Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2020

Disciplines

Business Organizations Law | Contracts | Law | Law and Economics | Law and Society

Abstract

The articles that comprise this issue of the Journal of Corporation Law were first presented at a conference held at the Wharton School and co-sponsored by Wharton together with Columbia and Stanford Law Schools. The event was organized by my friend Peter Conti-Brown, to whom I am grateful for both the thought and the effort. Standing alone, the thought that the conference was warranted would have been extremely generous. However, anyone who has organized a conference knows that the idea for such events can be exciting, but what follows is an amount of work that had it been anticipated would cause them never to take place. For academics, irrational discount rates collectively fuel a lot of progress.

Peter also had the insightful thought for the conference’s subject matter: to ask a younger generation of talented scholars to address some of my work and assess where it has had an impact, where it still has relevance, where I got it wrong in the first place, and how subsequent scholarship and changes in the areas of law and the related markets the articles addressed have advanced beyond my then near-sighted vision. Thinking about the event as it approached, I was both enormously flattered and then more than a little embarrassed. There are people who like being the center of attention; I’m not one of them.

Two more introductory comments are necessary. The first is to thank the contributors to this issue for having taken the time to write perceptive assessments and extensions of work that I am delighted people still read. Academics have only one asset: our time. The authors have made a gift of theirs for which I am deeply grateful.

The second is to say with pride that much of the work this issue’s articles build on is not just mine. It is also Reinier Kraakman’s, Bernie Black’s, Chuck Sabel’s, and Bob Scott’s, and the list grows much longer if I go beyond just the articles in this issue. A central joy of being an academic, invoking Robert Putnam’s evocative phrase, is exactly the opposite of “bowling alone.” It is to be part of an engaged and gracious community. For almost 40 years, I have consistently written with friends and gotten paid for it. If there is a better definition of winning the lottery, I can’t think of it.

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