University of Chicago Law Review

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It is with great pleasure that I write this Essay about Lucian Bebchuk, the James Barr Ames Professor of Law, Economics, and Finance at Harvard Law School. Bebchuk has made fundamental, influential, and lasting contributions to the field of corporate governance and has mentored an exceptional number of corporate scholars. He has also been my own mentor and main doctoral supervisor, and the ten years that I have worked with him as a student, fellow, and coauthor have been an incomparable learning experience. This Essay provides a brief account of Bebchuk’s pro-found contributions to the field of corporate governance and his major impact on scholarship, practice, and policy.

The field of corporate governance strives to understand how corporate rules, arrangements, and structures governing the relationships among various participants (directors, executives, shareholders, and other stakeholders) affect value creation. As discussed below, Bebchuk’s research has shed considerable light on the field and created a basis for subsequent research on a wide range of issues. In the course of his career, Bebchuk has published more than one hundred articles in the corporate field, and the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has ranked him as fourth among all law professors in all fields—and first among all corporate law scholars—in terms of citations to his work. These numbers, however, tell only part of the story. Below I try to provide a fuller picture.

Part I discusses Bebchuk’s contributions. I first consider the broad range of areas in corporate governance to which Bebchuk’s work has made major and influential contributions. I then consider certain aspects of Bebchuk’s research that have made it so consequential and led others to engage with it, whether by agreeing with and building on it or by presenting alternative positions that address his insights. Here, I also discuss Bebchuk’s tools and modes of analysis and some of the overarching themes and approaches shared by his work in disparate areas.

Part II then discusses Bebchuk’s impact. I first show how his studies have shaped and influenced subsequent academic work as well as discourse among practitioners and policy makers. I then consider the influence he has had through his mentorship of many important corporate scholars. I conclude in Part III by discussing the substantial imprint his work has made on the evolution of policy and practice in the corporate field.

Due to space limitations, I will not discuss the significant contributions that Bebchuk has made outside the corporate field, especially in the earlier stages of his academic career. Here, it must suffice to mention that he has made significant contributions to the study of contracts, consumer law, property, settlement decisions suits made solely to extract a settlement offer, fee-shifting rules, enforcement, antitrust remedies, regulation of financial crises, and the normative foundations of law and economics. However, over time, he has been increasingly focused on the corporate field, and this Essay will be devoted exclusively to his contributions to this field.

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