SWLAW Blog | Faculty Features

Michael Dorff if SWLAW Library

November 30, 2023

Southwestern Law's Michael B. Dorff Explores Benefit Corporations in His Latest Book

Los Angeles, CA – A new book by Michael B. Dorff, Michael & Jessica Downer Endowed Chair and Professor of Law at Southwestern, offers an in-depth exploration of benefit corporations in the United States. "Becoming a Public Benefit Corporation," published by Stanford Business Books on November 21, 2023, sheds light on the legal framework and operational dynamics of benefit corporations and public benefit corporations.

This publication marks a significant contribution to understanding these emerging corporate structures, now numbering over 10,000 in the U.S., including prominent examples such as Patagonia and Danone North America. The book delves into how these corporations balance shareholder interests with broader societal impacts, addressing the potential and challenges they face.

Dorff's analysis discusses the enforcement mechanisms of benefit corporations, emphasizing the need to strengthen these to prevent 'purpose washing' – the risk of companies claiming social responsibility without substantive action.

The book has garnered praise from various industry experts and academics. Michael J. Downer, Senior Lawyer and Executive (ret.) at Capital Group American Funds, has described it as "essential reading for anyone interested in learning about this newer type of corporate entity." Additionally, the book has been reviewed in the Stanford Social Innovation Review by J. S. Liptrap, who noted, "Becoming a Public Benefit Corporation is a triumph and will be of interest to anyone who wishes to take a clear-eyed look at the benefit corporation’s pros and cons. Although I will likely always be a benefit corporation critic, Dorff’s book has made me less of one."

"Becoming a Public Benefit Corporation" is available from various bookstores.

About Michael B. Dorff: Professor Michael Dorff is a leading voice in corporate law. His extensive research has been widely lectured on at law schools and to corporate leaders internationally. Among his publications is "Indispensable and Other Myths: Why the CEO Pay Experiment Failed, and How to Fix It," published by the University of California Press in 2014. His insights and analyses have been featured in publications including The Atlantic, The Economist, The New Yorker, The Huffington Post, Politico, Slate, The Los Angeles Times, and Fortune.