Brian Z. Tamanaha

John S. Lehmann University Professor


B.S., 1980, University of Oregon
J.D., 1983, Boston University
S.J.D., 1992, Harvard University

Curriculum Vitae




Jamie Roggen - (314) 935-6432

Phone / Email

Phone: (314) 935-8242
E-mail: btamanaha@wustl.edu  


Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 583

Courses Taught

Law and Society
Legal Profession
Comparative Law


Professor Brian Z. Tamanaha is a renowned jurisprudence and law and society scholar, and the author of nine books and numerous scholarly articles. His latest book is A Realistic Theory of Law (2017). Three of his books have received book awards, including A General Jurisprudence of Law and Society (2001), which won a prize in legal theory and a prize in law and society. On the Rule of Law (2004) has been translated into six languages, and altogether his publications have been translated into nine languages. He has delivered eight named lectures at home and abroad, including the Kobe Memorial Lecture in Tokyo, the Julius Stone Address in Sydney, the Cotterrell Lecture in London, and the Montesquieu Lecture in Tilburg. He spent a year in residence as a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he wrote Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide (2010). His work has been the subject of three different published symposia, and his books have been reviewed in many venues, including the Harvard Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Cambridge Law Journal, Law and Society Review, Law and History Review, American Ethnologist, Legal Theory, and Washington Post.  

In 2013, a National Jurist poll of 300 law deans and professors voted Professor Tamanaha #1 Most Influential Legal Educator, owing to his critical examination of the legal academy, Failing Law Schools (2012). Professor Tamanaha has twice been selected Professor of the Year by student vote. Before becoming a law professor, he clerked for the Hon. Walter E. Hoffman, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, was an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Hawaii, was an Assistant Attorney General for Yap State in Micronesia, and was Legal Counsel for the 1990 Micronesian Constitutional Convention. After these varied practice experiences, he earned a Doctorate of Juridical Science with a focus on legal theory at Harvard Law School.

Representative Publications

Selected Books

  • A Realistic Theory of Law (Cambridge University Press 2017)
  • Failing Law Schools (Chicago University Press 2012)(Korean translation, Mirae Books 2013; Japanese translation, Kaden Sha 2013, Chinese translation, Law Press China 2016)
  • Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide: The Role of Politics in Judging (Princeton University Press 2010) (Chinese translation, China University of Political Science and Law 2017)
  • Law as a Means to an End: Threat to the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press 2006) (Chinese translation, Peking University Press 2013) (pages 219-224 excerpted in Lloyd's Introduction to Jurisprudence 2014)
  • On The Rule of Law: History, Politics, Theory (Cambridge University Press 2004) (Ukrainian translation, 2007; Chinese translation, Wuhan University Press 2010; Spanish translation, Universidad Externado Press 2012; Japanese translation, Gendai Jinbunsha 2012; Korean translation, Pakyoungsa 2014; Persian translation, Mokhatab 2017)
  • A General Jurisprudence of Law and Society (Oxford University Press 2001) (Chinese translation, Chinese University of Political Science and Law Press 2012)
  • Realistic Socio-Legal Theory: Pragmatism and a Social Theory of Law (Oxford Clarendon Press 1997)

Selected Recent Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Necessary and Universal Truths about Law?" 30 Ratio Juris 3 (2017)
  • "Insights about the Nature of Law From History," Kobe Memorial Lecture, Archiv fur Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie (forthcoming 2017)
  • "The Progressive Struggle with Courts: A Problematic Asymmetry," in The Progressives' Century, edited by Stephen Skowronek, Stephen Engel, and Bruce Ackerman (Yale University Press 2016)
  • "The Knowledge and Policy Limits of New Institutional Economics on Development," 49 Journal of Economic Issues 89 (2015)
  • "The Third Pillar of Jurisprudence," Wythe Lecture, 56 William & Mary Law Review 2235 (2015)