Avery Katz

Avery W. Katz

  • Milton Handler Professor of Law and Reuben Mark Professor of Organizational Character

Ph.D., Harvard University, 1986
J.D., Harvard University, 1985
M.A., Harvard University, 1983
B.A., University of Michigan, 1980

Areas of Specialty

Commercial Law
Secured Transactions
Payment Systems

A widely respected authority on contracts law, Avery W. Katz has produced scholarship on topics ranging from option contracts to contractual incompleteness, contract theory, and fee shifting. He has taught courses including Contracts, Commercial Transactions, Deals, Payment Systems, Sales Transactions: Domestic and International, Secured Transactions, and Economic Reasoning and the Law.

Earlier in his career, Katz held several professorships at the University of Michigan: assistant professor of economics, assistant professor of law, and professor of law. He joined Georgetown University Law Center as professor of law and director of the John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics. Later, Katz served as an Olin Faculty Research fellow at Yale University, a visiting professor of law at Georgetown in 1992 and 1994, and a visiting professor of law at Columbia Law School in 1998.

Katz joined the Law School faculty full-time in 2000 and served as vice dean for curriculum for 12 years, from 2006 to 2018. In this role, Katz worked closely in partnership with faculty to introduce innovative new courses and to strengthen the adjunct instructors program, including recruiting hundreds of instructors and mentoring them in the classroom. 

He served as chair of the section on law and economics at the American Association of Law Schools (2001), Scholar in Residence at the New York University School of Law (2004), editor of the International Review of Law and Economics (2003 to 2013), and member of the board of directors of the American Law and Economics Association (2003 to 2006). Katz currently sits on the advisory board for Contracts and Commercial Law Abstracts.


  • “The Economics of Form and Substance in Contract Interpretation,” Columbia Law Review, 2004
  • “The Option Element in Contracting,” Virginia Law Review, 2004
  • “Indemnity of Legal Fees,” (B. Bouckaert and G. DeGeest, ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, 2000
  • “Informality as a Bilateral Assurance Mechanism,” Michigan Law Review, 2000
  • “An Economic Analysis of the Guaranty Contract,” University of Chicago Law Review, 1999
  • Foundations of the Economic Approach to Law, Foundation Press, 1998
  • “Standard Form Contracts” and “Contract Formation and Interpretation,” (P. Newman, ed.), New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics and the Law, 1998
  • “The Economics of Promissory Estoppel in Preliminary Negotiations,” Yale Law Journal, 1996
  • “Taking Private Ordering Seriously,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 1996
  • “Positivism and the Separation of Law and Economics,” Michigan Law Review, 1996

News and Press

Will Lawsuits Help College Students Get Coronavirus Refunds?” Forbes, May 5, 2020

Law School students can request to postpone finals after non-indictments in Eric Garner, Michael Brown cases,” Columbia Spectator