Teaching the Financial Crisis in Business Associations
posted by Miriam Cherry
The legal blogosphere (with good reason) has been so abuzz (ablog?) with the financial crisis that I felt adding my two cents might be overkill (I’d add links to all the good blog posts, but figure it’s just easier for you to scroll down and read them).
I will say, though, that teaching Business Associations this fall has been fascinating yet challenging because I’ve really (really, really!) wanted to spend time talking about that lumbering elephant swinging its trunk and trying to get into my classroom. At the same time, of course, we have to go through the basic doctrines – choice of entity, piercing the veil, shareholder primacy, etc., etc.
I have been striking a balance by having a few limited discussions of the root causes of the crisis, and to use it as a way to discuss matters already raised, including conflicts of interest, excessive risk, and principal-agent problems. I am also using this as a vehicle to explain “short sales,” and giving an introduction to some of the broad outlines of securities regulation that I examine later in the course. My students also analyzed the initial text of the Bailout Bail (the rather alarming short version), and they write short “response papers” to stories in the W$J.
While you don’t want to ignore that rather large creature with wrinkly gray skin, I also don’t want to do much more. I remember spending 99% of my legal ethics class (w/A. Dershowitz) discussing the ethics of the then-pending Clinton impeachment. It was a stretch, and only manageable because of who the professor was. How do you incorporate current events into the classroom?