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W&L Law Professor Christopher Bruner Named to Bain Family Professorship

Christopher Bruner, professor of law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, has been named as the inaugural holder of the William Donald Bain Family Professorship of Corporate Law.

Bruner joined the W&L faculty in 2009 and during that time has cemented his status as one of the leading voices in corporate law and securities regulation, including international and comparative dimensions of these subjects. His articles have appeared in a variety of law and policy journals, and he has twice received the Law School’s Ethan Allen Faculty Fellowship for scholarly excellence. His comparative study of U.S. and U.K. corporate governance, “Power and Purpose in the ‘Anglo-American’ Corporation,” won the 2010 Association of American Law Schools Scholarly Papers competition.

Bruner’s book, “Corporate Governance in the Common-Law World: The Political Foundations of Shareholder Power” (Cambridge University Press, 2013), has been called “a revelation,” and “a work of monumental significance and scholarly craft.” In the book, Bruner develops a new political theory to explain why shareholders in the U.K. and other common-law jurisdictions are both more powerful and more central to the aims of the corporation than are shareholders in the U.S. He argues that relatively robust social welfare protections in countries like the U.K., Australia and Canada have freed up their corporate legal systems to focus more intently on shareholder interests without giving rise to “political backlash” – because other legal structures accommodate the interests of employees.

“Christopher Bruner is a first-rate corporate law teacher and has been widely praised for his scholarly work,” said W&L Law Dean Nora Demleitner. “He sets a fine example as the inaugural holder of this chair. He exemplifies our long-standing strength in this most important area of law. It is only appropriate for us to recognize his accomplishments and our pride in them in this way.”

The Bain Family Professorship was established by W. Donald Bain, Jr. ’49L of Spartanburg, SC in honor of his father, William Donald Bain. The professorship supports a distinguished professor who is an accomplished teacher and scholar in the area of corporate law. A native of Rochelle, Ill., Don Bain came to the W&L School of Law after earning a B.S. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School. Bain credits his good grounding in business law at W&L with preparing him for a successful business career including 30+ years at Moreland Chemical Co., where he rose to the rank of CEO. He merged Moreland with McKesson Corp. in San Francisco, eventually retiring as vice president and general manager of McKesson’s industrial chemical division.

A lifelong supporter of education, Bain has been particularly generous with W&L Law. In addition to this new professorship, Bain has supported the Steinheimer Professorship, the Class of 1949 Law Fellowship, the Law Library and the Law Annual Fund. He has been a participant or chair of numerous alumni chapter and reunion committees. For his dedicated service, Bain was awarded W&L’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1987 and inducted as an honorary member of Order of the Coif in 2007.

“We are deeply grateful to Mr. Bain for his latest generous gift,” said Demleitner. “It allows us to support an outstanding teacher-scholar in the corporate law field, an area in which W&L Law has long excelled.”

Bruner has presented his scholarship in Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, the U.K., and the U.S., and has conducted research as a visitor to the law faculties of the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney, the University of Toronto, and the National University of Singapore. He has twice traveled to the Russian Federation at the invitation of the U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Advancement and the Rule of Law (USRF) to participate in discussions with commercial court judges regarding Russian corporate law reform and potentially useful models from U.S. corporate and securities law.

“Washington and Lee is widely recognized as a center of innovative teaching and scholarship in the field of corporate law, and Mr. Bain’s generous gift will help us build on our traditional strength in this field,” said Bruner. “I am grateful and deeply honored to be the inaugural holder of the Bain Family Professorship.”

At W&L, Bruner is the director of the Frances Lewis Law Center, the Law School’s faculty research and support arm, which funds summer research projects and research assistants for faculty, sponsors and supports conferences and symposia, and hosts visiting scholars. Bruner currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee for the Association of American Law Schools Section on Business Associations, and a member of the Scholarship Advisory Group to the Younger Comparativists Committee of the American Society of Comparative Law.

Bruner is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan and also earned an M.Phil. from the University of Oxford, where he held an Overseas Research Student Award. He received his J.D. from Harvard, where he served as Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard International Law Journal. Following law school Bruner practiced with Ropes & Gray LLP in Boston, where he worked with public and closely held companies on a range of corporate, transactional, and securities matters.