Faculty Directory
Faculty Directory

Brett McDonnell

  • Dorsey & Whitney Chair in Law

Williams College, B.A.
Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, M.Phil.
Stanford University, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley, J.D.

Office: 424
Mondale Hall, 229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Professor Brett McDonnell teaches and writes in the areas of business associations, corporate finance, law and economics, securities regulations, mergers and acquisitions, contracts, and legislation.

Professor McDonnell received his B.A. in economics and political science, magna cum laude, in 1985 from Williams College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, was a Herschel Smith Fellow for two years of study at Cambridge University, and received several prizes for his academic work. He received his M.Phil. in economics from Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, in 1987 and his Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 1995. Professor McDonnell received his J.D. from the Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley, in 1997. At Boalt Hall he was a member of the Order of the Coif, the California Law Review, and the Berkeley Women’s Law Journal. He was the recipient of the John M. Olin scholarship and a Moot Court best brief award.

Professor McDonnell clerked for The Honorable Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1997 to 1998. He then practiced as an associate at Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin in San Francisco, where he concentrated on general corporate counseling and public offerings and acquisitions. He started teaching at the University of Minnesota in 2000. He visited at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, in 2004 and the University of San Diego School of Law in 2005. He was the 2005 Julius E. Davis Professor of Law.

Professor McDonnell’s ssrn page, including copies of many of his papers, can be found here.


Statutory Interpretation

Unincorporated Business Associations

Financial Regulation

Advanced Statutory Interpretation

Business Law Concentration

Social Enterprises


  • The Liberal Case for Hobby Lobby, 57 Arizona Law Review 777 (2015) Brett McDonnell
    | SSRN


  • Research Handbook on the Economics of Corporate Law (Edward Elgar, 2012) (co-editor) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell

Book Chapters

  • International Financial Regulation: First, Do No Harm, in Festschrift zu Ehren von Christian Kirchner: Recht im okonomischen Kontext (Wulf Alexander Kaal, Matthias Schmidt, Andreas Schwartze, eds., Mohr Siebeck, 2014) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell
  • Fiduciary Duties: The Emerging Jurisprudence, in Research Handbook on the Economics of Corporate Law (Claire A. Hill & Brett H. McDonnell, eds., Edward Elgar, 2012) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell
  • Introduction: The Evolution of the Economic Analysis of Corporate Law, in Research Handbook on the Economics of Corporate Law (Claire A. Hill & Brett H. McDonnell, eds., Edward Elgar, 2012) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell

Journal Articles

  • Teaching Unincorporated Business Associations through a Simulated Start-Up, 59 Saint Louis University Law Journal 725 (2015) Brett McDonnell
  • The Agency Cost Paradigm: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 38 Seattle University Law Review 561 (2015) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell
  • Ancillary Patent Markets and the Firm, 4 Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property 118 (2014) Dan L. Burk and Brett McDonnell
  • Committing To Doing Good and Doing Well: Fiduciary Duty in Benefit Corporations, 20 Fordham Journal of Corporate and Financial Law 19 (2014) Brett McDonnell
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  • Dampening Financial Regulatory Cycles, 65 Florida Law Review 1597 (2013) Brett McDonnell
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  • Designing Countercyclical Capital Buffers, 18 North Carolina Banking Institute 123 (2013) Brett McDonnell
  • Reconsidering Board Oversight Duties after the Financial Crisis, 2013 University of Illinois Law Review 859 (2013) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell
  • Financial Regulation Reform and Too Big to Fail, 1 American University Business Law Review 113 (2011-2012) Brett McDonnell
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  • Don’t Panic! Defending Cowardly Interventions During and After a Financial Crisis, 116 Penn State Law Review 1 (2011) Brett McDonnell
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  • Of Mises and Min(sky): Libertarian and Liberal Responses to Financial Crises Past and Present, 34 Seattle University Law Review 1279 (2011) Brett McDonnell
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  • Regulatory Contrarians, 89 North Carolina Law Review 1629 (2011) Brett McDonnell and Daniel Schwarcz
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  • Sanitizing Interested Transactions, 36 Delaware Journal of Corporate Law 903 (2011) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell
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  • Setting Optimal Rules for Shareholder Proxy Access, 43 Arizona State Law Journal 67 (2011) Brett McDonnell
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  • Strategies for an Employee Role in Corporate Governance, 46 Wake Forest Law Review 429 (2011) Brett McDonnell
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  • Trademarks and the Boundaries of the Firm, 51 William & Mary Law Review 345 (2010) Dan L. Burk and Brett McDonnell
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  • Executive Compensation and the Optimal Penumbra of Delaware Corporate Law, 4 Virginia Law & Business Review 333 (2009) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell
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  • Professor Bainbridge and the Arrowian Moment: A Review of The New Corporate Governance in Theory and Practice, 34 Delaware Journal of Corporate Law 139 (2009) (reviewing Stephen M. Bainbridge, The New Corporate Governance in Theory and Practice (Oxford University Press, 2008)) Brett McDonnell
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  • Bylaw Reforms for Delaware’s Corporation Law, 33 Delaware Journal of Corporate Law 651 (2008) Brett McDonnell
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  • Employee Primacy, or Economics Meets Civic Republicanism at Work, 13 Stanford Journal of Law, Business & Finance 334 (2008) Brett McDonnell
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  • Two Goals for Executive Compensation Reform, 52 New York Law School Law Review 585 (2007-2008) Brett McDonnell
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  • Disney, Good Faith, and Structural Bias, 32 Journal of Corporation Law 833 (2007) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell
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  • Stone v. Ritter and the Expanding Duty of Loyalty, 76 Fordham Law Review 1769 (2007), reprinted in Corporate Governance: Directors’ Duties (K. Janardhanacharyulu, ed., Amicus Books, an imprint of Icfai University Press) Claire Hill and Brett McDonnell
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  • Patents, Tax Shelters, and the Firm, 26 Virginia Tax Review 981 (2007) Dan Burk and Brett McDonnell
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  • Recent Skirmishes in the Battle Over Corporate Voting and Governance, 2 Journal of Business & Technology Law 349 (2007) Brett McDonnell
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  • Sticky Defaults and Altering Rules in Corporate Law, 60 SMU Law Review 383 (2007) Brett McDonnell
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  • The Goldilocks Hypothesis: Balancing Intellectual Property Rights at the Boundary of the Firm, 2007 University of Illinois Law Review 575 (2007) Dan Burk and Brett McDonnell
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  • “Is There a Text in this Class?” The Conflict Between Textualism and Antitrust, 14 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 619 (2005) Daniel A. Farber and Brett McDonnell
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  • Shareholder Bylaws, Shareholder Nominations, and Poison Pills, 3 Berkeley Business Law Journal 205 (2005) Brett McDonnell
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  • Corporate Constituency Statutes and Employee Governance, 30 William Mitchell Law Review 1227 (2004) Brett McDonnell
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  • Is Incest Next?, 10 Cardozo Women’s Law Journal 337 (2004) Brett McDonnell
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  • Lessons from the Rise and (Possible) Fall of Chinese Township-Village Enterprises, 45 William & Mary Law Review 953 (2004) Brett McDonnell
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  • SOx Appeals, 2004 Michigan State Law Review 505 (2004) Brett McDonnell
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  • Two Cheers for Corporate Law Federalism, 30 Journal of Corporation Law 99 (2004) Brett McDonnell
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  • Are Efficient Antitrust Rules Always Optimal?, 48 Antitrust Bulletin 807 (2003) Brett McDonnell and Daniel Farber
  • Expectation Damages and the Theory of Overreliance, 54 Hastings Law Journal 1335 (2003) Melvin A. Eisenberg and Brett McDonnell
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  • Getting Stuck Between Bottom and Top: State Competition for Corporate Charters in the Presence of Network Effects, 31 Hofstra Law Review 681 (2003) Brett McDonnell
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  • The Economists’ New Arguments, 88 Minnesota Law Review 86 (2003) Brett McDonnell
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  • Why (and How) Fairness Matters at the IP/Antitrust Interface, 87 Minnesota Law Review 1817 (2003) Daniel Farber and Brett McDonnell
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  • Banks and Venture Capitalists: Are the New Rules Too Tough, Too Weak, or Just Right?, 1 Minnesota Journal of Business Law & Entrepreneurship 13 (2002) Brett McDonnell
  • Convergence in Corporate Governance—Possible, But Not Desirable, 47 Villanova Law Review 341 (2002) Brett McDonnell
  • ESOP’s Failures: Fiduciary Duties When Managers of Employee-Owned Companies Vote to Entrench Themselves, 2000 Columbia Business Law Review 199 (2000) Brett McDonnell
  • The Curious Incident of the Workers in the Boardroom, 29 Hofstra Law Review 503 (2000) (reviewing Employees and Corporate Governance (Margaret M. Blair & Mark J. Roe, eds., Brookings Institution Press, 1999)) (review essay) Brett McDonnell
  • Freedom of Speech and Independent Judgment Review in Copyright Cases, 107 Yale Law Journal 2431 (1998) Eugene Volokh and Brett McDonnell
  • Dynamic Statutory Interpretations and Sluggish Social Movements, 85 California Law Review 919 (1997) (comment) Brett McDonnell

Other Publications

  • Criminalization of Corporate Law: The Impact on Shareholders and Other Constituents, 2 Journal of Business & Technology Law 99 (2007) (essay) Brett McDonnell
  • An Introductory Note on the Krugman Spatial Mode, in 1993 Lectures in Complex Systems (Lynn Nadel and Daniel Stein, eds., Addision-Wesley, 1995) Brett McDonnell

Doctoral Theses

  • Labor Management Firms and Banks (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Stanford University, 1995) Brett McDonnell

Contact Information

University of Minnesota Law School

Walter F. Mondale Hall | 229 19th Avenue South | Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: 612-625-1000

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