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Joseph William Singer

Bussey Professor of Law

Joseph W. Singer
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Professor Joseph William Singer has been teaching at Harvard Law School since 1992. He was appointed Bussey Professor of Law in 2006. He began teaching at Boston University School of Law in 1984. Singer received a B.A. from Williams College in 1976, an A.M. in political science from Harvard in 1978, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1981. He clerked for Justice Morris Pashman on the Supreme Court of New Jersey from 1981 to 1982 and was an associate at the law firm of Palmer & Dodge in Boston, focusing on municipal law, from 1982 to 1984. He teaches and writes about property law, conflict of laws, federal Indian law, and legal theory with an emphasis on moral and political philosophy.

He has published more than 90 law review articles. He is one of the executive editors of the 2012 edition of Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law and the forthcoming 2024 edition. He has written Property (with Nestor M. Davidson) (Aspen 6th ed. 2022); Property Law: Cases, Policies, & Practices (with Bethany R. Berger, Nestor M. Davidson, & Eduardo Moisés Peñalver) (Aspen 8th ed. 2022); Persuasion: Getting to the Other Side (2020); Choice of Law: Patterns, Arguments, Practices (2020); No Freedom Without Regulation: The Hidden Lesson of the Subprime Crisis (2015); Entitlement: The Paradoxes of Property (2000); and The Edges of the Field: Lessons on the Obligations of Ownership (2000).



  • J.D. Harvard Law School, 1981
  • A.M. Political Science Harvard University, 1978
  • B.A. Political Economy Williams College, 1976

Academic Appointment and Employment History

  • Bussey Professor of Law, Harvard Law School (2006 - Present)
    Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • Frank Boas Visiting Professor of Law, William S. Richardson University of Hawai`i School of Law (2006 - 2006)
    Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
  • Professor of Law, Harvard Law School (1992 - 2006)
    Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law (1990 - 1992)
    Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • Associate Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law (1984 - 1992)
    Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • Associate, Palmer & Dodge (1982 - 1984)
    municipal law
    Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • law clerk, Justice Morris Pashman, Supreme Court of New Jersey (1981 - 1982)
    Hackensack, New Jersey, United States
  • law intern, Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1980 - 1980)
    Government Bureau
    Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts, United States (1981)


  • Morris Pashman, Supreme Court of New Jersey, 1981 - 1982

Honors and Awards

  • Distinguished Lecturer, Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M University (Professional Honors)
    January 2019
  • Things Invisible to See: State Action and Private Property, Distinguished Real Property Law Keynote (Professional Honors)
    February 2018
  • Constitution Day Address: Indian Nations and the Constitution, University of Maine School of Law, S (Professional Honors)
    September 2017
  • Justifying Regulatory Takings, Kormendy Lecture (Ohio Northern University Claude Pettit College of L
    May 2015
  • Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize (Professional Honors)
    September 2015
  • Award of Excellence: Association for Law, Property, and Society), (Professional Honors)
    May 2014
  • ourth Annual Wolf Family Lecture on American Property Law, University of Florida Fredric G. Levin Co (Professional Honors)
    April 2011
  • Brendan Brown Lecture (Loyola Law School) (Professional Honors)
    September 2006
  • Clason Lecture (Western New England College of Law) (Professional Honors)
    September 2002
  • Recht en kritiek lecture, Maastricht Conference on Property Law on the Threshold of the 21st Century (Professional Honors)
    September 1995

Representative Publications

View all publications by Joseph William Singer