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Durham University

Durham Law School


Professor Schwarcz Honorary Professorship

(27 May 2019)

Durham Law School has awarded a Distinguished Honorary Professorship to one of the world’s leading authorities on financial regulation, Professor Steven Schwarcz, who gives his inaugural lecture in Durham on 28 May.

Professor Schwarcz, who is Stanley A. Star Professor of Law & Business at Duke University in the USA, is delivering the keynote address at a day-long symposium on ‘Financial Inclusion and Access to Credit’.

He is basing his lecture on a recent policy brief and forthcoming article he has authored. Both works, Professor Schwarcz explained, outline how commercial law can be deployed to allow the poor “to use the property they inhabit, but do not legally own, as collateral to borrow, in order to start small businesses and become upwardly mobile.”

Credit, he writes in his forthcoming article, is a commercial activity, and commercial law “should recognize the importance of reducing the wealth gap as a justification for allowing the poor to use their de facto rights in property as collateral. That would not only help to empower the poor with credit but also would facilitate sustainable finance that attracts arm’s length funding to supplement charitable and public resources.”

He writes that solving the worldwide problem of access to credit would control and possibly reduce the widening wealth gap between the rich and poor that threatens social and financial stability.

Professor Schwarcz, who is based at Duke University School of Law at Durham’s namesake city in North Carolina, said he is enormously gratified to be honored by Durham University. 

Honorary professorships are conferred by the University on individuals who are of equivalent national or international standing in their fields as the institution’s academic staff are in theirs. They are also based on the recipient’s outstanding professional achievement and recognition as leading experts within their professions and occupations.

“Steven, of course, met Durham’s standards,” said John Linarelli, Professor of Commercial Law at Durham Law School. “He is one of the very top global authorities on financial law and regulation. It is our honor to have him as Honorary Professor with us. His work is groundbreaking and read and cited globally. The impact of his work is profound. We in the Law School have decided to make his title ‘Distinguished Honorary Professor.’

“We hope that the affiliation becomes an enriching one between the two Durhams. There is much our Universities hold in common, most notably our values and our commitment to world class scholarship and research.”

Professor Shwarcz’s areas of expertise include insolvency and bankruptcy law, international finance, capital markets, systemic risk, corporate governance, and commercial law. He has written extensively and testified before the U.S. Congress on topics including systemic risk, securitization, credit rating agencies, and financial regulation and has advised several U.S. and foreign governmental agencies on the financial crisis and shadow banking.