Tom Molony: Bringing clarity to securities regulation
In a time when the United States often seems to be torn apart by partisan battles over the role of the federal government, Associate Professor of Law Tom Molony is focusing on more pragmatic questions about government regulation of the securities markets.
“My research has focused on very technical and narrow aspects of the law, but incremental change is important,” says Molony, whose specialty is corporate and securities law.
Two of Molony’s recent articles consider the scope of Rule 10b-5, which prohibits fraud in the purchase or sale of securities. “Beyond the Target Market: Product Advertising and Rule 10b-5’s ‘In Connection With’” will be published in volume 61 of the Cleveland State Law Review, and “Making a Solid Connection: A New Look at Rule 10b-5’s Transactional Nexus” will appear in volume 53 of the Santa Clara Law Review.
Molony’s aim in both articles is to provide clarity for the courts about the limits of federal securities anti-fraud regulation.
“I think there is a lot of confusion about where to draw the line,” he says. “The U.S. Supreme Court has given little guidance. My goal is to give courts a way to think about the reach of Rule 10b-5.”
Not only does Molony seek to bring clarity to complex law and policy, he also argues for practical reforms to the 2010 financial reform. In his article, “Still Floating: Security-Based Swap Agreements After Dodd-Frank,” published in 2012 by the Seton Hall Law Review, Molony argues for a change in the reform law.
“The ‘security-based swap agreement’ concept is fraught with problems,” Molony wrote. “When Congress enacted Dodd-Frank, it should have recognized these problems and erased the ‘security-based swap agreement’ concept from the federal securities laws.”
One of the functions of the legal academy is to assist elected officials and other decision-makers in understanding the implications of the legislation they are considering, Molony said. That has become difficult as financial markets have become more complex.
“What concerns me is that members of Congress may not have a complete understanding of what legislation actually does,” Molony says. “The Dodd-Frank financial reform was over 2,000 pages long, and I spent a lot of time trying to understand a narrow portion of it. Members of Congress just don’t have the time, or they don’t take the time, to understand complex pieces of legislation.”
In addition to scholarly work and teaching at Elon, Molony regularly authors “Business Law Updates” for the quarterly publication of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) Business Section. In the last two years, Molony also has delivered the “North Carolina Business Law Update” at the joint annual meeting of the Business Law, Corporate Counsel and International Law and Practice Sections of the NCBA.
With professional experience as a certified public accountant prior to law school and law practice experience as a shareholder and associate with Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A. in Charlotte, N.C., where his practice focused on corporate and commercial law, Molony enjoys the challenge of easing students into complex concepts and seeing them gain confidence in taking on difficult subjects.
“I like the classroom experience. I enjoy getting students to engage in discussions,” he says. “I also really like having the time to think more deeply about legal issues than I would have been able to in law practice.”