Empirical research by Randall Thomas recognized by Corporate Practice Commentator

Feb 16, 2010

Randall Thomas, who directs Vanderbilt’s Law and Business Program, has had his research selected as among the “Top 10 Corporate and Securities Articles” by the Corporate Practice Commentator in each of the past five years.

Each of the five articles for which Professor Thomas was honored involves innovative empirical research that examines the impact of class action litigation and settlements. For example, in a 2005 Stanford Law Review article, “Letting Billions Slip through Your Fingers: Empirical Evidence and Legal Implications of the Failure of Financial Institutions to Participate in Securities Class Action Settlements,” Professor Thomas and coauthor James D. Cox of Duke Law School highlighted the high cost incurred by mutual fund investors and pension plan participants because institutional investors fail to claim their funds’ share of class action settlements.

In 2006, Thomas and Cox examined the impact of the lead plaintiff provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) of 1995 in an article published in the Columbia Law Review, “Does the Plaintiff Matter? An Empirical Analysis of Lead Plaintiffs in Securities Class Actions.” Under the provision, the investor with the largest financial interest in a securities fraud case is appointed lead plaintiff in the event of a class action suit. Professors Thomas and Cox found that the presence of an institutional investor as lead plaintive did increase the dollar amount of class action settlements.

In a follow-up article published in 2008 in the Vanderbilt Law Review, Thomas, Cox and Lynn Bai of University of Cincinnati Law School examined the impact of the type of lead plaintiff on the size of settlements in securities fraud class actions and found that “there is no important difference in outcome associated with the lead plaintiff being a public pension fund versus a labor pension fund.” This and other analyses yielded a final conclusion that “the PSLRA is working and likely working well.”

The Corporate Practice Commentator, which has been published since 1966, began polling corporate and securities law scholars and publishing a list of a “top 10” list of scholarly articles addressing corporate and securities law in 1994, according to Robert B. Thompson, professor of law at Vanderbilt, who has served as editor of the Commentator since 1991. The Commentator, which is bound and sold by Thomson West, offers a compendium of top scholarly work in corporate and securities law.

To compile the “top 10” list of corporate and securities articles for Corporate Practice Commentator, Professor Thompson assembles a list of every article published during a preceding calendar year. “The list has grown to more than 500 articles each year, so to be among the top 10 is quite selective,” he says. Ballots are distributed to professors listed in the American Association of Law Schools directory as teaching either corporate or securities law; approximately 700 law faculty receive ballots.

Because of journal publication schedules, some articles are dated in the year prior to the year for which they were selected as among the top 10. The articles for which Professor Thomas was honored include:

Other Vanderbilt Law and Business faculty have also been honored on the CPC “Top 10” list. In addition to the two articles coauthored with Randall Thomas for which he was honored, Professor Robert Thompson was honored in 2006 for “Securities Litigation and Its Lawyers: Changes during the First Decade after the PSLRA (106 Columbia Law Review 1489), which he coauthored with Stephen J. Choi; and Professor Margaret Blair was honored in 2004 for “Locking in Capital: What Corporate Law Achieved for Business Organizers in the Nineteenth Century” (51 UCLA Law Review 387, 2003).


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