Bruner's paper was one of over 100 scholarly works submitted for this year's competition. The winner and runners-up were chosen by a panel of eleven distinguished law scholars, using a "blind-grading" process. Bruner will present the paper at the AALS annual meeting in New Orleans in January.
"This is a tremendous honor for Christopher, and for Washington and Lee," said Dean Rod Smolla. "It is also a testimony to the robust intellectual culture of our law school."
Comparative and interdisciplinary in its scope and methodology, and building on research that Bruner conducted as a Visitor to the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge during the Spring of 2009, the paper examines a striking divergence between the otherwise similar corporate governance systems of the United States and the United Kingdom – the substantially greater power and centrality that U.K. shareholders enjoy relative to their U.S. counterparts.
Through an examination of political, social, and cultural forces at work in each country during critical periods in the development of their corporate governance systems, Bruner argues that stronger social welfare policies and legal structures have permitted the U.K. corporate governance system to focus more intently on shareholders without giving rise to political backlash – and conversely that weaker social welfare policies and legal structures have inhibited U.S. corporate governance from doing the same. The analysis holds important policy implications for the United States, as federal and state lawmakers and regulators consider adopting more shareholder-centric rules in the wake of the current economic and financial crisis.
The paper will appear in the 50th anniversary volume of the Virginia Journal of International Law (March 2010), one of the premier U.S. journals for international and comparative legal scholarship.
"Knowing that the competition is open to all legal specialties, it's all the more thrilling to win it," said Bruner. "I'm very much looking forward to presenting and discussing the paper in New Orleans."
Launched in 1986 to highlight the excellent work of junior faculty, the award is limited to full-time law teachers who have been teaching at an AALS member school for five years or fewer. Bruner is the second W&L faculty member to receive this prestigious award in the last five years. International law scholar Mark Drumbl won the award in 2005 for his article "Collective Violence and Individual Punishment: The Criminality of Mass Atrocity."
Bruner joined Washington and Lee as an Associate Professor in 2009. His teaching and scholarship focus on corporate law and securities regulation, including international and comparative dimensions of these subjects. Bruner received his A.B. with highest honors in 1995 from the University of Michigan, and his M.Phil. in 1997 from the University of Oxford. He received his J.D. in 2001 from Harvard Law School.