Will Join UT Law's Douglas Laycock on the Council
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — Jane Stapleton, who is UT Law's Ernest E. Smith Professor, Research Professor of Law in the School of Social Sciences at The Australian National University in Canberra, Statutory Visiting Professor of Law at Oxford University and who is one of the world’s leading scholars on products liability, was elected in December to the Council of The American Law Institute (ALI) for an interim term until the Institute’s 2005 Annual Meeting.
Her name will be submitted to ALI’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia in May, with the recommendation that she be elected by the membership to a regular term. She becomes the first foreign national to join the Council, a group of some 60 prominent judges, practicing lawyers, and legal scholars that is the governing body of the Institute.
A native of Sydney, Australia, Professor Stapleton, 52, was initially trained as a scientist and received her undergraduate degree with honors from the University of New South Wales in 1974 and her first Ph.D. from the University of Adelaide in 1977. In 1978, she resigned her postdoctoral position at the University Chemical Laboratories in the University of Cambridge to train as a lawyer, first at The Australian National University, where she received her law degree in 1981 and won the University Medal, and later at Oxford, where she obtained a second Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1984.
Professor Stapleton taught at Oxford for a dozen years before joining the faculty of The Australian National University in 1997. Three years later she was appointed, as a visiting professor, to the Ahrens Chair in Tort Law at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas, and also assumed her present post as visiting professor at Oxford, where she delivers a lecture course every year and remains a Fellow of Balliol College. In 2002 she was appointed to her position at the University of Texas, and since 2003 she has also been Commonwealth Fellow of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. In addition, she has held a visiting professorship at the European University Institute in Florence, where she taught comparative private law.
Professor Stapleton has been active as a consultant in major commercial, pharmaceutical, and medical litigation in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, including the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of the Dow Corning Corporation, a mass action in the United Kingdom against the National Blood Authority arising out of hepatitis C-infected blood, and Australia’s largest class action, a multi-billion-dollar claim against Esso for pure economic loss arising from disruption to the gas supply.
Professor Stapleton’s scholarship centers on the private law of obligations, liability, and compensation systems, and ranges from comparative product liability to the philosophical foundations of common-law concepts such as causation, duty, and good faith. In addition to many articles, she is the author of Disease and the Compensation Debate (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986) and Products Liability (London: Butterworths, 1994), and coeditor of Essays for Patrick Atiyah (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) and The Law of Obligations: Essays in Celebration of John Fleming (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998). In 1995, she won the Wedderburn Prize, awarded annually for the best article to appear in The Modern Law Review, for her article “Tort, Insurance and Ideology.”
Her published work has been frequently cited with approval by appellate courts in all the major Commonwealth common-law jurisdictions, in academic publications, and in reports of law-reform commissions.
Professor Stapleton has been a member of the ALI and an Adviser to its Restatement Third, Torts: Liability for Physical Harm, since 2000.
The American Law Institute was founded in 1923 and is based in Philadelphia. The Institute, through a careful and deliberative process, drafts and then publishes various restatements of the law, model codes, and other proposals for legal reform “to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs, to secure the better administration of justice, and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work.” Its membership consists of judges, practicing lawyers, and legal scholars from all areas of the United States as well as some foreign countries, selected on the basis of professional achievement and demonstrated interest in the improvement of the law. The Institute’s incorporators included Chief Justice and former President William Howard Taft, future Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, and former Secretary of State Elihu Root. Judges Benjamin N. Cardozo and Learned Hand were among its early leaders.