Professor of Law, Emeritus
Professor Bonfield is a legal historian and internationally minded law professor, who teaches in the areas of trusts and estates, property, International Business Transactions, European Union law, and legal history.
While still a law student, Professor Bonfield was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue his doctorate at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. After two years of study, he was elected to a fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he undertook research and taught English Legal History and Criminal Law. During his time at Cambridge, he was also associated with the international-renowned Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure. His Ph.D. thesis was immediately published by the Cambridge University Press, as Marriage Settlements, 1600-1740, and paperbound and hardcover versions remain in print thirty years later. He remains connected with the Cambridge Group, spending time there in spring of 2016 and 2017.
Prior to joining the New York Law School faculty in 2008, Professor Bonfield taught at Cornell Law School and thereafter at Tulane Law School for twenty-five years, where he was the Thomas Andre Junior Professor of Law and Associate Dean for International Graduate Studies and International Relations. He has taught American law on regular basis for the University of Zurich, and at universities in Tokyo (Chou), Jerusalem (Hebrew University), Siena, and Strasbourg. This aspect of his teaching interest led to the publication in 2006 of American Law and the American Legal System (West’s Nutshell). He is under contract to produce a second edition, and a companion volume on American Business Law.
Most of Professor Bonfield’s scholarship is in the area of legal history. He has edited Continuity and Change, a journal of social history, demography and the law published by Cambridge University Press for a quarter century, and prior thereto founded Law and History Review (the journal of the American Society for Legal History) in 1980. He published a monograph on seventeenth century testamentary litigation Devising, Dying and Dispute: Probate Litigation in Early Modern England (Ashgate, 2012). His Selden Society volume (his second) The Common Pleas Reports of Sir Peter King, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas 1714-1722 was just published. He is about to complete a book on European Union Business Law with two European lawyers for West Publications. His current archival research is on the Legacy Act of 1796.
He was Director of the Center for International Law, and founded and directed NYLS’s only foreign summer school, London, since 2009.
In 2000, Professor Bonfield was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a Sumter Marks Award. He was awarded a Fulbright teaching at the Free University of Berlin but had to decline due to the impact of Hurricane Katrina.
Politics and the Supreme Court: Lessons from the Affordable Care Act decision, Proceedings of the Europa Institut, Zurich, (2013) pp. 215-230
Per una comprehension del transferimento intergenerazionale della proprieta fondiaria inglese dal Medio Evon alla fine del diciottesimo secolo, Mélanges de l’Ecole française de Rome (2012), pp.339-49.
Finding Women in Early Modern English Courts: evidence from Peter King’s Manuscript reports” Chicago-Kent Law Review, vol. 87 (2012)
“The Foreign Affairs Power of the European Union: all hat and no cattle?” Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law, vol. 20 (2011)
“Seeking connections between kinship and the law in early modern England” Continuity and Change vol. 25 (2010)
Lord Justice King’s Manuscript Reports (with L. R. Poos) Selden Society London, forthcoming 2013.