Call for Participants for a SEALS 2020 (July 30-Aug 5, Ft. Lauderdale Marriott) Discussion Group.
Interdisciplinary Problem-Solving: the Curious Case of Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Edward Epstein was an American financier and convicted sex offender. On August 8, 2019, Epstein reportedly executed a will (https://www.scribd.com/document/422423833/Jeffrey-Epstein-will#download&from_embed) that gave his vast wealth ($577 million) to a trust, dated the same day of the will. See https://time.com/5656776/jeffrey-epstein-will-estate/. At the time, Epstein was imprisoned, while facing trial for allegations of sexual assaults and sex trafficking. Two days later, he reportedly committed suicide by hanging himself in his jail cell.
This episode raises both legal and ethics issues relating to the use of a trust to shield a settlor’s assets from the claims of sexual abuse victims. Fraudulent conveyance seems like a logical avenue for legal analysis, while analogizing the trust to a limited liability entity like a corporation or limited liability company also may provide insights.
As law schools are required to establish learning outcomes that prepare students for real world practice, it is essential that students learn lawyering skill that require interdisciplinary analysis of the law and devise creative arguments to promote their clients’ goals, to attack or to defend the asset protection nature of a trust.
This discussion group explores how to teach creative problem-solving skills, by exploring the intersectionality of criminal law, trust laws, and corporate entity theory. For example, can “piercing the corporate veil” jurisprudence provide a winning argument as to why a court can or should disregard traditional trust law protection against sexual abuse claims of sexual assault by the trust settlor? Such a discussion might show the need for a novel approach to teaching problem-solving, one that is not limited to a narrow legal area of law.