Jonathan Lipson’s principal research focus is business failure:  how does–and should–the legal system respond when firms can’t (or don’t) pay their bills? 

He has written dozens of articles and book chapters considering this question from a variety of perspectives, focusing in particular on issues of governance (who gets to make decisions for the troubled firm?) and information (who knows what, when, and how about the problem?).  He has published in many of the nation’s top law reviews, including those of the UCLABoston UniversityNotre Dame, and Southern California law schools.  His work is frequently cited, including by leading business courts, such as the Delaware Supreme Court, the Delaware Chancery Court and the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

An occasional empiricist, Lipson has published papers studying the use of “examiners” in chapter 11 bankruptcies and their relationship to “success” in case outcomes. He led a study of the relationship between executive compensation and asset securitization, and has written about lawyers’ practice of writing closing opinions in large and complex transactions. He has developed a subsidiary body of work on constitutional issues in bankruptcy, including those involving the bankruptcies of certain Catholic dioceses. His work has been selected for republication in, among others, the Corporate Practice Commentator and translated into Chinese. Some of his other major published work can be found here.

Lipson is a member of the American Law Institute and the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers, and is active with the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association, where he is currently the Section Content Officer. He has previously been a member of the Business Law Section Council, head of its Publications Board, and co-chair of the Business Law Education Committee. During 2003-2004, he was the Chair of the Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law of the Association of American Law Schools. He serves on the editorial boards of The Business Lawyer and The American Bankruptcy Law Journal. He has also served as an expert in complex reorganizations, including that of Enron Corp, and is counsel to amici curiae law professors in support of petitioners in Czyzewski v. Jevic Holding Corp., currently pending before the United States Supreme Court.

Lipson teaches Contracts, a Transactional Skills workshop in the fall, and Bankruptcy in the spring.

Lipson has previously been a tenured member of the faculties of the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he held a Foley & Lardner Chair, and the University of Baltimore Law School. Prior to teaching, Lipson was a lawyer. From 1995-1999, he practiced corporate and commercial law in Boston, with the firm of Hill & Barlow. From 1992 to 1995, he practiced bankruptcy and commercial law in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis. From 1990-1992, he practiced with Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. While in practice, he was involved in several large and complex chapter 11 cases, including those of Healthco, Thinking Machines Corporation, and CIS Corporation.

He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, B.A., with honors (1986) & J.D. (1990), where he was a note editor of the Wisconsin Law Review.



J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School
B.A. (cum laude), University of Wisconsin

Research & Teaching Areas

Areas of Expertise

Selected Publications

Publications and Media Appearances SSRN


  • American Bar Association: Vice Chair, Publications Board ($2.2 million publications program), 2004-present
  • American Bar Association: Co-Chair, Business Law Education Committee. 2003-2007
  • American Bar Association: Co-Chair, Law School Initiative, 2003-present
  • American Bar Association: Chair, Task Force on Forms Under Revised Article 9 of the UCC, 2001-2004
  • American Law Institute: Member, elected 2005
  • Association of American Law Schools: Chair, Section on Commercial and Related Consumer Law, 2003-2004