David Blankfein-Tabachnick

David Blankfein-TabachnickAssociate Professor of Law
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 455
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

  • Biography

    Professor David Blankfein-Tabachnick is a scholar of intellectual property, the private law, taxation, and tax policy. His foundational work appears in selective law reviews and peer edited journals including the California Law Review, Hastings Law Journal, George Washington Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Virginia Law Review and the Cambridge University Press journal, Social Philosophy and Policy. He has made contributions in bankruptcy, contract, property, intellectual property, taxation, and tort law. His work on economic (in)equality and a distributive account of the private law has been the subject of engagement in leading law reviews, peer-edited journals, and academic monographs. His work has been reprinted in a number of anthologies, including Rawls and Law and he has been invited to discuss his ideas throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, and the United States.

    Professor Blankfein-Tabachnick joined the Law College faculty in 2014. He was awarded tenure in 2020. He has been a visiting scholar at the Yale Law School and has been a visiting faculty member at Penn State Law and Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He has been a recurring visiting professor at Peking University School of Transnational Law where he is a member of the founding faculty.

    In 2016, he was appointed Faculty Advisor to the Michigan State Law Review. Since his appointment, the journal has risen nearly fifty places in the W&L ranking of flagship American law reviews. Under his leadership, the journal has instituted its Visionary Scholar Article Series and the Law Review Symposium-Faculty Workshop Series.

    An accomplished lecturer and popular teacher, he has been honored with a university-wide award recognizing excellence in teaching from the University of Virginia. In 2021, he became the first MSU College of Law faculty member to receive the prestigious university-wide Michigan State All-University Teacher-Scholar Award.

    He has taught bankruptcy, copyrights, contracts, criminal law, federal income tax, intellectual property, international relations, legal and political theory, property, property II, remedies, tax policy, torts, and trusts and estates.

    An active and dedicated faculty-community member, he has served on faculty appointments and diversity committees. He has also served as the College of Law Representative to the University Council and University Senate. He served on the 2020-2021 College of Law Dean Search Committee and repeatedly as Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. He is a member of the Law College’s Intellectual Property, Information and Communications Law Program faculty.

    Both a descendant of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and a fifth-generation New Yorker, he has a personal interest in Jewish culture’s contributions to political liberalism, the arts, finance, and the learned professions. When the Law College is out of session, he lives in New York City.

    Professor Blankfein-Tabachnick holds a Ph.D. in legal and political philosophy from the University of Virginia and a degree in law from Yale.

    His work was recently profiled in the Law College’s alumni magazine’s Faculty Voices.

  • Degrees

    M.S.L., Yale Law School; Ph.D., University of Virginia; M.A., University of Rochester; B.A., Ithaca College, with honors

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Courses

    Basic Income Taxation B
    (Formerly DCL 250) Like Basic Income Taxation A, this course introduces the basic concepts of federal income taxation. Basic Income Taxation B, however, goes beyond a survey course by a rigorous examination of technical tax issues, including a focus on solving complex tax problems. This course is ideal for students interested in pursuing legal practice in the tax or business fields. Students will be exposed to the same topics covered in Basic Income Taxation A, but will also study additional topics. Topics likely to be covered include: business and profit-seeking expenditures, capital expenditures, depreciation, the home-office deduction, tax planning for divorce, non-recourse debt, including issues relating to basis and amount realized, and anti-tax abuse provisions limiting tax shelters, including at-risk rules and active participation requirements. In resolving problems, students will have ample opportunity to develop facility in interpreting complex statutes and in applying law from various additional sources. Moreover, the themes studied will allow students to understand that tax legislation is a dynamic process in which the law evolves as a result of taxpayers devising new strategies and from policymakers' responses.

    Decedents' Estates and Trusts
    Effective fall 2016 name changed to Trusts and Estates. A study of the pattern of practices for transmitting wealth in view of death. The course surveys probate jurisdiction and administration; intestate succession; limitations on testamentary power; execution requirements for wills; revocation, revalidation and revival of wills; incorporation by reference; contest of wills and related remedies. Also covered are the private express trust, inter vivos and testamentary, including functions, prohibited trust purposes and requisites for creation; informal and incomplete trusts, including resulting, constructive and savings bank trusts; termination of trusts; gifts to charity, including historical backgrounds, nature of charitable purposes and cy pres; powers and duties of the fiduciary; and remedies of beneficiaries in case of breach of duty.

    (Formerly DCL 113) This is a survey course of the fundamentals of property law. Possessory interests of real and personal property including findings, bailments and adverse possession are discussed and analyzed. Topics also include future interests, concurrent ownership, lease holds, transfers of land and land use controls.

    Tax Policy Seminar
    (Formerly DCl 517) This seminar covers a range of tax policy issues arising from Federal Taxation. The specific issues studied will vary but, in general, will focus on progressivity and redistribution. Topics likely to be covered include: the use of the income tax as a fiscal policy tool; the concept of income; imputed income; progressive versus flat tax rates; taxation of families; income versus consumption taxation; tax expenditures, exclusions, and deductions; taxation of business and investment income; capital gains and losses; and transfer or wealth taxes. A paper will be required. The topic will be determined after consultation with the instructor.

  • Publications

    "Maximizing Intellectual Property: Optimality, Synchronicity and Distributive Justice," 94 St. John's Law Review (2020).

    "Kaplow and Shavell and the Priority of Income Taxation and Transfer," 69 Hastings Law Journal 1 (2017) (with K. Kordana).

    "Property, Duress, and Consensual Relationships," 114 Michigan Law Review 1013 (2016). (reviewing Seana Valentine Shiffrin, Speech Matters: On Lying, Morality and the Law, Princeton University Press, 2014).

    "Intellectual Property Doctrine and Midlevel Principles," 101 California Law Review 1315 (2013); published response, Robert P. Merges, "Foundations and Principles Redux: A Reply to Professor Blankfein-Tabachnick," 101 California Law Review 1361 (2013).

    "On Belling the Cat: Rawls and Tort as Corrective Justice," 92 Virginia Law Review 1279 (2006) (with K. Kordana); published response, Steven Walt, "Eliminating Corrective Justice," 92 Virginia Law Review 1311 (2006); Reprinted in Rawls and Law (Routledge Publishing, 2012).

    "Does Intellectual Property Have Foundations?" 45 Connecticut Law Review 995 (2013) (reviewing Robert Merges, Justifying Intellectual Property (Harvard University Press, 2011)).

    "The Rawlsian View of Private Ordering," 25 Social Philosophy & Policy, 288 (2008) (with K. Kordana) (Cambridge University Press Journal); Reprinted in Freedom of Association (Cambridge University Press 2008).

    "Taxation, the Private Law, and Distributive Justice," 23 Social Philosophy & Policy, 142 (2006) (with K. Kordana) (Cambridge University Press Journal); Reprinted in Taxation, Economic Prosperity, and Distributive Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

    "Rawls and Contract Law," 73 George Washington Law Review 701 (2005) (with K. Kordana).

    "Tax and the Philosopher's Stone," 89 Virginia Law Review 647 (2003) (with K. Kordana) (reviewing Liam Murphy & Thomas Nagel, The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice, Oxford University Press, 2002)).