Professor Nora Freeman Engstrom is a nationally recognized expert in both tort law and legal ethics. In her far-ranging scholarship, she explores the day-to-day operation of the tort system, including the system’s interaction with alternative compensation mechanisms, such as no-fault automobile insurance and the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Professor Engstrom has also written extensively on trial practice, complex litigation (including MDLs), attorney advertising, and law firms she calls “settlement mills”—high-volume personal injury law practices that heavily advertise and mass-produce the resolution of claims.
More recent projects focus on access to justice—including how to make the civil justice system easier for both represented and self-represented individuals to navigate. She is also studying what she calls the information-forcing function of tort law: the notion that tort law promotes safety, not only through the much-discussed path of cost internalization, but also by bringing previously-secret information to light.
Professor Engstrom co-directs the Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession, the premier academic center seeking to make the civil justice system more transparent, accessible, and equitable. She is also deeply involved in the American Law Institute (ALI), the country’s leading independent organization that seeks to clarify, modernize, and improve the law. For the ALI, she serves as a Reporter for the Third Restatement of Torts: Miscellaneous Provisions, a Reporter for the Third Restatement of Torts: Medical Malpractice, and as an Adviser to the Third Restatement of Torts: Remedies. In 2022, the ALI awarded her the R. Ammi Cutter Reporter’s Chair for her efforts, one of the highest honors that organization bestows.
Beyond that, Professor Engstrom co-authors a leading professional responsibility casebook, Legal Ethics (with Deborah Rhode, David Luban, and Scott Cummings), as well as the classic torts casebook, Tort Law and Alternatives (with Marc Franklin, Robert Rabin, Michael Green, and Mark Geistfeld). Her award-winning scholarly work has appeared in a wide array of law journals, including the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the NYU Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Georgetown Law Journal, and the Michigan Law Review, among many others.
Professor Engstrom is an elected member of the ALI, a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and the Chair of the Section on Torts and Compensation Systems of the AALS. She serves on the Editorial Board of Foundation Press and, from 2016-2018, served as Stanford Law School’s Associate Dean for Curriculum. She also, on occasion, offers expert assistance to litigants, law firms, and governmental actors, primarily on questions of legal ethics. Two recent matters including assisting prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and assisting the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Before joining Stanford’s faculty in 2009, Professor Engstrom was a Research Dean’s Scholar at Georgetown University Law Center and an associate at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. She was also a law clerk to Judge Merrick B. Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Before that, she worked at the U.S. Department of Justice, focusing on terrorism and national security issues; for that work, she was awarded the Attorney General’s Award for superior service. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 1997, summa cum laude, and from Stanford Law School in 2002, with Distinction and as a member of Order of the Coif.