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Richard Painter, Guest-Blogging:

I'm delighted to report that Prof. Richard Painter, of the University of Minnesota law school, will be guest-blogging this coming week. Prof. Painter is the author of dozens of law review articles on lawyers' ethics, corporate governance and corporate ethics, and securities law, and coauthor of the casebooks Securities Litigation and Enforcement (2d ed. 2007) and Professional and Personal Responsibilities of the Lawyer (2d ed. 2001). He has been active in law reform efforts, including the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act provision requiring lawyers to report known securities law violations up the ladder to senior management and, if necessary, to client boards of directors.

He's also the author of the new Oxford University Press book Getting the Government America Deserves: How Ethics Reform Can Make a Difference. Here's a quick summary:

Federal ethics law is relatively unknown in legal academia and elsewhere outside of Washington, D.C., but it is binding on over one million federal employees. Lobbyists, federal contractors, lawyers and others who interact with the federal government are also deeply interested in federal ethics law and represent a surprisingly large market for a little-studied area of the law. The book argues that in order to be effective, federal ethics law must address sources of systematic corruption rather than simply address motives that individual government employees might have to betray the public trust (such as personal financial holdings or family relationships). The book articulates a general approach to combating systemic corruption as well as some specific proposals for doing so.

The book argues that the existing ethics regime is in need of substantial reform since federal ethics laws fail to curtail conduct that undermines the integrity of government, such as political activity by federal employees and their interaction with lobbyists and interest groups. The book also contends that in some other areas, such as personal financial conflicts of interest, there is too much complexity in regulatory and reporting requirements, and rules need to be simplified. Painter's solution includes strengthening the enforcement of ethics rules, reforming the lobbying industry, and changing a system of campaign finance that impedes meaningful government ethics reform.

I'm much looking forward to Prof. Painter's posts.

Soronel Haetir (mail):
Hopefully the professor will be one of your guests that responds to the comments, those are by far the best guest bloggers you invite.
3.21.2009 5:32pm
Splunge:
Gosh, for a moment I thought there'd be a painter -- or at least a non-law-professor -- guest-blogging. Wouldn't that have been something?
3.21.2009 7:59pm
marinetbryant:
With all the good intentions aside, one cannot legislate morality, common sense or ethics.

Tom
3.21.2009 8:20pm
mls (www):
I would be interested in reading Professor Painter's book, but $63?
3.21.2009 8:46pm
trad and anon (mail):
I absolutely agree with Soronel Haetir. The guest bloggers who do nothing more than write a few posts summarizing their basic argument in their book tend to be frustrating to read, because they never engage with the criticisms and requests for elaboration provided in the comments. Many of those are worthless and unworthy of being dignified with a response—that is the nature of unmoderated comments—but some of them merit a degree of engagement. I especially like it when the conspirators engage with the guestblogger, and hope some of it will do it this time.

I think that's one of the great merits of the guestblog format over others—it provides a forum that can be more like a discussion, with a statement and criticisms/questions and responses and more criticisms and questions about the response, and more criticisms and questions about that, and so on. . . . There's no point in using it for little more than a long, disjointed abstract.
3.22.2009 2:02am
the_pathogen (mail) (www):
Mls, you nailed it for me.

Thank you Professor Volokh, or to who ever organized this. I'm pretty pumped about the guest, I really enjoy lawyers when they talk about ethics. I don't know if Prof. Richard Painter noticed, but the economy is in the toilet. I'm doing a temp job tomorrow just to pay my rent this next month, there's no way I can afford 60 bucks for a book. I suppose I'll have to wait until the economy picks up in order to buy this one.
3.22.2009 4:12am
BZ (mail):
Looking forward to this series of posts. See today's Washington Post article on non-profit lobbyists "de-registering" in hopes of complying IN TWO YEARS with Obama Administration ethics rules.
here
3.22.2009 12:04pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
Hopefully the professor will be one of your guests that responds to the comments, those are by far the best guest bloggers you invite.

Hopefully the comments will be worth responding to by the author. Often they are just embarrasing.

I would be interested in reading Professor Painter's book, but $63?

Authors have no control over the price of their book.
3.22.2009 2:44pm
Ben P:

I absolutely agree with Soronel Haetir. The guest bloggers who do nothing more than write a few posts summarizing their basic argument in their book tend to be frustrating to read, because they never engage with the criticisms and requests for elaboration provided in the comments.


Exactly why I essentially just skim over the posts of VC Members that now habitually don't allow comments on their posts.
3.22.2009 8:09pm
juris_imprudent (mail):
I'd suggest that ethics are like taxes. The more complicated you make the code the less likely you are to get compliance and the more likely you are to have an ever growing number of loopholes.

You see a similar effect in federal acquisition regulations.
3.22.2009 8:15pm
Sean M.:
I was a research assistant last semester for a professor who is doing research on SOX's Sec. 307 (reporting up the ladder) and read some of Prof. Painter's SEC comment letters. I'm looking forward to his guest blogging.
3.22.2009 8:42pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
What some people view as unethical, others view as part of the job description. "Pork" is a good example. It sounds bad, but (almost?) every single senator that runs for office promises to bring federal money to his state, or brags about how much federal money he has already brought to his state. And in fact, this is one of the reasons that we have senators being elected by states. I hope Prof. Painter will discuss whether these two views of ethics can be reconciled.
3.22.2009 11:17pm

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