Marshall S. Shapo

Frederic P. Vose Professor of Law Emeritus


Marshall S. Shapo, the Frederic P. Vose Professor at Northwestern University School of Law, is a nationally recognized authority on torts and products liability law. He received an AB, summa cum laude, and LLB, magna cum laude, from the University of Miami, where he was first in his class and editor-in-chief of the University of Miami Law Review. His graduate degrees are an AM in history and an SJD, both from Harvard. Before his appointment to the Northwestern faculty in 1978, he was Joseph M. Hartfield Professor of Law at the University of Virginia and a member of the faculty of the University of Texas School of Law. Professor Shapo has been a visiting fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford University (1975), and twice at Wolfson College, Cambridge University (1992 and 2001). He also served as a visiting professor at the Juristiches Seminar, University of Gottingen. In 2005 he was the principal speaker, delivering five lectures on various aspects of tort and injury law, at a seminar attended by leading European torts scholars at the University of Girona. On the same trip, he also gave talks at the Universities of Barcelona and Pisa. The year before he spoke on products liability to the Brazilian Bar Association in Rio de Janeiro. Professor Shapo teaches courses and seminars in torts, the law of dangerous products, and science and the legal system.

Professor Shapo's published writing is prolific and exhibits wide versatility. He claims to have stopped counting the number of books he has written and edited, because "it is so hard to judge, with multi-volume works, supplements and the like." His "best guess is around 25." A reviewer of one of Shapo's books, the 2003 work Tort Law and Culture, calls him "[a] towering presence in American tort law." That reviewer says that the book "furnishes at least one good idea per dollar of its price for anyone who works to balance the scales of the civil justice system--whether by arguing cases to a jury, crafting court opinions and jury instructions, drafting statutes and regulations, or teaching law students." Another reviewer says that students "will find this wonderful piece of torts scholarship to be an entertaining as well as educational guide to the cultural roots of tort law in American society." Professor Shapo's 2005 book, Compensation for Victims of Terror, brings to bear on that specific subject his rich background in the law of injuries. A reviewer, calling the book "excellent," summarizes it as showing "both where compensation for terrorist acts already fits into the overall scheme of American law and where (and why) it might fit if future governments will address it in a purposeful, coherent, and humane way."

Professor Shapo’s other books include the magisterial two-volume treatise The Law of Products Liability, which has now grown with supplements to more than 3,500 pages. A review of the current fourth edition describes it as "a helpful mix of the theoretical and the practical" and says that "most academic law libraries and any law firm libraries that support a practice in the products liability area will want this treatise included in their collections." A reviewer of the third edition wrote that "[m]ore than any other scholar on the planet, Marshall Shapo views and portrays the world of products liability as a living portrait," and concluded that "rarely will the analysis of a products liability issue be thorough or complete without the special lumination afforded by studying what Marshall Shapo thinks about the subject."

Professor Shapo's booklength monograph, A Representational Theory of Consumer Protection, was published as an entire issue of the Virginia Law Review. Professor Shapo was the principal author of Towards a Jurisprudence of Injury: The Continuing Creation of a System of Substantive Justice in American Tort Law, a commentary written in his capacity as Reporter for the Special Committee on the Tort Liability System of the American Bar Association. His coursebook Tort and Injury Law synthesizes his approach to the subject developed over 41 years of teaching. His book The Duty to Act manifests his interest in the moral basis of tort law and his book A Nation of Guinea Pigs reflects his continuing interest in the interaction of science and law.

Professor Shapo's published articles and letters--in law reviews, bar journals and newspapers--have covered his wide range of research interests. His scholarly articles range from a co-authored article on e-commerce and products liability, which won the FICC Andrew C. Hecker Award in 2001, to an overview of the law and science of causation. He also served as co-editor of two books on e-commerce--one with an international perspective and the other focusing on insurance, both published in 2001. Law School Without Fear, his coauthored book with Professor Helene Shapo, has been well-received in law schools and has just gone into its second edition.

Professor Shapo was an Adviser for the American Law Institute's Restatement of the Law (Third): Products Liability and has served on various committees of the Tort and Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) of the American Bar Association. He acted as co-reporter for the Symposium on Legal and Scientific Perspectives on Causation, sponsored in 1990 by TIPS and the Center for Epidemiology and Public Policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, and published in Courts, Health Science & the Law. He also served on the editorial board of the European-based Journal of Consumer Policy and the board of editors of the Products Liability Law Journal. He has testified several times before Congressional committees and at other hearings on various aspects of tort law. Professor Shapo was Of Counsel to Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal from 1991 to 2001. Professor Shapo was given the Robert B. McKay Law Professor Award of the TIPS section of the American Bar Association in 2005 and in that year also received the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the University of Miami School of Law.

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Areas of Expertise

  • Consumer Law
  • Torts
  • Injury Compensation
  • Law and Social Science
  • Products Liability
  • Fraudulent and Deceptive Practices

Selected Publications

  • Compensation for Victims of Terror (Oceana Publications 2005).
  • Law School Without Fear: Strategies For Success, 2nd edition (Foundation Press 2002) (with Helene Shapo).
  • The Law of Products Liability, 4th edition (2001) with Supplements 2002-2006 (two volumes).
  • Tort and Injury Law, 3rd edition ( Carolina Academic Press 2006) (with Richard Peltz).
  • Tort Law and Culture (Carolina Academic Press 2003).

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  • AB summa cum laude, University of Miami
  • LLB magna cum laude, University of Miami
  • AM, SJD, Harvard University

Prior Appointments

  • Frederic P. Vose Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Stanford Clinton Sr. Research Professor, 1997-1998, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Joseph M. Hartfield Professor of Law, Professor of Law, 1970-1978, University of Virginia
  • Professor of Law, Associate Professor of Law, Assistant Professor of Law, 1965-1970, University of Texas

Recent Consulting Activities

  • Consultant, Legal risks in manufacture and sale of anti-terror products
  • Consultant, Appeal in multi-million dollar verdict in catastrophic injury case involving swimming pool drain
  • Consultant, Liability theories in litigation over Pan Am # 103
  • Consultant, Minimizing liability concerning flammability of sleeping bags
  • Consultant, machine manufacturer on machine guarding and products liability
  • Consultant, Warranty and defect issues concerning rocket motors
  • Speaker, pharmaceutical group on A Lawyers Common Sense Ideas for Avoiding Liability in the Specification of Packaging for Medical Devices

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