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In Memory of Larry Ribstein

Legal scholar Larry Ribstein, founder of the Ideoblog and contributor to Truth on the Market (TOTM), well-known for his wide-ranging contributions to legal theory and debate (including re: Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404, which brought his work to my attention), passed away just before Christmas.

I learned of his passing via a number of posts on KnowledgeMosaic's Securities Mosaic Blogwatch. Among the memorial testaments posted on TOTM and other blogs, I could especially relate to Usha Rodrigues' post, Grieving Larry Ribstein, because in my dealings with Ribstein via email, e.g., when I asked him to confirm quotes or provide background info on some of his work on - let's say - 'reforming' Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404, he was very gracious and responded in an extremely timely manner. I appreciated this generosity of his time.    

Ribstein's work providing a legal critique of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the internal control reporting requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 in particular, came to my attention in March, 2006 when he and Henry Butler spoke at a program sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, called Sarbanes-Oxley: What Have We Learned (AEI, 3/13/06). The subject of the program was a work in progress co-authored by Ribstein and Butler, published by AEI, entitled The Sarbanes-Oxley Debacle: What We've Learned; How To Fix It (AEI 6/5/06).

In 2007, Ribstein debated former SEC Chief Accountant Lynn E. Turner, in a session at the AAA Annual meeting entitled Point-Counterpoint: Will SOX Stand the Test of Time? This was the subject of a blogpost I did, originally published on Aug. 7, 2007, entitled Ribstein-Turner Sarbox Debate. Ribstein also generously cited a follow-on blog post that I did, in his post in Ideoblog, Exemptions, Opt-Outs and SOX.

You can probably tell what Ribstein's views on Sarbox were from the title of his book and related blog posts, and please let me call to your attention the disclaimer posted on the right side of this blog. Nonetheless, his ideas on Sarbox and, from what his colleagues in the legal profession are writing in memoriam to him, on a broad range of busines law (and other) topics, helped raise the bar by encouraging new ways of looking at things and challenging, as he did with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, legislative or regulatory actions that he viewed as insufficiently debated or the implications of which he viewed as insufficiently understood.

No matter what your personal views on Sarbox or other matters on which Ribstein challenged and contributed to the debate, I believe Ribstein's legal statesmanship was well-stated by J. Robert Brown, in his post in tribute to Ribstein,  The Loss of a Titan, in the Race to the Bottom blog: "There is no question that the opinions expressed on [the Race to the Bottom] Blog rarely if ever coincided with the views of Larry Ribstein. But his opinions and intellect were a big part of the corporate governance debate and added considerable rigor to the analysis. He will very much be missed."

I agree, Ribstein will be missed, and my sympathies go out to his family, colleagues and friends.   

Posted: 1/3/2012 5:08:55 PM by Edith Orenstein | with 0 comments
Filed under: AEI,Butler,Ribstein,Sarbanes-Oxley,Turner,AAA

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