LECTURES & SYMPOSIUMS
Ruby R. Vale Distinguished Scholar Lecture
Presented by the Institute of Delaware Corporate and Business Law; Sponsored by the Vale Foundation
The Ruby R. Vale lecture series is intended to bring judges, practitioners and other distinguished public servants to the law school to showcase their work and strengthen connections with the Delaware Law School community. It is designed to shine a spotlight on leaders within the Delaware bench and bar who are nationally known. The event is open to the law school community and the general public.
Francis G. Pileggi Lecture Series
Each fall, the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law presents a free Francis G. Pileggi Distinguished Lecture in Law Series to the Delaware Bench and Bar. The Pileggi lecture series provides a unique and stimulating opportunity for crossover between academics and practicing law. This event is eagerly anticipated by the Delaware Bar, especially by members of the bench on the Delaware Court of Chancery and Supreme Court.
We put a lot of thought into selecting the lecturer for each year’s lecture, and focus on the lecturer’s esteemed role as a leading voice in corporate law. Historically, the lecturer discusses unsettled and developing issues within their field.
Past Francis G. Pileggi Distinguished Lecture in Law Presentations
The 37th Francis G. Pileggi Distinguished Lecture in Law was “Quality Shareholder: Who They Are and Why You Should Care” Presented by: Professor Lawrence A. Cunningham.
On February 10, 2023, the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law of Widener University Delaware Law School presented the 37th Annual Francis G. Pileggi Distinguished Lecture in Law. Students, Faculty, and members of local bench and bar associations had the honor to learn from this year’s distinguished guest speaker, Lawrence A. Cunningham, Esq., who is a Henry St. George Tucker III Research Professor of Law Emeritus at George Washington University; Special Counsel for Mayer Brown LLP; and the Managing Partner of the Quality Shareholders Group. Among his extensive résumé, Professor Cunningham’s recent publications include The Essays of Warren Buffet (in collaboration with Warren Buffet) and The AIG Story (written with Hank Greenberg).
The lecture was a two-part series with the first presentation taking place at the Hotel DuPont in the du Berry Room, and the encore presentation at the Widener University Delaware Law School in the Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom. Both lectures detailed Professor Cunningham’s extensive knowledge on Quality Shareholders and why corporations need to care about them. Professor Cunningham presented an intricate analysis of who quality shareholders are and included a brief history behind shareholder typologies and why they are important.
 Warren Buffet & Lawrence A. Cunningham, The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America (8th ed. 2023).
 Maurice R. Greenberg & Lawrence A. Cunningham, The AIG Story (January 9, 2013).
The 36th Francis G. Pileggi Distinguished Lecture in Law was “Business Ethics: What Everyone Needs to Know.” Presented by: Professor J.S. Nelson.
On April 25, 2022, the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law of Widener University Delaware Law School presented the 36th Annual Francis G. Pileggi Distinguished Lecture in Law. Students, Faculty, and members of local bench and bar associations had the honor of learning from this year’s guest speaker, Professor J.S. Nelson. Nelson is a Visiting Associate Professor at the Harvard Business School, Associate Professor at Villanova Law School with a courtesy appointment at the Villanova Business School, and is a senior fellow at the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
The lecture was a two-part series with the first presentation taking place at the Hotel DuPont, du Berry Room, and the encore presentation at the Widener University Delaware Law School, Ruby R. Vale Moot Courtroom. Both lectures detailed Professor J.S. Nelson’s forthcoming book Business Ethics: What Everyone Needs to Know (co-authored by the late Professor Lynn Stout, 2001 Pileggi Lecture), and the importance of why we need to be more concerned with how organizations earn money.
Professor Nelson encapsulated the audience with an emotional and intellectual lecture that was stimulating and thought-provoking. Nelson also challenged us to consider difficult ethical issues by focusing on changing the narrative from a cost-benefit analysis structure, in ethics policy, to a value adding analysis for organizations.
The 35th Francis G. Pileggi Distinguished Lecture in Law was “Purpose, Populism and Markets in Delaware Corporate Law” A Conversation with Professor Lawrence Hamermesh as interviewed by Paul L. Regan, Associate Professor of Law.
Larry Hamermesh is the Executive Director, Institute for Law & Economics at The University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and is Professor Emeritus at Delaware Law School. He is a member and former chair of the Council of the Corporation Law Section of the Delaware State Bar Association and is the Reporter for the Corporate Laws Committee of the American Bar Association Business Law Section. He previously served as senior special counsel in the Office of Chief Counsel of the Division of Corporation Finance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. (2010–2011) and as Reporter for the American Bar Association’s Task Force on Corporate Responsibility (2002–2003). Hamermesh recently published Finding the Right Balance in Appraisal Litigation: Deal Price, Deal Process, and Synergies, 73 Bus. Law. 961 (Fall 2018) (with Michael Wachter). Professor Hamermesh practiced law with Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell in Wilmington, Delaware, from 1976 to 1994. He is a graduate of Haverford College (1973) and Yale Law School (1976).
Professor Hamermesh talked about corporate populism, short-term and long-term shareholder value, the ups and downs of stockholder litigation under Delaware corporate law from the early takeover cases to the present, the corporate law oral history project at the University of Pennsylvania, and other topics.
David Skeel is the S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is author of True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World (InterVarsity, 2014), The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and Its (Unintended) Consequences (Wiley, 2011); Icarus in the Boardroom: The Fundamental Flaws in Corporate America and Where They Came From (Oxford, 2005); Debt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America (Princeton, 2001); and numerous articles on bankruptcy and financial distress, corporate law, Christianity and law, law and literature, and other topics. His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard, Books & Culture, and elsewhere. In August, 2016, he was appointed by President Obama to serve on the oversight board for Puerto Rico.
Professor Randall S. Thomas, from Vanderbilt University Law School, is the John S. Beasley II Chair in Law and Business, the Director of the Law & Business Program, and Professor of Management for the Owen Graduate School of Management. Professor Thomas is one of the most productive and thoughtful corporate and securities law scholars in the nation. His recent work “Is Delaware Retreating?” addresses issues such as hedge fund shareholder activism, executive compensation corporate voting, corporate litigation, shareholder voting, and mergers and acquisitions. Eleven of his papers have been selected by his peers as among the Ten Best Corporate and Securities articles in the year they were published by Corporate Practice Commentator. Professor Thomas joined the Vanderbilt law faculty in 2000 to develop and direct the Law and Business Program, having served previously for 10 years on the law faculty of the University of Iowa. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, Duke University, Harvard Law School, Boston University and the University of Washington. Prior to teaching law, Professor Thomas was in private practice for four years and was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Charles Joiner of the Eastern District of Michigan. An acclaimed teacher, Professor Thomas teaches courses in the area of corporate law, including Corporations and Mergers and Acquisitions. Additionally, Professor Thomas has been a member of the Delaware bar since 1987.
The 32nd Francis G. Pileggi Distinguished Lecture in Law was “Can General Counsels Be Independent: Resolving the Partner-Guardian Tension” Presented By: Ben W. Heineman, Jr.
Ben W. Heineman, Jr. was GE’s Senior Vice President-General Counsel from 1987-2003, and then Senior Vice President for Law and Public Affairs from 2004 until his retirement at the end of 2005. He is currently Senior Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Program on the Legal Profession and its Program on Corporate Governance, Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. A Rhodes Scholar, editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, Mr. Heineman was assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and practiced public interest law and constitutional law prior to his service at GE. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a former member of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Science, Technology and Law. He is recipient of the American Lawyer magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award of Corporate Counsel magazine and the Lifetime Achievement Award of BOARD MEMBER magazine. He was named one of the top 50 Innovators in Law in the Past 50 Years by the AMERICAN LAWYER, one of America’s 100 most influential lawyers by the NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL, one of the 100 most influential individuals on business ethics by ETHISPHERE Magazine and one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance by the National Association of Corporate Directors. He serves on the boards of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Central European University and Transparency International-USA. He is a graduate of Harvard College (BA-history), Oxford University (B.Litt—political sociology) and Yale Law School (JD).
Professor Heineman’s lecture will explore the contents of his new book, THE INSIDE COUNSEL REVOLUTION: RESOLVING THE PARTNER-GUARDIAN TENSION, which was published in the spring of 2016 by Ankerwycke, the trade imprint of the American Bar Association. Another recent book, HIGH PERFORMANCE WITH HIGH INTEGRITY, was published in June 2008 by the Harvard Business Press. He writes and lectures frequently on business, law, public policy and international affairs. He is also the author of books on British race relations and the American presidency.
The 31st Francis G. Pileggi Distinguished Lecture in Law was “Shareholder Activism: The Triumph of Delaware’s Board-Centered Model and the New Role for the Board of Directors.” Presented By: Professor Jeffrey N. Gordon
Professor Gordon’s Pileggi Lecture is entitled “Shareholder Activism: The Triumph of Delaware’s Board-Centered Model and the New Role for the Board of Directors.” He will argue that Delaware jurisprudence should embrace shareholder activism and reject the poison pill as a managerial defense measure against activist campaigns. Rather, the focus should be on broadening the role of directors as credible monitors and, if necessary, defenders of the firm’s business strategy and chosen time horizon.
Professor Jeffrey N. Gordon is the Richard Paul Richman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and co-director of the Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership and the Richman Center for Business, Law and Public Policy. He is also a visiting professor at Oxford University and a Fellow of the European Corporate Governance Institute. He has written extensively on corporate law topics, including The Agency Costs of Agency Capitalism: Activist Investors and the Re-valuation of Governance Rights and co-authored The Law and Finance of Corporate Acquisitions and The Principles of Financial Regulation (forthcoming).