Brian Sheppard

Professor Brian Sheppard

Professor of Law

  • Degrees:

  • S.J.D., Harvard Law School | LL.M., Harvard Law School | J.D., Boston College Law School | B.A., College of the Holy Cross
  • Contact:

  • [email protected]
  • Tel: 973-642-8867
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Courses:

  • Professional Responsibility, Torts, Torts II, Entertainment Law

Professor Sheppard’s research examines the relationship between the manner in which the law is expressed and the consequences that it brings about. He is most interested in human behavior within a legal context, such as judicial decision-making or lawyer conduct, and computer automation, particularly the capacity for machines to interpret legal language. His work often makes use of the insights of legal philosophy and the methodologies of behavioral psychology to investigate how the clarity of our legal directives changes the way that we justify or argue against state action. His other academic interests include legal ethics, international law, jurisprudence, torts, entertainment law, and legal innovation.

He has published academic work on the Vanderbilt Law Review, Yale Press, University of Toronto Law Journal, Harvard Law Review Forum, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, and Boston College Law Review, among others. Professor Sheppard is also a frequent commentator on developments in legal services technology, having contributed articles to national publications like the ABA Journal’s Legal Rebels series and Bloomberg. He has also published guest essays on issues of international and domestic justice in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, The Hill and on Slate.

Professor Sheppard also serves as an advisor on issues of ethics, political unrest, and injustice. Recently, he has been a high-profile commentator on police reform and on the use of legal ethics against important lawyers connected to the Trump Presidency. In 2011, he was a co-author of the report analyzing the legality of the 2009 Honduran coup for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Honduras, a project lauded by numerous governments as well as by the OAS and the UN. Professor Sheppard has also served as an empirical researcher and consultant for organizations such as the Perception Institute and the Last Resort Exoneration Project.

Professor Sheppard joined Seton Hall as an associate professor in 2010 after serving as a Climenko Fellow at Harvard Law School, where he earned his S.J.D. While studying at Harvard Law School, he continued to work at the First Circuit as a staff attorney, working largely on criminal and immigration cases. He also coordinated the Law Teaching Colloquium of the school’s Graduate Program. Before then, he served as a law clerk in Boston for Judge Levin H. Campbell of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and for Justice Martha B. Sosman of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, and he earned his J.D. from Boston College Law School. He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.



Do Law Titles Affect Their Favorability and Memorability? An Empirical Analysis of Tactically Titled Statutes, 24 NYU J. Legis. & Pub. Pol’y 101 (2022) (with Andrew Moshirnia and Charles Sullivan)

The Reasonableness Machine, B.C. L. Rev. (2021)

The Ethics Resistance, 32 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 235 (2019)

Warming Up to Inscrutability: How Technology Could Challenge Our Concept of Law, 68 U. Tor. L. J. 33 (2018)

Incomplete Innovation and the Premature Disruption of Legal Services, 2015 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1797 (2015)

Norm Supercompliance and the Status of Soft Law, 62 Buff. L. Rev. 787 (2014)

For the Sake of Argument: A Behavioral Analysis of Whether and How Legal Argument Matters to Decisionmaking, 40 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 537 (2013) (with Andrew Moshirnia)

Judging Under Pressure, 39 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 931 (2012)

Calculating the Standard Error: Just How Much Should Empirical Studies Curb Our Enthusiasm for Legal Standards?, 124 Harv. L. Rev. F. 92 (2011)

Evaluating Norms: An Empirical Analysis of the Relationship Between Norm-Content, Operator, and Charitable Behavior, 63 Vand. L. Rev. (2010) (with Fiery Cushman)

Attitude Issues:The Difficulty of Using Personal and Ideological Characteristics to Predict Justice Martha B. Sosman's Decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 42 New Eng. L. Rev. 407 (2008) (invited)


“Legal Constraint”, in The Cambridge Handbook of Experimental Jurisprudence, (Kevin Tobia, ed.) (forthcoming 2023)

"Josiah Quincy, Jr.,", in Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law, Yale Press (Roger Newman ed.) (2009)


Smartphone Skepticism: The Digital Divide and Increased Scrutiny of Parental Decision-Making Concerning Smartphone Use, (forthcoming) (under review, peer reviewed) (with Najarian Peters and Andrew Moshirnia)

#PopJustice, Vol. 1: Social Justice and the Promise of Pop Culture Strategies, (2016) (through Liz Manne Strategy with Liz Manne, Rachel D. Godsil, Mik Moore, Meredith Osborne, Joseph Phelan with Thelma Adams, and Michael Ahn)

#PopJustice, Vol. 3: Pop Culture, Perceptions, and Social Change, (2016) (through Liz Manne Strategy with Rachel D. Godsil and Jessica MacFarlane in association with Perception Institute)

Report to the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation of Honduras: Constitutional Issues, (2011) (with Noah Feldman and David Landau)


Want change at the Supreme Court? Congress should offer justices buyouts for early retirement, The Hill (July 21, 2022)

What if Cops Needed Permission to Draw Their Guns?, Slate (May 27, 2021)

Skill Fade: The Ethics of Lawyer Dependence on Algorithms and Technology, 19 Practice Innovations 2 (March 2018) (Thomson Reuters)

Bring the Guantanamo Detainees to Trial, The Boston Globe (December 19, 2016)

Can This Tech Company Save Legal Education?, Bloomberg (February 3, 2016)

Does Machine-Learning-Powered Software Make Good Research Decisions? Lawyers Can’t Know for Sure, ABA Journal, Legal Rebels Series (November 22, 2016)

Perspective: The Divide at the Heart of Legal Tech, Bloomberg (2016)

How to Fix Latin America’s ‘Strongman’ Problem, The New York Times (December 17, 2015) (with David Landau and Rosalind Dixon)

Why Digitizing Harvard’s Law Library May Not Improve Access to Justice, Bloomberg (November 12, 2015)

Why Honduras’s Judiciary Is Its Most Dangerous Branch, New York Times (June 25, 2015) (with David Landau)

Fixing Honduras, Los Angeles Times (June 7, 2011) (with Noah Feldman and David Landau)