After graduating from Wesleyan University (B.A., High Honors in General Scholarship) and Stanford Law School (J.D., Order of the Coif), Willis clerked for the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States and for Judge Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Before coming to academia, Willis was a litigator in the Housing Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and worked with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on predatory mortgage lending litigation.
Publications, Research and Related Material
- Civil Procedure
- Consumer Law
- Disclosure as a Regulatory Device
- Problems and Reforms in the Home Mortgage Market
- BA, with High Honors in General Scholarship, Wesleyan University
- JD, with Distinction, Stanford Law School, Order of the Coif
Lauren E. Willis specializes in consumer law and policy, including consumer finance, privacy, contracts, education, disclosure, and litigation. Her scholarly work concentrates on the intersection of consumer psychology, market structure, and law. She is a leading critic of the use of financial education, disclosures, and “nudges” (default settings) in consumer policy-making. Her recent work develops a fresh approach to consumer law, one that would require firms to demonstrate that their customers understand key product and service features or are using the firm’s products or services suitably (for an introduction to the approach, see Performance-Based Consumer Law, in the University of Chicago Law Review). Her approach unites the interests of firms with the interests of consumers so as to redirect the innovative energies of the private sector to better pursue consumer autonomy and social welfare.
Willis teaches contracts, civil procedure, consumer law, disclosure as a regulatory device, and problems and reforms in the home mortgage market. She joined the Loyola faculty in 2004 and has held appointments as the Robert Braucher Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Visiting Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, Visiting Associate Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School. She was honored by Loyola’s graduating day class with the 2008 Excellence in Teaching award.
- Deception by Design, 34 Harvard J. of L. & Tech. 115 (2020)
- The Faulty Foundation of the Draft Restatement of Consumer Contracts, 36 Yale J. Reg. 447 (2019) (with Adam J. Levitin, Nancy S. Kim, Peter Linzer, Patricia A. Mccoy, Juliet M. Moringiello, & Elizabeth A. Renuart)
- Performance-Based Remedies: Ordering Firms to Eradicate Their Own Fraud, 80 Law & Contemporary Problems 7 (2017)
- Performance-Based Consumer Law, 82 U. Chicago L. Rev. (2015)
- Why Not Privacy By Default?, 29 Berkeley Tech. L. J. 61 (2014)
- When Nudges Fail: Slippery Defaults, 80 U. Chicago L. Rev. 1155 (2013)
- The Financial Education Fallacy, 101 American Econ. Rev. 429 (2011
In the News
Willis has been interviewed by print, radio, television and internet media in the United States and abroad. She occasionally writes op-eds. This is a selection of her appearances in the news.
- What Your Bank Owes You: Clarity, Los Angeles Times (Jan. 14, 2015)
- Secret ‘Added Sugars’ Threaten Your Health: Will Disclosure Help?, COGNOSCENTI (May 6, 2014)
- What Do Hand-Washing and Financial Illiteracy Have in Common? Listen to Professor Willis on Freakonomics Radio (Jan. 19, 2012)
- A Price Tag Like Any Other, Huffington Post (Feb. 22, 2012)
- Question of the Week: Is Teaching Personal Finance Education in Schools a Waste of Time?, Guardian Sunday Observer, U.K. (Mar. 29, 2009)
- Bailout Should Also Help Renters, San Francisco Chronicle (Feb. 23, 2009)
- Eminent Domain, Post-Bailout, Daily Journal (Oct. 8, 2008)
- Sorting Through the Mortgage Muddle, Chicago Tribune (Aug. 26, 2007)
- The Fleecing of Black Borrowers, Washington Post (Oct. 8, 2006)
Willis is a co-founder of the annual Consumer Law Scholars Conference and continues to serve as a member of the organizing committee for the conference. She also serves as an adviser to the American Law Institute’s Project on the Restatement of the Law Third, Consumer Contracts, and to the Walter Cronkite Project’s FoolProof Consumer Education Program. She is a member of the Executive Committee for the Commercial & Consumer Law Section of the American Association of Law Schools. As the need arises, she provides formal comments to a variety of domestic, foreign, and international regulatory and legislative bodies and co-authors amicus briefs relating to consumer law issues. She has lectured on consumer law and policy in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and North America, and her work has been translated into German, Korean, Chinese, and Italian.
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