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Robin Morgan

Robin Morgan

S.J.D. Candidate

rmorgan at


Beyond the Specifics: The Costs and Benefits of Rules vs Standards-based Approaches to Reforming the Taxation of Financial Instruments

Current debate surrounding reform is dominated by two approaches: some propose rules-based solutions for specific problems, while others propose looser standards-based reform that capture a greater number of avoidance schemes. However, little work has been done to properly assess what type of reform – rule or standard-based – is more appropriate. My proposed research aims to determine whether tax reform of financial instruments is better achieved through rules-based or standards-based reforms, without commenting as to what rules or standards should be adopted. If one is preferred – which is extremely likely – then policy makers and academics alike should focus their attention on reform proposals that fit within the given framework of rules or standards, as the case may be. Thus, my broader research question asks: based on the costs and benefits of rules versus standards-based reforms, which is better suited to curbing tax avoidance through financial instruments?

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Taxation with Professor Thomas Brennan, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • Law & Economics with Professor Louis Kaplow, Harvard Law School
  • Corporate finance with Professor Holger Spamann, Harvard Law School

Additional Research Interests

  • Investment and taxation of financial instruments
  • Constitutional Law
  • Comparative Constitutional Law


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate 2017-Present
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. Program, 2016-2017 (requirements fulfilled, degree waived)
  • McGill University, Canada, B.C.L/LL.B. 2016

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Harvard Law School, 2017-2018, Graduate Program Fellow, LL.M. Advisor
  • Harvard Law School, 2017-2018, Graduate Program Fellow, Legal Research, Writing, and Analysis Teaching Assistant

Representative Publications

  • A. De Mestral, H. Cyr, and R. Morgan. “Canadian Federalism and Treaties” in the Oxford Handbook of Canadian Constitutional Law [Forthcoming]
  • A. de Mestral and R. Morgan, “Remedies under Canadian Law Equivalent to NAFTA Chapter 11 Arbitration in Canada” in Second Thoughts: Investor State Arbitration between Developed Democracies, A. de Mestral, ed (2017 CIGI, Ottawa), ch 5.
  • R. Morgan, “Multiculturailsm, Dialogue, and Canada” CTLibre 2013. Available online at

Additional Information

Languages: English, French, Romanian and Spanish (working knowledge)

Last Updated: August 13, 2017