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J.B. Ruhl

David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair in Law
Director, Program on Law and Innovation
Co-director, Energy, Environment and Land Use Program

J.B. Ruhl is an expert in environmental, natural resources and property law, focusing his research on climate change adaptation, ecosystem services and adaptive governance. He was named director of Vanderbilt's Program on Law and Innovation in 2014 and co-directs the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program.  Before he joined Vanderbilt’s law faculty as a David Daniels Allen Distinguished Professor of Law in 2011, he was the Matthews & Hawkins Professor of Property at the Florida State University College of Law, where he had taught since 1999. His influential scholarly articles relating to climate change, the Endangered Species Act, ecosystems, governance, and other environmental and natural resources law issues have appeared in the California, Duke, Georgetown, Stanford and Vanderbilt law reviews, the environmental law journals at several top law schools and leading peer-reviewed scientific journals. His works have been selected by peers as among the best law review articles in the field of environmental law 12 times from 1989 to 2021. Over the course of his career, he has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and George Washington University Law School and has taught in summer terms at the University of Texas Law School, Vermont Law School, and Lewis and Clark College of Law. He began his academic career at the Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he taught from 1994 to 1999 and earned his Ph.D. in geography. Before entering the academy, he was a partner with Fulbright & Jaworski (now Norton Rose Fulbright) in Austin, Texas, where he also taught on the adjunct faculty of the University of Texas School of Law.

Research Interests

Ecosystem services policy, climate change adaptation, endangered species and wetlands protection, complex adaptive systems theory, adaptive ecosystem management, growth management, and related environmental, natural resources and land-use fields, legal industry and legal technology


Representative Publications

  • "The Roman Public Trust Doctrine—What Was It, and Does It Support an Atmospheric Trust?," 41 Ecology Law Quarterly 117 (2020) (with T. McGinn)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Adaptive Management for Ecosystem Services at the Wildland-Urban Interface," 14 International Journal of the Commons 611 (2020) (with R. Craig)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Designing Law to Enable Adaptive Governance of Modern Wicked Problems," 73 Vanderbilt Law Review 1687 (2020) (with B. Cosens (lead author), N. Soininen, and L. Gunderson)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "What Happens When the Green New Deal Meets the Old Green Laws?," 44 Vermont Law Review 693 (2020)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Governing Cascade Failures in Social-Ecological-Technological Systems: Framing Context Strategies, and Challenges," 22 Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law 407 (2020)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Ecosystem Services and Federal Public Lands: A Quiet Revolution in Natural Resources Management," 91 University of Colorado Law Review 677 (2020) (with J. Salzman)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Topic Modeling the President," 86 George Washington Law Review 1243 (2018) (with J. Nay and J. Gilligan)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Presidential Exit," 67 Duke Law Journal 1729 (2018) (with J. Salzman)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Regulating Business Innovation as Policy Disruption," 70 Vanderbilt Law Review 1561 (2017) (with E. Biber, J. Salzman and S. Light)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "The Production Function of the Regulatory State," 102 Minnesota Law Review (2017) (with J. Nash & J. Salzman)
    Full Text | SSRN