John Goldberg appointed to the Goldston chair at HLS (video)

Harvard Law School Professor John C.P. Goldberg has been appointed to the Eli Goldston Professorship of Law.

Goldberg, an expert in tort law, tort theory and political philosophy, joined HLS as a tenured faculty member in 2008. Previously, he was Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research at Vanderbilt University.

“John Goldberg wonderfully fulfills Eli Goldston’s hope that great talents would tackle and resolve human problems,” said HLS Dean Martha Minow. “John combines the commitment to addressing social need with the imagination and rigor of both law and philosophy. His extraordinary teaching and his crucial scholarship address tort and compensation systems, legal education, and the resources of private law with equal devotion to rigor and social betterment.”

Said Goldberg: “I’m greatly honored to receive this chair. In his own professional life, Eli Goldston melded extraordinary business acumen with a deep commitment to fairness and social responsibility. I hope that I can honor his legacy in studying how law balances liberty of action against accountability for wrongdoing.”

While at HLS, Goldberg has worked closely with Professor Henry Smith to develop the Program on the Foundations of Private Law. In connection with the program, he has regularly co-taught with Professor Smith the Private Law Workshop,  in which students discuss with leading scholars cutting-edge research in torts, property, contracts, restitution and other subjects. This past year, Goldberg served as the faculty chair for a Harvard Law Review symposium on “The New Private Law.”

Goldberg has taught an unusually broad array of first-year and upper-level courses, including Civil Procedure, Contracts, Criminal Law and Torts. He has consistently been recognized for excellence in the classroom, winning four teaching prizes at Vanderbilt.

In 2010, he was tapped by Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility that was set up in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, to analyze the scope of legal liability for economic losses resulting from the spill. With the assistance of five HLS students, Goldberg provided a detailed report addressing liability under state and federal law that served as a guide for Fund payouts.

Goldberg has published dozens of scholarly articles on torts and related topics in leading journals, including the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal and the Stanford Law Review. He is co-author of “The Oxford Introductions to U.S. Law: Torts” (2010, with Benjamin C. Zipursky). This year saw the publication of the third edition of his torts casebook, “Tort Law: Responsibilities and Redress” (with Anthony J. Sebok and Benjamin C. Zipursky). He also recently co-authored a book that aims to help students navigate the first year of law school, entitled “Open Book: Succeeding on Exams From the First Day of Law School” (2011, with Barry Friedman).

Goldberg serves on the editorial board of the law journal Legal Theory and is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Tort Law. He has been an active participant in the American Law Institute’s drafting of the Third Torts Restatement, and served as chair of the Torts and Compensation Systems section of the Association of American Law Schools.

After receiving his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1991, Goldberg clerked for District Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York and for Supreme Court Justice Byron White. He then practiced law at Hill and Barlow in Boston until joining the Vanderbilt faculty.

Goldberg received his B.A. from Wesleyan University. He also holds an M. Phil. in Politics from St. Antony’s College at Oxford University and an M.A. in Politics from Princeton University.

The Eli Goldston Professorship of Law is one of two professorships established through the bequest of Eli Goldston A.B. 1942, M.B.A. 1946, LL.B. 1949. Goldston, former chairman of Eastern Gas & Fuel Associates, sought to create chairs at Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School in order to “join their skills and commitments in teaching, research and course development … to improve social conditions through men and women trained and motivated in management and legal fields.” At HLS, he also established two funds, the Issachar J. Goldston Memorial Scholarship and the Gertrude R. Goldston Scholarship.

As a director and CEO of Eastern Gas, Goldston directed a large diversified energy corporation with 19 subsidiaries in the bituminous coal, coke, gas utility and river-ocean marine industries. He was also a director of the First National Bank of Boston; a director of the Boston University Medical Center; a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and a Visiting Fellow at the London University Graduate School of Business among numerous other titles. His service to education included memberships on the Visiting Committees of Harvard, MIT and Carnegie Mellon.

Goldston once said: “I don’t believe that business, alone, can solve our social problems. Neither do I believe it, alone, has caused them. But they’ll not get solved unless innovative businessmen, who sense a changing world and feel challenged, react in a fashion likely to produce profit as well as imaginative response to social need.”