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Henry E. Smith


Henry E. Smith is the Fessenden Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he also directs the Project on the Foundations of Private Law.

Smith has written primarily on the law and economics of property and intellectual property, with a focus on how property-related institutions lower information costs and constrain strategic behavior. He teaches primarily in the areas of property, intellectual property, natural resources, remedies, taxation, and law and economics.

His most recent books are The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law Property, with Thomas W. Merrill (Oxford Press, 2010). Other publications include Property: Principles and Policies, with Thomas W. Merrill (Foundation, 2007, 2nd ed., 2012); The Privilege against Self-Incrimination: Its Origins and Development, with R. H. Helmholz et al. (Chicago, 1997); and Restrictiveness in Case Theory (Cambridge, 1996). He is the coeditor of the Research Handbook on the Economics of Property Law, with Kenneth Ayotte (2011); Perspectives on Property Law, with Robert C. Ellickson and Carol M. Rose (forthcoming); and Philosophical Foundations of Property Law, with James Penner (forthcoming).

Smith holds an AB from Harvard, a PhD in linguistics from Stanford, and a JD from Yale. He clerked for the Hon. Ralph K. Winter, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, has taught at Northwestern University School of Law, was the Fred A. Johnston Professor of Property and Environmental Law at Yale Law School and professor of cognitive science at Yale, and has visited at the University of Virginia School of Law, the University of Chicago Law School, Yale Law School, and Harvard Law School.

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Recent Commentary

Property as Platform: Coordinating Standards for Technological Innovation

by Henry E. Smithvia IP2 Working Paper Series
Monday, January 6, 2014

IP² Working Paper No. 14001 - This paper examines the coordination of inputs to the development and use of technology as a problem in the theory of property. Recent misunderstanding of property, in terms of both the substance of its rights and the implications of its remedies, have presented property as an obstacle to – rather than as a platform for – rapidly evolving technology.

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Reacting to the Spending Spree: Policy Changes We Can Afford

by Terry Anderson, Jagdish Bhagwati, Charles Calomiris, Richard A. Epstein, Stephen Haber, Kevin Hassett, James Huffman, F. Scott Kieff, Gary D. Libecap, Henry E. Smithvia Books by Hoover Fellows
Monday, April 27, 2009

In this nine-chapter volume, the authors examine the challenges the Obama administration faces today, and in the foreseeable future, and the administration’s planned responses.

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The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law Property

by Henry E. Smith, Thomas W. Merrillvia Books by Hoover Fellows

The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Property provides both a bird's eye overview of property law and an introduction to how property law affects larger concerns with individual autonomy, personhood, and economic organization.