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Michael A. Heller

Lawrence A. Wien Professor of Real Estate Law

Michael A. Heller

Lawrence A. Wien Professor of Real Estate Law

Michael Heller is Lawrence A. Wien Professor of Real Estate Law at Columbia Law School and has served as the school’s vice dean for intellectual life.  He writes and teaches on private law theory, with a focus on property, contract, and land use.

Heller has authored several books, including The Choice Theory of Contracts (Intro available on SSRN) (Cambridge University Press, 2017) (with Hanoch Dagan) and The Gridlock Economy: How Too Much Ownership Wrecks Markets, Stops Innovation, and Costs Lives (Intro available on SSRN) (Basic Books, 2008).  He is the editor of the two-volume set Commons and Anticommons (Elgar, 2009), and co-editor of Corporate Governance Lessons from Transition Economy Reforms (Princeton University Press, 2006) (with Merritt Fox).  He has published dozens of articles on legal theory, including The Tragedy of the Anticommons (Harvard Law Review, 1998).

Prior to joining the Columbia faculty in 2002, Heller taught at the University of Michigan Law School where he received the L. Hart Wright Award for excellence in teaching.  Heller has been a visiting law professor at UCLA and NYU; visiting lecturer at Yale Law School; fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; and term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  In the early 1990s, Heller worked at the World Bank on post-socialist legal transition. He clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

  • J.D., Stanford Law School, 1989
  • A.B., Harvard University, 1985
Areas of Expertise
  • Private Law Theory
  • Property
  • Contracts
  • Land Use
  • Law and Development

Professor Heller is currently working on Mine: How the Hidden Rules of Ownership Control Our Lives (Doubleday/Knopf, forthcoming 2021, with Jim Salzman).  He also has a series of articles on contract theory in draft with Hanoch Dagan, now available on SSRN.


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Selected Articles - Click here for SSRN

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Land Use