Laura Spitz

Laura Spitz

Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Professor of Law

 ADMN 133


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  • Business Law
  • Commercial Law
  • Contracts


  • BA, University of Toronto, History, 1989
  • JD, University of British Columbia, 1993
  • PhD, Law, Cornell University, 2006


Laura Spitz is Vice Provost for Global Engagement and Professor of Law at Seattle University and a regular Visiting Professor at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Law School. She received her B.A. from the University of Toronto, her J.D. from the University of British Columbia, and her J.S.D. from Cornell University.

Professor Spitz’s areas of teaching include contracts, international and domestic commercial law, international and domestic business law, and corporate social responsibility. Her legal scholarship focuses on the law’s role(s) in the social construction of personal, community, national, and regional borders and identities. Within this larger inquiry, Professor Spitz is especially interested in the line between subjects and objects in the common law system and the limits of their utility as categories in both law and society. For example, her co-authored article in the Harvard Environmental Law Review (reprinted in the Land Use and Environment Law Review) asks whether legal subjecthood is a useful strategy for advancing progressive environmental law claims. She also writes about the difficulty of translating these categories into concepts cognizable in Indigenous legal systems.

Immediately prior to joining Seattle University, Professor Spitz was Carl Hatch Endowed Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico. Professor Spitz previously served as Vice Provost for International Affairs at Cornell University (2015-2018), Associate Dean for International Affairs at Cornell Law School (2012-2018), and Associate Professor of Law at the University of Colorado (2005-2010). She has also taught at Thompson Rivers University, Emory University, and the University of Ottawa. Professor Spitz is a nonpracticing member of the Law Society of British Columbia (Canada) and a consulting and testifying expert in contracts, commercial law, and business law. Her practice experience includes both domestic and international business transactions, commercial transactions (including secured transactions), tax law, social purpose and non-profit business law, banking law, and Indigenous economic development law.


Work in Progress:

Laura Spitz, Proving Improper Purpose: Understanding the Moral Culpability Requirement for Veil Piercing.


Martha Fineman & Laura Spitz (eds.), Law, Vulnerability, and the Responsive State: Beyond Equality and Liberty (Routledge: 2023).

Articles and Book Chapters:

Nazune Menka & Laura Spitz, Using Vulnerability Theory to Reconceive the Relationships between Native Nations, the United States, and State Governments, in Laura Spitz and Martha Fineman (eds.), Law, Vulnerability, and the Responsive State: Beyond Equality and Liberty (Routledge: 2023).

Laura Spitz, Colonialism, Law, and the Social Construction of Humanity on Vancouver Island, 1849-64, in To Share, Not Surrender: Indigenous and Settler Visions of Treaty Making in the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia (UBC Press: Peter Cook, Neil Vallance, John Lutz, Graham Brazier, and Hamar Foster, eds., 2022); available here.

Laura Spitz, The Case for Outside Reverse Veil Piercing in New Mexico, 51 N.M. L. Rev. 349 (2021); available here.

Laura Spitz & Eduardo M. Peñalver, Nature's Personhood and Property's Virtues, 45 Harv. Envtl. L. Rev. 67 (2021); available here.

Elizabeth Brundige, Lucía Domínguez Cisneros, Eduardo Peñalver & Laura Spitz, U.S. Nonprofit Activity in Cuba: Challenges in Cuban Law and Practice, 50 Cornell Int’l L. J. 199 (2017); available here.

Laura Spitz, Book Review, Responsible Business: Self-governance and Law in Transnational Economic Transactions (Olaf Dilling, Martin Herberg, and Gerd Winter eds.), 44 L. & Soc’y Rev. 413 (2010); available here.

Laura Spitz, Theorizing the More Responsive State: The Radical Potential for Constitutional Pluralism in North America, in Martha Albertson Fineman (ed.), Transcending the Boundaries of Law 305 (Routledge: 2010); available here.

Laura Spitz, The Evolving Architecture of North American Integration, 80 Col. L. Rev. 735-792 (2009); available here.

Laura Spitz, Wands Away (or Preaching to Infidels Who Wear Earplugs), 41 Law Teacher: Int’l J. Legal Educ. 314 (2007); available here.

Laura Spitz, The Gift of Enron: An Opportunity to Talk About Capitalism, Equality and the Promise of a North American Charter of Fundamental Rights, 66 Ohio St. L. J. 315 (2005); available here.

Laura Spitz, I Think, Therefore I Am; I Feel, Therefore I Am Taxed: Descartes, Tort Reform, and the Civil Rights Tax Relief Act, 35 N.M. L. Rev. 429 (2005); available here.

Laura Spitz, At the Intersection of North American Free Trade and Same-Sex Marriage, 9 U.C.L.A. J. of Int’l L. 163 (2004); available here.

Laura Spitz & Ann Scales, The Jurisprudence of the Military Industrial Complex, 1 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 541-565 (2003); available here.

Isabel Grant & Laura Spitz, R. v. Parks: Automatism and Murder, 72 Can. Bar. Rev. 224 (1993); available here.

  • Cited with approval by the Supreme Court of Canada, v. Stone, [1999] 2 S.C.R. 290, at paras. 216-217, per Bastarache J.
  • Reprinted in Jennie Abell and Elizabeth Sheehy, eds., CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE: PROOF, DEFENSES AND BEYOND (Toronto: Captus Press, 1998 (2d) and 2003 (3d)).

Other Writing/Podcasts:

UNM Career Toolbox Podcast, Contract Careers with Professor Spitz (April 12, 2021), available here.

TRU Business Law Society Podcast, Love it, hate it, gotta pay it: Taxes, a discussion with Laura Spitz (February 5, 2021), available here.

Laura Spitz, Red River, White Law, Tribal L. J. Blog (June 19, 2019), available here.

Laura Spitz, Rendering Beings Human: The Law and the Human, Cornell U. C. Arts & Sci. Podcast Series (Oct. 23, 2017), essay and podcast available here.

Laura Spitz, When Constitutions Collide: North American Free Trade, Economic Globalization and Transnational Integration (Jan. 2006) (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Cornell University).

Laura Spitz, Perhaps Divided But Never Conquered: Taking Back Our Differences, N.A.W.L. Pub. (Toronto: 1994).

  • First Prize, Canadian National Association of Women and the Law 1993 National Research and Essay Competition.