The Agency Ghetto

Larry Ribstein, commenting about an upcoming meeting of the Section on Agency, Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies at the 2009 AALS meeting, says “Too often the business associations area is basically corporate law with a little agency and partnership thrown in. But as I’ve said in many ways and venues, this area is too important both intellectually and for training our students to be marginalized in this way.” I think this is basically right, and I wonder what set of pressures or incentives brought us to this pass. Is it the (relative) dearth of good cases looking at LLCs? The low-stakes of many classic (clean) agency issues (and thus the low likelihood of an opinion from the Chancery Court)?

In any event, the Section is putting together a great program to highlight the intellectual ferment in the unincorporated world, and has drafted a call for papers:

The Section on Agency, Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies is calling for papers for the 2009 AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego. We are interested in presentations on the application of modern theories and empirical methods of business associations to agency and unincorporated firms. The program has two goals: First, to show how these theories can be enriched by taking them outside the “box” of corporate law; and second, to show the relevance of agency and unincorporated firms to the mainstream of corporate theory and empirics. A non-exhaustive list of possible topics includes the nature and function of fiduciary duties, agency theory, the role and enforcement of contracts, jurisdictional competition and choice of form, the relationship of federal and state law, jurisprudence, international and institutional comparisons, and legal and economic history.Please email either a draft paper if available, or if not an abstract and outline, to Larry E. Ribstein, University of Illinois College of Law, ribstein [at], by no later than September 1, 2008.

This seems like a good way for corporate folks – especially those who are less senior – to make an impact on an emerging area of law.

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