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Brian Z. Tamanaha

John S. Lehmann University Professor

Professor Brian Z. Tamanaha is a renowned jurisprudence and law and society scholar, and the author of ten books and over seventy-five articles and book chapters. His latest books are Sociological Approaches to Theories of Law (Cambridge 2022) and Legal Pluralism Explained: History, Theory, Consequences (Oxford 2021).

One of his previous books, A Realistic Theory of Law (Cambridge 2017), received the 2019 IVR Book Prize from the International Association of the Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy for best legal philosophy book published in 2016-18, as well as an Honorable Mention for the 2018 Prose Awards in Law by the Association of University Presses. Four of his books have received international awards, including A General Jurisprudence of Law and Society (Oxford 2001), which won a law and society prize and a legal theory prize (award of $50,000 AUS). On the Rule of Law (Cambridge 2004) has been translated into nine languages, and altogether his publications have been translated into twelve 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 Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he wrote Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide (Princeton 2010). His work has been the subject of four 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 the 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 (Chicago 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 at 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.

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  • Education
    • Doctorate of Juridical Science, Harvard Law School
    • Juris Doctor, Boston University School of Law
    • Bachelor of Science, University of Oregon
  • Courses
    • Torts
    • Jurisprudence
    • Law and Society
    • Professional Responsibility
  • Areas of Expertise
    • Jurisprudence
    • Law and Society
    • Law and Development
  • Publications

    SSRN Authors Page

    •  “Sociological Approaches to Theories of Law,” Cambridge University Press (2022)
    • “Legal Pluralism Explained: History, Theory, Consequences,” Oxford University Press (2021)
    • “A Realistic Theory of Law,” Cambridge University Press (2018)
    • “Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide,” Princeton University Press (2010)
    • “Law as a Means to an End,” Cambridge University Press (2006)
    • “On the Rule of Law,” Cambridge University Presss (2004)
    • “A General Jurisprudence of Law and Society,” Oxford University Press (2001)
    • Realistic Socio-Legal Theory,” Oxford University Press (1997)
    • Law’s Evolving Emergent Phenomena, 95 Washington University Law Review 1149 (2018)
    • Necessary and Universal Truths About Law, 30 Ratio Juris 3 (2017)
    • Insights About the Nature of Law from History, 152 Archiv fur Rechts-und Sozialphilosophy 15 (2017
  • Activity and Affiliations

    Speaking Events, Lectures, etc.

    • Public Lecture, Amsterdam Center for the Legal Profession and Access to Justice, University of Amsterdam, May 30, 2023, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    • Opening Lecture, Pacific Judicial Conference, June 20, 2023, Honolulu, Hawaii
    • Theory Matters Lecture, Auckland Law School, Auckland, New Zealand
    • Keynote Address, I-CON*S Conference 2023, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Honors and Awards
    • David M. Becker Professor of the Year, 2013, Washington University School of Law
    • Professor the Year, 2001, St. John’s University School of Law
    • Honorable Mention, 2018 Prose Awards, Law and Legal Studies, for A Realistic Theory of Law
    • Honorable Mention, Best Scholarly Book in Law, 2006, Association of American Publishers, for Law as a Means to an End
    • Dennis Leslie Mahoney Prize in Legal Theory, 2006, for A General Jurisprudence of Law and Society
    • Herbert Jacob Book Prize, 2002, Law and Society Association, for A General Jurisprudence of Law and Society
    • Special Recognition Award, 1998, Law and Society Association, for Realistic Socio-Legal Theory
    • Cotterrell Lecture in Sociological Jurisprudence, 2015, Queen Mary University, London
    • Kobe Memorial Lecture, 2014, Hosei University, Tokyo
    • George Wythe Lecture, 2014, William & Mary Law School, Williamsburg
    • Julius Stone Address, 2008, University of Sydney, Sydney
    • Funded Fellowships:
    • Ferdinand Braudel Senior Fellowship, European University Institute, Florence
    • Visiting Professor Fellowship, Summer 2015-17, Queen Mary University, London
    • Member, 2007-2008 Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
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