The Columns

W&L Law’s Jill Fraley Wins AALS Scholarly Papers Competition

— by on December 7th, 2015

Jill Fraley, associate professor of law at Washington and Lee University, has been named the winner of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) 2016 Scholarly Papers Competition. Fraley won the award, one of the most prestigious in legal education, for her paper “An Unwritten History of Waste Law.”

Launched in 1986 to highlight excellent work of junior faculty, the award is limited to full-time law teachers who have been teaching at an AALS member school for five years or fewer. The winner and runners-up were chosen by a panel of seven distinguished law scholars, using a “blind-grading” process. Fraley will present the paper at the AALS annual meeting in New York in January.

“Jill Fraley is a remarkably talented member of our faculty,” said Brant J. Hellwig, Dean of Washington and Lee University School of Law.  “This award, and the Fulbright fellowship she received last year to support her research, serve as testaments to the contributions she is making to the fields of legal history and property law.  In addition to her scholarly strengths, Jill is a masterful teacher.  We at W&L Law are fortunate to have her as a colleague.”

Fraley’s win of this award is W&L’s third since 2005. Corporate law scholar Christopher Bruner won the award in 2010 for his article “Power and Purpose in the ‘Anglo-American’ Corporation,” and international law scholar Mark Drumbl won the award in 2005 for his article “Collective Violence and Individual Punishment: The Criminality of Mass Atrocity.”

In “An Unwritten History of Waste Law,” Fraley uses historical evidence to displace the reigning economic and social theories of how the law of waste evolved in America. She critiques the current methods of legal history, arguing that the law and society and law and economics movements have distorted legal history by consistently privileging the lens of social context and neglecting doctrinal investigation, thereby overlooking the role of law as an independent, stable system that promotes social stability and affirms existing rights and investments.

“I am very honored to receive the AALS prize,” said Fraley. “With the competition encompassing all fields of law, the award is particularly exciting. It is also wonderful to have the AALS providing a forum where I can share my work. Property and legal history are not always headline-making fields, so it is a particular pleasure to have both the recognition of my work and the opportunity to share it.”

Fraley received a Fulbright grant for the 2014-15 year, which she spent in Ireland conducting research on the development of property law in colonial Scotland and Ireland. Her research on England’s colonization of Scotland and Ireland explores how Great Britain transported its own property law system as it expanded to other territories, including North America. Fraley is currently at work on a book manuscript titled “The Tragedy of the Wastes: A History of Least-Valued Properties and the Making of Nation-States in Eighteenth Century North America.”

Fraley is a graduate of Yale University, where she completed dual programs in History and Religious Studies. She received her J.D. from Duke University, after which she practiced law for more than six years, working primarily in toxic torts and premises liability. She eventually returned to the academy, receiving an LL.M. and a J.S.D. from Yale Law School.

Fraley has taught at the University of Kentucky, the University of Kentucky Law School and Yale Law School. At W&L, she teaches property, environmental law, law and geography and legal history. Her recent writings focus on the legal history of Appalachia, property, cartography and the development of territorial jurisdiction.

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