Katharina Pistor

Katharina Pistor is the Michael I. Sovern Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School. 

She presented her paper "Banking Reform in the Chinese Mirror" at the 2009 CESI.

Katharina Pistor joined Columbia Law School in 2001 after having previously taught at the Kennedy School of Government and research positions at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany, and the Harvard Institute for International Development. She teaches the basic course in (US) corporate law, the law of European business organizations and financial markets, as well as courses on the development of legal institutions in transition economies and emerging markets. Jointly with Prof. Curtis Milhaupt she developed a new course on “law and capitalism,” which combines a survey of key literatures on the topic with detailed case studies of corporate governance scandals around the world. Students organized in teams conduct “institutional autopsies” of such scandals to uncover the underlying governance structures in various countries, such as China, Germany, Korea, Japan, Russia, and the United States. She is currently in the process of developing additional courses with the aim of integrating insights gained from comparative institutional analyses and practical experience from firms, financial institutions, and legal advisors in international practice into the law school curriculum. Other teaching engagements include a visiting professorship at the University of Pennsylvania Law School (spring 2004), a summer course at the Gerzensee Institute (Switzerland) on the law and economics of European integration and enlargement (summer, 2003), and an intensive course in comparative corporate law at the Institute for Law and Finance at Frankfurt University (Germany) (winter, 2004/05). Professor Pistor will participate in the new course offered at Columbia University in the spring semester 2005 on “Multi-Disciplinary Approaches to Development,” organized and chaired by Professor Stiglitz. Professor PistorÂ’s research activities include comparative research on the governance structures of firms and financial markets; the evolution of law; and the impact of legal transplants on the efficacy of legal institutions in the law receiving countries. Her research also includes theoretical work on lawmaking and law enforcement institutions. Her work is strongly interdisciplinary in nature as evidenced by numerous joint projects with economists, including a joint research project with Daniel Berkowitz and Jean-Francois Richard on the “transplant effect,” which analyses the impact of legal transplants on the efficacy of legal institutions using data from 49 transition economies (European Economic Review, 2000); a joint research project with Martin Raiser and Stanislav Gelfer under the auspices of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on “law and finance in transition economies,” which uses regression analyses to assess the role of formal legal change for the development of equity and credit markets in 24 transition economies (Economics of Transition, 2000); and a joint research project with Daniel Berkowitz and Johannes Moenius on “Legal Institutions and International Trade Flows” (University of Michigan International Review of Law, 2005). Much of Professor Pistor’s comparative work focuses on transition economies and emerging markets. She has worked extensively on privatization in Russia and Eastern Europe and on the development of law and legal institutions in these countries during the first decade of transition. In addition, Pistor has conducted extensive comparative legal research on emerging markets in Asia using case study methodology, including a research project together with Jeffrey Sachs, Hal Scott, and Philip Wellons sponsored by the Asian Development Bank on the Role of Law and Legal Institutions in Asian Economic Development (1960-1995), which comprised 6 jurisdictions (China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan) and involved interdisciplinary research teams from each of these countries (Oxford University Press, 1999). More recently, she has co-authored work on the governance of Chinese and Russian stock market development (with Chenggang Xu; American Review of Law and Economics, 2005). In addition to her conceptual work on legal transplants, legal standardization, and the evolution of law in legal origins vs. legal transplants (with Yoram Keinan, Jan Kleinheisterkamp and Mark West, University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, 2002; Journal of Comparative Economics, 2003), Pistor together with Chenggang Xu have developed a conceptual framework for assessing the conditions for effective law enforcement, the incomplete law theory. They use formal models as well as historical accounts of financial market development to explain the emergence of regulators and to analyze the trade-offs between courts and regulators as key law enforcement institutions (Journal of International Law and Policy, 2003). Professor Pistor’s inter-disciplinary and comparative approach to the analysis of law and legal institutions has attracted students to conduct independent research under her supervision or to participate in her own research projects. The latter include projects on China's emerging governance structure for stock markets, creditor rights in China, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Russia, and case studies on legal change related to the international trade of goods in Indonesia and other emerging markets. Several former students of hers now work in non-governmental organizations helping build legal institutions in Afghanistan, Moldova, and Romania, while others have joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development or private firms with offices abroad. Pistor has also supervised numerous LLM students as well as several doctoral at Columbia Law School and Columbia Business School. She has co-organized several events at Columbia Law School that are firmly grounded in her inter-disciplinary approach. In the spring of 2003, she co-organized with Professor George Bermann a conference on “Law and Governance in an Enlarged European Union”, which brought together academics in law, economics, and political sciences from the US, Eastern and Western Europe (Hart Publishers, 2004). In April of 2004, she co-organized with Professor Jeffrey Gordon the first interdisciplinary workshop on “Law, Finance, and Political Economy” at Columbia Law School. The workshop brought key contributors to the rapidly developing empirical literature in economics on law and economic development to Columbia Law School. Their work was analyzed and commented on by legal specialists in related fields. In addition, together with Tamara Lothian she organized a panel of legal practitioners at the first Apel conference on Foreign Direct Investment (spring 2003). They discussed the learning experience of their firms and/or clients as foreign investors in different host environments (Columbia Transnational Law Journal, 2003). Professor Pistor has presented her work at numerous invited workshops, seminars, and conferences, including at other major US law schools (most recently at Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Ann Arbor Law School); research institutions and law schools in Europe (most recently in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn). She has been an active participant at the annual meeting of the American Society for Law and Economics (as speaker in 2004; as chair of two panels on comparative law in Toronto, 2003; and as speaker in 2002); at the annual conference on transition economics (in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2004, and in Riga, Latvia, in 2003); and has presented at the International Conference on Financial Market Development in Transition Economies and Emerging Markets in Hyderabad, India in 2003. Professor Pistor is a member of the Comparative Law and Economics Forum (CLEF), a network of scholars from various countries; she serves as co-editor on the European Business Organization Law Review and co-edits with Professor Kevin Davis of NYU Law School the ssrn.com abstract journal on Law, Institutions and Development.

Columbia University Law School
Michael I. Sovern Professor of Law