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Rafael I. Pardo

Walter D. Coles Professor of Law

Rafael I. Pardo researches and teaches in the areas of bankruptcy, commercial law, contracts, and legal history. His scholarship explores a wide array of bankruptcy topics and has been published in numerous law journals, including  the Alabama Law Review, the Arizona Law Review, the Florida Law Review, the Iowa Law Review, the Tulane Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Vanderbilt Law Review, the Washington Law Review, the Washington and Lee Law Review, and the William and Mary Law Review. Federal courts of appeals, district courts, bankruptcy appellate panels, and bankruptcy courts have cited his work.

Professor Pardo’s recent research has focused on the intersection of the 1841 Bankruptcy Act, slavery, and race in the antebellum United States. His published work in this area has analyzed how the federal government through the Act became the owner and seller of enslaved Black Americans, provided direct economic support to financially distressed slave traders, restructured financially distressed assets involved in the domestic slave trade, and engaged in residual policymaking with racially harmful effects. He has also analyzed how free Black Americans facing financial distress used the Act to reintegrate into their commercial communities and protect their claims to citizenship. This research serves as the foundation for Pardo’s current book project, The Color of Bankruptcy: Financial Failure and Freedom in the Age of American Slavery, which Columbia University Press will publish as part of its Columbia Studies in the History of U.S. Capitalism series.

Professor Pardo received his B.A. in history from Yale College and his J.D. from New York University School of Law, where he served as an executive editor of the New York University Law Review and was a recipient of the Judge John J. Galgay Fellowship in Bankruptcy and Reorganization Law. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and an elected fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He has testified as a bankruptcy expert before both houses of Congress and has served as a commentator on bankruptcy matters for various media outlets, including Bloomberg, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.

Before joining Washington University, Professor Pardo was the Robert T. Thompson Professor of Law for ten years at Emory University, where he received the Emory Williams Distinguished Teaching Award in 2015. He previously was also a member of the law faculties at the University of Washington, Seattle University, and Tulane University.

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