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Encouraging such a diverse group to communicate effectively with each other on issues of law and economics is "enormously difficult, but enormously worthwhile," Rock says. He and Wachter say they serve as active moderators at the roundtables to enrich the dialogue. Rock explains: "We know our group well enough to call on a leading lawyer who incorporates high-tech firms, then a prominent scholar, then a leader in a venture capital firm." He calls it "the magic of the roundtables" that all of these groups come together around a common topic that they each view differently.

E. Rock and M. Wachter

Another benefit of this "magic," says Rock, is that "Michael and I are able to 'road test' our theories and find out what works and what doesn't." Their work together has focused on corporate law - a natural choice, Rock says. The cross-disciplinary structure of the ILE, and the University's unique strengths, positions Penn to be "the pre-eminent place for corporate law," he says. Add the University's location near Washington, DC, New York, and Delaware - where more than fifty percent of American companies are incorporated - and, Rock points out, Penn can host "a one-day conference on cutting-edge issues and still get everyone home in time for dinner."

The ILE rolled full steam ahead on a corporate law focus when Wachter returned to the Law School from the interim provostship in late 1998. A board of advisors, which includes leading venture capitalists, general counsels of Fortune 500 companies, and leading corporate law practitioners, anchors the ILE's corporate law initiative. "To understand [the relationship between] corporate governance and the law," Wachter says, "you need to have those who study corporate law and those who live corporate law - the corporate governors, the rule-makers, and the academics - in the room at the same time. The interchange allows all the participants to think through what is central and productive in specific corporate governance structures and what is peripheral and even needless."

"We have a labor law program that works in very much the same way," Wachter added. "By bringing together members of the National Labor Relations Board with labor law practitioners, and academics, we can explore labor issues in a very different format."

Says Rock: "We care about understanding law and legal institutions. We view economics as a tool to help us understand that." Further, he says, "We are not interested in telling judges what to do. We are concerned with figuring out how the system works."

This study has brought together what seems - at first - to be a rather unlikely scholarly twosome. Particularly when Rock offers this: "We disagree about almost everything." And Wachter agrees.

In 1993, Rock and Wachter taught the course The Law and Economics of Antitrust and Corporate Law together. Their conversation in the classroom spilled into their offices and they cultivated what they agree is "a productive co-author relationship."