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Emily Kadens

Edna B. and Ednyfed H. Williams Memorial Professor of Law

PhD Princeton 2001, JD University of Chicago 2004
Curriculum Vitae


Geographic Field(s):  Medieval and Early Modern European History

Thematic Field(s):  Legal and Criminal History

Principal Research Interest(s):  Commercial law and practice in early modern England and Europe.


Emily Kadens, the Williams Memorial Professor at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law is a legal historian with a particular focus on the medieval and early modern history of commercial law and practice. She has a JD from the University of Chicago and a PhD in medieval history from Princeton. An expert on early modern English equity court archives, she is currently using previously unexamined equity court files to study the history of commercial practice and commercial fraud in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England. She has also written extensively on how custom does—or does not—function as law, the concept of the medieval law merchant, and the early history of English bankruptcy. Another current project involves working with a neural net platform developed in Europe to build an AI model that can automatically transcribe 16th- and early 17th-century English secretary hand with a high degree of accuracy. The goal is to make transcriptions of equity court material available in a searchable online repository.

Awards and Honors

2023 Robert Childres Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence

2022 Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Studies Historical School

2020 Sutherland Prize, honorable mention

2020, 2013 Outstanding First Year Course Professor

2013 Richard & Diane Cummins Legal History Research Grant,

2012 Kluge Fellowship

2011 American Bankruptcy Law Journal Editors’ Prize

2010 Sutherland Prize