What are the ramifications to the community of Wal-Mart opening a supercenter in Steelyard Commons? Is eminent domain the appropriate measure for local government to take to further the Flats development project? What does the future hold for long-standing automotive plants in Brookpark and Lordstown? How do these companies blend into—or tear apart—the social fabric? Legal scholars and practitioners will examine these issues in a two-day symposium at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
"Corporations and Their Communities," presented by the Case Western Reserve Law Review, will be held at the School of Law on Friday, January 25, at 11:15 a.m. and will continue Saturday, January 26, at 10 a.m. Both sessions are in the Moot Courtroom (A59), 11075 East Boulevard.
According to Associate Dean Jonathan Entin, professor of law and political science at Case Western Reserve and adviser to the Law Review, there are plenty of examples of these important issues "in our own back yard.
"Cleveland, like many cities, is faced with a number of significant challenges when it comes to businesses and companies," said Entin. "There are a lot of places trying to retain jobs and create new ones while at the same time dealing with the loss of major companies who just pick up and leave or outsource, following their bottom line. This is the situation throughout Northeast Ohio and the Midwest. Those are the driving forces behind this conference."
Entin sites several recent events causing concern for community members throughout the region, notably the departure of major corporations in the automotive and steel industries moving and shutting down plants. These closings have a ripple effect throughout the community.
"When a company shuts down, people who have worked there are not the only ones left holding the bag," he said. "It extends to associated jobs like parts operations, suppliers, sellers, even grocery stores and restaurants that these employees would frequent. They all feel the crunch."
Tax abatements, eminent domain and tax breaks also come into play in dealing with how companies affect the communities they move into. Actions like litigation, such as the 2006 Supreme Court case involving DaimlerChrysler and residents of the city of Toledo, could become more prevalent when taxpayers start to feel they are shouldering too much of the load.
The conference features panel discussions about these socially important and relevant topics. Speakers include Kent Greenfield, law professor at Boston College and widely sought lecturer on business law, constitutional law, legal theory and economic analysis of law; Timothy P. Glynn, professor and adviser for Seton Hall Law School's corporate concentration and its SEC and NYSE externship programs; and seven other leading experts.
The conference begins Friday with a pair of panel discussions, one on stakeholder relationships between host communities and corporations and the other on legal and policy implications of tax incentives and eminent domain.
Saturday features a discussion on state and local efforts to restrict or prohibit select corporations from operation in communities. The keynote address, "Corporate Responsibility in a Free and Democratic Society," by Joseph W. Singer, concludes the conference. Singer, the Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, has published more than 40 law review articles and has written a casebook and a treatise on property law, as well as two theoretical books on property.
Singer was one of the executive editors of the 2005 edition of Felix Cohen's Handbook of Federal Indian Law, regarded as a definitive text in the field. His teaching and extensive writings cover property, conflict of laws and American Indian law.
"Professor Singer has written a lot about plant closings and their implications for communities," Entin noted. "He emphasizes the connection between companies and communities and a too-narrow focus on bottom lines. However, there are other panelists who have a different view."
There is no cost for attending the symposium. There is a $200 fee for CLE (5.25 hours credit) for lawyers who attend. The symposium will be published in Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 58, Issue 4 (Summer 2008).
Panel speakers are available in the margins of the conference to speak to media. For more information about the symposium or to register for the event, visit http://law.case.edu/lectures or call (216) 368-6619.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.