Faculty in the News: December 16-31, 2016
The Wall Street Journal—December 14
The Tillerson conundrum will surely put the company’s board in a tough spot, said Robert Jackson, a corporate-governance expert at Columbia University. Exxon’s directors have to ask themselves “whether a public servant should be receiving a $175 million gift from a private corporation,” Mr. Jackson said.
Minnesota Public Radio—December 16
Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia Law School professor who studies policing, said departments can be resistant to real change because even if city leaders are sincere about participating in the voluntary collaborative process, other stakeholders, like officers and police unions, still need to be brought into the fold. "Getting everybody to sit at the same table and agree on a set of principles and actions to follow through on is sometimes a hard task, given these kinds of different force fields, you could call them, within the police department," Fagan said.
The Architects Newspaper—December 16
[Michael] Gerrard was pessimistic about conservation as public policy during the Trump years. “People going into the cabinet have as one of their objectives maximization of use of fossil fuels, which makes them not interested in efficiency,” he said.
Several scholars who have studied the emoluments clause closely argue the president-elect has no choice but to divest from his businesses if he hopes to abide by the Constitution…These include former White House ethics lawyers Norm Eisen and Richard Painter, Harvard University Law School's Laurence Tribe and Fordham University School of Law's Zephyr Teachout, as well as Columbia Law School vice dean Richard Briffault and Kenyon College associate professor H. Abbie Erler.
Digital Trends—December 17
Net neutrality, for the uninitiated, is the principle that broadband providers should treat all content, sites, and platforms equally in terms of traffic. Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, who’s credited with coining the term, compares the idea to an electric grid. “The electric grid does not care if you plug in a toaster, an iron, or a computer … [It’s] a model of a neutral, innovation-driving network.”
On Monday, the electoral college will meet to determine who will be the next president of the United States. Law Professor at Columbia University Richard Briffault walks us through the process.
The Indypendent—December 19
On a rainy night in early December, law students, lawyers, advocates and immigrants pack a lecture hall at Columbia Law School for an immigrant-rights teach-in…At the front of the room stands Professor Rose Cuison Villazor, a seasoned legal advocate for immigrants and the first of many speakers from university and community-based legal services agencies. “Let me begin by talking about president-elect Donald Trump,” she says, quieting everyone but a few interpreters.
Note: Villazor is a visiting professor.
Broadcasting & Cable—December 19
[Tim Wu,] the author, activist and Columbia U. professor, perhaps best known for coining the phrase “net neutrality,” greeted a visitor to his apartment in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood recently with his 3-month-old daughter, Essie, curled compactly in one arm. He looked remarkably placid given her age and the fact he was also nurturing a professional newborn, his recently published book The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads…The following is an edited transcript of Wu’s conversation with B&C editor Dade Hayes.
NBC Los Angeles—December 21
"A motivated state can accomplish a great deal," said Michael B. Gerrard, the faculty director of Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University in New York City. "California is the jurisdiction leading the world on action on climate change. It has adopted a very ambitious plan that in most respects does not depend on the federal government."
Independent Journal Review—December 21
Corporate governance experts who weighed in expressed a clear-eyed view of the ethical problem this arrangement presented. John C. Coffee, Director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia Law School, wrote in an email response to an inquiry about the matter: “A Dean or University President cannot be an adequate independent director on the board of a company that is a major donor. Tata is a very major donor to HBS and its Dean is thereby compromised.”
Education Dive—December 21
Both cases force judges to consider whether education is a fundamental right, and while Michael Rebell, a professor of law and educational practice at Columbia University, believes the AFT case is especially a longshot, it has already spurred infrastructure improvements in Detroit’s worst schools.
Note: Rebell is a lecturer-in-law.
Civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw says there are girls in our own backyard who are not getting the quality education they deserve, and the women most likely to be disadvantaged are black girls and girls of color…“Childcare responsibilities — for girls in particular, not only girls who are parenting, but girls who are taking on responsibilities of other parents — sometimes get them pushed out of school, because it's difficult to do that and also be in school in the ways that you have to be in school in order to stay there,” Crenshaw tells Bustle.
Corporate Counsel—December 22
Indeed, pursuing the possibility of using a material adverse effect clause may be a strategy to cut the cost of the deal, says Jeffrey Gordon, a Richard Paul Richman professor of law at Columbia Law School. "If revelation of the prior hack had a 'Business Material Adverse Effect,' this could give Verizon the right to terminate the transaction," he says. "Although these things are hotly contested. More likely, Verizon would have some leverage to renegotiate the price.”
Bloomberg BNA—December 23
But, Russomanno and Michael Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School in New York, argued that the institute’s articles clearly attacked Mann’s professional integrity and those attacks weren’t based in fact…Should the jury in the lower court follow the appeals court’s lead, Gerrard told Bloomberg BNA, the impact would be limited to addressing the “particularly egregious claims” against Mann and not impact the climate science debate on the whole.
Financial Times—December 23
Tim Wu does not even mention Donald Trump in The Attention Merchants, his investigation into how advertisers, the media and technology industries get inside our heads. Yet he could hardly have chosen a better time to publish a history of attention-grabbing than the year in which a reality-TV star and infamous tweeter was elected as US president.
Today we don’t so much have single companies dominating an entire industry as much as a handful of extremely powerful ones. Over the past few decades, the number of markets consolidated by a few mega-companies has skyrocketed, according to Columbia law professor Tim Wu. “It’s almost like global warming: You can just look out and say, ‘The economy is way more concentrated,’ for almost any given thing,” says Wu, a former senior adviser to the Federal Trade Commission, on the latest interview of The Ezra Klein Show.
The Nation—December 26
“With [Trump’s] election, there is no end to family detention in sight. Locking up families seeking asylum could become the new normal,” Elora Mukherjee, a Columbia Law School professor who was the first pro bono attorney at the Dilley facility, told me last month.
The Guardian—December 26
Tim Wu is an expert on concentrations of power. An author, activist and lawyer, he is most famous for coining the phrase “net neutrality” – the idea that the oligopoly that owns our internet infrastructure shouldn’t charge differently for different kinds of data. In his new book, he targets another kind of corporate domination: the industry that monopolises our attention.
The Hindu Business Line—December 26
By Georges Ugeux
Deeply rooted in India’s communities, the Tatas have built their reputation based on their integrity. It might, however, be an opportunity to look at the model that is used by private equity firms with a long-term perspective such as Berkshire Hathaway. While private equity firms are substantially different in their intention and maturity, they have similar structures.
Note: Ugeux is a lecturer-in-law.
Bloomberg Law—December 27
John Coffee, a securities law professor at Columbia University, and Peter Henning, a professor at Wayne State University Law School, discuss why Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse settled Justice Department suits, and Barclays decided to fight the suit in court.
Committee to Protect Journalists—December 27
Part of the problem is that the backlogs and delays at agencies dealing with requests have proven intractable over many administrations, said David Pozen, a professor at Columbia Law School who writes about national security law and information law…”There's no doubt this administration could do better. But it's also an extremely decentralized labor-intensive system when you have 700,000 requests coming in, in a given year," Pozen said.
The Street—December 28
"Law firms need to upgrade their act in a number of ways," said Columbia Law School Professor John Coffee. "We've seen concerns raised about how law firm accounts are being used for money-laundering purposes, and now we're finding law firms are being victimized by hackers because they haven't engaged in the protections necessary.”
Tillerson could also place his assets in a blind trust, an arrangement where he would still own the investment but would not be able to manage or measure its performance. In other words, he would hand over the assets to an independent party and would not be able to know what’s happening with them until he leaves his position in the federal government, said Richard Briffault, the Joseph P. Chamberlain professor of legislation at Columbia Law School. "As secretary of state, he might have to participate in decisions that would directly affect his financial interests," Briffault said. "If so, he would have to divest or place the holdings in blind trust to avoid criminal liability.”
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