Feature Stories Campus Events

Law Review Symposium to Explore Shareholder Rights and Activism The 2018-2019 Lara D. Gass Symposium will feature a diverse collection of leading scholars and experts on corporate law to explore the past, present, and future of social and environmental shareholder activism.

dowprotest Law Review Symposium to Explore Shareholder Rights and ActivismDow Chemical Protest, 1967 (Wisconsin Historical Society)

The Washington and Lee Law Review’s annual Lara D. Gass Symposium at the Washington and Lee University School of Law will explore the past, present, and future of social and environmental shareholder activism.

The event is scheduled for Feb. 15 in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The symposium proceedings are free and open to the public.

Sarah Haan, a corporate law expert at W&L and faculty advisor for the symposium, says that shareholder activism on corporate social and environmental policies has emerged as a powerful source of private ordering in the twenty-first century.

“When the 2019 proxy season starts up in April, we will see lots of shareholders voting on proposals about economic inequality, human rights, discrimination, and diversity,” says Haan. “Each year, shareholder activism on these issues grows, giving investors the opportunity to weigh in through corporate democracy.”

The aim of the Symposium is to connect the movement’s origins to the modern era, addressing both the past and the future of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) shareholder activism, and the broader question of how private ordering and economic activism regulate corporate actors.  Panelists also will explore issues at the intersection of civil rights and corporate governance.

FairfaxLisa_2009 Law Review Symposium to Explore Shareholder Rights and ActivismProf. Lisa Fairfax, Keynote Speaker

The event will feature a keynote address, open to the public, by Lisa M. Fairfax, the Leroy Sorenson Merrifield Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School. Three panels will bring together scholars who write in the areas of civil rights, securities regulations, and corporate governance to address the past and future of shareholder activism and the broader question of how private ordering and economic activism help regulate corporate actors.

Panelists include:

  • Harvey Pitt, CEO, Kalorama Partners and 26th Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, serving from 2001-2003
  • Omari Simmons, Howard L. Oleck Professor of Business Law and Director of Business Law Program, Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Virginia Harper Ho, Associate Dean of International and Comparative Law, Professor of Law, and the Co‑Director of Polsinelli Transactional Law Center, University of Kansas School of Law
  • Barbara Krumsiek, Former Chief Executive Officer and Chair of Calvert Investments, Inc.
  • Cary Martin Shelby, Associate Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law
  • Ifeoma Ajunwa, Assistant Professor, Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School (ILR) and Associated Faculty Member, Cornell Law School
  • Wendy Greene, Visiting Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law
  • David Webber, Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law

A full schedule is available online. For questions regarding the event, contact Claire Flowers ‘19L at flowers.m@law.wlu.edu.

The Lara D. Gass Symposium is named in honor of Lara Gass, a member of the Law Class of 2014 who passed away in an automobile accident in March of 2014. Gass served as Symposium Editor for the Washington and Lee Law Review, organizing the Law Review’s 2014 symposium focused on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Lara was active within the Women Law Students Organization and also served as a Kirgis Fellow, the law school’s peer mentoring group, during the 2012–2103 academic year. In January 2014, Lara received recognition for her academic achievements, her leadership abilities, her service to the law school and university community, and her character when she was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society.

Organized and hosted by the W&L Law Review, this event is sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, the Dean’s Office, the Provost’s Office, and the Class of 1960 Institute for Honor.