Statement of Thirty-Four Senior Corporate and Securities Law Professors Urging Commissioner Gallagher and Professor Grundfest to Withdraw Their Allegations against Harvard and the SRP

This post is a joint statement by thirty-four senior corporate and securities law professors, listed in the statement, from seventeen leading law schools at Boston University, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, New York University, Northwestern, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Yale. Reacting to a recent paper by Commissioner Daniel Gallagher and Professor Joseph Grundfest (described on the Forum here), the thirty-four senior law professors listed in this statement opine that the paper’s allegations against Harvard and the Shareholder Rights Project (SRP) are meritless and urge the paper’s co-authors to withdraw these allegations. The Forum featured earlier posts about the paper by Professor Grundfest (most recently here), Professor Jonathan Macey (most recently here), Professor Tamar Frankel (here) and Harvey Pitt (here).

We are thirty-four senior professors from seventeen leading law schools whose teaching and research focus on corporate and securities law. We write to respectfully urge SEC Commissioner Daniel M. Gallagher, and his co-author Professor Joseph Grundfest, to withdraw the allegations, issued in a paper released last month (described on the Forum here), that Harvard and the Shareholder Rights Project (SRP), a clinic at its law school, violated the securities laws by assisting institutional investors in submitting shareholder proposals to declassify corporate boards.

We conduct our teaching and research at seventeen different law schools throughout the United States, including at Boston University, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, George Washington, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, New York University, Northwestern, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Yale. We write in our individual capacities; our institutional affiliations are noted below for identification purposes only.

Members of our bipartisan group differ widely in our views on corporate law issues, including on the appropriate use of staggered boards and shareholder proposals. However, we all agree that Commissioner Gallagher and Professor Grundfest should withdraw their accusations.

First, the authors’ allegations are meritless. The Gallagher/Grundfest paper accuses Harvard and the SRP of violating federal securities law by assisting investors with shareholder proposals that did not include sufficient references to certain academic studies. These accusations are deeply flawed. (For a detailed analysis of flaws in the paper, see the posts by Professor Jonathan Macey available here, here, and here). For example, the proposals were consistent with the SEC’s long-standing policy on shareholder proposals; none of the more than one hundred public companies receiving proposals, many represented by the country’s premier law firms, raised any of the claims put forward by the authors; and there is no precedent for an enforcement action or private suit against shareholder proponents, let alone those assisting them, of the type that the paper urged against Harvard and the SRP. Members of our group do not all share the same view on each of these and the other flaws in the authors’ analysis. However, we all agree that the allegations of securities law violations in the Gallagher/Grundfest paper are meritless.

Furthermore, while it is always regrettable when meritless allegations are raised by any author, we are especially concerned that a sitting SEC Commissioner has chosen to issue such allegations without support from a prior investigation by the SEC staff and without due process of law. While the Commissioner has indicated his interest in changing the SEC’s long-held policy in this area, meritless accusations against private parties should not be part of an effort to bring about such a change. We worry that Commissioner Gallagher’s decision to level meritless allegations against specific private parties will have adverse consequences for the important work that the SEC must do.

We wish to stress our support for a vigorous policy debate about the appropriate role of staggered boards and shareholder proposals in corporate and securities law—subjects on which there is substantial diversity of views among us—and we welcome Commissioner Gallagher and Professor Grundfest as valuable participants in such a discussion. The baseless accusations issued against Harvard and the SRP should not, however, be part of this debate. We respectfully urge Commissioner Gallagher and Professor Grundfest to withdraw these accusations.

Jennifer H. Arlen
Norma Z. Paige Professor of Law
New York University School of Law
Jeffrey N. Gordon
Richard Paul Richman Professor of Law
Columbia Law School
Michal Barzuza
Professor of Law
The University of Virginia School of Law
Robert J. Jackson, Jr.
Professor of Law and Milton Handler Fellow
Columbia Law School
Jeffrey D. Bauman
Professor of Law
Georgetown University Law Center
Marcel Kahan
George T. Lowy Professor of Law
New York University School of Law
Laura Nyantung Beny
Professor of Law
University of Michigan Law School
Vikramaditya S. Khanna
William W. Cook Professor of Law
University of Michigan Law School
Lisa Bernstein
Wilson-Dickinson Professor of Law
The University of Chicago Law School
Michael Klausner
Nancy and Charles Munger Professor of Business and Professor of Law
Stanford Law School
Stephen Choi
Murray and Kathleen Bring Professor of Law
New York University School of Law
Reinier H. Kraakman
Ezra Ripley Thayer Professor of Law
Harvard Law School
Robert C. Clark
Harvard University Distinguished
Service Professor and Austin Wakeman Scott Professor of Law
Harvard Law School
Kimberly D. Krawiec
Kathrine Robinson Everett Professor of Law
Duke Law School
John C. Coates IV
John F. Cogan, Jr. Professor of
Law and Economics
Harvard Law School
Donald Langevoort
Thomas Aquinas Reynolds Professor of Law
Georgetown University Law Center
John C. Coffee, Jr.
Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law
Columbia Law School
Katherine Litvak
Professor of Law
Northwestern University School of Law
James D. Cox
Brainerd Currie Professor of Law
Duke Law School
Jonathan R. Macey
Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance, and Securities Law
Yale Law School
Lawrence A. Cunningham
Henry St. George Tucker III Research Professor of Law
The George Washington University Law School
James Park
Professor of Law
UCLA Law School
Deborah A. DeMott
David F. Cavers Professor of Law
Duke Law School
J. Mark Ramseyer
Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Legal Studies
Harvard Law School
Allen Ferrell
Harvey Greenfield Professor of Securities Law
Harvard Law School
Mark J. Roe
David Berg Professor of Law
Harvard Law School
Tamar Frankel
Professor of Law
Boston University School of Law
James C. Spindler
Sylvan Lang Professor of Law
University of Texas School of Law
Jesse M. Fried
Dane Professor of Law
Harvard Law School
Randall S. Thomas
John S. Beasley II Professor of
Law and Business
Vanderbilt Law School
Mira Ganor
Professor of Law
University of Texas School of Law
Frederick Tung
Professor of Law
Boston University School of Law
Ronald J. Gilson
Charles J. Meyers Professor of
Law and Business
Stanford Law School
Marc and Eva Stern Professor of
Law and Business
Columbia University School of Law
Charles K. Whitehead
Myron C. Taylor Alumni Professor of Business Law
Cornell University Law School
Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Subscribe or Follow

  • Cosponsored By:

  • Supported By:

  • Programs Faculty & Senior Fellows

    Lucian Bebchuk
    Alon Brav
    Robert Charles Clark
    John Coates
    Alma Cohen
    Stephen M. Davis
    Allen Ferrell
    Jesse Fried
    Oliver Hart
    Ben W. Heineman, Jr.
    Scott Hirst
    Howell Jackson
    Wei Jiang
    Reinier Kraakman
    Robert Pozen
    Mark Ramseyer
    Mark Roe
    Robert Sitkoff
    Holger Spamann
    Guhan Subramanian

  • Program on Corporate Governance Advisory Board

    William Ackman
    Peter Atkins
    Allison Bennington
    Richard Brand
    Daniel Burch
    Jesse Cohn
    Joan Conley
    Isaac Corré
    Arthur Crozier
    Ariel Deckelbaum
    Deb DeHaas
    John Finley
    Stephen Fraidin
    Byron Georgiou
    Joseph Hall
    Jason M. Halper
    Paul Hilal
    Carl Icahn
    Jack B. Jacobs
    Paula Loop
    David Millstone
    Theodore Mirvis
    Toby Myerson
    Morton Pierce
    Barry Rosenstein
    Paul Rowe
    Marc Trevino
    Adam Weinstein
    Daniel Wolf