Skip to main content, skip to search, or skip to the top of the page.

MSU College of Law


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2012

CONTACT: Kent Love, director of communications, 517-432-6959;

MSU Law Welcomes James Chen as the Justin Smith Morrill Chair in Law

East Lansing, MI — Dean Joan Howarth and the Michigan State University College of Law faculty are pleased to welcome James Chen as the Justin Smith Morrill Chair in Law. Professor Chen is a prolific scholar and leader in the legal academy who most recently served as dean of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville from 2007 through June 2012. In late November, National Jurist magazine named Chen one of the 25 most influential people in legal education.

 “We could not be more pleased to welcome Professor Jim Chen to Michigan State University College of Law,” said Joan Howarth, dean of MSU Law. “Jim is a bold thinker with remarkable scholarly depth and range, and a leader in legal education. Michigan State Law is a bold, ambitious, forward-thinking law school. Our ambitions and Professor Chen’s align perfectly.”


As a tenured full professor and the Morrill Chair, Professor Chen will take an active role in the life of the Law College and the University. The naming of the Morrill Chair reflects and honors Professor Chen’s enthusiasm about developing interdisciplinary research with Michigan State University scholars in ways that build the University’s mission as a pioneer land grant university.

Professor Chen received his B.A. degree, summa cum laude, and his M.A. degree from Emory University before studying as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Iceland. He began his legal experience at Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude and was executive editor of the Harvard Law Review. After earning his law degree, Chen clerked for Judge J. Michael Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was a member of the University of Minnesota Law School faculty from 1993 to 2007, and served as associate dean for his final three years at that school.

"I am delighted to join Michigan State Law," said Chen. "I look forward to helping the College of Law fulfill the University's pledge to 'promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.'"

Chen is a highly productive and influential scholar whose works spans topics such as administrative law, agricultural law, constitutional law, economic regulation, environmental law, industrial policy, legislation, and natural resources law. He is the coauthor of Disasters and the Law: Katrina and Beyond (Aspen Publishers, 2006), the first book to provide comprehensive coverage of the legal issues surrounding natural disasters. This path-breaking book is now in its second edition under the title Disaster Law and Policy. Chen is an elected member of the American Law Institute and has served since 2010 as a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States.

Chen joins the MSU Law faculty in July 2013. He will teach Constitutional Law and Regulatory State in the first-year curriculum, as well as upper-level electives.

Michigan State University College of Law, a leading institution of legal education with a long history of educating practice-ready attorneys, prepares future lawyers to use ethics, ambition, and intellect to solve the world’s problems. Michigan State Law offers comprehensive interdisciplinary opportunities combined with a personalized legal education, and is on an upward trajectory of national and international reputation and reach. MSU Law professors are gifted teachers and distinguished scholars, the Law College’s curriculum is rigorous and challenging, and the Law College Building is equipped with the latest resources—all affirming MSU Law’s commitment to educating 21st-century lawyers.


Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane, Room 320
East Lansing, MI 48824

Skip to main content, skip to search, or skip to the top of the page.