Louis Lowenstein

Simon H. Rifkind Professor Emeritus of Finance and Law

Columbia Law School mourns the loss of our esteemed colleague, distinguished alumnus, and generous friend, Louis Lowenstein '53 LL.B., who died on April 18, 2009. He will remain ingrained in our history and our hearts.

Louis Lowenstein, the Simon H. Rifkind Professor Emeritus of Finance and Law, was an eminent scholar, professor, and philanthropist who began his illustrious career as a corporate lawyer in New York and became one of the country’s most influential critics of financial misconduct on Wall Street.

He was a superb teacher and scholar, a leading expert on corporate governance, and an ardent believer in public service. Lowenstein was a graduate of the college, Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School, and he returned to his alma mater in 1976 as a lecturer-in-law and in 1980 joined the Columbia Law School faculty.

"Lou was the gold standard, a truly magnificent colleague and friend," said David M. Schizer, Dean and the Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law, in an email to the Columbia Law School community. "We will miss his wisdom, insight, decency, and compassion."

Lowenstein was a highly influential scholar and teacher who mentored generations of Law School students, both as a beloved professor and also as chair of the board of directors of the Columbia Law Review. His Law Review experience began in the early 1950s, when he was editor-in-chief of the publication. He taught courses on corporations, corporate finance, and accounting.

Areas of Scholarship

  • Corporations
  • Corporate Finance
  • Accounting


  • B.S., Columbia University, 1947
  • LL.B., Columbia Law School, 1953


Louis Lowenstein distinguished himself as a student at Columbia Law School as Editor-in-Chief of the Columbia Law Review. After graduation in 1953, he clerked for Judge Stanley H. Fuld of the New York Court of Appeals.

For for twenty-four years, Louis Lowenstein practiced law in New York, specializing in corporate and securities transactions. He was also a founder of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel.

In 1976, Professor Lowenstein returned to Columbia Law School as Lecturer-in-Law. In 1978, he was called to serve as president of Supermarkets General Corporation. He joined the Columbia Law Faculty in 1980.

His counsel was sought far beyond the halls of Columbia Law School and he served as Director of the Institutional Investment Project from 1988-96. He also served as a member of the Panel on Audit Effectiveness, created at the request of the SEC, from1998 to 2000.

Professor Lowenstein was an ardent believer in public interest work and served as Chairman of the Coalition for the Homeless.

Publications (Include)

  • Knights, Raiders, and Targets: The Impact of the Hostile Takeover (coed. and contributor, 1988);
  • What's Wrong with Wall Street: Short Term Gain and the Absentee Shareholder (1988);
  • Sense and Nonsense in Corporate Finance (1991);
  • The Investor's Dilemma: How Mutual Funds are Betraying Your Trust and What To Do About It (2008)