Emily Kadens

Professor of Law


Professor Kadens is a legal historian with a particular focus on the medieval and early modern history of commercial law and practice. She has a JD from the University of Chicago and a PhD in medieval history from Princeton. She is currently working on a book on the history of commercial cheating in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England using the archives of the English courts of equity. She has also written extensively on how custom does—or does not—function as law, the concept of the law merchant, and the early history of English bankruptcy. Her Brooklyn Law Review article on the history of judicial education in England won the 2010 Sutherland Prize from the American Society of Legal Historians for the best paper in English legal history; her Columbia Law Review case study of an early seventeenth-century fraud and the limits of reputation to police the market was runner up for the 2020 Sutherland Prize; and her article on an early eighteenth-century bankruptcy scam won the 2011 Editors' Prize from the American Bankruptcy Law Journal. Her other work has been published in such journals as the Duke Law Journal, the Texas Law Review, the Iowa Law Review, the Northwestern Law Review, and the Journal of Legal Analysis. In 2022, Kadens is a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She has also been a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress and received the Richard & Diane Cummins Legal History Research Grant at George Washington University Law School. Kadens has twice won the Best 1L Professor award at Northwestern. Kadens teaches Contracts, Torts, Complex Commercial Contracting, and Legal History. She has written original, innovative teaching material for all of these courses. Prior to coming to Northwestern, Kadens was the Baker and Botts Professor in Law at the University of Texas at Austin, and she clerked for the Honorable Danny J. Boggs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Areas of Expertise

  • Contracts/Torts
  • English and European Legal History

Selected Publications

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  • JD, University of Chicago
  • PhD, Princeton University
  • MA, Princeton University
  • Diplôme, Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
  • MA, University of Chicago
  • BA, University of Chicago

Prior Appointments

  • William G. and Virginia K. Karnes Research Professor of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
  • Professor of Law, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
  • Visiting Professor of Law, Cornell University
  • Visiting Professor of Law, Georgetown University
  • Baker and Botts Professor in Law, University of Texas
  • Assistant Professor of Law, University of Texas

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