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Is Corporate Law Useful for Non-Corporate Lawyers?

Most people do not go to law school in order to become a corporate lawyer. So why would the average student bother to take a class on corporate law? Professor J.W. Verret offers a quick overview of how corporations affect multiple levels of society, especially economic growth. A non-corporate lawyer may still need to know the limits and responsibilities of corporate personhood in order to understand society and assert the rights of a legal client. https://youtube.com/watch?v=N4NtDNZWph0


Corporate law is a fascinating study at the intersection of power and wealth. It's about the control of wealth, of the engine of wealth creation in the economy. Corporations are used to put together investments of money and then see that investment of money sail the seas of risk, literally in some cases. And it's been a part of our history as human beings for as far back as we have recorded history. I advise students, if you want to be a corporate lawyer, it's a great class to take, but it's also a great class to take if you want to be, for example, an environmental lawyer. You'll be suing companies. And so it's an important methodology to understand how to sue companies and when to sue companies and how to gain access to funds for judgment. You have to have an understanding of corporate law to secure a judgment, even after victory in an environmental lawsuit. There are a number of areas of law that touch on corporation law, from family law to environmental law, contract and tort law, that all involve corporations doing things just like people do. Corporations are treated by the law as if they were people. Corporations and other business entities operate under the legal fiction that they are people. That turns out to be very powerful and it allows for the massive accumulation of wealth for large scale enterprises. Corporations are people under the law in that they can own property, they can sue and be sued, they can be indicted in a criminal law, they pay taxes like people, they can start other corporations like people. And so this fiction that a corporation is a separate thing or other business entities are separate thing that have certain powers that people do, turns out to be very effective at encouraging investors to put their capital into large scale enterprises. And ultimately the corporate business form of organization was the key in recent history to American economic development in the industrial era. And also it touches back to the history of the East India Trading Company and back further than that, to Roman law, and even back further than that to the very first writings from the ancient Mesopotamians. Corporate law is cool. And I think it's not an exaggeration to say that one of the key attributes necessary for American development in the industrial era was the corporate form of organization.

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