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Roy Shapira

S.J.D. 2014

John M. Olin Corporate Governance Fellow

rshapira at


“Law and Reputation: How the Legal System Shapes Behavior by Producing Information”

My dissertation starts from one basic argument: the law shapes our behavior not just directly through legal sanctions, but also indirectly through producing information that shapes the reputations of companies and businessmen.

Legal scholars increasingly refer to reputational concerns as important forces that shape our behavior across a wide range of phenomena: from product safety to corporate governance to state compliance with international obligations. “Reputation matters” is thus the new mantra in the legal literature. Yet the literature has stayed remarkably silent on how exactly reputation matters.

My dissertation aims at narrowing this gap by asking why similar actions lead to different reputational outcomes. Why some companies donate to charity more than others? Why some companies and businessmen emerge out of failures unscathed while others go bankrupt?

A large part of the answers, I claim, is dictated by the legal system. When stakeholders hear about a good or bad deed by a company, they update their beliefs about the company’s quality. But this process of belief-revision – the process of reputational rewarding/sanctioning – does not operate in a vacuum. The legal system (rules, litigation, and regulatory investigations) keeps generating new information and adds saliency and credibility to existing information on the behavior in question. Stakeholders rely on this publicly available information to reassess their beliefs about the company. In other words, law is one channel through which reputation matters; one determinant of the variation in reputational outcomes.

Recognizing this reputation-shaping role of the law generates important policy implications. My dissertation reevaluates key legal institutions based on their contribution to information production. In the process we get to refocus timely and practical debates such as the desirability of open-ended standards (good faith) and liberal pleading mechanisms; the proper scope of judicial review of the SEC’s actions; and the unintended consequences of mandatory disclosure.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Comparative Corporate Governance, with Professor Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, Overall Faculty Supervisor
  • Corporate Finance, with Professor Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School
  • Laws, Markets and Morals, with Professor Robert Clark, Harvard Law School

Additional Research Interests

  • Corporate Governance
  • Corporate Reputation
  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Law and Social Norms
  • Economic Analysis of Law


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate 2009-2014
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. Program (focus: Corporate Governance Concentration), 2008-2009
  • IDC, Israel, LL.M. (focus: European Business Law), 2005-2006
  • IDC, Israel, BA. (focus: Finance), 2001-2005
  • IDC, Israel, LL.B., 2001-2005

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Harvard College, 2009-Present, Lecturer (Economics Dept.), “Laws, Markets and Morals” tutorial seminar
  • Harvard Law School, 2012-2013, Clark Byse Fellow, Lecturer, “Laws, Markets and Morals” workshop
  • Harvard Law School, 2010-2014, Graduate Program Fellow, TA, “Legal Research, Writing and Analysis” course
  • Harvard Law School, 2010-2012, Graduate Program Fellow, TA, Writing Workshop
  • Harvard Law School, 2008-2009, 2013-2014, Graduate Program Fellow, LL.M. Advisor

Representative Publications

Last Updated: March 12, 2015