Lawrence B. Solum

  • William L. Matheson and Robert M. Morgenthau Distinguished Professor of Law
  • Douglas D. Drysdale Research Professor of Law

Lawrence B. Solum is an internationally recognized legal theorist who works in constitutional theory, procedure and the philosophy of law. Solum contributes to debates in constitutional theory and normative legal theory. He is especially interested in the intersection of law with the philosophy of language and with moral and political philosophy. His series of articles on constitutional originalism have shaped contemporary thinking about the great debate between originalism and constitutional theory. Solum’s original theory of the fundamental nature and purpose of law, “Virtue Jurisprudence,” has been debated and discussed in Asia, Europe and North America. He also works on problems of law and technology, including internet governance, copyright policy and patent law. His pathbreaking article, “Legal Personhood for Artificial Intelligences,” published in the early 1990s, is widely acknowledged as far ahead of its time.

Solum received his J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and received his B.A. with highest departmental honors in philosophy from the University of California at Los Angeles. While at Harvard, he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After graduation, he worked for the law firm of Cravath, Swaine, and Moore in New York, and then clerked for Judge William A. Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Prior to joining the UVA Law faculty in 2020, he was a member of the faculty at the Georgetown University Law Center, the University of Illinois, the University of San Diego and Loyola Marymount University, and visited at Boston University and the University of Southern California. He regularly teaches Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law. His other teaching includes seminars in constitutional theory and the philosophy of law as well as courses in conflict of laws, federal courts, intellectual property, and internet law and governance.

Solum’s books include “Constitutional Theory Arguments and Perspectives,” “Constitutional Originalism,” “法理词典 (The Legal Theory Lexicon),” “Virtue Jurisprudence,” “Moore’s Federal Practice” and “Destruction of Evidence.” He has published more than 80 articles in law reviews and philosophy journals.

He is also the editor of Legal Theory Blog, an influential blog that focuses on developments in contemporary normative and positive legal theory.

Solum has spoken to the dozens of law faculties, including those at Arizona State University, Boston University, Columbia University, Fordham University, and Notre Dame, among others. He has also participated in conferences, symposia and programs sponsored by Cardozo Law School, Chicago-Kent Law School DePaul Law School and Harvard Law School, among others.


  • J.D.
    Harvard Law School
  • B.A.
    University of California at Los Angeles


Civil Procedure: Cases and Context (with Robert Bone), Aspen.
Civil Procedure: Principles and Theory, Oxford University Press.

Works in Progress


Constitutional Originalism: A Debate (with Robert W. Bennett), Cornell University Press (2011).
Virtue Jurisprudence (edited with Colin Farrelly), Palgrave Macmillan (2007).


Constitutional Theory: Arguments and Perspectives (with Michael J. Gerhardt, Stephen M. Griffin & Jr., Thomas Rowe), LexisNexis (4 ed. 2013).
Destruction of Evidence, Aspen (1989).

Book Chapters

Analysis: Effect of Judgment and Preclusion (with Susan Bandes), in Moore's Federal Practice Semiannual Supplement, Matthew Bender, ch. 130–134 (3 ed. 2019).
Simple-Minded Originalism? Simply Wrong!, in Moral Puzzles and Legal Perplexities: Essays on the Influence of Larry Alexander, Cambridge University Press, 189 (2019).
Originalism and the Invisible Constitution, in The Invisible Constitution in Comparative Perspective, Cambridge University Press, 61 (2018).
Originalism, Hermeneutics, and the Fixation Thesis, in The Nature of Legal Interpretation: What Jurists Can Learn About Legal Interpretation from Linguistics and Philosophy, University of Chicago Press, 130 (2017).
Virtue Jurisprudence: A Virtue-Centred Theory of Judging, in Judicial Ethics, Routledge, 19 (2017).
Confucian Virtue Jurisprudence (with Linghao Wang), in Law, Virtue and Justice, Hart, 105 (2015).
Law and Virtue, in The Routledge Companion to Virtue Ethics, Routledge, 491 (2015).
Virtue Jurisprudence: Towards an Aretaic Theory of Law, in Aristotle and the Philosophy of Law: Theory, Practice and Justice, Springer, 1 (2013).
What Is Originalism? The Evolution of Contemporary Originalist Theory, in The Challenge of Originalism: Theories of Constitutional Interpretation, Cambridge University Press, 12 (2011).
Models of Internet Governance, in Internet Governance: Infrastructure and Institutions, Oxford University Press, 48 (2009).
The Aretaic Turn in American Philosophy of Law, in On Philosophy in American Law, Cambridge University Press, 122 (2009).
Natural Justice: An Aretaic Account of the Virtue of Lawfulness, in Virtue Jurisprudence, Palgrave Macmillan, 142 (2008).
A Virtue-Centered Account of Equity and the Rule of Law, in Virtue Jurisprudence, Palgrave Macmillan, 142 (2007).
Originalism as Transformative Politics, in Gadamer and Law, Ashgate, 109 (2007).
Virtue Jurisprudence: A Virtue-Centred Theory of Judging, in Moral and Epistemic Virtues, Blackwell, 163 (2003).

Articles & Reviews

The Original Meaning of “Due Process of Law” in the Fifth Amendment (with Max Crema), 108 Virginia Law Review 447–435 (2022).
Originalism and Personal Jurisdiction: Several Questions and a Few Answers (with Max Crema), 73 Alabama Law Review 483 (2022).
The Public Meaning Thesis: An Originalist Theory of Constitutional Meaning, 101 Boston University Law Review 1953–2048 (2021).
Disaggregating Chevron, 82 Ohio State Law Journal 249–300 (2021).
Chevron as Construction (with Cass R. Sunstein), 105 Cornell Law Review 1465–1487 (2020).
Cooley’s Constitutional Limitations and Constitutional Originalism, 18 Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy 49–74 (2020).
Corporations and the Original Meaning of “Citizens” in Article III (with Mark Moller), 72 Hastings Law Journal 169–228 (2020).
Themes from Fallon on Constitutional Theory, 18 Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy 287–351 (2020).
Artificially Intelligent Law, BioLaw Journal 53 (2019).
Contractual Communication, 133 Harvard Law Review 23 (2019).
Lies and Free Speech Values, 38 Law & Philosophy 495 (2019).
Text over Intent and the Demise of Legislative History (with Thomas W. Merrill, Michael S. Paulsen & Saikrishna Prakash), 43 University of Dayton Law Review 103–128 (2018).
Originalist Theory and Precedent: A Public Meaning Approach, 33 Constitutional Commentary 451–470 (2018).
Originalist Methodology, 84 University of Chicago Law Review 269–296 (2017).
Republican Constitutionalism, 32 Constitutional Commentary 175–206 (2017).
Intellectual History as Constitutional Theory, 101 Virginia Law Review 1111 (2015).
Artificial Meaning, 89 Washington Law Review 69–86 (2014).
Communicative Content and Legal Content, 89 Notre Dame Law Review 479–520 (2013).
Construction and Constraint: Discussion of Living Originalism, 7 Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies 17–34 (2013).
How NFIB v. Sebelius Affects the Constitutional Gestalt, 91 Washington University Law Review 1–58 (2013).
Originalism and Constitutional Construction, 82 Fordham Law Review 453 (2013).
Originalism and the Unwritten Constitution, 2013 University of Illinois Law Review 1935–1984 (2013).
The Interpretation-Construction Distinction in Patent Law (with Tun-Jen Chiang), 123 Yale Law Journal 530 (2013).
Indeterminacy, Wiley Blackwell 479 (2 ed. 2010).
Narrative, Normativity, and Causation, 2010 Michigan State Law Review 597 (2010).
Questioning Cultural Commons, 95 Cornell Law Review 817–838 (2010).
The Interpretation-Construction Distinction, Constitutional Commentary 95 (2010).
The Unity of Interpretation, 90 Boston University Law Review 551–578 (2010).
District of Columbia v. Heller and Originalism, 103 Northwestern University Law Review 923–981 (2009).
Incorporation and Originalist Theory, 18 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 409–446 (2009).
Constitutional Possibilities, 83 Indiana Law Journal 307–338 (2008).
Originalism and the Natural Born Citizen Clause, 29 Immigration & Nationality Law Review 593–602 (2008).
Originalism and the Natural Born Citizen Clause, 107 Michigan Law Review First Impressions 22 (2008).
Constitutional Texting, 44 San Diego Law Review 123–152 (2007).
A Dialogue on Originalism Occasioned by Bennett's Electoral College Reform Ain't Easy (with Robert W. Bennett), 101 Northwestern University Law Review Colloquy 31 (2006).
Blogging and the Transformation of Legal Scholarship, 84 Washington University Law Review 1071 (2006).
Download It While It's Hot: Open Access and Legal Scholarship, 10 Lewis & Clark Law Review 841 (2006).
Judicial Selection, Appointments Gridlock, and the Nuclear Option (with David S. Law), 15 Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 51–104 (2006).
Natural Justice, 51 American Journal of Jurisprudence 65 (2006).
Pluralism and Public Legal Reason, 15 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 7–23 (2006).
Public Legal Reason, 92 Virginia Law Review 1449–1502 (2006).
A Tournament of Virtue, 32 Florida State University Law Review 1365 (2005).
Judicial Selection: Ideology Versus Character, 26 Cardozo Law Review 659 (2005).
The Future of Copyright, 83 Texas Law Review 1137–1172 (2005).
Popular? Constitutionalism? (with Larry Alexander), 118 Harvard Law Review 1594–1641 (2004).
Procedural Justice, 78 Southern California Law Review 181 (2004).
The Aretaic Turn in Constitutional Theory, 70 Brooklyn Law Review 475–532 (2004).
The Layers Principle: Internet Architecture and the Law (with Minn Chung), 79 Notre Dame Law Review 815 (2004).
An Economic Analysis of Domain Name Policy (with Karl M. Manheim), 25 Hastings Communications & Entertainment Law Journal 359 (2003).
Congress's Power to Promote the Progress of Science: Eldred v. Ashcroft, 36 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 1 (2002).
The Anthrax Investigation: A Newsgathering and Privacy Panel Discussion, 22 Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review 267 (2002).
To Our Children's Children's Children: The Problems of Intergenerational Ethics, 35 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 163–234 (2001).
The Value of Dissent, 85 Cornell Law Review 859–882 (2000).
Originalism as Transformative Politics, 63 Tulane Law Review 1599 (1989).

Reports & Datasets

StatementConfirmation Hearing on the Nomination of the Honorable Neil M. Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States , US Government Printing Office (2018).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

John Rawls at 100, “A Theory of Justice” at 50, Legal Theory Blog (February 21, 2021).
We Shouldn’t Fear Originalism on the High Court, Los Angeles Times 11 (October 15, 2020).

Current Courses

All Courses

Constitutional Law
Civil Procedure

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