Conferences & Symposia
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Five Years Later: Assessing Its Impact, Charting Its Future
October 18-19, 2007
As the dot-com boom turned to bust at the dawn of the 21st Century, the resulting recession was exacerbated by several major accounting and corporate governance scandals at large public companies including Enron, WorldCom and Tyco. Executives were revealed to have been, in effect, robbing their own companies, depriving shareholders of money that was rightfully theirs.
Such scandals eroded investor confidence in accounting practices, financial disclosure, and public corporations more generally. In response, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 ("SOX" or the "Act") was enacted to restore lost confidence. Introducing accounting and other governance reforms, the Act represents the most far-reaching reform to the securities laws since the 1930s.
On the fifth anniversary of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's enactment, the University of Maryland School of Law will bring together academics, practitioners, and leaders in the business community. Together, they will analyze the Act's impact and discuss the issues that will facilitate and hinder its future effectiveness.
Thursday, Oct. 18
3:15-3:30 - Opening Remarks
Dean Karen Rothenberg
3:30-5:30 - Roundtable on Corporate Ethics
Dean and Marjorie Cook Professor of Law
University of Maryland School of Law
Lisa M. Fairfax
Professor of Law and Director of the Business Law Program
University of Maryland School of Law
Sarbanes-Oxley and corporate governance scandals sparked an intense debate regarding corporate ethics and the most effective means of ensuring that corporate officers, directors, and agents carry out their duties in an ethical and responsible manner. This Roundtable brings together academics from law schools and business schools as well as experts in the field of ethics to address the manner in which we teach ethics, and also to address corporate best practices on ethical behavior.
5:30-6:30 - Reception
6:30-8 - Dinner
Friday, Oct. 19
8:30-10:30 - SOX and Regulation of the Accounting Industry
A significant portion of SOX focuses on ensuring better financial disclosure by enhancing the regulation of outside auditors and the accounting process. For example, the Act not only created the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board ("PCAOB") to oversee public auditors, but also required that public companies implement a system to evaluate the effectiveness of their internal controls as they relate to financial reporting. This panel explores the impact of SOX on financial accounting and the accounting industry. It also examines lessons learned from implementing SOX's various accounting provisions and how those lessons should shape the application of SOX in the future.
10:45-12:15 - SOX and the Capital Markets
This panel assesses the affect of SOX on the capital markets. On the one hand, many contend that SOX was necessary to restore investor confidence in the integrity of US markets. On the other hand, others maintain that one unintended consequence of increased regulation has been to encourage going private transactions and increased investment in foreign markets. This panel explores the varied influence of SOX on capital markets both in the US and abroad.
12:15-1:45 - Lunch and Keynote Address
2:00-3:30 - SOX and Criminal Enhancements
Nomura Professor and Director of International Financial Systems
Harvard Law School
Committee on Capital Markets Regulation
SOX not only enhanced criminal penalties and sentences for violations of various securities and federal laws, but also played a role in the increased prosecutions of white-collar crime more generally. This panel brings together academics with prosecutors of white-collar crimes to address SOX's impact on criminal enforcement efforts and the extent to which these efforts will be sustained in the long-term. This panel also will discuss the proper role of criminal sanctions in the corporate environment.
3:45-5:15 - The Influence of SOX on Internal Constituents
SOX embodies several provisions aimed at ensuring that corporate officials take greater responsibility for corporate disclosures and are more accountable to shareholders and the public. The Act also seeks to provide some protections for employees who report corporate fraud. This Panel assesses the manner in which SOX has influenced corporate culture and the relationships between various corporate agents.
5:15-5:30 - Closing Remarks
Support for the Business Law Conference is provided by the Norman P. Ramsey Business Law Fund
. Established through the generosity of Tucky P. Ramsey in honor of her husband Norman P. Ramsey, a distinguished 1947 graduate of the School of Law who represents the highest tradition of dedication to the legal profession, the Ramsey Fund provides support for business law programs at the School of Law.