History of Business Law at Yale

The Business Law Tradition at Yale Yale Law School has a long and illustrious tradition in business law. Starting in the Nineteenth century with Simeon Baldwin, who was the leading railroad lawyer of his day, and continuing with Arthur Corbin, the leading contract scholar at the outset of the Twentieth century, Yale Law School’s business law faculty was key to its emergence as one of the centers of teaching and scholarship in law. But it is the interval from the 1920s to the 1940s, with the legal realists, who looked beyond judicial opinions by using the tools of a nascent social science in order to better understand how the law works, in which Yale’s preeminence was established.  Many of the legal realists who taught and wrote in the business law area served in the Roosevelt administration, and one, William O. Douglas, became a Supreme Court Justice. The post World War II era saw an even greater interest on the part of the business law faculty in interdisciplinary scholarship, and a number made fundamental scholarly contributions using the analytical tools of economics.  Today the interdisciplinary approach to law at Yale has further deepened, with a large and increasing proportion of the business law faculty having both a J.D. and Ph.D. degree. The international preeminence of Yale’s business law faculty is also widely acknowledged, with 5 business law faculty members who are past Presidents of the American Law and Economics Association and 8 who have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Brief biographical sketches of the faculty members comprising the business law tradition follow.

Early Years, 1869-1916

Nascent Realism, 1916-1927

The Heyday of Legal Realism, 1928-1954

The Modern Era, 1955-Present