Contact: Nancy Guida, 212.431.2325, firstname.lastname@example.org
LaToya Nelson, 212.431.2191, email@example.com
Students and Professor Work Together to Draft Bill
New York, NY (July 9, 2008)—Vermont Governor Jim Douglas recently
signed into law a bill, introduced as H.458 “Digital
Corporations” and ultimately part of H. 888 “Miscellaneous Tax
Amendments,” which contains provisions a team of students in the New
York Law School Virtual Company Project helped to draft.
The Virtual Company Project is part of a capstone class offered by the Institute for Information Law & Policy (IILP) at the Law School. The goal of the project is to make it easier for collaborating groups to form and operate companies online.
“The Virtual Company Project at New York Law School is a perfect example of the magic of project-based learning,” Dean and President Richard A. Matasar said. “Our students have the opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and real-life experience with project-based classes like the Virtual Company. Not only did these students learn about law, they helped create a new one.”
The Internet has been used to create many new markets, but it has not yet enabled online collaborators the ability to easily form a firm, a company that owns the fruits of its collective efforts. For instance, online groups engaged in “peer production” can’t open a bank account or enter into contracts with others as a group. The team of Law School students saw the potential to amend the Vermont Limited Liability Company Act to enable new forms of online collaboration to achieve “legal personhood.”
“This project gave our students a chance to make a difference in the real world, even before they graduate,” Professor David Johnson, who teaches the Virtual Company class, said. “It was inspiring to watch them working together to solve complex problems.”
Under the guidance of Professor Johnson, the students drafted legislation to allow electronic filing of necessary forms and to allow “virtual companies” or “E-businesses” to embody their operating agreements in the form of automated systems. The new legislation, signed into law on June 6 in Vermont, could facilitate new types of companies in which net proceeds are distributed to contributors based on mutual ratings by active participants. The goal is to allow participatory governance of the company, to lower costs by facilitating self-selection of contributors who have the time and expertise to help others create valuable products or services, and to bring opportunities for compensated work to anyone with access to the Internet.
About New York Law School
Founded in 1891, New York Law School is an independent law school located in lower Manhattan near the city’s centers of law, government, and finance. New York Law School’s renowned faculty of prolific scholars has built the School’s strength in such areas as constitutional law, civil and human rights, labor and employment law, media and information law, urban legal studies, international and comparative law, and a number of interdisciplinary fields. The School is noted for its eight academic centers: Center for International Law, Center for New York City Law, Center for Professional Values and Practice, Center for Real Estate Studies, Center on Business Law & Policy, Center on Financial Services Law, Institute for Information Law & Policy, and Justice Action Center. New York Law School has more than 13,000 graduates and enrolls some 1,500 students in its full- and part-time J.D. program and its Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Taxation program. www.nyls.edu
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