Who Has the Most Influence on Legal Theory Today?

One way to determine who has influence on legal theory is by citation studies. HeinOnline (an online database containing more than 150 million pages and 160,000 titles of legal history and government documents in a fully searchable, image-based format) conducted a study current to January 30, 2009. It analyzed over 1200 legal periodicals including more than one million articles. HeinOnline provides you with a list of the fifty most frequently cited authors here, but does not include background information on who these scholars are. In case you are interested, and for University of Chicago Law fans, I have annotated the top ten. They are:

1.) Posner, Richard A. cited 12,586 times in 251 articles.

Posner is currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. He helped start the law and economics movement while he was a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

2.) Sunstein, Cass R. cited 11,521 times in 267 articles.

Sunstein is an American legal scholar who taught at the University of Chicago Law School for 27 years. Currently he is Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and was picked by President Obama to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

3.) Epstein, Richard A. cited 6,194 times in 272 articles.

Epstein is the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1972. He has also been the Peter and Kirstin Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution since 2000.

4.) Easterbrook, Frank H. cited 6,018 times in 84 articles.

Easterbrook is Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He has been Chief Judge since November 2006, and has been a judge on the court since 1985. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School (where he was an editor of the law review with Douglas H. Ginsburg and a member of the Order of the Coif) in 1973.

5.) Prosser, William L. cited 5,585 times in 55 articles.

Prosser was the Dean of the College of Law at UC Berkeley from 1948 to 1961. He authored several editions of Prosser on Torts, universally recognized as the leading work on the subject of tort law for a generation and still widely used today (now in its 11th Edition). Furthermore, in the 1950s, Dean Prosser became Reporter for the Second Restatement of Torts. He received his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1932. He died in 1972.

6.) Coffee, John C. Jr. cited 5,196 times in 68 articles.

John C. Coffee is the Adolf A. Berle Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He received law degree from New York University School of Law. He has written one of the best known casebooks on U.S. securities regulation as well as another on Corporations and is considered one of the foremost legal scholars in that area of Securities Law.

7.) Delgado, Richard cited 5,165 times in 145 articles.

Richard Delgado is the University Distinguished Professor of Law & Derrick Bell Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is an expert in civil rights law and critical race theory, a critic of law and literature movement. He has written and co-authored numerous articles and books, many with his wife Jean Stefancic, on law and society. He received his law degree from the University of California at Berkeley.

8.) Eskridge, William N. Jr. cited 5,029 times in 69 articles.

Professor William N. Eskridge, Jr. is the John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School. His primary legal academic interest has been statutory interpretation. Together with Professor Philip Frickey, he developed an innovative casebook on Legislation. He has also published a field-establishing casebook on the proper state treatment of sexual and gender minorities. Professor Eskridge received his J.D. from Yale.

9.) Pound, Roscoe cited 4,869 times in 284 articles.

Pound was a former dean of Harvard Law School. He was the founder of the movement for “sociological jurisprudence,” an influential critic of the U.S. Supreme Court’s “liberty of contract” line of cases, symbolized by Lochner v. New York (1905), and one of the early leaders of the movement for American Legal Realism (which he later repudiated).

10.) Fischel, Daniel R. cited 4,703 times in 43 articles.

Daniel R. Fischel is the emeritus Lee and Brena Freeman Professor of Law and Business and former Dean of University of Chicago Law School. He is a leading scholar of the regulation of financial markets and corporations. Fischel received his J.D. cum laude from Chicago Law in 1977, where he was comment editor of the law review and was elected to the Order of the Coif.

University of Chicago

University of Chicago


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