The Path(s) of Corporate Law Scholarship

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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5 Responses

  1. Jeff Lipshaw says:

    Interesting. I realize you are merely cataloging and not evaluating. I’d look long and hard at any study that purports to assert a causal relationship (and I’m aware of many of them) between corporate governance metrics and financial performance.

    I’d also ask the question with respect to modeling or experimental research about board and manager behavior under conditions of uncertainty whether an actor looking at the results of any tested hypothesis would be inclined (or able) to shape an ex ante decision based on it.

    Personally, I’d steal a beat from the crits, and collect narrative from corporate insiders with respect to governance, M&A, compliance, role of lawyers, etc.

  2. Jeff Lipshaw says:

    I should clarify in the proceeding comment that I’m aware of the studies. I’m not yet persuaded of any causal relationships. (Attila the Hun with a differentiated platform technology still trumps Mother Teresa with commoditized products.)

  3. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    The legal academy could use several younger scholars in the intersection of law and accounting, especially in corporate and securities contexts.

    Many luminaries in corporate/securities law have occasionally written important articles on accounting aspects, including Bill Cary, Jack Coffee, Mel Eisenberg, Ed Kitch, Joel Seligman and Elliott Weiss.

    Others devoted a substantial portion of their scholarly agendas to accounting matters, especially Colorado’s Ted Fiflis, NYU’s Homer Kripke and later Stanley Siegel and Columbia’s Lou Lowenstein.

    Contemporary scholars who make sustained and extensive contributions to law and accounting include Bill Bratton, Jim Cox and Robert Prentice.

    Other important current figures include Matt Barrett, Cal Johnson, and George Mundstock, along with valuable contributions by, among others, Erik Gerding, Claire Hill, Sean O’Connor, Lynn Stout and Gilbert Warren.

    Pros: An amazingly rich field with many current and continuing opportunities, including learning about related fields ranging from administrative law, intellectual property, international law and comparative law. Cons: some technical knowledge required.

  4. A very useful and provocative post. As I commented over on my blog, the biggest problem I have with all the alternatives to what you’re calling doctrinalism is that of comparative advantage. Financial economists and business school types would seem to have a significant advantage in all the other areas. In contrast, L&E trained law professors have a comparative in advantage in arbitraging their work into doctrinal analyses.

  5. Fred Tung says:

    Hi David:

    Great post. As a Market Quant-head sympathizer, let me add a little ray of sunshine to your post re law professor/ lawyer value-added. You have it exactly right that the lawyer’s comparative advantage is in reading contracts and cases and interpreting what they mean. In effect, law-types are the experts on institutional detail–how legal constraints actually work. This is not a small thing for Market Quant-head research, however. Finance professors may sometimes venture into empirical corporate governance research unarmed with a law co-author, which can be perilous. I once watched two highly-trained young finance professors present a paper relying on state antitakeover statutes as a measure of the degree of management entrenchment across firms. The law-types in the room quickly shot down their major premise. While everyone in the room was very gracious, it was a bit awkward when it became clear that the results of the paper were literally meaningless. It was no coincidence that these finance scholars taught at universities with no law school–MIT and Princeton, if memory serves.

    It’s not hard to see how such a mistake could be made by non-lawyers. Statutes are easy to find and read. Understanding staggered boards and poison pills, by contrast, requires (or at the time, required) a little better grasp of institutional detail.

    I think a law co-author can affect the sophistication of the kinds of questions that Market quant-head research can answer. We can be important contributors to project design. We may also often have better intuitions about where to look for causation.