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 includes copies of many of his papers.


Business Associations/Corporations

Federal Securities Regulation

Advanced LLCs and Partnerships

Business Law Concentration

Law of Business Organizations

Judicial Field Placement



Journal Articles

  • From Mandates to Governance: Restructuring the Employment Relationship, Maryland Law Review (forthcoming 2021) Matthew Bodie
  • Green Boardrooms?, 53 Connecticut Law Review 335 (2021) Hari M. Osofsky, Jacqueline Peel & Anita Foerster
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  • Bad Agent, Good Citizen?, 88 Fordham Law Review 1631 (2020) Claire Hill & Aaron Stenz
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  • Energy Re-Investment, 94 Indiana Law Journal 595 (2019) Hari M. Osofsky, Jacqueline Peel & Anita Foerster
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  • From Duty and Disclosure to Power and Participation in Social Enterprise, 70 Alabama Law Review 77 (2018)
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  • Benefit Corporations and Public Markets: First Experiments and Next Steps, 40 Seattle University Law Review 717 (2017)
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  • Between Sin and Redemption: Duty, Purpose, and Regulation in Religious Corporations, 74 Washington and Lee Law Review 1043 (2017)
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  • Keeping Good Company in the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy? An Evaluation of Climate Risk Disclosure Practices in Australia, 35 Corporate and Securities Law Journal 154 (2017) Anita Foerster, Jacqueline Peel & Hari Osofsky
  • Benefit Corporations and Strategic Action Fields or (the Existential Failing of Delaware), 39 Seattle University Law Review 263 (2016)
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  • The Promise and Perils of Top-Down Capital Regulation, 55 Washburn Law Journal 385 (2016)
  • Regulation and Governance of Banks: An American Perspective, 12 European Company Law 107 (2015)
  • Teaching Unincorporated Business Associations through a Simulated Start-Up, 59 Saint Louis University Law Journal 725 (2015)
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  • The Agency Cost Paradigm: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 38 Seattle University Law Review 561 (2015) Claire Hill
  • The Liberal Case for Hobby Lobby, 57 Arizona Law Review 777 (2015)
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  • Ancillary Patent Markets and the Firm, 4 Queen Mary Journal of Intellectual Property 118 (2014) Dan L. Burk
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  • Committing To Doing Good and Doing Well: Fiduciary Duty in Benefit Corporations, 20 Fordham Journal of Corporate and Financial Law 19 (2014)
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  • Dampening Financial Regulatory Cycles, 65 Florida Law Review 1597 (2013)
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  • Designing Countercyclical Capital Buffers, 18 North Carolina Banking Institute 123 (2013)
  • Reconsidering Board Oversight Duties after the Financial Crisis, 2013 University of Illinois Law Review 859 (2013) Claire Hill
  • Financial Regulation Reform and Too Big to Fail, 1 American University Business Law Review 113 (2011-2012)
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  • Don’t Panic! Defending Cowardly Interventions During and After a Financial Crisis, 116 Penn State Law Review 1 (2011)
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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)
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  • Regulatory Contrarians, 89 North Carolina Law Review 1629 (2011) Daniel Schwarcz
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  • Sanitizing Interested Transactions, 36 Delaware Journal of Corporate Law 903 (2011) Claire Hill
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  • Setting Optimal Rules for Shareholder Proxy Access, 43 Arizona State Law Journal 67 (2011)
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  • Strategies for an Employee Role in Corporate Governance, 46 Wake Forest Law Review 429 (2011)
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  • Trademarks and the Boundaries of the Firm, 51 William & Mary Law Review 345 (2010) Dan L. Burk
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  • Executive Compensation and the Optimal Penumbra of Delaware Corporate Law, 4 Virginia Law & Business Review 333 (2009) Claire Hill
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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))
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  • Bylaw Reforms for Delaware’s Corporation Law, 33 Delaware Journal of Corporate Law 651 (2008)
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  • Employee Primacy, or Economics Meets Civic Republicanism at Work, 13 Stanford Journal of Law, Business & Finance 334 (2008)
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  • Two Goals for Executive Compensation Reform, 52 New York Law School Law Review 585 (2007-2008)
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  • Disney, Good Faith, and Structural Bias, 32 Journal of Corporation Law 833 (2007) Claire Hill
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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
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  • Patents, Tax Shelters, and the Firm, 26 Virginia Tax Review 981 (2007) Dan Burk
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  • Recent Skirmishes in the Battle Over Corporate Voting and Governance, 2 Journal of Business & Technology Law 349 (2007)
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  • Sticky Defaults and Altering Rules in Corporate Law, 60 SMU Law Review 383 (2007)
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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
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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
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  • Shareholder Bylaws, Shareholder Nominations, and Poison Pills, 3 Berkeley Business Law Journal 205 (2005)
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  • Corporate Constituency Statutes and Employee Governance, 30 William Mitchell Law Review 1227 (2004)
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  • Is Incest Next?, 10 Cardozo Women’s Law Journal 337 (2004)
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  • Lessons from the Rise and (Possible) Fall of Chinese Township-Village Enterprises, 45 William & Mary Law Review 953 (2004)
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  • SOx Appeals, 2004 Michigan State Law Review 505 (2004)
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  • Two Cheers for Corporate Law Federalism, 30 Journal of Corporation Law 99 (2004)
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  • Are Efficient Antitrust Rules Always Optimal?, 48 Antitrust Bulletin 807 (2003) Daniel Farber
  • Expectation Damages and the Theory of Overreliance, 54 Hastings Law Journal 1335 (2003) Melvin A. Eisenberg
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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)
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  • The Economists’ New Arguments, 88 Minnesota Law Review 86 (2003)
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  • Why (and How) Fairness Matters at the IP/Antitrust Interface, 87 Minnesota Law Review 1817 (2003) Daniel Farber
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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)
  • Convergence in Corporate Governance—Possible, But Not Desirable, 47 Villanova Law Review 341 (2002)
  • ESOP’s Failures: Fiduciary Duties When Managers of Employee-Owned Companies Vote to Entrench Themselves, 2000 Columbia Business Law Review 199 (2000)
  • 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)
  • Freedom of Speech and Independent Judgment Review in Copyright Cases, 107 Yale Law Journal 2431 (1998) Eugene Volokh
  • Dynamic Statutory Interpretations and Sluggish Social Movements, 85 California Law Review 919 (1997) (comment)

Book Chapters

  • Purpose in Business Association Statutes: Much Ado About Something (But Not Much), in Research Handbook on Corporate Purpose and Personhood (Elizabeth Pollman & Robert B. Thompson, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming 2021)
  • Corporate Governance and Enterprise Governance, in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Economics and Finance (Oxford University Press, 2019)
  • Three Legislative Paths to Social Enterprise: L3Cs, Benefit Corporations, and Second Generation Cooperatives, in The Cambridge Handbook of Social Enterprise Law (Benjamin Means & Joseph W. Yockey, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2019)
  • Structural Bias, R.I.P., in Research Handbook on Fiduciary Law (Gordon Smith & Andrew S. Gold, eds., Edward Elgar, 2018) Claire Hill
  • Introduction, in Economics of Corporate Law (Claire A. Hill & Brett H. McDonnell, eds., Edward Elgar, 2016) Claire Hill
  • Short and Long Term Investors (and Other Stakeholders Too): Must (and Do) Their Interests Conflict?, in Research Handbook on Mergers and Acquisitions (Claire A. Hill &Steven Davidoff Solomon, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016)   Claire Hill
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

Other Publications

  • Dean David Wippman: Strong Leadership in a Challenging Time, 102 Minnesota Law Review 1771 (2018) Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
  • Criminalization of Corporate Law: The Impact on Shareholders and Other Constituents, 2 Journal of Business & Technology Law 99 (2007) (essay)
  • An Introductory Note on the Krugman Spatial Mode, in 1993 Lectures in Complex Systems (Lynn Nadel and Daniel Stein, eds., Addision-Wesley, 1995)

Doctoral Theses

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

Contact Information

University of Minnesota Law School

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

P: 612-625-5000

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