The Center for Law, Economics & Finance

C-LEAF Initiatives

Quality Shareholders Initiative

C-LEAF's Initiative on Quality Shareholders is intended to research and report on an understudied force in contemporary corporate America: the traditional investor that studies individual companies, acquires substantial stakes in only a few, holds them for the long-term, and is available as needed to engage with management on challenges of the day.  

In contrast to this vanishing breed, dubbed by Warren Buffett quality shareholders, today's shareholder bases are dominated by: (1) index funds, which buy all companies in a market basket without focusing on any of them; (2) transients, which may buy large stakes in given companies but never hold for long; and (3) activists, whose small stakes are amplified by rapid-fire, high-profile campaigns for immediate corporate change.  

Highlights of the research, led by C-LEAF Director Lawrence Cunningham, appear in C-LEAF's occasional paper series, which may be downloaded free from SSRN here. Highlights include an association between the sorts of shareholders a company has and corporate performance; lists of the highest quality shareholders and companies they are drawn to; and the corporate practices that attract quality shareholders.  

Quality Shareholders Book CoverAmong major publications in the Initiative is the research article, The Case for Empowering Quality Shareholders, which may be downloaded free from SSRN here and the new book, Quality Shareholders: How the Best Managers Attract and Keep Them, an effort to disseminate this research in an accessible way to a wide and important audience of executives, directors, investors and policymakers. 

The Initiative will explore the advantages and disadvantages of various types of shareholders present to individual companies and corporate America taken as a whole. In particular, it will explain why a substantial cohort of quality shareholders is a valuable asset and how policies and practices can be harnessed to generate value for corporations and all their constituents. 

 To get updates on the Quality Shareholders Initiative, including an invitation to its webinars, sign up here.    

Academic Fellows

C-LEAF selects a distinguished group of accomplished scholars as Academic Fellows of its Quality Shareholders Initiative, as follows:

  • George Athanassakos, Western University, Ivey Business School (Canada)
  • Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School
  • Bernard Black, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  • Paul Borochin, University of Miami, Miami Herbert Business School
  • Martijn Cremers, University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business 
  • Joan MacLeod Heminway, University of Tennessee College of Law
  • Paul Johnson, Columbia University Business School 
  • Kathryn Judge, Columbia University Law School
  • James Russell Kelly, Fordham University, Gabelli School of Business
  • Rodney Lake, George Washington University School of Business
  • Tom C. W. Lin, Temple University Beasley School of Law
  • Dorothy S. Lund, USC Gould School of Law
  • Brett McDonnell, University of Minnesota Law School
  • D. Gordon Smith, Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School 
  • Kellye Y. Testy, University of Washington School of Law & Law School Admission Council
  • Amy Deen Westbrook, Washburn University School of Law


More on the Quality Shareholders Initiative



Professor Cunningham's Quality Investing Columns at MarketWatch

Financial Technology Initiative

Financial Technology, or FinTech, refers to a spectrum of technology innovations and startups that demonstrate disruptive potential in applications, processes, products, or business models in the financial industry. Launched in March 2016, C-LEAF's Financial Technology Initiative holds public forums to bring together industry leaders, academic experts, government regulators, and legal scholars in the heartland of innovation. In addition to these forums, the Financial Technology Initiative organizes roundtable meetings and a cross-disciplinary research project on state regulation of FinTech-related financial services.

Learn more about the Financial Technology Initiative

COVID-19 Whistleblower Protection 

How do we remove legal, technological, and cultural barriers that prevent whistleblowers from connecting with oversight channels quickly? C-LEAF is supporting urgent efforts to do so concerning COVID-19 related antitrust violations. A team, led by Professor Scott Kieff, is on the leading edge of this effort, having written a white papermodel statute, and highlights sheet. They responded to the call to action by the Global Legal Hackathon, in partnership with The Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Program.