Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

September 29, 2016

Professor DiLorenzo’s Article Accepted for Publication in the Review of Banking & Financial Law

Professor Vincent Di Lorenzo’s article, “Corporate Wrongdoing: Interactions of Legal Mandates and Corporate Culture”, will be published in the fall 2016 issue of the Review of Banking & Financial Law.  The Review is prepared under the auspices of the Graduate Program in Banking and Financial Law of Boston University School of Law. The following is an abstract of the article:  Vince Di Lorenzo

In recent years enforcement officials have imposed billions of dollars in sanctions on all major U.S. financial institutions and many major financial institutions abroad. Similar sanctions have been imposed on nonfinancial institutions. The sanctions are the result of findings of recurrent violations of law as well as recidivism. Why have existing regulatory standards and enforcement policies led to repeated violations of law? Will the recent billion dollar sanctions deter future wrongdoing? This article explores these issues by examining the philosophy motivating regulatory policy and action in the U.S. and U.K. Financial regulators provide a case study. This article explores the interaction of two institutions that influence corporate actors: government and corporate culture. That interaction is examined through the lens of behavioral decision and complexity theory. The conclusions drawn are that regulators in the U.S. continue to be blind to cognitive influences on corporate behavior. By contrast, regulators in the U.K., have begun to recognize cognitive influences. Enforcement policy in the U.S. has similarly ignored the multiple influences on corporate behavior that interact and lead to nonlinear outcomes. The change, if any, in U.S. enforcement strategy is a greater emphasis on large penalties to deter future misconduct. This continues to reflect a linear, reductionist view of corporate behavior. In contrast, regulatory authorities in the U.K. are rethinking their enforcement strategy based, in part, on recognition of multiple influences on corporate decision making. In the U.S. this regulatory blindness seems likely to lead recurring issues of noncompliance.

September 28, 2016

Recent Lectures by Professor Barrett in Poland, Germany, Pennsylvania, Colorado & New York

Professor John Q. Barrett recently participated in the following:


John Barrett

· On July 16, he met students in Creighton University’s summer law school program, From Nuremberg to The Hague,” in Krakow, Poland, and guided their visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and museum.

· On July 18 & 19, he led discussions and lectured those students during classes in Nuremberg, Germany, and guided their visit to the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds there.

· On July 20, he gave a public lecture, “Obama, the Supreme Court and the Presidential Election,” at the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut Nürnberg.

· On September 7, he gave a lecture at the Philadelphia Bar Association, hosted by its Federal Courts Committee. The topic was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson’s 1947 hiring of Temple Law School student James M. Marsh to be Jackson’s law clerk. This is the subject of a chapter that Professor Barrett wrote in the recent book, OF COURTIERS AND KINGS: MORE STORIES OF SUPREME COURT LAW CLERKS AND THEIR JUSTICES (Todd C. Peppers & Clare Cushman, eds., University of Virginia Press, Dec. 2015) (click here for the chapter abstract).

· On September 12, he gave the plenary keynote lecture, “Justice Jackson and the Nuremberg Trial: Rule of Law Lessons in this 70th Anniversary Year,” at the Colorado Judicial Conference, held in Vail, Colorado.

· On September 16, he was the Constitution Day speaker, on the topic of Presidents and the Constitution, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum in Hyde Park, New York. This program included discussion of the new book, THE PRESIDENTS AND THE CONSTITUTION:  A LIVING HISTORY (Ken Gormley, ed., New York University Press, 2016), in which Professor Barrett wrote the chapter on President Hoover.

September 26, 2016

Professor Sovern’s Article to Appear in SMU Law Review

Professor Jeff Sovern’s article, Are Validation Notices Valid? An Empirical Evaluation of Consumer Understanding of Debt Collection Validation Notices, co-authored with AssociateProfessor of Psychology Kate Walton, will be published in the SMU Law Review.  SMU is currently ranked 45th in the US News law school rankings.


Jeff Sovern

Here is the abstract:
A principal protection against the collection of consumer debts that are not actually owed is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s validation notice, which obliges debt collectors demanding payment to notify consumers of their rights to dispute debts and request verification, among other things. This Article reports on the first public study of whether consumers understand the notices or what they take away from them. For nearly four decades, courts have decided whether validation notices satisfied the FDCPA without ever knowing when or if consumers understand the notices. This Article attempts to remedy that problem.

Collectors who prefer that consumers focus on the request for payment rather than a statement of consumer rights will find our results heartening. When we surveyed consumers by showing them a collection letter the Seventh Circuit had upheld against challenge, on most questions respondents did not show significantly better understanding of the validation notice in that letter than on an otherwise identical letter without any validation notice at all. More than half the court-approved letter respondents seemed confused by the notice’s phrasing about when the collector would assume the debt to be valid. About a quarter did not realize they could request verification of the debt, and nearly all who realized they could seek verification also thought that an oral request was sufficient even though both the statute and notice specify that a writing is required. More than a third of respondents thought that if they did not meet the thirty-day deadline specified in the validation notice for disputing the debt, they would have to pay the debt or could not defend against a suit to collect it even if they did not owe the debt. Under the standard the FTC uses for determining deception in surveys, the notice would be found deceptive.

Our results raise troubling questions about the effectiveness of current forms of validation notices, and therefore whether consumers being pursued by collectors for debts they do not owe are appropriately protected. The willingness of courts to approve validation notices that do not serve Congress’s goals creates the illusion of consumer protection without the reality.

September 20, 2016

Professor Subotnik’s Article Reviewed in Jotwell

Professor Eva Subotnik’s article, Artistic Control After Death (forthcoming in the Washington Law Review), has just been reviewed by Professor Jessica Silbey on Jotwell: The Journal ofThings We Like (Lots).


Eva Subotnik

Professor Subotnik’s article addresses the topic of the postmortem enforceability of artistic instructions issued by authors before death, taking into account the interests of authors, their living successors, and the public.  Professor Silbey concludes her review by saying that “Subotnik’s contribution enriches these debates and should guide future policy in this area.”

You can read the review at

September 12, 2016

Di Lorenzo Presents Paper at World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research

Professor Vincent Di Lorenzo presented a paper at the World Interdisciplinary Network for Vince Di LorenzoInstitutional Research (WINIR) 2016 Conference held in Boston on September 2-5, 2016.  The theme of the conference was Institutions and Human Behavior.  Professor Di Lorenzo’s paper presented his research comparing the regulatory philosophy and enforcement record of financial regulators in the U.S. and the U.K.  Specifically, it examined the response of regulators to recurrent illegal behavior by mainstream financial institutions, and whether regulators have recognized and embraced the findings reflected in behavioral decision theory and complexity theory as applied to organizational behavior.

August 19, 2016

New York Times DealBook Runs Sovern Op-Ed

Professor Sovern has an op-ed in The New York Times DealBook, titled The Risks of Unfettered Capitalism. The first and last paragraphs read:


Jeff Sovern

Capitalism may be the best economic system ever devised, but one of its drawbacks is that it provides financial incentives to harm and even kill people. Just ask those people who say they have been victimized bycigarettes, predatory lenders, Volkswagen diesel emissions, Takata airbags,General Motors ignition switches, Trump University, Vioxx, asbestos or other products.

* * *

Many voters will base their decision in this year’s election on the character of the candidates, or other issues, like immigration or foreign policy. But how we protect people though regulation is also very much on the ballot. When you hear complaints about too much regulation, don’t forget to ask what harm that regulation may prevent. Capitalism lifts standards of living — but regulated capitalism keeps us well enough to enjoy a higher standard of living.

August 19, 2016

Boyle Publishes Article in Oregon Review of International Law

Professor Robin Boyle’s article titled, Employing Trafficking Laws to Capture Elusive Leaders of BoyleDestructive Cults, has been published in the Oregon Review of International Law.  The article describes common characteristics of destructive cults as well as  international and American efforts to prevent and combat human trafficking, and posits that human trafficking laws and resources may be employed to prosecute cult leaders.

August 9, 2016

Subotnik to Present Paper at Stanford IP Scholars Conference

Later this week, Professor Eva Subotnik will be presenting a new paper at the IP Scholars Conference (IPSC) held at Stanford Law School.


Eva Subotnik

Her paper, Free as the Heir? Copyright Successors as Stewards, offers a framework for the role played by copyright successors.  Here is the abstract:

The death of the author figure has been proclaimed in some circles. Regardless of one’s ideological stance in that debate, it is beyond cavil that authors really do die. Under the current copyright term, it is likewise indisputable that copyright interests still owned by the author at death will pass to someone else. The gray areas emerge around the question of whether successors to these interests are under a duty to exploit them in ways that further the public interest. This article focuses on the role of an author’s post-death successors in shaping the legacy and availability of a body of authorial work. Comparing and contrasting the roles served by successors to other sorts of assets, this article considers the different functions copyright successors play, and it evaluates competing views about what they should accomplish. Ultimately, it offers a conception of copyright successors as stewards of the interests they inherit. The article’s goals are to provide a descriptive and theoretical account and to offer some suggestions for reform.

August 4, 2016

Barrett Introduces Meares’s Jackson Lecture

On July 11th, Professor John Q. Barrett introduced Chautauqua Institution’s 12th annualRobert H. Jackson Lecture on the Supreme Court of the United States.


John Barrett

The lecturer, Professor Tracey M. Meares of Yale Law School, spoke on “Policing and Its Reform in the 21st Century.” She addressed, in particular, recent and historical United States events including the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Utah v. Strieff, academic research, psychology, and communal education.

For YouTube video of the entire program, click here.

August 3, 2016

Sovern, Quoted in Media, Has Op-Ed in American Banker

Professor Jeff Sovern’s op-ed, co-authored with St. John’s Associate Professor of


Jeff Sovern

Psychology Kate Walton, Phantom Debts Plague Collections System, ran July 28 in the American Banker. The op-ed, which reports on Sovern’s and Walton’s research for their article, Are Validation Notices Valid? An Empirical Evaluation of Consumer Understanding of Debt Collection Validation Notices, explains:
[W]e conducted a survey of consumers (funded by the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges Endowment for Education). We showed one group a collection letter that had been found sufficient by a federal court of appeals. We showed another set of consumers the same letter, but without the validation notice. Then we compared respondents’ answers to questions about the validation notice.

The results were disappointing, unless you’re a debt buyer. On most of our inquiries, respondents shown the letter with the validation notice did not perform significantly better than respondents who didn’t see the notice. Roughly a quarter did not grasp that they could request verification of the debt, and nearly all who did mistakenly thought that an oral request would protect their rights: both the law and notice say a written request is required.

The sentence in the validation notice that read, “Unless you notify this office within 30 days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid” left many respondents mystified about when the collector would assume the debt to be valid. And the validation notice may actually have caused consumer confusion. For example, more than a fifth of the respondents thought that if they missed the 30-day deadline for disputing the debt specified in the validation notice, they would either have to pay the debt or would not be able to defend against a suit to collect it — even if they did not owe the debt.

It is Professor Sovern’s third op-ed this summer. He was also quoted in the Law360 article, CFPB Enforcement Actions Could Guide Debt Collection Rules, as follows:

“The bureau has sifted through many comments, brought cases, supervised debt collectors and studied this area for years. I am confident that they know a great deal about the subject and have given the issues considerable thought,” said Jeff Sovern, a professor at St. John’s University School of Law.

And the American Banker quoted him in another article, Five Issues to Watch in CFPB’s Debt Collection Plan :

* * * Some courts have said that threatening to sue to enforce a debt that has exceeded the statute of limitations is a violation of the FDCPA. Others have allowed debt collectors to ask a consumer to pay a time-barred debt, and if the consumer pays even part of it, the clock on the statute of limitations starts all over again.

“Some see this as an attempt by a collector to take advantage of consumer ignorance of the law,” said Jeff Sovern, a professor at St. John’s University School of Law, in an email response.

* * *

Many industry observers are curious how the CFPB will deal with electronic communications.

“Is sending someone a ‘friend’ request when you are trying to collect a debt from them misleading?” asked Sovern.

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