William A. Birdthistle

Professor of Law

William A. Birdthistle joined the faculty of Chicago-Kent in 2006. Previously, he practiced for five years at Ropes & Gray in Boston, where he was a corporate associate in the investment management practice. While at the firm, Professor Birdthistle worked primarily on matters involving mutual funds and hedge funds, focusing specifically on governmental investigations into allegations of malfeasance in the mutual fund industry. He is the author of Empire of the Fund: The Way We Save Now (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Professor Birdthistle's research explores investment funds, executive compensation, and corporate governance. He has published academic articles in the University of Chicago Law Review, Harvard Law Review, University of Illinois Law Review, Green Bag, and Wisconsin Law Review, among other places, and has written book reviews, op-eds, and other pieces for the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and Christian Science Monitor. Two of his articles have been selected for inclusion in the Securities Law Review anthology of the top 10 securities law review articles of the year.

Professor Birdthistle has served as counsel of record on multiple amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court. He has been quoted by the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, and Associated Press, and has appeared on NPR's "Marketplace" and several other media outlets in connection with corporate and financial legal developments.

Professor Birdthistle is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he served as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. He received his B.A. summa cum laude in English and psychology from Duke University in 1995. Following law school, Professor Birdthistle clerked for Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is a citizen of both the Republic of Ireland and the United States and spent eight years living in Marsa el-Brega, Libya, and nine years living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before coming to the United States in 1991 for his undergraduate studies. At Chicago-Kent, he teaches business organizations, securities regulation, corporate finance, investment funds, and international business transactions.


J.D., Harvard Law School
B.A., Duke University



Becoming a Fifth Branch, 99 Cornell Law Review 101 (2013) (with M. Todd Henderson).

The Supreme Court’s Theory of the Fund, 37 Journal of Corporation Law 101 (2012).

Breaking Bucks in Money Market Funds, 2010 Wisconsin Law Review 1155 (2010). Anthologized in Securities Law Review (Donald C. Langevoort, ed., 2012).

Investment Indiscipline: A Behavioral Approach to Mutual Fund Jurisprudence, 2010 University of Illinois Law Review 61 (2010).

One Hat Too Many?: Investment Desegregation in Private Equity, 76 University of Chicago Law Review 45 (2009) (with M. Todd Henderson).

The Fortunes & Foibles of Exchange-Traded Funds: A Positive Market Response to the Problems of Mutual Funds, 33 Delaware Journal of Corporate Law 69 (2008) anthologized in Securities Law Review (Donald C. Langevoort, ed., 2009).

Football Most Foul, 10 Green Bag 2d 159 (2007).

Compensating Power: An Analysis of Rents and Rewards in the Mutual Fund Industry, 80 Tulane Law Review 1401 (2006).

A Contested Ascendancy: Problems with Personal Managers Acting as Producers, 20 Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review 493 (2000).

Amicus Briefs

Counsel of Record, Brief of Law Professors as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondent (November 2, 2010), Janus, et al. v. First Derivative Traders, No. 09-525 (U.S. 2010).

Counsel of Record, Brief of Amici Curiae Law Professors in Support of Petitioners (June 15, 2009), Jones v. Harris Associates L.P., 129 S. Ct. 1579 (U.S. 2009).

Counsel of Record, Brief of Amici Curiae Law Professors in Support of the Petition for Rehearing En Banc (March 18, 2009), Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d 575 (7th Cir. 2009).

Counsel of Record, Brief of Amici Curiae Law Professors in Support of the Issuance of a Writ of Certiorari (December 3, 2008), in Jones v. Harris Associates, Inc., 527 F.3d 627 (7th Cir. 2008), certiorari granted, 77 U.S.L.W. 3281 (U.S. March 9, 2009).

Search Professor Birdthistle's publications on works.bepress.com.


Empire of the Fund: The Way We Save Now (Oxford University Press, June 2016).

Research Handbook On the Regulation of Mutual Funds (co-edited with John D. Morley).


Business Organizations; Finance; International Business; Investment Funds; Securities Regulation