Katie Smith Milway and Christine Driscoll Goulay wrote a great post in Harvard Business Review about the explosion of social entrepreneurship in the last decade. Check out the post here.

I’m ecstatic to see that the next generation of business leaders are taking social enterprise seriously. With the exception of a few schools, the legal academy is not even aware of the social enterprise movement. The legal academy is about 20 years behind the curve on this. Why does this divide across the quad exist? When will the legal academy start taking this sector seriously?

Comments (4)

  1. HAskell Murray

    March 16, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Kyle, I agree that law schools are behind the curve, but there is good reason. The social enterprise LEGAL forms are quite new (within the past 5 years in the U.S.). CSR has been talked about in law schools for decades, but there hasn’t really been much to teach in law schools, from a pure social enterprise standpoint, until lately. Now that the statutes are in place, law school courses, like those at Brooklyn, Georgetown, Michigan, NYU, Harvard, Stanford, Georgia State, Regent, Etc. are popping up. Actually, there are arguably more social enterprise law courses than deserved – there are fewer than 1000 entities formed under the social enterprise statutes – more entities are formed in Delaware in a single week. That said, I obviously think the space will continue to evolve and grow.

  2. Haskell Murray

    March 16, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Just checked the L3C Tally for the first time in a while. Perhaps there are slightly more than 1000 entities formed under social enterprise statutes. Also, as you know, it is hard to get accurate information on benefit corporations. In any event, it is around 1000 entities, and still fewer than the number of entities that are formed in Delaware in a single week.

  3. Alicia Plerhoples

    March 19, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Haskell, I actually have to disagree with you on this one. the l3C, Benefit Corporation, and other new organizational forms are really playing catch-up to what has been happening for 20 years in business schools. there has always been joint ventures or other ways of organizing your social enterprise (and admittedly social entrepreneurs aren’t using the forms that lawyers have created). All law schools have corporations or business associations courses where corporate governance for social enterprises could be (and could have been) taught, even just incrementally. The real problem is not just teaching social enterprise, but teaching anything practical and helpful about the true workings of a corporation or other firm, other than just teaching case law on the fiduciary duties of the board of directors. so, for example, case books don’t discuss chief sustainability officers (or any corporate officers roles really), or impact reports (along with financial statements). i’m grateful that we’ll have the opportunity to incorporate some of these things into the social enterprise casebook that we’re working on.

    Another thought — i’ve never taught nonprofit law so maybe some of the social enterprise discussion has been going on in nonprofit law classes at law school. that said, nonprofit law tends to be taught as a small seminar, and not even taught every semester, so it’s not exactly a mainstream course in law schools.

  4. Marcia Narine

    March 20, 2013 at 11:37 am

    law students would love to learn this information, especially those interested in counseling entrepreneurs or those pursuing a jd/mba. we discussed it yesterday in my corporate governance, compliance and social responsibility seminar at university of missouri-kansas city. while i don’t have the luxury of devoting a whole semester to the subject, it does fit in nicely after a discussion of csr principles generally, especially after a discussion of the shareholder/stakeholder primacy debate. the students are also tasked with developing a mock benefit corporation so that they can see how hard it is and it differs from a nonprofit and traditional for profit. law schools are catching up, slowly but surely. I also think once law professors get past the debate as to whether these hybrid forms are necessary, more professors will be willing to teach about them.

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