New Faculty: Gregory Ablavsky
Left to right: Assistant Professor of Law Gregory Ablavsky, Professor of Law Alan O. Sykes, and Assistant Professor of Law Rabia Belt

This fall, the law school welcomes back Professor Alan O. Sykes, a legal scholar of international standing who is widely recognized as a creator of the relatively new academic discipline of international economic law, which, as its name suggests, covers the convergence of a host of international legal issues and economics.

“We are acutely aware of how central the movement of goods, capital, and labor is both to businesses and policymakers. Al was way ahead of the law school curve on the significance of globalization and the need to apply rigorous economic analysis to the study of cross-border transactions,” says Vice Dean and James C. Gaither Professor of Law Mark Kelman.

Sykes’ many contributions include the seminal casebook he co-authored in 1995, Legal Problems of International Economic Relations, now in its sixth edition, and Economic Foundations of International Law, which he co-authored with Eric Posner in 2013. The latter collects and builds on the first decade of scholarly work in the field and serves as an introduction and intellectual framework for both students and scholars.

He originally joined the SLS faculty in 2005 when then dean Larry Kramer wooed him away from the University of Chicago. Sykes brought his considerable experience, including 20 years on the Chicago faculty, to enrich and broaden the nascent interdisciplinary agenda that Kramer was in the process of launching.

Sykes spent seven years at SLS doing just that. He taught torts in addition to a variety of courses relating to his primary area of scholarship, including international trade law, international investment law, social science and international law, and various courses on the law, economics, and politics of international trade, co-taught with Stanford economists and political scientists. In 2010, he founded the law school’s LLM program in International Economic Law, Business & Policy (IELBP).

In 2012, Professor Sykes joined NYU School of Law. He liked being in a large law school and the Sykes family enjoyed living in New York. But ultimately, Stanford was a better fit. In 2014, he returned to SLS as a visitor, and this year he rejoined the faculty as a professor of law. “NYU was great, but I particularly like Stanford’s smaller classes because I get to know the students better,” he says. “Also, at Stanford I have a greater number of colleagues across the university with whom I can collaborate.”

Sykes has picked up pretty much where he left off. As a visitor in 2014-2015, he once again taught torts and he plans to continue doing so each fall as long as the law school needs it. He also will teach international trade and will co-teach a seminar in international investment law during the winter quarter with Jonathan Greenberg, JD ’84, an SLS scholar-in-residence and lecturer in law. And, in the fall of 2016, he plans to restart the IELBP program, which has been inactive since his departure.

Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean M. Elizabeth Magill is delighted that Sykes has decided to return: “Al Sykes is a world-class scholar who pioneered the field of international economic law, a talented and devoted teacher and mentor to his students, and a superb colleague in every respect. We are thrilled he has come home to Stanford.” SL