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Claire Priest '00 to Join Yale Law School Faculty

Claire Priest '00, Professor of Law and History at Northwestern University, will join the Yale Law School faculty as Professor of Law starting on July 1, 2009.

Professor Priest teaches and researches in the areas of property and American legal and economic history. She received her B.A., J.D., and Ph.D. (History) degrees from Yale University. While at Yale Law School, she served as an Articles Editor and as Symposium Chair for The Yale Law Journal, and was awarded the John M. Olin Prize for the best paper on law, economics, and public policy, and the Joseph Parker Prize for the best paper on legal history. She was awarded two summer fellowships from Yale Law School’s John M. Olin Center for Law and Public Policy.

After graduating from law school in 2000, Priest was awarded the Samuel I. Golieb Fellowship in Legal History at New York University School of Law in 2000-2001 and served as a law clerk for Judge Jon O. Newman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2001-2002. Her history Ph.D. dissertation, “Currency Policies and the Nature of Litigation in Colonial New England,” presented a fundamental revisionist analysis of some of the most important aspects of the legal-economic history of colonial New England. That dissertation was awarded the Yale Graduate School’s George Washington Egleston Prize for the best dissertation in American History, and the Economic History Association’s Allan Nevins Prize for the best dissertation in American or Canadian Economic History (2003) and was excerpted in "Currency Policies and Legal Development in Colonial New England" in The Yale Law Journal (2001) and "Note, Colonial Courts and Secured Credit: Early American Commercial Litigation and Shay's Rebellion" in The Yale Law Journal (1999). Another article, “Creating An American Property Law: Alienability And Its Limits In American History,” 120 Harv. L. Rev. 385 (2006), broke new ground by investigating a strikingly neglected aspect of property systems and American economic development, the extent to which creditors may reach land in satisfaction of their debts. 

Professor Priest is currently working on a book which promises a similar major explanation of how American property and inheritance systems evolved in different regions in response to the varying demands of credit and financial markets in areas reliant on slave or free labor.

Dean Harold Hongju Koh of Yale Law School said, “We are thrilled to welcome home Claire Priest, a marvelous teacher and outstanding scholar who writes with crystalline clarity and deep historical insight. She has emerged as a leading new voice in the field of Law and Commerce, a field that embraces property, commercial law, and legal history. She joins a legal history faculty that is second to none, which also includes such figures as Robert Gordon, John Langbein, Nicholas R. Parrillo, Reva Siegel, James Whitman and John Fabian Witt.”

Acting Dean Kate Stith said, “Claire Priest is along every dimension a terrific appointment. She is both brilliant and generous; her writing is remarkable for its clear and precise marshalling of history and analytic arguments; and she is highly regarded in her classroom teaching and mentoring of students.”