David Law

Professor of Law


Public Law, Comparative Public Law, Empirical Legal Scholarship, Law and Social Science, Judicial Behavior and Judicial Politics, Constitutional Politics, Constitutional and Political Theory, East Asia


David Law is an internationally recognized expert in the comparative study of public law and judicial politics and a pioneer in the application of empirical social science methods to the study of legal texts. His scholarship combines qualitative fieldwork on foreign judicial systems, quantitative analysis of constitutions and treaties, and regional expertise on Asia. His work has been featured in a variety of media around the world, including the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Globe and Mail (Canada), the Asahi Shimbun (Japan), and the Chosun Ilbo (Korea), and has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and Romanian.

He holds the Sir Y.K. Pao Chair in Public Law at the University of Hong Kong and, prior to joining the UCI faculty, was the Charles Nagel Chair of Constitutional Law and Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. He has also taught at UCSD (in the political science department) and the University of San Diego (in the law school); Keio University (as a Hitachi Fellow); National Taiwan University (as a Fulbright Scholar); Seoul National University; Universidad Externado de Colombia; Georgetown University Law Center; and Princeton University (as the Martin and Kathleen Crane Fellow in Law and Public Affairs).

Professor Law received his B.A. in public policy and his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and his B.C.L. in European and Comparative Law from the University of Oxford. He clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and practiced law at Munger Tolles & Olson LLP in Los Angeles before entering academia. Born and raised in western Canada, he is a native Mandarin speaker.

Forthcoming books:

  • Constitutionalism in Context (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2019).
  • The Oxford Handbook of Constitutional Law in Asia (co-edited with Holning Lau & Alex Schwartz) (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2020).
  • Research Methods in Constitutional Law: A Handbook (co-edited with Malcolm Langford) (Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming 2020).
  • Constituciones aparentes (with Mila Versteeg; Maria José Viana trans.) (Bogotá: Universidad Externado de Colombia, 2018) (second printing).
  • Nihon no saikosai wo kaibou suru [The Japanese Supreme Court and Judicial Review] (Shin-ichi Nishikawa trans.) (Tokyo: Gendaijinbunsha, 2013) (2d printing).

Recent published articles:

  • “The Global Language of Human Rights: A Computational Linguistic Analysis,” 12 Law & Ethics of Human Rights 111 (2018) (peer-reviewed).
  • “Alternatives to Liberal Constitutional Democracy,” 76 Maryland Law Review ­­223 (2017) . Translated into Spanish and reprinted in 51 Revista Derecho y Sociedad 223 (2018).
  • “Constitutional Archetypes,” 95 Texas Law Review 153 (2016).
  • “Judicial Comparativism and Judicial Diplomacy,” 163 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 927 (2015).
  • July 2019:
    Advancing Equal Rights Conference (organized by UCLA), Boschendal, South Africa
  • July 2019:
    PL4J (Public Law in 4 Jurisdictions) Conference, University of the Witwitersrand, South Africa
  • July 2019:
    International Society of Constitutional Law (ICON-S) Annual Meeting, Santiago, Chile
  • May-June 2019:
    Law and Society Association, Annual Meeting, Washington DC
  • May 2019:
    Conference on Constitutionalism and Effective Governance, Harvard Law School
  • Feb. 2019:
    Harper’s Magazine Forum on Constitutional Amendment, NYU Law School, Feb 2019 (edited version of discussion to appear in Harper’s print edition).
  • Oct. 18, 2018:
    “El constitucionalismo sin constitución” (plenary address). XIX Jornadas de Derecho Constitucional, Universidad Externado de Colombia, Bogotà, Colombia
  • Oct. 16, 2018:
    “The Global Language of Human Rights” (invited lecture), Constitutional Court of Colombia