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About the Authors

John H. Langbein

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John Langbein, Sterling Professor of Law and Legal History, Yale University, is an eminent legal historian and a leading American authority on trust, probate, pension, and investment law. He teaches and writes in the fields of Anglo-American and European legal history, modern comparative law, trust and estate law, and pension and employee benefit law. Professor Langbein has long been active in law reform work, serving under gubernatorial appointment as a Uniform Law Commissioner since 1984. He was the reporter and principal drafter for the Uniform Prudent Investor Act (1994), which governs fiduciary investing in most American states, and he is Associate Reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Third) of Property: Wills and Other Donative Transfers. Professor Langbein has written extensively about the history of criminal procedure, and about the contrasts between modern American and Continental civil and criminal procedure. His book, The Origins of Adversary Criminal Trial (2003), received  the Coif Biennial Book Award (2006) as the outstanding American book on law. In 2000 the American Society for Legal History awarded him the Sutherland Prize for his "pioneering work" in legal history. He also coauthors the principal course book on pension law used in American law schools, Pension & Employee Benefit Law (with D. Pratt & S. Stabile, 5th ed. 2010).


Ph.D., Cambridge, 1971
LL.B., Cambridge, 1969
LL.B., Harvard, 1968
A.B., Columbia, 1964


Renée Lettow Lerner

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Renée Lettow Lerner joined the George Washington University Law School in 1997, after serving as a law clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and to Judge Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Before attending law school, she did graduate work at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in English legal history. From 2003 to 2005, she served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Lerner’s interests, reflected in her writings, include: English and U.S. legal history, civil and criminal procedure, and comparative law.


B.A., Princeton University
M.Litt., Oxford University
J.D., Yale University


Bruce P. Smith

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Bruce Smith is dean of the University of Illinois College of Law and the Guy Raymond Jones Faculty Scholar. He became the 12th dean of the College in February 2009, having previously served as the College’s associate dean for Academic Affairs and, since 2001, as a member of its faculty. An accomplished legal historian who specializes in Anglo-American criminal procedure in the 18th and 19th centuries, Dean Smith is the author, most recently, of History of the Common Law: The Development of Anglo-American Legal Institutions (2009) (with John Langbein and Renée Lettow Lerner). He is currently completing a second book manuscript, entitled Summary Justice: Magistrates, Theft, and the Law in London and the Urban Atlantic World, 1760-1860. Before entering law teaching, Dean Smith practiced law for five years at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., working primarily in the area of intellectual property litigation and sports law – in the latter capacity, representing the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League. He has taught as a visiting professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School and The George Washington University Law School, as an instructor at the University of Oxford and the University of Victoria, and as an invited lecturer at the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2008, he was one of two recipients of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Campus Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching, which recognizes excellence in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching, and other contributions to improved instruction.


B.A. Williams College
M.A. University of Cambridge
J.D. Yale Law School
Ph.D. Yale University