Legal and economic scholarship views the provision of asset partitioning (the separation between the assets of the corporation and its shareholders) as the essential economic role of corporate personality. This Article contends that this view is incomplete. First, it identifies the provision of regulatory partitioning (the separation between the legal spheres of the corporation and its shareholders for purposes of the imputation of legal rights and duties) as another fundamental function of the corporate form. Second, it shows that regulatory partitioning is not absolute. In various areas of law and for different purposes, the law “peeks” behind the corporate veil to ascribe legal rights or duties of shareholders to the corporation.
In the past few years, “kidfluencers,” or children with large social media followings, have been integral to the rise of an “$8-billion social media advertising industry. The most successful kidfluencers make up to “$26 million in a year by posting sponsored content and monetizing ad space on their social media pages. Because kidfluencers have no legal right to these earnings or safe working conditions, the risk of exploitation is extreme and immediate. Still, the issue is nuanced because parents significantly control the production of their children’s online content, and states are limited in how much they may regulate a parent’s decisions in raising their child.
For more than 150 years, companies called “heir hunters” have operated in the shadows of the court system. Heir hunters monitor probate filings to identify intestate decedents who have missing or unknown relatives. They then perform genealogical research, locate the decedent’s kin, and offer to inform them about their inheritance rights in exchange for a share of the property. States are sharply divided about whether to enforce contracts between heir hunters and heirs. This discord stems from the fact that we know virtually nothing about heir hunting.