William P. LaPiana
Rita and Joseph Solomon Professor of Wills, Trusts, and Estates
Director, Estate Planning, Graduate Tax Program
William P. LaPiana believes that one of the best ways to analyze a society is to examine how its legal system deals with people’s most personal concerns.
And what is more personal, he asks, than how people choose to pass on their assets?
“Trusts and estates is one of the most dynamic areas of law today,” he says. “The law of trust investing has been completely reinvented by insights gained from economics; the idea of family has been transformed by the recognition of same-sex marriage and by medical technology allowing conception to be separated from intercourse, and perhaps most significantly of all, society’s view of accumulated wealth seems to be more favorable that it was a generation ago.” All this change challenges the teacher to help students understand the state of the law today and to appreciate the possibilities for change, which, he adds “is what a law teacher must always do: we have to prepare our students for a lifetime of learning.” “Professor LaPiana holds both a Ph.D. in History and a J.D. from Harvard, where he also received his B.A. and an M.A. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1978, Professor LaPiana, who is originally from suburban Buffalo, spent four years as an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. It was, he explains, all part of a plan to someday obtain an academic position.
“I thought every law school would need professors who had actual practice experience and who could teach something as central to the legal system as wills and trusts,” he recalls, “and I was right!” “What I didn’t foresee,” he adds, “were all the ways a professor of wills and trusts can work in cooperation with the practicing bar to make the law better. Over more than thirty year of teaching some of my happiest memories and proudest accomplishments involve working on law reform in a variety of contexts”After four years spent at the University of Pittsburgh Law School, Professor LaPiana joined the faculty at New York Law School in 1987. In 1993, he was named the Rita and Joseph Solomon Professor of the Law of Wills, Trusts and Estates.
His doctoral dissertation was published as Logic and Experience: The Origins of Modern American Legal Education (Oxford University Press, 1994). An analysis of the intellectual roots of the case method and of the reasons for its success, it is widely cited in discussions of legal education and, as Professor LaPiana notes, still sells enough copies to buy one average bottle of wine per year. In 2012 he published Inside Wills and Trusts: What Matters and Why, part of the “Inside” series of student study aids published by Wolters Kluwer. Prof. LaPiana’s other major publication is Drafting New York Wills and Related Documents, 4th edition, published by LexisNexis of which he is co-author with Prof. Ira Mark Bloom.
Professor LaPiana also has been active with the trusts and estates sections of both the New York State and the American Bar Associations, and is an academic fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, serving on its Committees on State Laws and Legal Education. He is also a member of the American Law Institute and served on the Members Consultative Groups for the Restatements (Third) of Trusts and of Property (Donative Transfers). Since 2009 he has been a member of the Office of Court Administration Surrogates Court Committee and has served on the New York City Bar Associations Surrogates Court and Trusts and Estate Committee since 2011.
Prof. LaPiana was the reporter for the revised Uniform Disclaimer of Property Interests Act, which was promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission in 1999 and has been adopted in fifteen states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. He was the American Bar Association advisor to the drafting committee for the Uniform Power of Attorney Act promulgated in 2006. Professor LaPiana has been a frequent speaker at continuing legal education events, including several conferences sponsored by the Real Property Trusts and Estates Law Section of the ABA and the Trusts and Estates Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, the Heckerling Institute, and the New York Estate Planning Institute. He has also been a regular participant since 1987 in the New York University Law School Legal History Colloquium.
Drafting New York Wills and Related Documents (4th Edition). (LexisNexis, 2010) (with I. Bloom) (Supplements 2010 – ).
Logic & Experience: The Origin of Modern American Legal Education. Oxford University Press, 1994.
Disclaimers in Estate Planning: A Guide to Their Effective Use. American Bar Association, 1990 (with R.A. Brand).
New York Wills and Trusts. 3rd ed.(Lexis Law Publishing, 1990) (with J.G. McQuaid & F.W. Streng) (Annual Supplements).
CHAPTERS IN BOOKS
Post-Mortem Planning, Chapter 5 in New York University Seventy-Second Institute on Federal Taxation at 5-1 to 5-88 (LexisNexis, 2014).
The Beneficiary, Chapter 8 in Drafting New York Wills: Law and Forms 3rd ed. at 8-1 to 8-88 (H.D. Klipstein & I.M. Bloom, eds., Lexis Nexis Matthew Bender, 2003).
Fiduciaries, Chapter 16 in Drafting New York Wills: Law and Forms 3rd ed. at 16-1 to 16-56 (H.D. Klipstein & I.M. Bloom, eds., Lexis Nexis Matthew Bender, 2001).
Powers of Appointment, Chapter 13 in Drafting New York Wills: Law and Forms 3rd ed. at 13-1 to 13-51 (H.D. Klipstein & I.M. Bloom, eds., Lexis Nexis Matthew Bender, 2002).
Principal and Income, Chapter 14 in Drafting New York Wills: Law and Forms 3rd ed. at 14-1 to 14-47 (H.D. Klipstein & I.M. Bloom, eds., Lexis Nexis Matthew Bender, 2002).
Rights of Surviving Spouse, Chapter 10 in Drafting New York Wills: Law and Forms 3rd ed. at 10-1 to 10-146 (H.D. Klipstein & I.M. Bloom, eds., Lexis Nexis Matthew Bender, 2003).
State Responses to the Repeal of the State Death Tax Credit, Chapter 7 in 37th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning at 7-1 to 7-52, (T. Portuando, ed., Lexis Nexis Matthew Bender, 2003).
“Difficult Non-Tax Estate Planning Issues.” Chapter in Estate Planning in Depth (American Law Institute – American Bar Association Continuing Legal Education), at 137–156. Philadelphia, PA: American Law Institute, 2000 (with J. Pennell).
“Recent Non-Tax Developments.” Chapter in Estate Planning in Depth (American Law Institute – American Bar Association Continuing Legal Education), at 117–136. Philadelphia, PA: American Law Institute, 2000.
“Estate Taxation.” Chapter 5 in Taxation for the General Practitioner, at 189–217, edited by R.V. D’Alessandro. New York State Bar Association, 1999.
“Victorian from Beacon Hill: Oliver Wendell Holmes’s Early Legal Scholarship.” Chapter 76 in The History of Legal Education in the United States: Commentaries and Primary Sources, at 1052–1068, edited by S. Sheppard. Salem Press, 1999. Originally appeared in 90 Columbia Law Review 809–833 (1990).
“Fiduciary Income Taxation and Planning for the Complex Estate.” Chapter 2 in Valuation, Taxation and Other Planning Techniques for Large Estates, at 103–179. Practising Law Institute, 1997.
“Powers of Appointment.” Chapter 20 in The Handbook of Estate Planning, at 349–370 (D.L. Crumbley, ed.). Dow-Jones Irwin, 1988.
LAW REVIEW AND OTHER SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS
The Geography of Marriage, 39 Estates, Gifts, Trusts Journal 3-10 (January, 2014).
“Merit and Diversity: The Origins of the Law School Admissions Test (Childress Lecture Symposium).” 48 St. Louis University Law Journal 955–990 (2004).
“Some Property Law Issues in the Law of Disclaimers.” 38 Real Property, Probate and Trust Journal 207–239 (2003).
“Uniform Disclaimer of Property Interests.” 14 Probate & Property 57–61 (January/February 2000).
“Modern Coverture: Old Wine in Old Bottles (Symposium:Women, Equity and Federal Tax Policy: Open Questions).” 16 New York Law School Journal of Human Rights 181–184 (1999).
“Thoughts and Lives.” Book Reviews of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: Law and the Inner Self, by G. Edward White; and Learned Hand: The Man and The Judge, by Gerald Gunther. 39 New York Law School Law Review 607–635 (1994).
Book Review of The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800; Volume IV: Organizing the Federal Judiciary: Legislation and Commentaries, edited by M. Marcus. 37 New York Law School Law Review 467–473 (1992).
“Jurisprudence of History and Truth.” 23 Rutgers Law Journal 519–559 (1992).
“Just the Facts: The Field Code and the Case Method.” 36 New York Law School Law Review 287–336 (1991).
“The Legal Culture of the Formative Period in Sherman Act Jurisprudence (Conference: Observing the Sherman Act Centennial: The Past and Future of Antitrust as Public Interest Law).” 35 New York Law School Law Review 827–855 (1990).
“Victorian from Beacon Hill: Oliver Wendell Holmes’s Early Legal Scholarship.” 90 Columbia Law Review 809–833 (1990). Reprinted as Chapter 76 in The History of Legal Education in the United States: Commentaries and Primary Sources, at 1052–1068 (S. Sheppard, ed., Salem Press, 1999).
“Dusty Books and Living History: Why All Those Old State Reports Really Matter.” 81 Law Library Journal 33–39 (1989).
“‘A Task of No Common Magnitude’: The Founding of the American Law Institute.” 11 Nova Law Review 1085–1126 (1987).
“Swift v. Tyson and the Brooding Omnipresence in the Sky: An Investigation of the Idea of Law in Antebellum America.” 20 Suffolk University Law Review 771–832 (1986).
NEWSPAPER ARTICLES, PRACTICE MATERIALS, AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS
Contributing Author, Keeping Current: Probate, PROBATE & PROPERTY (Section of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section of the American Bar Association, 1994 – ) (with G. Beyer, D. Cornfeld, K. Griffin & C. Hargrove).
Contributing Author, Recent New York State Decisions, TRUSTS AND ESTATES LAW SECTION NEWSLETTER (New York State Bar Association, 2005 – ) (with I. Bloom)
Carryover Basis-Have We Learned from History?, 19 Probate & Property 38-41 (with M. Beckerman) (2005).
Book Review of William E. Nelson’s In Pursuit of Right and Justice: Edward Weinfeld as Lawyer and Judge, 231 New York Law Journal 2 (October 26, 2004).
Book Review of Harold Hyman’s Craftsmanship and Character: A History of the Vinson and Elkins Law Firm of Houston, 1917–1997, 20 Law and History Review 215–216 (2002).
“The Diversity of Merit.” Book Review of Beyond All Reason: The Radical Assault on Truth in American Law, by Daniel A. Farber and Suzanna Sherry. H-Law, H-Net Reviews (August 1998). Availiable from http://www.h-net.msu.edu/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=25935902341120.
“Langdell Laughs (Forum: That Impecunious Introvert from New Hampshire: Re-Imagining Langdell).” 17 Law and History Review 141–144 (1999).
“The Private and the Public Faces of Realism.” Book Review of Roscoe Pound and Karl Llewellyn: Searching for an American Jurisprudence, by N.E.H. Hull. H-Law, H-Net Reviews (May 1999). Availiable from http://www.h-net.msu.edu/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=27042927145926.
Book Review of A Nation Under Lawyers: How the Crisis in the Legal Profession is Transforming American Society, by Mary Ann Glendon. 15 Law and History Review 419–420 (1997).
Book Review of Patterns of American Jurisprudence, by Neil Duxbury. 41 American Journal of Legal History 127–128 (1997).
“The Income Taxation of New York Resident Trusts.” 68 New York State Bar Journal 30–35 (March/April 1996) (with E.C. Schwab).
“Honor Langdell (Commentary).” 20 Law & Social Inquiry 761–764 (1995).
Book Review of Our Lady The Common Law: An Anglo-American Legal Community, 1870–1930, by Richard A. Cosgrove. 35 American Journal of Legal History 225–227 (1991).
“Final Disclaimer Regulations Offer Flexibility in the Use of General Powers of Appointment for the Marital Deduction.” 65 Taxes 133–142 (1987) (with R.A. Brand).
“Logic and Experience: American Legal Thought and Legal Education, 1800–1920.” [Ph.D. Dissertation] (Harvard Law School, 1987).
Book Review of Malice and Falsehood: Six Issues of the ‘New York Weekly Journal’ 1733–34, by Mr. Zenger. 69 Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 263 (1986).
Software Review of Aardvark/McGraw-Hill’s “Estate Tax Planner.” 6 Journal of Law & Commerce 411–417 (1986).
“Using Disclaimers Adds More Flexibility to ‘Escape Clauses’ for Taxable Insurance.” 13 Estate Planning 278–281 (1986) (with R.A. Brand).