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Lisa Fairfax

Presidential Professor; Co-Director, Institute for Law and Economics

Lisa M. Fairfax joins the University of Pennsylvania as a Presidential Professor and Co-Director of the Institute for Law & Economics (ILE). Before joining the Law School, Fairfax was the Alexander Hamilton Professor of Business Law at the George Washington University Law School and the Director of the GW Corporate Law and Governance Initiative. Fairfax teaches courses in the business area including Corporations, Contracts and seminars in securities law and corporate governance. Fairfax’s research and scholarly interests include matters related to corporate and board governance, board fiduciary duties, board-shareholder engagement, board composition and diversity, shareholder activism, affinity fraud, and securities fraud.

In addition to her many book chapters, Fairfax has authored a text book, Business Organizations: An Integrated Approach, published by Foundation Press. Fairfax’s book Shareholder Democracy: A Primer on Shareholder Activism and Participation is a seminal work on shareholder activism. Fairfax is the author of many law review articles including her article voted one of the ten best corporate and securities articles of 2019, The Securities Law Implications of Financial Illiteracy. In 2017, the Business Associations Section of the American Association of Law Schools (“AALS”) awarded Fairfax the “Outstanding Mentor Award” in recognition of her scholarship and commitment to mentoring others in the profession. In 2016, the Minority Group Section of the AALS awarded Professor Fairfax the “Trailblazer Award” in recognition of her teaching and scholarly contributions to the profession. In 2019, Fairfax was voted “Professor of the Year” by the GW Law School students.

Fairfax served as a member of the Investor Advisory Committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Fairfax also is a former member of both the National Adjudicatory Council of the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (“FINRA”), where she served as chair of its subcommittee on waivers, and FINRA’s NASDAQ Market Regulation Committee.

Fairfax is a member of the American Law Institute (“ALI”) as well as a member of the Advisory Group for the ALI Restatement of Law, Corporate Governance. Fairfax is a former member of the Committee on Corporate Laws of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association, which Committee is responsible for updating the Model Business Corporation Act. Fairfax is a former chair of both the Securities Regulation Section and the Business Associations Section of AALS. Fairfax serves on the board of the Institute for Law and Economic Policy (ILEP), the SEC Historical Society, and DirectWomen, an organization aimed at increasing public company board diversity.

Prior to joining the GW Law faculty, Fairfax was a Professor of Law and Director of the Business Law Program at the University of Maryland School of Law.

Before entering academia, Fairfax practiced corporate and securities law with the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP in Boston and D.C. Fairfax graduated with honors at Harvard College and earned her J.D., with honors, at Harvard Law School.


  • BA Harvard University
  • JDHarvard University


    • Business and Corporate Law
    • Financial and Commercial Law
    • Law and Economics

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