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Professor E. Allan Farnsworth
The 24th Tucker lecturer is a renowned expert in international commercial law who for almost 30 years has worked under the auspices of the United Nations to improve and codify that law. His career demonstrates the value of rigorously logical approach to the handling of legal issues. E. Allan Farnsworth is the Alfred McCormick Professor of Law at Columbia University, where his teaching has been mainly in the areas of contracts and commercial law. He learned intellectual rigor early. His undergraduate degree is a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Michigan, and he obtained a M.A. in physics from Yale University in 1949. His law degree is from Columbia (1952), and he has honorary degrees from the University of Paris, the Catholic University of Louvain, and the Dickinson School of Law.
Professor Farnsworth has influenced the development of commercial law both in this country and abroad. Perhaps his most important contribution in the domestic arena was his work as Reporter for the Restatement (Second) of Contracts from 1971-1980. In the civil law context, he served as a consultant to the Puerto Rican Law Revision Commission from 1988-1991, assisting with its revision of the Puerto Rican Commercial Code. In 1979 and 1983, he served on the United States delegations to major diplomatic conferences on international agency and sales law. He has been a member of the U.S. Secretary of State's advisory committee on private international law since 1985.
His work on projects sponsored by the United Nations has included representing the Untied States at the U.N. Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). He was a member of that body's working group on sales from 1969-1979, during its drafting of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, and was co-chair of the American delegation to the diplomatic conference that put the Convention in final form.
Since 1979, Professor Farnsworth has been the American member of the governing council of the U.N. International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT), in Rome. He has served as a member of its committees on agency, and validity of international sales, and since 1985, has been the American member of the working group that produced the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts.
Professor Farnsworth has been a lecturer at many comparative law seminars and institutes, both here and abroad. He is a member of the New York Bar and the American Philosophical Association, and he is a Fellow of the British Academy. His books include a widely-used casebook on contracts and commercial law, a treatise on contracts, and an introduction to the legal system of the United States that is available in a dozen languages.Back