Conference Revisits the Contracts Scholarship of Stewart Macaulay

Betsy Handler, Stewart Macaulay, Joel Handler

Stewart Macaulay's first contracts article appeared fifty years ago. Several others followed in short order, creating a body of work that has since proved to be very influential.

Today, Macaulay stands as one of two key founders of a school of thought known as "relational contracts," and his work continues to inspire legal scholars.

On October 21-22, fifteen of these contracts scholars gathered to present papers with a connection to Macaulay's work. Their presentations will be assembled and published as a volume toward the end of 2012.

The conference inspired both substantive discussion and heartfelt tributes to a Macaulay. While panels touched on subjects as wide-ranging as "Ambition and Humility in Contract Law" to "Conflict and Collaboration in Business Organization," there were also moments that spoke to Macaulay's generosity as a professor and his lifelong love of jazz.

"We were able to recruit an outstanding group of recognized contracts scholars to deliver papers," says Professor Bill Whitford, Macaulay's longtime colleague and friend. "Every person we asked to deliver a paper participated, and we could have recruited many more. It was a real testament to the esteem with which Stewart's work is held in the contracts academic community."

The conference was funded by the University of Wisconsin Law School's Contracts Enrichment Fund, which contains the royalties from the Contracts:Law in Action, a contracts casebook edited by Macaulay, Whitford, Wisconsin Emeritus Professor of Law John Kidwell and Professor Jean Braucher of Arizona Law School. It was cosponsored by The Wisconsin Contracts Group, the Institute for Legal Studies, and the University of Wisconsin Law School.

The conference set a tone of collaboration from the start. "Because attendees were all familiar with and admirers of Stewart's work," says Whitford, "we jumped right into a constructive discussion. People were not questioning others' basic premises. By day two we were building off the first day's discussion. It was an exceptional experience for the attendees, who came from law schools throughout the country."

Submitted by UW Law News on November 30, 2011

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