Monday, March 23, 2009

It's a textbook! It's a weapon!

Richard Pachter of the Miami Herald has this to say (here) about our second edition of the Enron book. Although he missed a letter of Jeff Van Niel's last name (Jeff is NOT to be confused with the Knights who say "Ni!"), my favorite part of the (very short) review was his suggestion that "[i]f they ever decide to throw the book at Madoff or any of the other financial criminals, this 1,200-page-plus tome is the one I'd heave."

Reminds me of the old Saturday Night Live commercial about Shimmer (here): "It's a floor wax! It's a dessert!"

I wonder if law students who buy our book will need "carry concealed" licenses....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A horrifying website--and an update

My dad and my friend Seymour called my attention to this site,, I was appalled. There's a petition to remove the site from Google:

When performing a search for the word "Jew" on google.. the first result is a site that has been notorious for being anti-Semitic.. the site is called .... Google is the # 1 search site and the fact that the first search result would yield an anti-Semitic site is all too common in a growing era of increased Anti-Semitism.... In order for Google to remove this, it needs a petition of over 50,000 requests....
The Undersigned

Please take the time to sign this petition (here). Thanks!

3/18/09: An update from my wonderful buddy, Rachel Anderson, who points out that Google has fixed this problem (see here):

Rachel says: "There is a Press Release by th Anti-Defamation League Praising Google for Responding to Concerns About Rankings of Hate Sites here:"

I thought that you might like to know that Google is working with the Anti-Defamation League to address its role in this (see here).


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

DePaul's upcoming Biz & Comm L J Symposium

Seventh Annual DePaul Business & Commercial Law Journal Symposium
Into the Sunset: Bankruptcy as Scriptwriter of the Dénouement of Financial Distress
Thursday, April 16, 2009
10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Westin Michigan Avenue
909 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

For Better or Worse: Chapter 11 in the Post-BAPCPA Downturn
BAPCPA, the 2005 Bankruptcy Code overhaul, brought some significant changes to corporate reorganization, leading some to dub Chapter 11 as the "National Foreclosure Act." This panel will examine the myths and realities behind this description by focusing on the more sweeping BAPCPA amendments: time restrictions on assumption or rejection of commercial leases, the limited plan exclusivity period, 20-day administrative expense claims and the attempted reigning in of executive compensation.
Speakers: Jo Ann J. Brighton, K&L Gates, Charlotte, North Carolina; Judge Joy Flowers Conti, United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Richard E. Mikels, Mintz Levin, Boston, Massachusetts

Luncheon: The Desperate Hours, Pro Bono Publico
Speaker: Peter Ashmore, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation, Chicago, Illinois
Luncheon sponsored by Development Specialists, Inc.

A Fistful of Dollars: Hedge Funds, Private Equity and Bankruptcy
The presence of hedge funds and private equity in bankruptcy has become more prevalent in recent years, altering, sometimes dramatically, the outcome of troubled companies' reorganization efforts. In addition to exploring the impact of these non-traditional bankruptcy players, our experts will also discuss the latest twist—what happens when these entities themselves are threatened with insolvency.
Speakers: Marti Kopacz, Grant Thornton LLP, New York, New York; Jeff J. Marwil, Winston & Strawn LLP, Chicago, Illinois; Sandra E. Mayerson, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP, New York, New York; Bradley D. Sharp, Development Specialists, Inc.,
Los Angeles, California

The Importance of Being Earnest: Bankruptcy’s Disclosure Rules
Bankruptcy is a transparent process and the transparency begins with the disclosure requirements of Bankruptcy Rules 2014, 2016 and 2019. These rules require that certain professionals working in the bankruptcy system disclose their connections with a variety of entities, including their past or present engagements, their fee arrangements with their client in the case, the identity of clients if more than one is represented and more. This panel will discuss pertinent provisions of these important bankruptcy rules, highlighting what must be disclosed and the sometimes dire consequences that follow a failure to comply.
Speakers: Judge John H. Squires, United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois; Steven B. Towbin, Shaw Gussis Fishman Glantz Wolfson & Towbin LLC, Chicago, Illinois; Daniel Zazove, Perkins Coie, Chicago, Illinois

Tickets are $85.00 on or before March 16, 2009 and $100.00 after that date. Written Symposium materials will be distributed via e-mail prior to April 16; printed materials are available the day of the Symposium for $12. Judges and students are free. CLE credit offered. For more information, contact Megan Bosau or Chalet Braziel at (312) 362-6178 or

Generous Symposium Sponsors







Sunday, March 08, 2009

And another great idea for the economy

In response to this post (here), one of our best friends suggested the following:

Here's my plan: (1) stimulate the economy by increasing federal monies available to state universities -- I received a heck of an education and now pay back by working and paying taxes -- others will do the same - give a person fish and they eat one meal, teach them to fish and they eat for the rest of their lives; (2) stimulate the economy by investing in our infrastructure -- roads, railroads, etc. will be useful for a long time and create jobs; (3) don't do universal health care -- we can't afford it; (4) increase the social security tax but create a higher payout for those who contribute far more to the program -- make it more palatable; (5) change the internal revenue code so that home equity loans are no longer deductible -- that's what got us into this mess people borrowing against their homes to buy stuff they really didn't need; (6) keep the Bush tax cuts in place at least for now -- people need to have more money in their pockets, not less; (7) create tax incentives for buying American-made cars (even Honda if they are truly made here); and (8) require all seniors in high school between the ages of 18-20 to attend one summer in basic training (unfortunately, we are not ready if we need to call up more troops -- a little discipline, physical fitness, and readiness would not be a bad thing for our kids and this country -- although not tied to the economy, we are going to need more troops in the coming years (Iran and Afghanistan)).

Thanks, Scott--we always like your VERY sensible advice!

Friday, March 06, 2009

BRAVO, Race to the Bottom Blog!

The Race to the Bottom ( is going to cover the trial of Ward Churchill, the CU Professor who made critical comments about the US in connection with 9/11.

Here's the info, straight from my colleagues at Race to the Bottom:

Students from the Race to the Bottom and the Student Employment Law Association at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and faculty from the College of Law and the Daniels College of Business, will be providing daily coverage of the suit brought by Ward Churchill, a former tenured faculty member in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, against the University of Colorado. The trial begins on March 9 in the Denver District Court.

Churchill came to the public forefront when reports surfaced about an essay he wrote that contained critical comments about the US concerning the 9/11 attacks on the trade towers in NY (the comments are posted on Wikipedia).

Churchill was ultimately dismissed from the University of Colorado. He has brought suit alleging essentially that he was dismissed for exercising his first amendment rights because of the criticisms in the 9/11 essay. The University of Colorado, on the other hand, is asserting that Churchill was dismissed because his conduct fell "below minimum standards of professional integrity."

Students and faculty will attend every session of the trial. They will post after each session, assessing the progress of the trial. In addition, others will be asked to participate and write occasional commentary.

The trial is not a corporate governance matter so the posts will not appear on the main page of The Race to the Bottom. Instead, there is a special link to Churchill v. University of Colorado accessible from the main page of The Race to the Bottom.

Primary materials, including the complaint and the answer, are posted on the DU Corporate Governance web site.

Should be VERY interesting!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A hat tip to John D. Geanakoplos and Susan P. Koniak

This morning's New York Times op-ed by John Geanakoplos and Susan Koniak (here), Matter of Principal, is right on point: without reducing the principal of underwater mortgages, foreclosures are more likely to be merely delayed rather than actually avoided. For my favorite mortgage proposal to date, see here.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Van Niel mortgage proposal

So I was talking with Jeff Van Niel this morning, and he came up with a simple and effective mortgage proposal for the rest of us--those of us who are current on our mortgage payments, who have jobs, but who are underwater because of plunging home values. (See here for my op-ed at JURIST on this subject.) His plan is simple and elegant:

Banks w/borrowers who are underwater but current should offer the following deal:

They will reduce the interest rate on the mortgage to a lower rate (at least what the folks who have defaulted are being offered, thanks to the bailout) and agree that, for every X years that the borrowers remain current on their loans, the banks will reduce the outstanding principal amount of the loan. Over time, everyone wins: the banks won't own the underwater houses, housing prices won't continue to plummet, and borrowers will have an incentive to stay current.

Common-sense idea, right? So why aren't the banks doing this?

And while I'm at it, why can't both political parties move more toward the center and work toward a more moderate proposal? I'm worried that the bailout isn't going to work, that we'll be on the hook for far too much money, that the proposal creates all sorts of moral hazard issues, and that -- even though I believe that there are good intentions on both sides -- the political incentives for both sides to dig in their heels far outweigh the long-term consequences of people's decisions.

I hope that the air in Washington isn't so different from the rest of the country that moderates of both parties are suffocated.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Can ANYONE in Las Vegas reach Rowlands News Service?

I am one of those people who loves reading newspapers--in print, not just online. And for the past month, I have been trying to reach Rowlands News Service (702-361-6125) to find out why I haven't been getting the LA Times Sunday edition delivered. I have had it delivered for 18 months now, but the last few weeks have been spotty or missed.

I want to support the LA Times. I want to support newsprint. I am a big believer in newspapers. What I am NOT, right now, is a big believer in either the LA Times Customer Service Department or Rowlands News Service. Any hints on what I should do?

Here's the ONLY information that I have on Rowlands:

Rowlands Newspaper Service
Newspaper Distributor
7171 Industrial Rd
Las Vegas, Nevada 89118-5200

UPDATE ON 3/4/09:

Well, the LA Times Customer Service Dept. came through for me, with the marvelous Al Zaccagnini finding me a new distributor. Thanks to him, I should soon be reading my Sunday LA Times again. As for Rowlands, il n'exist pas.