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Erik Jensen

Erik Jensen, JD

Professor of the Practice of Law at Stanford Law School
Co-director of the law school's Rule of Law Program
CDDRL Affiliated Faculty

Stanford University
Encina Hall C144
Stanford, CA 94305-6055

(650) 724-7985 (voice)
(650) 725-0253 (fax)

Research Interests

the political economy of reform; the connections between legal systems and the economies, polities and societies in which they are situated; the relationship of Islam to the rule of law


Erik Jensen holds joint appointments at Stanford Law School and Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. He is Professor of the Practice, Director of the Rule of Law Program at Stanford Law School, an Affiliated Core Faculty at Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, and Senior Advisor for Governance and Law at The Asia Foundation. Jensen began his international career as a Fulbright Scholar. He has taught and practiced in the field of law and development for 30 years and has carried out fieldwork in 35 developing countries.  He lived in Asia for 14 years. He has led or advised research teams on governance and the rule of law at the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank.  Among his numerous publications, Jensen co-edited with Thomas Heller Beyond Common Knowledge:  Empirical Approaches to the Rule of Law (Stanford University Press:  2003). At Stanford he teaches courses related to state building, development and the rule of law.  Jensen’s scholarship and fieldwork focuses on bridging theory and practice, and examines connections between law, economy, politics and society.   Much of his teaching focuses on experiential learning. In recent years he has committed considerable effort to building out law degree-granting programs at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), where he also sits on the Board of Trustees, and at the American University of Iraq in Sulaimani (AUIS). He is the faculty director of student-driven projects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Rwanda, Cambodia, and he has directed projects in Bhutan and Timor Leste. With Paul Brest he is co-leading a research project launched in 2015 and funded by the Global Development and Poverty Fund at FSI on the “rule of non-law.”  The project examines the use of various work-arounds to the formal legal system by economic actors in developing countries. Eight law faculty members as well as scholars at the Freeman Spogli Institute are participating in the Rule of Non-Law Project.  

Stanford Affiliations


Other Affiliations

The Asia Foundation