FINAL Symposium Logo

To begin Friday, February 15th, 2019 at 9 a.m.

Millhiser Moot Court Room
Washington and Lee University School of Law
Lexington, VA

The Symposium will feature three panels to explore the past, present, and future of social and environmental shareholder activism. In March of 1968, a civil rights organization, the Medical Committee for Human Rights, received five shares of Dow Chemical Company stock as a gift. Well-known for its work deploying doctors and nurses on the front lines of civil rights protests across the American South, MCHR had no track record of shareholder activism. Within a year, however, MCHR had initiated its first shareholder proposal to stop Dow from manufacturing and selling napalm for military use in the Vietnam War. The activism campaign advanced MCHR’s commitment to civil and human rights, but it also represented an important innovation in shareholders’ use of corporate governance tools. The civil rights group had catalyzed a movement: shareholder activism campaigns on pollution, minority hiring, and apartheid were quickly brought by other shareholders at major U.S. companies like General Motors and Honeywell, Inc. and, over the decades, numerous other campaigns have followed.

Today, shareholder activism on ESG matters is surging. In the 2019 Proxy Season, companies will face shareholder campaigns on economic inequality, human rights, discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and sexual orientation, board and workforce diversity, and executive compensation, to name just a few topics.

Keynote Speaker:

• Lisa M. Fairfax, the Leroy Sorenson Merrifield Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, will give a public keynote lecture, and a number of highly regarded experts will participate in panel discussions to connect the movement’s origins to the modern era.

 

Schedule of Events

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2019

8:00-9 a.m. Continental Breakfast

9-9:15 a.m. Welcome and Introductory Remarks

• Sarah C. Haan, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law
• M. Claire Flowers, Symposium Editor, Washington and Lee Law Review

9:15-10 a.m. Panel Discussion: Civil Rights and Social Activism:  History and Context

Moderator

• Colin Reid, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Washington and Lee University

Panelists:

• Sarah C. Haan, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law
• Harvey L. Pitt, CEO, Kalorama Partners and 26th Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, serving from 2001-2003
• Omari Scott Simmons, Howard L. Oleck Professor of Business Law and Director of Business Law Program, Wake Forest University School of Law

10-10:15 a.m. Break

10:15-11:15 a.m. Panel Discussion: Corporate Reform through Shareholder Power

Moderator

• Kish Parella, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law

Panelists:

• 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 J. Krumsiek, Director of MISO Energy and Former President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chair of Calvert Investments, Inc.
• Cary Martin Shelby, Associate Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law

11:15-11:30 a.m. Break and Cookie Reception

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Keynote Address

Keynote Speaker:

• Lisa M. Fairfax, Leroy Sorenson Merrifield Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School and Director of the GW Corporate Law and Governance Initiative

12:15-1:45 p.m. Break and Lunch

1:45-2:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: The Future of Corporate Reform through Shareholder Activism

Moderator:

• Carliss Chatman, Assistant Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law

Panelists:

• Ifeoma Ajunwa, Assistant Professor, Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School (ILR) and Associated Faculty Member, Cornell Law School
• D. Wendy Greene, Visiting Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law
• David H. Webber, Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law

2:45-3 p.m Break

3-4 p.m. Proxy Preview Presentation

Presenters:

• Maya H. Ginga, Senior Articles Editor, Washington and Lee Law Review
• Spence M. Howden, Lead Online Editor, Washington and Lee Law Review
• Danielle J. Novelly, Lead Articles Editor, Washington and Lee Law Review

4-5:30 p.m. Break (Optional Guided Tour of W&L and downtown Lexington)

5:30-6:30 p.m Cocktail Reception

6:30-8:30 p.m. Dinner

Dinner Speakers:

• Sarah C. Haan, Associate Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law
• Jacqueline M. Fitch, Editor in Chief, Washington and Lee Law Review