David Freeman Engstrom David Freeman Engstrom

LSVF Professor in Law and Co-Director, Stanford Center on the Legal Profession

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

Professor Engstrom’s current work focuses on the intersection of law and technology, particularly the use of machine learning tools by litigants in the civil justice system and government agencies.  He has published numerous articles on the implications of emerging “legal tech” tools for litigation systems and is the editor of the forthcoming volume, Legal Tech and the Future of Civil Justice (Cambridge University Press 2022).  He is also currently serving as a public appointee to the State Bar of California’s Closing the Justice Gap Working Group, tasked with proposing reforms to foster innovative legal services delivery models.  During 2018-2020, he served as a principal advisor to the Administrative Conference of the United States on the project, Government by Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence in Federal Administrative Agencies, which garnered national media attention and remains the most comprehensive treatment of the subject to date.  He regularly teaches and lectures on these topics at Stanford and around the world.  

Other scholarly projects include a series of articles on the evolution of the modern class action, empirical analyses of the class action and pleading rules under the federal civil procedure rules, a groundbreaking study of the role of race in American administrative law, the first large-scale empirical investigation of qui tam litigation under the False Claims Act, and a set of articles charting the past, present, and future of American job discrimination laws.  

Engstrom’s award-winning scholarship on these and other topics has appeared in Stanford Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and Columbia Law Review, among other top legal journals, and has been cited in scores of federal and state court decisions and litigation briefs.  His writing and expert commentary have appeared in numerous media outlets, including The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostUSA TodayBloomberg, Wired, Reuters, Fortune, Forbes, The National Law Journal, CNN, and MSNBC. 

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, universities, and a leading litigation finance company.  Most recently, he served as counsel to MDL lawyers opposing a proposed class action settlement in the Roundup litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  He regularly authors amicus and litigation briefs in key cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts.  He is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a public member of the Administrative Conference of the United States, and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.  

At Stanford, Professor Engstrom co-directs the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession.  From 2018 to 2021, he served as Stanford Law School’s Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and, in that role, led an effort to shape the law school’s programs and offerings around law and digital technology.  He is a faculty affiliate at CodeX: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics, the Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab (RegLab), and the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI, where he currently chairs the Technology Policy Governance committee.  

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 in a wide range of matters, from national class actions to regulatory challenges. He also clerked for 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 has a J.D. from Stanford Law School, an M.Sc. from Oxford University, and a Ph.D. from Yale University.

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