Harold E. Kohn Occasional
Benefit Corporations & Corporate Social Responsibility
Presented by William Clark (LAW '83)
with commentary by Representative Melanie George Smith
& Professor Harwell Wells

SEPTEMBER 17, 2018
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Register Now

About the Presentation

“Benefit Corporations”—corporations created with a purpose beyond solely maximizing returns for shareholders—have become hot.  They represent a new understanding of the purpose of business, and are society’s next step beyond “corporate social responsibility.”  They recently gained national attention when Senator Elizabeth Warren announced her “Accountable Capitalism Act,” which would require very large corporations to become federally-chartered benefit corporations.

Dozens of states have already enacted legislation authorizing their creation, including Delaware, the nation’s leader in corporate law developments.  In most cases, this legislation is based on a model developed by William Clark, Of Counsel to Drinker Biddle and a graduate of the Temple Law Class of ’83.

Temple Law School’s Harold E. Kohn Occasional Lecture Series is pleased to host a talk by Bill about the development and implementation of benefit corporation legislation on Monday, September 17th at 4:00pm, at Temple University—Beasley School of Law, 1719 North Broad Street, Moot Court Room. Representative Melanie George Smith, a prominent Delaware legislator with experience in corporate social responsibility legislation, and Temple Law Professor Harwell Wells, a leading corporate law historian, will comment.

We hope you can join us for what promises to be a timely and lively discussion. A reception will follow from 5:30-6:30.



1.5 hours of Pennsylvania CLE credit are available.
Registration is $25, except for Temple Law students, for whom admission is free.

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William H. Clark, Jr. is Of Counsel to Drinker Biddle in Philadelphia, where he advises clients on matters of corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, general business law, and government affairs. Bill has significant experience drafting business laws both for Pennsylvania and other states.  He drafted the model legislation authorizing the organization of benefit corporations, a new form of business corporation that has as one of its corporate purposes creating positive benefits for society and the environment. Bill’s legislation has been the basis for statutes enacted in 28 jurisdictions including California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

You can learn more about his work here.


Melanie George Smith is an attorney and has served as State Representative of the 5th District of Delaware for the past 16 years.  Representative Smith co-chaired the Joint Finance Committee, which writes the state’s budget, for the past 6 years, and she is the immediate past chair and current vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee.  Representative Smith will be retiring from the legislature in November and will continue consulting on sustainability strategy.  She currently advises Institutions of higher education, governments, small and medium sized businesses, and non-profits on the value of sustainability and developing a successful strategy around sustainability implementation.

Representative Smith was the prime sponsor and author of the law creating a Delaware Certificate of Adoption of Transparency and Sustainability Standards.  The new law will enable Delaware entities to show their commitment to sustainability.  Representative Smith also was the prime sponsor and author of the law creating the Delaware Sustainability Commission, and she has the privilege of serving as chairperson.  The Commission’s mission is to make Delaware government sustainable as an entity and to create an infrastructure in Delaware that will support all organizations in Delaware that want to become sustainable in doing so.

Representative Smith earned a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A., magna cum laude, in economics from the University of Pennsylvania where she was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar.  You can learn more about her work here.


Harwell Wells is the I. Herman Stern Professor of Law at Temple University—Beasley School of Law.  Professor Wells writes extensively in the areas of corporations and legal history, and regularly teaches classes in business organizations, professional responsibility, and property. He is a graduate of the Vanderbilt University School of Law and also holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia. Before coming to Temple in 2006 he clerked for Judge Gilbert Merritt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and practiced securities law for four years at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, D.C.  You can learn more about his work here.

The Harold E. Kohn Occasional Lecture Series brings prominent business law judges, practitioners, and scholars to Temple Law School.  It is supported by the Harold E. Kohn Chair in Law, held by Professor Jonathan C. Lipson, the organizer of this event.