Kelli Alces Williams
Florida State University - College of Law
May 28, 2013
Columbia Law Review, Vol. 113, 2013
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 639
The greatest protection investors have from the risks associated with capital investment is diversification. This Essay introduces a new dimension of diversification for investors: legal diversification. Legal diversification of investment means building a portfolio of securities that are governed by a variety of legal rules. Legal diversification protects investors from the risk that a particular method of minimizing agency costs will prove ineffective and allows investors to own securities in a variety of firms, with each security governed by the most efficient set of legal rules given the circumstances of the investment. Diversification of investment by legal rules is possible because of the varied menu of legal rules firms can choose from when organizing and raising capital.
This Essay makes several contributions to the literature. By introducing legal diversification, it reveals a new understanding of how investors, issuers, and society can benefit from maintaining a variety of legal rules to govern investment in businesses. The corporate law scholarship has long advocated preserving a variety of rules under which firms can organize, but it has yet to consider how investors can take advantage of that variety to protect themselves before market competition has revealed the “best” rules. Legal diversification also complements recent literature emphasizing the importance of diversity in financial regulation by highlighting another reason diversity of legal rules is important to healthy capital markets. Legal diversification fills gaps in the literature advocating regulatory diversity by offering an explanation for why that diversity is a valuable protection for investors and an indispensable mechanism for allowing firms to choose the most efficient legal rules to govern their organization and operation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 62
Keywords: corporate law, corporate governance, securities law, JOBS Act, legal diversity, law market, legal diversification
Date posted: May 29, 2013 ; Last revised: November 20, 2013