Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Students, faculty collaborate on Nacchio blog

Two University of Denver professors are attracting national media attention for their contributions to a blog chronicling the Joe Nacchio trial, which is now in deliberations.

Sturm College of Law Professor Jay Brown and Kevin O’Brien, an associate professor of ethics in the Daniels College of Business, and their students have attended the trial since it started on March 19. Their observations can be read on theRace to the Bottom, believed to be the first collaborative faculty/student blog at a law school.

The blog is designed to promote discussions on improving the corporate governance process and is named for the theory that corporate governance is a competition among states to have the least restrictive corporate laws. The Wall Street Journal wrote about the blog in an April 5 story.

Brown says the idea for the blog — a blend of expert commentary, analysis and news reporting — came up nine months ago when a student suggested starting a business law journal and Brown suggested a blog instead.

“A blog is a way to get up ideas faster and have them read by larger groups of people than traditional legal scholarship,” Brown says. “The students designed the page, the banner and the logo. I came up with the name.”

Brown says the blog started out focusing on his area of expertise, corporate governance, and aimed to stimulate discussions on regulation, the growing involvement of the Securities and Exchange Commission and changes at the major stock exchanges.

Then came the Nacchio trial, a case steeped in corporate governance issues. Brown and his students decided to dedicate themselves to following the trial, which has drawn the eyes of the business world to Denver.

He approached O’Brien about sharing the blogging responsibilities.

“As people with legal training, we provide extra insight into the activities of the trial. It is also the case that this is an incredible learning experience for the students. They get to observe an important trial handled by very good lawyers and have to write up the day’s events. This requires quick, short, accurate writing,” Brown says.

O’Brien is enjoying the collaboration and plans to continue the Race to the Bottom partnership after the trial.

“My MBA ethics and law students who have attended the Nacchio trial with me and assisted on the blog have found it an invaluable experience,” O’Brien says. “They have gained incredible insight on the judicial process.”

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