Elizabeth Warren

Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law, Emerita

Biography

Elizabeth Warren is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, serving since 2013. She is a member of the Senate committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP); Energy and Natural Resources; and the Special Committee on Aging.

Recognized as one of the nation's top experts on bankruptcy and the financial pressures facing middle class families, Senator Warren was the driving force behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). President Barack Obama appointed her as Assistant to the President and as Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury, charged with the job of setting up the agency to hold financial institutions accountable and to protect consumers from financial tricks and traps. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Senator Warren also served as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

In 1992-93, Senator Warren served as the Robert Braucher Visiting Professor of Commercial Law at Harvard Law School; in 1995, she accepted a permanent appointment as the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law. Before coming to Harvard, she taught at the law schools of the University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, University of Texas, University of Houston, and Rutgers University. She taught courses on commercial law, contracts, and bankruptcy, and has written more than a hundred articles and ten books.

She has won teaching awards at multiple schools, and graduating classes at Harvard twice recognized her with the Sacks-Freund Award for excellence in teaching. In 2013, she received the Harvard Law School Association Award. National Law Journal named her one of the Most Influential Lawyers of the Decade, TIME magazine has named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world three times, and she has been honored by the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association with the Lelia J. Robinson Award. Senator Warren was elected to the American Law Institute, and later to the Council of ALI where she served as Vice President of the Institute. She also was elected to the National Bankruptcy Conference, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and as a Theodore Roosevelt Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. In 2014, she was honored with the Roosevelt Institute’s Franklin D. Roosevelt Distinguished Public Service Award.

Senator Warren is a graduate of the University of Houston and Rutgers School of Law.

Areas of Interest

Elizabeth Warren, Jay Lawrence Westbrook, Katherine Porter & John Pottow, The Law of Debtors and Creditors: Text, Cases, and Problems (7th ed Wolters Kluwer L. & Bus. 2014).
Categories:
Consumer Finance
,
Corporate Law & Securities
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Consumer Bankruptcy Law
,
Corporate Bankruptcy & Reorganization
,
Legal Education
Type: Book
Abstract
One of the leading casebooks in the field, The Law of Debtors and Creditors features forty problem sets with realistic questions a lawyer considers in confronting the statutory provisions for a bankruptcy case. Explanatory text throughout makes bankruptcy law accessible to students and easier to teach. The material is organized functionally--as a bankruptcy case would unfold--making the presentation logical and sensible. By separating consumer bankruptcy from business bankruptcy, professors can select the depth of coverage for each course. The Seventh Edition produces expanded coverage of business bankruptcy topics such as corporate governance in bankruptcy and bankruptcy sales. Discussion of over a half-dozen recent Supreme Court cases on bankruptcy includes Stern v. Marshall. Adjustments to teaching approach to means test and other 2005 amendment topics reflect existing law and practice and help students learn.
Elizabeth Warren, Redesigning Regulation: A Case Study from the Consumer Credit Market, in Government and Markets: Toward a New Theory of Regulation 391 (Edward J. Balleisen & David A. Moss eds., 2010).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Legal Profession
,
Consumer Finance
,
Banking & Finance
Sub-Categories:
Financial Reform
,
Consumer Protection Law
,
Administrative Law & Agencies
,
Legal Reform
Type: Book
David U. Himmelstein, Deborah Thorne, Elizabeth Warren & Steffie Woolhandler, Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study, 122 Am. J. Med. 741 (2009).
Categories:
Consumer Finance
,
Health Care
Sub-Categories:
Consumer Bankruptcy Law
,
Health Law & Policy
Type: Article
Abstract
Background: Our 2001 study in 5 states found that medical problems contributed to at least 46.2% of all bankruptcies. Since then, health costs and the numbers of un- and underinsured have increased, and bankruptcy laws have tightened. Methods: We surveyed a random national sample of 2314 bankruptcy filers in 2007, abstracted their court records, and interviewed 1032 of them. We designated bankruptcies as “medical” based on debtors' stated reasons for filing, income loss due to illness, and the magnitude of their medical debts. Results: Using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92% of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5000, or 10% of pretax family income. The rest met criteria for medical bankruptcy because they had lost significant income due to illness or mortgaged a home to pay medical bills. Most medical debtors were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations. Three quarters had health insurance. Using identical definitions in 2001 and 2007, the share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 49.6%. In logistic regression analysis controlling for demographic factors, the odds that a bankruptcy had a medical cause was 2.38-fold higher in 2007 than in 2001. Conclusions: Illness and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of US bankruptcies.
Oren Bar-Gill & Elizabeth Warren, Making Credit Safer, 157 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1 (2008).
Categories:
Banking & Finance
,
Consumer Finance
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Government & Politics
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Financial Markets & Institutions
,
Financial Reform
,
Banking
,
Contracts
,
Consumer Protection Law
,
Consumer Bankruptcy Law
,
Consumer Contracts
,
Law & Public Policy
,
Poverty Law
,
Law & Economics
,
Law & Behavioral Sciences
,
Administrative Law & Agencies
Type: Article
Abstract
Physical products, from toasters and lawnmowers, to infant car seats and toys, to meat and drugs, are routinely inspected and regulated for safety. Credit products, like mortgage loans and credit cards, on the other hand, are left largely unregulated, even though they can also be unsafe. Because financial products are analyzed through a contract paradigm rather than a products paradigm, consumers have been left with unsafe credit products. These dangerous products can lead to financial distress, bankruptcy, and foreclosure, and, as evidenced by the recent subprime crisis, they can have devastating effects on communities and on the economy. In this Article, we use the physical products analogy to build a case, supported by both theory and data, for comprehensive safety regulation of consumer credit. We then examine the present state of consumer credit regulation, explaining why the current regulatory regime has systematically failed to provide meaningful safety regulations. We propose a fundamental restructuring of this regime, urging the creation of a new federal regulator that will have both the authority and the incentives to police the safety of consumer credit products.
Elizabeth Warren & Amelia Warren Tyagi, The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle Class Parents Are Going Broke (Basic Books 2004).
Categories:
Consumer Finance
,
Family Law
,
Health Care
Sub-Categories:
Consumer Bankruptcy Law
,
Consumer Protection Law
,
Domestic Relations
,
Health Law & Policy
,
Elder Law
Type: Book
Abstract
In this revolutionary exposé, Harvard Law School bankruptcy expert Elizabeth Warren and financial consultant Amelia Tyagi show that today's middle-class parents are increasingly trapped by financial meltdowns. Astonishingly, sending mothers to work has made families more vulnerable to financial disaster than ever before. Today's two-income family earns 75% more money than its single-income counterpart of a generation ago, but has 25% less discretionary income to cover living costs. This is "the rare financial book that sidesteps accusations of individual wastefulness to focus on institutional changes," raved the Boston Globe. Warren and Tyagi reveal how the ferocious bidding war for housing and education has silently engulfed America's suburbs, driving up the cost of keeping families in the middle class. The authors show why the usual remedies-child-support enforcement, subsidized daycare, and higher salaries for women-won't solve the problem. But as the Wall Street Journal observed, "The book is brimming with proposed solutions to the nail-biting anxiety that the middle class finds itself in: subsidized day care, school vouchers, new bank regulation, among other measures." From Senator Edward M. Kennedy to Dr. Phil to Bill Moyers, The Two-Income Trap has created a sensation among economists, politicians, and families-all those who care about America's middle-class crisis.