Professor John H. Langbein Wins Frankel Fiduciary Prize

The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard announced on August 8, 2019 that Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law and Legal History John H. Langbein has been awarded the 2019 Frankel Fiduciary Prize. Langbein is a leading authority on fiduciary law and a distinguished scholar of legal history. He teaches and writes in four fields: probate and trust law, pension and employee benefit law (ERISA); Anglo-American, European legal history; and modern comparative law. 

John Langbein
The Frankel Fiduciary Prize Selection Committee announced the prize through a statement by Deborah A. DeMott, David F. Cavers Professor of Law, Duke Law and Chair of the Committee:

“John Langbein was a compelling choice as the recipient of this year’s Frankel Fiduciary Prize. His innovative scholarship led the way to the prudent investor rule, which modernized fiduciary investing to the benefit of millions. Professor Langbein has made noteworthy contributions to scholarship in all of the fields on which he has focused, ones that invigorate debate and reorient a field. The Selection Committee is delighted to recognize his accomplishments over a distinguished career.”

Max Schanzenbach ’01, the Seigle Family Professor of Law at Northwestern/Pritzker School of Law, said: “I was delighted to hear that Professor John Langbein is to receive the Frankel Fiduciary Prize. Professor Langbein has made many contributions to the law over a long and storied career. In the field I know best, Trusts and Estates, Professor Langbein’s lifetime of work can only be described as foundational. To take one example, Professor Langbein’s careful scholarship brought modern finance into trust law via the prudent investor rule, thereby modernizing a moribund field that had developed an increasingly incoherent set of investment standards. His work did not stay confined to law reviews, but made its way into various legal reforms. The prudent investor rule is now adopted in some form in every state. Millions of beneficiaries are better off because of Professor Langbein’s work. Not many legal academics can make such a claim, but I assert it here on Professor Langbein’s behalf.”

The Award Program will be held at Boston University School of Law on September 16, 2019. Langbein will lead a seminar, “The Fiduciary Duties of Conflicted Trustees.” As he summarizes, “The trust-law duty of loyalty, which has been focused on preventing trustees from creating conflicts of interest, has neglected the reality that in many trusts the trust terms create the conflict. The conflict is structural. The question for discussion is how trustees administering such trusts can discharge their duties of loyalty when they must act in conflict.”

Before joining Yale Law School in 1989, Langbein was the Max Pam Professor of American and Foreign Law at the University of Chicago. In the 1997–98 academic year he served as the Goodhart Professor of Legal Science at Cambridge University. From 1990 to 2001 he was Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and Legal History at Yale Law School. He has also held academic appointments at Stanford University, Oxford University, New York University, and the Max Planck Institutes in Frankfurt and Freiberg, Germany. He is an honorary fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge.

The Frankel Fiduciary Prize was established to acknowledge individuals who have made significant contributions to the preservation and advancement of fiduciary principles in public life. The prize is named for Professor Tamar Frankel, Professor of Law Emerita, Boston University School of Law.

The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard it is a nonprofit formed in Virginia to benefit investors and society by advancing fiduciary principles through research, education and advocacy.