Michael I. Sovern
Chancellor Kent Professor of Law; President Emeritus of the University
Areas of Expertise
- Legal methods
- Administrative law
- Labor law
- Conflict of laws
- Creditors' remedies
- B.A., Columbia, 1953; LL.B., 1955; LL.D., 1980
- LL.D., University of Southern California, 1989
- D.Phil., Tel Aviv University, 1982
Commendatore in the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy, 1991. Recipient, Citizens Union Civic Leadership Award, 1993. Columbia Law School Medal for Excellence, 1997. Town Hall Friend of the Arts Award, 2001. Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star from Japan, 2004.
After two years on the faculty at the University of Minnesota Law School, joined the Columbia faculty in 1957. Served as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Columbia University, 1968-69; dean of the School of Law, 1970-79; executive vice president for academic affairs and provost of the University, 1979-80; president of the University, 1980-93.
Former arbitrator for disputes between numerous private companies and public agencies and the unions representing their employees; mediator in negotiations between the New York Transit Authority and the Transport Workers Union, as well as between New York City and its firefighters and policemen; author-moderator, WNBC-TV series Due Process for the Accused; host, WNET-TV series, Leading Questions; special counsel, New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Industrial and Labor Conditions; special counsel, Governor of New Jersey; consultant on law to Time magazine; and consultant to the Ford Foundation. Member, Pulitzer Prize Board and NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Founding member of the board of directors of Mobilization for Youth's Legal Services Unit; the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund; the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund; and Helsinki Watch. Chairman, New York City Charter Revision Commission, 1982-83. Chairman, State-City (New York) Commission on Integrity in Government, 1986.
Current member, board of directors of the Asian Cultural Council; WNET/13; and other corporate and nonprofit organizations. Member, Council on Foreign Relations; American Law Institute; American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and the American Philosophical Society. Honorary Chairman, Japan Society. Chairman, American Academy in Rome. President, Shubert Foundation. Recently became chairman of Sotheby's. Has taught legal methods, torts, administrative law, evidence, labor law, conflict of laws, and creditors' remedies.
Publications include Legal Restraints on Racial Discrimination in Employment, Of Boundless Domains, and Cases and Materials on Law and Poverty (co-author).