Business Transactions: Connecting the Threads VII

Connecting the Threads VII (2023): “Algorithms to Advocacy”

Presented by Professor Marcia Narine Weldon. This talk explores the intersection of emerging technologies, legal practice, and ethics, focusing on crucial areas such as client confidentiality, data security, competence, informed consent, algorithmic bias, privacy, conflicts of interest, access to justice, and supervision. Additionally, the Weldon addresses the implications of generative AI for legal practice, highlighting the necessity for lawyers to understand its underlying principles and applications in research and contract drafting, litigation, and intellectual property. Lawyers have unique challenges adapting to innovative technologies, while maintaining high ethical standards and professional obligations in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Weldon aims to equip lawyers with the knowledge and tools to navigate the complexities of emerging technologies while upholding their ethical responsibilities and contributing to the advancement of the legal profession.

Connecting the Threads VII (2023): “’The Road’ and Corporate Purpose”

Presented by Professor J. Haskell Murray and Dr. William Murray. Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel The Road is a text students might not expect to encounter in a typical Business Law course. Professors may not even think to use the novel, as there are no businesses in the book—at least not in the way most people conceive of businesses. Nevertheless, we believe The Road provides a particularly useful example of how literature, particularly dystopic literature, can enhance the teaching of business law courses, especially around the issue of corporate purpose. Our larger point, though, is that there are real benefits to integrating literature into seemingly disconnected business courses. It is our contention that while The Road powerfully exemplifies the value of integrating literature into business courses, it is by no means the only narrative worth including. In fact, part of our reasoning behind examining The Road lies in its seeming inapplicability to typical business law courses. In other words, if readers of this article understand how to apply The Road, then they can apply the same strategies to more clearly applicable stories (like Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Ursula Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, or Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sowers). Ultimately, our goal is to encourage business professors to examine how literary texts could be used to promote valuable and relevant conversations in their classrooms.

In Part I, we offer reasons for using literature in business law courses through our response to anticipated objections. Next, in Part II, we turn to the uses of dystopian fiction generally and The Road specifically. We also examine a few scenes of The Road that may be of particular use in these courses, and we incorporate the thorny corporate purpose debate along with emerging social enterprise law. Through Part III we discuss the format of the envisioned course, or linked courses in an Interdisciplinary Learning Community (ILC). Finally, we provide a short conclusion.

Connecting the Threads VII (2023): “Weighing the Costs of, and Authority for, a Mandatory Climate Disclosure Regime”

Presented by Dean John P. Anderson. Existing SEC disclosure rules and guidance already require that issuers disclose man-made-climate-change-related risks that would materially impact market participants’ investment decisions concerning the company. Nevertheless, the SEC has determined that the existing regime grants boards too much discretion in deciding whether and how to disclose climate risk—which has resulted in climate-related disclosures that are insufficiently “consistent,” “comparable” and “clear.” The worry I raise in this presentation is that this sphere of discourse is far too contested and politically charged to be the subject of a mandatory disclosure regime. What if some issuers challenge some of the basic premises behind the disclosure questions? In response to challenges by Commissioner Hester Peirce and others that the SEC’s proposed rule on climate disclosure compels speech in a manner inconsistent with the First Amendment, Commissioner Gensler has responded that the reporting requirements do not mandate content. But, again, is this correct? If the disclosure questions are loaded, don’t they (at least implicitly) dictate the content of the response—particularly if the questions are carefully designed to elicit “standardized,” “consistent,” “comparable,” and “clear” answers?

Connecting the Threads VII (2023): “Business Lawyer Leadership”

Presented by Professor Joan MacLeod Heminway. Presented by The law of business associations is built around relationships.  These relationships arise in a number of contexts contemplated or governed by state statutory and decisional law: internal firm governance, third-party liability, and business finance.  In the representation of business entities, the lawyer-client relationship exists in all of these legal environments.  The resulting professional practice environment for business lawyers can be complex and difficult to navigate.  This presentation describes these cross-cutting foundational relationships and offers observations about how principles and values from leadership literature provide insights important to business lawyering.

Connecting the Threads VII (2023): “Metals Derivatives Markets and the Energy Transition”

Presented by Professor Colleen Baker. Metals are set to play a key role in the transition to a cleaner energy future. Accordingly, their supply and availability has assumed utmost importance for countries around the world, including as a growing source of geopolitical power. The metals derivatives markets will also be a critical consideration because they enable businesses to hedge risks related to the increasing global dependency on metals.  Derivatives are financial instruments that can be used for hedging, speculation, and arbitrage.  This article explores the metals derivatives markets and their role in preparing for the energy transition. It provides an overview of metals derivatives, including markets in development, their regulation, and their central role in securing a clean energy future.