Professor of Law and Associate Dean for J.D. and Graduate Admissions
Professor Sheppard’s research examines the relationship between the manner in which the law is expressed and the consequences that it brings about. His areas of interest have been human behavior, such as judicial decision-making or lawyer conduct, and computer automation, such as the capacity for machines to interpret legal language. His work typically uses 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. He is currently analyzing the connection between law’s clarity and the development of natural language processing technology. His other academic interests include legal ethics, international law, jurisprudence, torts, entertainment law, and legal innovation.
He has published work on the Vanderbilt Law Review, Yale Press, the University of Toronto Law Journal, the Harvard Law Review Forum, and the Florida State University Law Review, among others. Professor Sheppard is a frequent contributor to national news publications regarding developments in legal services technology. He has also published op-eds in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe on issues of international justice.
Professor Sheppard also serves as an advisor on issues of ethics, political unrest, and injustice. Recently, he has been a high-profile commentator regarding 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. In the years before his fellowship, he served as a law clerk in Boston for Justice Martha B. Sosman of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and for Judge Levin H. Campbell of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. 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, Professor Sheppard earned his LL.M. from Harvard Law School and his J.D. from Boston College Law School. He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.
LAW REVIEW ARTICLES
The Ethics Resistance, 31 Geo. J. Legal Ethics (Forthcoming 2018)
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)
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)
"Josiah Quincy, Jr.,", in Yale Biographical Dictionary of American Law (2009) (Roger Newman ed., Yale Press)
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)
Perspective: The Divide at the Heart of Legal Tech, Bloomberg (March 29, 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)