Henry E. Smith

Fessenden Professor of Law

Director, Project on the Foundations of Private Law


Henry E. Smith is the Fessenden Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he directs the Project on the Foundations of Private Law. Previously, he taught at the Northwestern University School of Law and was the Fred A. Johnston Professor of Property and Environmental Law at Yale Law School. He holds an A.B. from Harvard, a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Stanford, and a J.D. from Yale. After law school he clerked for the Hon. Ralph K. Winter, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Smith has written primarily on the law and economics of property and intellectual property, with a focus on how property-related institutions lower information costs and constrain strategic behavior. He teaches primarily in the areas of property, intellectual property, natural resources, remedies, and law and economics. His books include The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Property (2010, coauthored with Thomas W. Merrill), Property: Principles and Policies (2d ed., 2012, coauthored with Thomas W. Merrill), and Principles of Patent Law (6th ed., 2013, co-authored with F. Scott Kieff, Pauline Newman, and Herbert F. Schwartz). He is the co-editor of The Research Handbook on the Economics of Property Law (2011, with Kenneth Ayotte), Philosophical Foundations of Property Law (2013, with James Penner), and Perspectives on Property Law (4th ed., 2014, with Robert C. Ellickson and Carol M. Rose). In 2015-2016, Smith served as the President of the Society for Institutional and Organizational Economics, and in 2014, the American Law Institute named him reporter for a Fourth Restatement of Property.

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