Bill Watson is a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. His research focuses on legal interpretation and legal philosophy, especially statutory interpretation, precedent and analogical reasoning, and the nature of law. He is currently working on projects that address the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent treatment of precedent; the import of legal positivism for debates over legal interpretation; and the independence of textualism in statutory interpretation from originalism in constitutional interpretation.
Bill received his BA from the University of Saint Thomas and his JD from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was the Book Review & Essays Editor for the University of Chicago Law Review. Following law school, he clerked for Judge Jay Bybee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and practiced commercial litigation with Kirkland & Ellis. He is also a PhD Candidate in Philosophy at Cornell University, where he is writing a dissertation on legal agreement and disagreement—on why we agree on the law as often as we do, why we sometimes disagree, and what this can teach us about the nature of law.
- Bill Watson, In Defense of the Standard Picture: What the Standard Picture Explains that the Moral Impact Theory Cannot, 28 Legal Theory 59 (2022).
- Bill Watson, Textualism, Dynamism, and the Meaning of "Sex", 2022 Cardozo L. Rev. de novo 41 (2022).
- Bill Watson, Literalism in Statutory Interpretation: What Is It and What Is Wrong with It?, 2021 U. Ill. L. Rev. Online 218 (2021).