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J.B. Ruhl

David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of 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, and also studies the legal industry and legal technology. He was named director of Vanderbilt's Program on Law and Innovation in 2014 and serves as the Co-director of the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program.  Before he joined Vanderbilt’s law faculty as the David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair 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 peer-reviewed scientific journals. His works have been selected by peers as among the best law review articles in the field of environmental law ten times from 1989 to 2016. Over the course of his career, he has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, George Washington University Law School, 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 Permit Power Revisited: The Theory and Practice of Regulatory Permits in the Administrative State,” 62 Duke Law Journal 975 (2014) (with E. Biber)
    Full Text | SSRN | WWW
  • "Managing Systemic Risk in Legal Systems," 89 Indiana Law Journal 559 (2014)
    Full Text | SSRN | PDF
  • "Climate Change Meets the Law of the Horse," 62 Duke Law Journal 975 (2013)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Designing Administrative Law for Adaptive Management," 67 Vanderbilt Law Review 1 (2014) (with R. Craig) Selected for reprinting in the 2015 Land Use and Environment Law Review.
    Full Text | SSRN | PDF
  • "An Empirical Assessment of Climate Change in the Courts: A New Jurisprudence or Business as Usual?" 64 Florida Law Review 15 (2012) (with D. Markel). Selected for reprinting in 2013 Land Use and Environment Law Review.
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "The Political Economy of Climate Change Winners," 97 Minnesota Law Review 206 (2012)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "The Endangered Species Act’s Fall from Grace in the Supreme Court," 36 Harvard Environmental Law Review 487 (2012)
    Full Text | SSRN
  • "Gaming the Past: The Theory and Practice of Historic Baselines in the Administrative State," 64 Vanderbilt Law Review 1 (2011) (with J. Salzman). Selected for reprinting in 2012 Land Use and Environment Law Review.
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Climate Change, Dead Zones, and Massive Problems in the Administrative State: Guidelines for Whittling Away," 98 California Law Review 59 (2010) (with J. Salzman). Selected for reprinting in 2011 Land Use and Environment Law Review.
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN
  • "Climate Change and the Endangered Species Act: Building Bridges to the No-Analog Future," 88 Boston University Law Review 1 (2008). Selected for reprinting in 2009 Land Use and Environment Law Review.
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN