John Montgomery gradually realized that the traditional corporation’s lack of a comprehensive conscience is detrimental to stockholders, society, and the environment. The prevailing doctrine of shareholder primacy normalizes the practice of externalizing as many costs as possible on the commons in order to maximize stockholder welfare. This practice ultimately impedes corporate performance because the backlash aroused by the ensuing harm to society and the environment destroys goodwill.
John began working with socially and environmentally oriented entrepreneurs to design governance provisions to instill the corporation with a conscience that transcends and includes the usual pecuniary one. He was the co-chair of the legal working group behind California’s benefit corporation legislation, which became law in 2012, and was a California lawyer of the year for this work.
He has since become a leading authority on the benefit corporation. He is the President-Elect of the Benefit Company Bar Association and serves on the advisory boards of B Lab Europe, the Purpose of the Corporation project and several benefit corporations. John’s work as an international advocate for the benefit corporation and the emergent impact economy inspired him to incorporate Lex Ultima as two affiliated benefit entities in 2017.
Prior to founding Lex Ultima, John founded a successful Silicon Valley law firm, now Montgomery & Hansen, LLP, in 2003 and was previously a partner or attorney at prominent Bay Area law firms. John has practiced corporate law in California since 1984. His experience includes extensive counseling to public and private companies and venture capital firms in connection with financings, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings and a variety of other general corporate matters.
In the course of representing approximately 1,000 startups and two dozen public companies over his 33 year career, John noticed a direct correlation between the courageousness and trustworthiness of a leader and the magnitude of success of her or his business. In short, leaders who lead from the heart have an evolutionary advantage, which he explored in his book Great from the Start: How Conscious Corporations Attract Success. John became an executive coach to help executives optimize their leadership potential and is an adjunct executive coach with the Center for Creative Leadership.
John was a co-founder of Chrysallis in 2010, a behavior change company, which was acquired by Aduro in 2016, and Startworks Ventures, a benefit capital firm. He is also a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors where he is a Governance Fellow. He previously served as a member of the Corporations Committee of the Business Law Section of the California State Bar and is rated AV Preeminent.
John holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Stanford University and a J.D. from Northwestern College of Law, Lewis & Clark College. He still paints.