Sunday’s Boston Globe, University of Pennsylvania professor Stephen Hahn reviews Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900 by Jack Beatty.  Hahn describes the book as a history of American capitalism, which Beatty portrays as “a history that has compromised, if not undermined, our democracy and set us on a course of social and political crisis.”  Beatty pins the betrayal of American society on an “alliance between government and business,” with courts playing a leading role in whittling away “the promises of freedom, citizenship and independence” handing them instead over to corporations.

In contrast to Beatty’s view of corporations as an engine for the demise (or at least the compromise) of American democracy, a book recently featured on the Colbert Report credits the corporation with the birth of American democracy.  Bob Deans appeared with Stephen Colbert last week to plug his book, The River Where America Began, on the history of Jamestown.  Here is the (very funny) clip