Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law Professor Susanna Kim Ripken has been named the William P. Foley II Chair in Corporate Law and Taxation in recognition of her service and contributions to the field of corporate and securities law.
“Professor Ripken has a long history of noteworthy institutional service dating back to the early days of the law school,” said Fowler School of Law Dean Matt Parlow. “I am glad we are able to recognize her many accomplishments here, and more generally in the legal academy, with this appointment.”
Ripken’s scholarly work on the topics of corporate law and securities regulations has been published in such journals as the Stanford Journal of Law, Business & Finance, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law, and the Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law. In 2019, Cambridge University Press published her book Corporate Personhood, which explores the idea of a corporation being considered a person in the eyes of the law—a concept Ripken says she finds “captivating.”
“In my book, I examine the possibilities for corporations to exercise their own rights of free speech, religious liberty, and racial equality,” she said. “These are organizational rights that are different from the rights of the human individuals who make up the corporation.”
Ripken graduated from Stanford University, where she was selected to be a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She received her JD from UCLA School of Law, where she served as an editor of the UCLA Law Review and graduated with membership in the Order of the Coif. After law school, she clerked for the Hon. Robert Boochever on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Although Ripken says she has “always found the world of business and capital markets to be fascinating,” her interest in that world sharpened when she started practicing as a transactional attorney at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where she handled corporate and securities transactions for large corporations and business entities.
“I saw firsthand how a single deal can directly impact the lives of so many different people, including the business owners, the executives, their customers, creditors, suppliers, and the public at large,” Ripken said. “Everyone is affected by what corporations do and the decisions that they make. To me, it’s really important to understand how they are structured, governed, and regulated by law and government policies.”
Ripken’s interest and passion for corporate law is evident every semester in the courses she teaches at the Fowler School of Law, such as Agency & Partnership, Corporations, and Securities Regulation. Since joining the law school faculty in 1997, Ripken has received the M. Katherine Baird Darmer Professor of the Year award several times, and has also earned both the Faculty Excellence Award and the Scudder Award for excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.
“Students sometimes enter the Corporations class thinking the subject matter will be dry and boring,” said Ripken. “What students soon realize as they begin reading corporate law cases is that they tell gripping human stories about real people who have dreams and vision, and who utilize the corporate form with the hope of achieving their goals. Once the facts of these cases come alive in class, students understand how and why corporate law has developed in the ways that it has to ensure fairness and encourage entrepreneurial enterprise. It’s a thrill for me to spark students’ interest in corporations and corporate law.”