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 the private law, taxation, and tax policy. He has made contributions in bankruptcy, contract, property and intellectual property, taxation, and tort law. His 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, repeatedly in the Virginia Law Review and the Cambridge University Press journal, Social Philosophy and Policy. His scholarship has been the subject of engagement in leading law reviews, peer-edited journals, and academic monographs. His work has been reprinted in several anthologies, including Rawls and Law. He has been invited to discuss his ideas throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, and the United States. His most recent publication addresses bankruptcy, optimal taxation and their role in intellectual property and innovation policy. His work on contractualism and the private law is forthcoming in the Virginia Law Review.

    Professor Blankfein-Tabachnick joined the Law College faculty in 2014 and was awarded tenure in 2020. For the spring semester of 2023, he has been invited to serve as Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Michigan, teaching contracts and intellectual property. He has been a visiting scholar at the Yale Law School, a visiting faculty member at Penn State Law and Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a recurring visiting professor at Peking University School of Transnational Law where he is a member of the founding faculty.

    Professor Blankfein-Tabachnick has notable law journal leadership experience. In 2017, 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. Additionally, he co-created and innovated the widely referenced 2006 Virginia Law Review symposium, Contemporary Political Theory and the Private Law.

    An accomplished lecturer and popular teacher, he was honored with a university-wide award recognizing excellence in teaching from the University of Virginia. Then, 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 courses on 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 in 2020-2021 and in 2021-2022. Additionally, 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 and in the Law College’s 2021 Memorable Moments.

  • 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

    This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of bankruptcy law, the bankruptcy code, and the creditor/debtor relationship.Students who have taken Consumer Bankruptcy 506E or Chapter 11 Reorganization 506F may not take this course.

    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.

    (Formerly LAW500D and LAW500E) A study of the basic law relating to the formation of a contract. Additional topics include: the Statute of Frauds; the avoidability of contracts; performance obligations; contract breach and remedies for breach. Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code covering sales of goods will be introduced; however, the primary focus of the course is on the common law.

    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.

    Intellectual Property Survey
    (Formerly DCL 321 and LAW 533V) Formerly known as Intellectual Property Law. This course could be offered for 2 or 3 credits. This course is a survey of all Intellectual Property law, including patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secret law. No technical degree is necessary.

    (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

    "On Rawlsian Contractualism and the Private Law" 108 Virginia Law Review (2022 forthcoming) (With K. Kordana); Simultaneously published in the Virginia Law Review Print and Online Editions.

    "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)).