The Lessons of Enron

by Douglas Baird

by Daniel Fischel

by Randal Picker

by Julie Roin

by David Weisbach

Randy Picker sets the stage for the discussion with a timeline of the Enron collapse and the indictment of Arthur Andersen.

Douglas Baird starts at the beginning: What is Enron, and how did its efforts to "make markets" lead to its collapse?

David Weisbach and Daniel Fischel ponder changes in corporate information disclosure in the wake of the Enron scandal.

Julie Roin criticizes the existence of "special purpose entities" like the ones used by Enron to move losses off its balance sheet.

Enron's collapse raised the question, What do boards do? The panelists hear from an audience member who has served on corporate boards and discuss what directors can be expected to know about the way a company is run.

Free markets or paternalism? Julie Roin argues that employee pension funds shouldn't include company stock, while some panelists and audience members disagree.

Douglas Baird explains why it's a great time to be a bankruptcy lawyer and discusses what makes the Enron bankruptcy special.

The panelists turn to the indictment of Arthur Andersen and question the company's early legal strategy.

Responding to a question from the audience, the panelists explain why document destruction alone is not proof of criminal activity.

Related Links

Readings on Enron, including the Powers Report, Enron Annual Reports, and SEC Filings (


ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Douglas Baird
Douglas Baird graduated from Stanford Law School in 1979. At Stanford he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as the managing editor of the Stanford Law Review. He received his B.A. in English summa cum laude from Yale College in 1975. Before joining the faculty in 1980, he was a law clerk to Judge Shirley M. Hufstedler and Judge Dorothy W. Nelson, both of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Mr. Baird served as Dean of the Law School 1994-1999. His research and teaching interests focus on commercial law and corporate reorganizations.

Daniel Fischel
Daniel Fischel received his J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School in 1977. He was comment editor of the Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. Following his graduation, he clerked for Thomas E. Fairchild, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and then for Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1980, he became a professor of law at the Northwestern University School of Law. After serving as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School during the 1982-83 academic year, he joined the faculty permanently in January 1984.

Fischel graduated from Cornell University in 1972 and received his M.A. in American history from Brown University in 1974. His chief interests include corporations, corporate finance, and the regulation of financial markets. He is the author of numerous articles in these fields.

Randal Picker
Randy Picker graduated from the College of the University of Chicago in 1980, cum laude, with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He then spent two years in the Department of Economics, where he was a Friedman Fellow, completing his doctoral course work and exams. He received a masters degree in 1982. Thereafter, he attended the University of Chicago Law School and graduated in 1985 cum laude. He is a member of the Order of the Coif. While at the Law School, Picker was an associate editor of the Law Review. After graduation, Picker clerked for Judge Richard A. Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He then spent three years with Sidley & Austin in Chicago, where he worked in the areas of debt restructuring and corporate reorganizations in bankruptcy.

Picker is a member of the National Bankruptcy Conference and served as project reporter for the Conference's Bankruptcy Code Review Project. He is also a commissioner to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and serves as a member of the drafting committee to revise Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code.

Picker's primary areas of interest are the laws relating to competition policy and regulated industries, capital formation and redeployment, and applications of game theory and agent-based computer simulations to the law. He is the co-author of Game Theory and the Law. He currently teaches classes in Antitrust; Network Industries; Technology Innovation and Society; The Legal Infrastructure of High-Tech Industries and the Workshop in Law and Economics. He also regularly teaches commercial transactions, secured transactions, bankruptcy, and corporate reorganizations. He served as associate dean 1994-96.

Julie Roin
Following her graduation from Yale Law School in 1980, Julie Roin clerked for the Honorable Patricia M. Wald of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She then practiced general tax law for three years with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Caplin & Drysdale. Roin left the firm in 1984 to begin teaching at the University of Virginia Law School, where she was the Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation Professor of Law. She has also taught at Yale, Harvard, Michigan, and Northwestern law schools; she was the Jack N. Pritzker Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Northwestern in the spring of 1998. Roin teaches federal income taxation, federal income taxation of international transactions, local government, and state and local finance. Roin's research centers in the area of federal income taxation.

David Weisbach
David Weisbach received his B.S. in mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1985; a Certificate for Advanced Studies in Mathematics from Wolfson College, Cambridge, in 1986; and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1989. After graduating from law school, Weisbach clerked for Judge Joel M. Flaum of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and worked as an associate in the law firm of Miller & Chevalier. In 1992, Weisbach joined the Department of Treasury where he worked as an attorney-advisor in the Office of the Tax Legislative Counsel and, subsequently, as associate tax legislative counsel. In 1996, Weisbach was appointed associate professor of law at Georgetown Law Center and joined the Chicago faculty in 1998. Weisbach is primarily interested in issues relating to federal taxation.

COPYRIGHT | This material was adapted from a panel held on April 2, 2002 at the University of Chicago Law School. Copyright 2002 the University of Chicago.

(c) 2004 The University of Chicago :: Please direct questions or comments to