Faculty on Point | Professor David Freeman Engstrom on How Class Actions Lost Out to Labor Law


Stanford Graduate School of Business
Professor of Law

David Freeman Engstrom is a far-ranging scholar of the design and implementation of litigation and regulatory regimes whose expertise runs to civil procedure, administrative law, federal courts, constitutional law, legal history, and empirical legal studies.

Professor Engstrom’s award-winning scholarship has appeared in Stanford Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and Columbia Law Review, among others, and has been cited in scores of federal and state court decisions and litigation briefs. His expert commentary has appeared in numerous outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, The National Law Journal, CNN, and MSNBC. Past projects include the first large-scale empirical investigation of qui tam litigation under the False Claims Act, a series of articles on the history of the class action, a much-cited critique of empirical studies of recent changes to civil pleading rules, and an effort to guide states on how they can, within constitutional constraints, exercise leadership on climate and other global policy issues. Current work includes a book charting the evolution of American job discrimination laws, a study of the effect of advances in “legal tech” on civil procedure and the civil justice system, and a major project advising the Administrative Conference of the United States on the use of artificial intelligence within the federal administrative state.

Beyond teaching and research, Professor Engstrom has served as counsel or consultant to a wide range of entities, including law firms, major corporations, governments and administrative agencies, and a leading litigation finance company. He regularly authors amicus briefs in key cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and elsewhere. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a faculty affiliate at the Stanford Human-Centered AI Initiative, CodeX: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, and the Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab (RegLab). Finally, he is currently serving as Stanford Law School’s Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and in that role is leading an effort to shape the law school’s programs and offerings around law and digital technology.

Before joining Stanford’s faculty, Engstrom litigated at what is now Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick in Washington, D.C., where he represented clients before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals, and various trial courts and agencies. He also clerked for (now Chief) Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and was a John M. Olin Fellow at Yale Law School. Earlier in his career, he worked on education, early childhood, and civil rights issues at Yale University’s Edward Zigler Center and the Hewlett Foundation and taught high school and coached football in the Mississippi Delta. He holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, an M.Sc. from Oxford University, and a Ph.D. from Yale University.


AB Dartmouth College 1993 MSc (Economic and Social History) Oxford University 1996 JD Stanford Law School 2002 PhD (Political Science) Yale University 2005

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