Georgia Law Professor Bruner’s chapter on comparative corporate governance published in new Research Handbook

Christopher M. Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has contributed a chapter, “Methods of Comparative Corporate Governance,” to a just-published academic handbook on the subject.

Bruner’s chapter appears in Research Handbook on Comparative Corporate Governance. Edited by Afra Afsharipour, Professor of Law and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, and Martin Gelter, Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, the volume was issued by Edward Elgar Publishing.

Here’s the abstract for Professor Bruner’s chapter, a version which is available at SSRN:

Methodology has not received sufficient attention in the field of comparative law, and this shortcoming is perhaps even more significant in the specific field of comparative corporate governance, where the general comparative legal literature that does exist on the subject tends to be ignored. While there is assuredly no single, optimal comparative method, it remains critically important for scholars to evaluate whether the approach undertaken is fit for purpose – that is, whether the comparative method adopted is in fact capable of illuminating the subject of inquiry.

This chapter highlights some significant methodological choices and challenges encountered in comparative corporate governance. Part II describes differing comparative postures that one might adopt, emphasizing similarity or difference, respectively – an important threshold consideration, in so far as one often finds what one sets out to find, without recognizing the degree to which such predispositions might cloud the analysis and preclude a fuller account. Part III examines how the law and economics movement, in particular, has affected comparative analysis of corporate governance, critiquing its (implicit) methodology and assessing its impacts. Part IV, then, discusses various choices in research design, emphasizing how the alternatives are impacted by the foregoing dynamics. Part V briefly concludes, calling for methodological self-awareness and candid acknowledgment of the limits of what various comparative approaches to corporate governance can deliver.

Georgia Law students earn international practice experience as Global Externs

Ten rising 2L and 3L students at the University of Georgia School of Law are taking part in Global Externships Overseas this summer. Administered by the Dean Rusk International Law Center, the GEO initiative places Georgia Law students in externships lasting from four to twelve weeks, and offers students the opportunity to gain practical work experience in a variety of legal settings worldwide.

These Global Externs are enhancing their legal education through placements – remote this summer, on account of the pandemic – in law firms, in-house legal departments, and nongovernmental organizations based in Asia, Europe, and South America. Practice areas include dispute resolution, corporate law, refugee law, and international human rights law.

This year’s GEO class includes these placements in private law settings:

  • Ben Bacia (3L) – PSA India, New Delhi, India
  • Starlyn Endres (3L) – Orange, Brussels, Belgium
  • Savannah Grant (2L) – Araoz y Rueda, Madrid, Spain
  • Nishka Malik (2L) – Orange, Brussels, Belgium
  • Alina Salgado (2L) – MV Kini & Co., New Delhi, India
  • Maha Toor (2L) – Syngenta AG, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Additionally, the following students are working in public law placements:

  • Collin Douglas (2L) – Documentation Center of Cambodia, Phnom Penh
  • Caleb Grant (2L) – Documentation Center of Cambodia, Phnom Penh
  • Savannah Grant (2L) – No Peace Without Justice, Brussels, Belgium
  • Bradford Lorenz (3L) – Boat People SOS, Center for Asylum Protection, Bangkok, Thailand

Professor Melissa “MJ” Durkee named Georgia Law Associate Dean for International Programs and Director of Dean Rusk International Law Center

We at the Dean Rusk International Law Center of the University of Georgia School of Law are delighted to announce that Professor Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee will be the law school’s next Associate Dean for International Programs, a position that includes service as our Center’s Director. The appointment will take effect this Thursday, July 1.

In assuming leadership of the Dean Rusk International Law Center, Durkee succeeds Professor Lori A. Ringhand, who has served as the Center’s Interim Director for the past year and a half. The law school’s most recent Associate Dean for International Programs was Professor Diane Marie Amann, who served in that post from 2015-2017 and who since then has been a Faculty Co-Director of the Center along with Professor Harlan G. Cohen.

Named after former U.S. Secretary of State and Georgia Law Professor Dean Rusk, our Center has served since 1977 as the international law and policy nucleus for education, scholarship, and other collaborations among faculty and students, the law school community, and diverse local and global partners. As Director, Durkee will lead a Center staff that includes Laura Tate Kagel and Mandy Dixon, respectively the Associate Director and the Assistant for International Professional Education, and Sarah Quinn and Catrina Martin, respectively the Associate Director and the Assistant for Global Practice Preparation.

Durkee (prior posts, SSRN page) also holds the title at Georgia Law of Allen Post Professor, as well as a courtesy appointment in the university’s Terry College of Business. A highly regarded scholar, she teaches, writes, and presents on international law and corporate governance, with focus on international economic and environmental law, global governance, democratic participation, public-private partnerships, and legal theory. Her most recent article, “Interpretive Entrepreneurs,” has just been published at 107 Virginia Law Review 431 (2021).

Her leadership roles in the Washington, D.C.-based American Society of International Law include: Board of Editors, American Journal of International Law; Supervising Editor, AJIL Unbound; ASIL Executive Council; and Vice Chair, ASIL International Legal Theory Interest Group. Wearing that last hat, she organized “The Law and Logics of Attribution: Constructing the Identity and Responsibility of States and Firms,” a conference that our Center hosted online last September. Durkee has also served as faculty advisor to the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law.

Before joining the Georgia Law faculty in 2018, Durkee was a professor at the University of Washington School of Law. A graduate of Yale Law School, she practiced international litigation and arbitration at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York and was law clerk to Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and Judge Sidney H. Stein, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Georgia Law Professor Bruner presents on corporate governance and sustainability to Italy PhD students

Christopher M. Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, delivered a 3-hour seminar online yesterday to students in the PhD Programmes in Legal Sciences and Law and Innovation at the University of Macerata in Italy.

The seminar’s title, “The Corporation as Technology: Re-Calibrating Corporate Governance for a Sustainable Future,” is also the provisional title of Bruner’s forthcoming Oxford University Press book.

Bruner was introduced by Alessio Bartolacelli, who holds the Jean Monnet Business Law Chair in the European Union and Sustainable Economy at Macerata.

Georgia Law Professor MJ Durkee discusses “Interpretive Entrepreneurs” at St. John’s international law colloquium

Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, the Allen Post Professor here at the University of Georgia School of Law, recently presented “Interpretive Entrepreneurs” as part of the annual colloquium at the Center for International and Comparative Law, St. John’s University School of Law, New York.

Durkee’s article on the subject is forthcoming in the Virginia Law Review

Georgia Law Professor Christopher Bruner publishes on AI and corporations in Cambridge Law Journal

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has published “Distributed Ledgers, Artificial Intelligence and the Purpose of the Corporation” in 79 Cambridge Law Journal 431 (2020).

Here’s the abstract:

“Distributed ledgers and blockchain technology are widely expected to promote more direct shareholder involvement in corporate governance by reducing costs of voting and trade clearance. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence may shrink the decision-making terrain where corporations rely on human management. This article analyses these technologies and concludes that, while such outcomes are plausible, their potential corporate governance impacts are likely more complex and contingent. Despite the implicit libertarianism that characterises much of the discourse, we in fact have choices to make about how such technologies are developed and deployed – and these policy decisions will have to be grounded in a normative conception of corporate purpose external to the technology itself.”

Bruner presented the work at a conference on “The Future of the Firm” held last year in London.

Georgia Law Professor Durkee talks on business, global governance at ILW 2020

Professor Melissa J. “MJ” Durkee, the Allen Post Professor of Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, was among the scholars and practitioners who took part in a panel entitled “Business Engagement in Global Governance” during International Law Weekend, the 99th Annual Meeting of the American Branch of the International Law Association. Typically held in New York City, because of the coronavirus pandemic this year’s ILW took place online.

Here’s the panel description:

Many international organizations are now partnering with business groups, seeking expertise, corporate engagement with important issues, and funds. While public-private partnerships can seem indispensable, the danger of undue influence is real. This roundtable will discuss cutting-edge efforts by international organizations to capture benefits of business participation while restraining harms, and how past experience may offer lessons for future challenges.

Joining Durkee in discussing these issues were Igor da Silva Barbosa, First-Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations Office in Geneva; Professor Kristina Daugirdas, University of Michigan Law School; and Nancy Thevenin, General Counsel of the United States Council for International Business. Dr. Ayelet Berman, Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Law, National University of Singapore, served as moderator.

Georgia Law, ASIL to cosponsor conference on legal responsibility of corporations and nation-states

  • When private companies perform governmental functions and governments own companies, which acts should be attributed to the state?
  • Which should be attributed to the corporation?
  • And whose religious beliefs, speech rights, and moral standing can those entities claim?

These questions and more will be explored in The Law and Logics of Attribution: Constructing the Identity and Responsibility of States and Firms, a 2-day online conference that our Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, will cohost next month.

Melissa “MJ” Durkee, Allen Post Professor at Georgia Law, is leading the event, which will bring together a multinational group of scholars in law and social sciences. It’s cosponsored by the American Society of International Law and ASIL’s Interest Group on International Legal Theory. Durkee serves as Vice Chair of that interest group; Chair is her Georgia Law colleague Harlan G. Cohen, Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of our Center. Registration is available here.

Scheduled to speak at the conference, which will take place 1-5 p.m. Friday, September 11, and Friday, September 18:

Olabisi Akinkugbe, Assistant Professor, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Canada

William C. Banks, Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor, Syracuse University College of Law, New York

Joshua Barkan, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Georgia

Kristen Boon, Miriam T. Rooney Professor of Law, Seton Hall School of Law, New Jersey

Rachel Brewster, Jeffrey and Bettysue Hughes Professor of Law, Duke Law School, North Carolina

David Ciepley, Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, California

Laura Dickinson, Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law, George Washington School of Law, District of Columbia

Melissa “MJ” Durkee, Allen Post Professor, University of Georgia School of Law

Benjamin Edwards, Associate Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

James Gathii, Wing-Tat Lee Chair in International law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Illinois

Sarah Haan, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee School of Law, Virginia

Catherine Hardee, Associate Professor of Law, California Western School of Law

Doreen Lustig, Associate Professor, Tel Aviv University, Buchmann Faculty of Law, Israel

Kish Parella, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Virginia

Dalia Palombo, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Business Ethics, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Mikko Rajavuori, Academy of Finland Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Eastern Finland Law School

Ingrid Wuerth, Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law, Vanderbilt School of Law, Tennessee

 

They’ll be examining aspects of the conference’s concept note:

“In international law, scholars and practitioners struggle to attribute rights and responsibilities between state and private entities in areas as diverse as military contracting, environmental accountability, human rights, international investment, and cyber espionage and warfare. In the corporate governance realm, attributing responsibility to entities is increasingly challenging in the context of globally dispersed corporate families with intricate parent-subsidiary structures; identity attribution has also produced headlining debates.

“While attribution questions fuel important conversations in both corporate and international law, the two literatures are not often in conversation. Questions of attribution in both domains nevertheless are becoming more complex and urgent, and the fields increasingly intersect: In some areas of law, attribution doctrines must determine the dividing line between states and firms. Doctrines of attribution construct the public domain, and thereby also the private. Attribution questions in both domains reinvigorate classic inquiries about the nature of a corporation, the relationship between private entities and the state, and the proper function of the law in mediating between the two.

“This conference will draw together corporate and international legal scholars, as well as thinkers outside the law, in order to cross-pollinate these two fields and the questions at their intersection, and to unearth promising theoretical tools. It will consider theoretical and doctrinal approaches to attribution, potential consequences of these approaches, and whether they may reconcile the ambiguities and deficiencies that drive current debates. The project aims to offer a new point of entry to enduring theoretical and doctrinal questions about the nature of corporations, of states, and of the relationship between them. It is particularly relevant at a time where corporations are ‘jurisdictionally ambiguous and spatially diffuse,’ states are deferential, dependent or outflanked, and multilateralism is at an ebb.”

Full details, including registration for this online event, are available here.

Georgia Law Professor Christopher Bruner presents to International Monetary Fund on corporations and sustainability

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, recently presented “The Corporation as Technology: Re-Calibrating Corporate Governance for a Sustainable Future” to the International Monetary Fund, a 75-year-old organization of 189 countries that, operating within the United Nations system, works to “foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”

Bruner’s online presentation was organized by the IMF Legal Department and moderated by Rhoda Weeks-Brown, Director of the Legal Department and the IMF’s General Counsel.  Attendees included staff lawyers and economists from across the IMF.

His talk was based on the book that he is currently writing, which is due to be published by Oxford University Press next year.

Georgia Law Professor Bruner presents on corporations and sustainability in University of Oslo Law forum

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, presented yesterday in Company Law Forum, a video-seminar offered by Research Group Companies, Markets and Sustainability, a unit within the University of Oslo Faculty of Law.

The Research Group described Bruner’s presentation, “Private Power and Public Good: Harnessing the Corporation for a Sustainable Future”, as follows:

The corporate form is widely described, and on some accounts defined, by reference to a core set of purportedly fixed, intrinsic attributes. Such depictions of the corporate form typically reflect strong assumptions about which corporate constituencies should be regarded as internal participants in the corporation, and go hand-in-glove with strong theoretical claims about the corporation’s core utility and corporate law’s correlative content. Christopher Bruner argues, however, that such rigid and static depictions of the corporate form and corporate law have fundamentally misconstrued the nature of the entity, giving rise to a host of corporate pathologies that include excessive risk-taking and cost externalization without regard for environmental and social impacts.

Such hidebound conceptions of the corporation have effectively sacrificed the flexibility and dynamism of the corporate form, thereby obscuring potential governance-related regulatory options that could offer promising solutions to a host of vexing problems. In his new book project, tentatively titled Private Power and Public Good: Harnessing the Corporation for a Sustainable Future, Bruner will re-conceptualize the corporation, not as a fixed and rigid set of legal characteristics but rather as a dynamic legal technology that can be calibrated and re-calibrated in varying contexts, and over time, in response to a dynamic landscape. He will then build upon that framework to explore the corporation’s potential to contribute to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.