Katharina Pistor

Katharina Pistor

  • Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law

J.S.D., University of Munich, Faculty of Law, 1998
M.P.A., Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government, 1994
Assessor, State of Hamburg, Second Juridical State Exam, 1992
LL.M., University of London, 1989
J.D., University of Freiburg, First Juridical State Exam, 1988

Areas of Specialty

Comparative Law
Comparative Corporate Law and Governance
Governing Financial Systems
Law and Development

Katharina Pistor is a leading scholar and writer on corporate governance, money and finance, property rights, and comparative law and legal institutions.

She is the author or co-author of nine books. Her most recent book, The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality, examines how assets such as land, private debt, business organizations, or knowledge are transformed into capital through contract law, property rights, collateral law, and trust, corporate, and bankruptcy law. The Code of Capital was named one of the best books of 2019 by the Financial Times and Business Insider. 

Pistor publishes widely in legal and social science journals. In her essay “From Territorial to Monetary Sovereignty” in the Journal on Theoretical Inquiries in Law (2017), she argued that the rise of a global money system means a new definition of sovereignty: the control of money. She has served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Comparative Law, Columbia Journal of European Law, European Business Organization Law Review, and Journal of Institutional Economics. 

Pistor is a prominent commentator on cryptocurrency and has testified before Congress on the lack of regulatory oversight of proposed international cryptocurrencies. As the director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation, Pistor directs the center’s work to develop research projects and organize conferences to examine ways in which law shapes global relations and how they, in turn, transform the law. 

Before joining Columbia Law School in 2001, Pistor held teaching and research positions at Harvard Law School, the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Law in Hamburg. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, New York University School of Law, Frankfurt University, London School of Economics, and Oxford University. 

She is a research associate with the Centre for Economic Policy Research, and she has served as principal investigator of the Global Finance and Law Initiative (2011–2013). Pistor was a member of the board of directors (2011–2014) and a fellow (2019) of the European Corporate Governance Institute. In 2015, she was elected a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and in 2021, she was elected a member of the European Academy of Sciences.

In 2012 she was co-recipient (with Martin Hellwig) of the Max Planck Research Award on international financial regulation, and in 2014, she received the Allen & Overy Prize for best working paper on law of the European Corporation Governance Institute. She is also the recipient of research grants by the Institute for New Economic Thinking and the National Science Foundation.


  • Law in the Time of COVID-19,” Columbia Law School, 2020
  • Rule by Data: The End of Markets?” in Law & Contemporary Problems, 2020
  • “Regulatory Capabilities” (with Fabrizio Cafaggi) in Journal of Regulation and Governance, 2015
  • “Legal Institutionalism: Capitalism and the Constitutive Role of Law” (with Simon Deakin, David Gindis, Geoffrey Hodgson, and Kainan Huang) in Journal of Comparative Economics, 2014
  • “Law in Finance” (Editor’s introduction to Special Issue with same title) in Journal of Comparative Economics, 2013
  • “A Legal Theory of Global Finance” in Journal of Comparative Economics, 2013
  • “Governing Interdependent Financial Systems: Lessons from the Vienna Initiative” in Journal of Globalization and Development, 2011
  • “Global Network Finance: Institutional Innovation in the Global Market Place” in Journal of Comparative Economics, 2009
  • “How Law Affects Lending” (with Rainer Haselmann and Vikrant Vig) in Review of Financial Studies, 2009
  • “Incomplete of Law” (with Chenggang Xu) in New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, 2003
  • “Economic Development, Legality, and the Transplant Effect” (with Dan Berkowitz and Jean-François Richard) in European Economic Review, 2003
  • Governing Access to Essential Resources (with Olivier De Schutter, eds.), Columbia University Press, 2015

Honors and Awards

Allen & Overy Prize


Max Planck Research Award


Remarks and Testimony

  • “The Legal Code of Capital: Liquidity and Globalization,” Berlin (Germany) Inauguration Lecture, delivered as new member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science, February, 2016
  • Dieter Heremans Fund Lecture in Law and Economics, February, 2016
  •  “The Legal Hierarchy of Global Money,” Keynote Lecture, delivered to the Conference on the Political Economy of Financial Regulation at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, June 2016
  •  “The Law, Finance and the Abyss,” Keynote Lecture, delivered to the London School of Economics (LSE), March, 2015 
  • Address on the Legal Theory of Finance, delivered to the European Corporate Governance Institute, Brussels, Belgium, to acknowledge Allen & Overy Prize (2014), April, 2014 
  • “Law and Finance: New Directions,” Keynote Address, delivered to the University of Frankfurt, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the university’s founding, April, 2014
  • “The Dialectics of Law & Capitalism,” Keynote Lecture, delivered to the World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research (WINIR), September, 2014

Activities and Affiliations

  • President, World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research, 2014–present
  • Member, Board of Supervisors, Italian Academy, Columbia University, 2013–present 
  • Research Associate, Center of Economic Policy Research (CEPR), London, 2005–present
  • Fellow, European Corporate Governance Institute, 2003–present
  • Member, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science, 2015

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