Thomas Merrill is the Charles Evans Hughes Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He is a preeminent property law scholar.
Merrill served as the deputy solicitor general for the Department of Justice in the late 1980s. For several years, he worked for the firm Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood in Chicago. He has also worked as an investment analyst for the National Bank of Detroit from 1973 to 1974.
Merrill has previously taught at Northwestern Law School from 1981 to 2003 and at Yale Law School from 2008 to 2010. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He clerked for the Honorable David L. Bazelon, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and for the Honorable Harry A. Blackmun on the Supreme Court.
Merrill writes widely in the fields of property and administrative law. In property, he has authored—with Henry Smith of Harvard University—a series of articles relating to the structure of property rights to information costs in “Optimal Standardization in the Law of Property: The Numerus Clausus Principle,” Yale Law Journal, 2000. He also wrote a leading casebook, Property: Principles and Policies, 2012, along with a writing about a series of studies with Joseph Kearney of Marquette on the role of public property rights in the development of the Chicago lakefront, “The Origins of the American Public Trust Doctrine: What Really Happened in Illinois Central,” University of Chicago Law Review, 2004.
His variety variety of writings are focused on constitutional property. In administrative law, he has written a number of pieces about the history of administrative law and about judicial review of agency interpretations of law.
Merrill has served as a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago Law School and as the Ewald Visiting Professor of Law at University of Virginia.
He graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was articles editor of the Law Review in 1977. In 1973, he graduated from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and Grinnell College in 1971.