Alert: All classes and work will take place remotely for the remainder of the semester. Check the Columbia COVID-19 site for updates to campus and academic operations.

Robert E. Scott

Alfred McCormack Professor of Law

Robert E. Scott

Alfred McCormack Professor of Law

Robert E. Scott is the Alfred McCormack Professor of Law and director of the Center on Contract and Economic Organization at Columbia Law School. In 2014, he served as the Law School’s interim dean. Scott is an internationally recognized scholar and teacher in the fields of contracts, commercial transactions, and bankruptcy.

Scott has delivered numerous papers and published extensively in law journals. He co-authored five books on contracts and commercial transactions. His many articles include six he co-authored with Professor Charles Goetz that set the standard for the economic analysis of contracts law.

Prior to joining the Law School faculty in 2006, Scott served on the University of Virginia School of Law faculty from 1974 to 2006. From 1988 to 1990, he held an appointment at the University of Virginia's Center for Advanced Studies. Scott was the Virginia Law School dean from 1991 to 2001. During his tenure, Virginia Law School embarked upon a highly successful capital campaign, at the time raising more money than any other law school in history; completed a $50 million Law Grounds renovation; and instituted several curricular enhancements. After serving as dean, Scott was the Justin W. D'Atri Visiting Professor of Law, Business and Society at Columbia from 2001 to 2006.    

Scott is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences; a life member of the American Bar Foundation’s fellows; and a member of the American Law Institute. He was president of the American Law Deans Association from 1999-2001. He was president of the American Law & Economics Association from 2014-2015 and a member of its board from 2012-2015. He has chaired the Association of American Law Schools’ Sections on Contract Law, Law and Economics, and Commercial and Consumer Law. In October 2004, the University of Virginia presented Scott with its highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award.

Scott earned his J.D. from the William & Mary Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the William & Mary Law Review, and a S.J.D. from the University of Michigan. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine appointed Scott to the College of William & Mary governing board, serving from 2008-2016.

  • S.J.D., University of Michigan Law School, 1973
  • J.D., William & Mary Law School, 1968
  • B.A., Oberlin College, 1965

Selected Publications

  • "The Black Hole Problem in Commercial Boilerplate," (with Stephen Choi & Mitu Gulati), 67 Duke L. J. 1 (2017)
  • "The Common Law of Contract and the Default Rule Project," (with Alan Schwartz), 102 Va. L. Rev. 1523 (2016)
  • From Contract to Status: Collaboration and the Evolution of Novel Family Forms,” (with Elizabeth S. Scott), 115 Columbia Law Review 293, 2015
  • Text and Context: Contract Interpretation as Contract Design,” (with Ronald J. Gilson and Charles F. Sabel), 100 Cornell Law Review 23, 2014
  • The 3 ½ Minute Transaction: Boilerplate and the Limits of Contact Design, (with Mitu Gulati), University of Chicago Press, 2013
  • Contract Law and Theory, (with Jody S. Kraus), LexisNexis, 2013, (5th edition)
  • Contract and Innovation: The Limited Role of Generalist Courts in the Evolution of Novel Contractual Forms,” 88 N.Y.U. Law Review 170, 2013
  • Rethinking the Laws of Good Faith Purchase,” (with Alan Schwartz), 111 Columbia Law Review 1332, 2011  
  • Foundations of Commercial Law, (with George G. Triantis), Foundation Press, 2010
  • Braiding: The Interaction of Formal and Informal Contracting in Theory, Practice, and Doctrine,” (with Ronald Gilson and Charles Sabel), 110 Columbia Law Review 1377, 2010
  • Contract Interpretation Redux,” (with Alan Schwartz), 119 Yale Law Journal 926, 2010
  • Contracting for Innovation: Vertical Disintegration and Interfirm Collaboration,” (with Ronald Gilson and Charles Sabel), 109 Columbia Law Review 431, 2009
  • Market Damages, Efficient Contracting, and the Economic Waste Fallacy,” (with Alan Schwartz), 108 Columbia Law Review 1610, 2008
  • Payment Systems and Credit Instruments, (with Clayton P. Gillette and Alan Schwartz), Foundation Press, 2007, (2nd edition)
  • Precontractual Liability and Preliminary Agreements,” (with Alan Schwartz), 120 Harvard Law Review 661, 2007
  • The Limits of Leviathan—Contact Theory and the Enforcement of International Law, (with Paul B. Stephan), Cambridge University Press, 2006
  • Anticipating Litigation in Contract Design,” (with George G. Triantis), 115 Yale Law Journal 814 (2006)

View an extended list of Robert E. Scott's publications:

Download Full C.V.
Office Hours
C. Contracts and Economic Organization
S. Contract Theory and Transactional Practice