Document Type


Publication Title

Boston College Law Review

Publication Date



Corporate Law; Shareholder Litigation; Attorneys' Fees; Corporate Benefit; Fee Shifting; Derivative Suit; Class Action; Mergers; Acquisitions; Corporate Governance


The current controversy in corporate law concerns whether firms can discourage litigation by shifting its cost to shareholders. But corporate law courts have long engaged in fee-shifting—from shareholder plaintiffs to the corporation—under the “corporate benefit” doctrine. This Article examines fee-shifting in share-holder litigation, arguing that current practices are unsound from the perspective of both doctrine and public policy. Unfortunately, the fee-shifting bylaws recently enacted in response to the problem of excessive shareholder litigation fare no better. The Article therefore offers a different approach to fee-shifting, articulating three specific reforms of the corporate benefit doctrine to quell the current crisis in shareholder litigation.