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Donald J. Smythe

Professor of Law
Chief Justice Roger J. Traynor Professor of Law

PhD, Yale University [1992]
JD, University of Virginia [1999]

225 Cedar Street
(619) 515-1562
Property, Sales, Secured Transactions, Legal Analysis, and Law and Economics.

Professor Smythe joined California Western School of Law as an Assistant Professor of Law in 2001. He left California Western in 2004 to become an Associate Professor of Economics and Law at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He returned to California Western as an Associate Professor of Law in 2007 and became a Professor of Law in 2011. He served as Vice Dean for Academic Affairs from 2017 to 2019.

Here is a brief CV:

Visit Professor Smythe's SSRN Author Page.

Book Chapters

  • Donald J. Smythe, Impossibility and Impracticability, in Encyclopedia Of Law And Economics 207 (2d ed. 2011).


  • Donald J. Smythe, SCOTUS in the Strait of Messina, TEX. REV. L. & POL. (forthcoming).
  • Donald J. Smythe, The Power to Exclude and the Power to Expel, 66 CLEV. ST. L. REV. 367 (2018).
  • Donald J. Smythe, The Illiberty of Contract, 35 QUINNIPIAC L. REV. 461 (2017).
  • Donald J. Smythe, Reasonable Standards for Contract Interpretation under the CISG, 25 CARDOZO J. INT’L & COMP. L. 1 (2016).
  • Donald J. Smythe, Clearing the Clouds on the CISG’s Warranty of Title, 36 NW. J. INT’L LAW & BUS. 509 (2016).
  • Donald J. Smythe, Liberty at the Borders of Private Law, 49 Akron L. Rev. 1 (2015).
  • Donald J. Smythe, Consideration for a Price: Using the Contract Price to Interpret Ambiguous Contract Terms, 34 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 109 (2013).
  • Laurence A. Benner, Robert Bird & Donald J. Smythe, Social Network Theory and the Diffusion of the Search and Seizure Exclusionary Rule Among State Courts Between Weeks and Wolf, 27 BYU J. Pub. L. 97 (2012).
  • Robert C. Bird & Donald J. Smythe, Social Network Analysis and the Diffusion of the Strict Liability Rule for Manufacturing Defects, 1963-87, 37 Law & Soc. Inquiry 565 (2012).
  • Donald J. Smythe, The Rise of the Corporation, the Birth of Public Relations, and the Foundations of Modern Political Economy, 50 Washburn L.J. 635 (2011).
  • Donald J. Smythe, The Road to Nowhere: Caterpillar v. Usinor and CISG Claims by Downstream Buyers against Remote Sellers, 2 Geo. Mason J. Int’l Com. L. 123 (2011).
  • Donald J. Smythe, A Schumpeterian View of the Great Merger Movement in American Manufacturing, 4 Cliometrica 141 (2010). 
  • Robert C. Bird & Donald J. Smythe, The Structure of American Legal Institutions and the Diffusion of Wrongful-Discharge Laws, 1978-99, 42 Law & Soc’y Rev. 833 (2008).
  • Donald J. Smythe, Transaction Costs, Neighborhood Effects, and the Diffusion of the Uniform Sales Act, 1906-47, Review Of Law And Economics: Vol. 4: Iss. 1, Article 16 (2008), available at
  • Donald J. Smythe, Commercial Law in the Cracks of Judicial Federalism, 56 Cath. U. L. Rev. 451 (2007).

Symposium Contribution

  • Donald J. Smythe, Shareholder Democracy and the Economic Purpose of the Corporation, 63 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 1407 (2007).


  • Donald J. Smythe, The Scope of a Bargain and the Value of a Promise, 60 S.C. L. Rev. 203 (2008).