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Erin Ryan

Associate Professor of Law

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Latest Highlights

Appointments and Service

  • Cochair of the faculty mentoring committee of the Association for Law, Property, and Society. Fall 2014.

  • Faculty peer reviewer of federalism scholarship proposed for Yale Law Journal. August 2014.

  • Faculty peer reviewer of federalism scholarship proposed for Harvard Law Review. August 2014.

Awards and Honors

  • Featured in an alumna spotlight by the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program newsletter. March 9, 2015.

Media Appearances

  • Interviewed by Michelle Rindels and Riley Snyder on Nevada’s AB 408, which would appropriate most federal land within the state for reallocation to private use. Associated Press, April 2, 2015.

  • Interviewed by David Stanway on the appointment of Tsinghua University President Chen Jining as China’s Minister of the Environment. Thomson-Reuters News Service, March 1, 2015.

  • Interviewed by Jeremy Jacobs on possible constitutional violations in the EPA’s enforcement of new ground-level ozone and greenhouse gas requirements under the Clean Air Act. Greenwire, January 30, 2015.


  • “Environmental Federalism’s Tug of War Within.” The Law and Policy of Environmental Federalism: A Comparative Analysis, George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C. April 24, 2015.

  • “The Public Trust Doctrine, Private Water Allocation, and National Audubon Society: The Mono Lake Backstory.” Developments in the Public Trust, Lewis & Clark Law School. April 10, 2015.

  • Federalism and the Environment (panel). National Association of Attorneys Midwestern Region Meeting, Indianapolis, Indiana. April 1, 2015.


  • “Environmental Federalism’s Tug of War Within.” The Law and Policy of Environmental Federalism: A Comparative Analysis. Kalyani Robins, editor, Edward Elgar Press (forthcoming June 2015).

  • “The Public Trust Doctrine, Private Water Allocation, and National Audubon Society: The Mono Lake Backstory.” Environmental Law, Lewis & Clark Law School (forthcoming May 2015).

  • “Response to Heather Gerken’s ‘Federalism and Nationalism: Time for a Détente?’” St. Louis Law Journal, vol. 59 (April 30, 2015).

Erin Ryan teaches environmental and natural resources law, property and land use, water law, negotiation, and federalism.  She has presented at academic and administrative venues in the United States, Europe, and Asia, including the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, the U.S.D.A. Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets, and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.  She has advised National Sea Grant multilevel governance studies involving Chesapeake Bay and consulted with multiple institutions on developing sustainability programs.  She has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the London Financial Times, the PBS Newshour and Christian Science Monitor’s “Patchwork Nation” project, and on National Public Radio.  She is the author of many scholarly works, including Federalism and the Tug of War Within (Oxford, 2012). 

Professor Ryan is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and a Hewlett Fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Research Project.  She clerked for Chief Judge James R. Browning of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit before practicing environmental, land use, and local government law in San Francisco.  She began her academic career at the College of William & Mary in 2004, and she joined the faculty at the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College in 2011.  Ryan spent 2011-12 as a Fulbright Scholar in China, during which she taught American law, studied Chinese governance, and lectured throughout Asia.   

Prior to law school, she served as a U.S. Forest Service ranger on the Mono Lake District of the Inyo National Forest, east of Yosemite National Park.  She graduated from Harvard College with a degree in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and received a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University. 


Specialty Areas & Course Descriptions

Academic Credentials

  • B.A. 1991 Harvard-Radcliffe College, cum laude
  • M.A. 1994 Wesleyan University
  • J.D. 2001 Harvard Law School, cum laude



Law Review Articles, Essays, and Book Chapters

  • A Response to Heather Gerken’s “Federalism and Nationalism: Time for a Détente? ”, ST. LOUIS L. REV. (forthcoming, 2015) (invited comments on Professor Gerken’s synthesis of federalism and nationalism).
  • The Public Trust Doctrine, Private Water Allocation, and National Audubon Society: The Mono Lake Backstory , LEWIS & CLARK L. REV. (forthcoming, 2015) (reviewing the history and significance of the famous Mono Lake case).
  •  Environmental Federalism’s Tug of War Within , in Kalyani Robins, ed., THE LAW AND POLICY OF ENVIRONMENTAL FEDERALISM: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS (Edward Elgar, 2015) (closing chapter analyzing how environmental federalism dilemmas serve as “the canary in the coal mine” for more general conflicts in American federalism theory).
  •  Breathing Air with Heft: Environmental Regulation and Public Health in Urban China , forthcoming, 2015 (article describing environmental challenges in China and illuminating some of the cultural gaps that American and Chinese partners will inevitably encounter as we work together to solve global environmental challenges).
  • A Response to Aziz Huq’s “Negotiating the Structural Constitution,” COLUMBIA LAW REVIEW SIDEBAR (November, 2014) (situating Professor Huq’s work within the emerging literature on negotiated governance).
  • The Spending Power and Environmental Law After Sebelius , 85 COLORADO L. REV. 1003 (2014) (article analyzing the Supreme Court’s new spending power doctrine and its impact on spending power-based programs of cooperative federalism in environmental law, with special attention to highway fund penalties associated with the Clean Air Act). Cited in RICHARD L. REVESZ, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY (Aspen, 3rd ed., 2015). Also noted by Professor Lawrence Solum on the Legal Theory Blog on January 21, 2014.
  • The Elaborate Paper Tiger: Environmental Enforcement and the Rule of Law in China, 24 DUKE ENVIRONMENTAL LAW AND POLICY FORUM 184 (2014) (article reviewing how enforcement hurdles have undermined the success of Chinese environmental law and proposing a modest but politically feasible reform measure).
  • When Socrates Meets Confucius: Teaching Creative and Critical Thinking Across Cultures Through Multilevel Socratic Method , 92 Nebraska L. Rev. 289 (2013) (case study about adapting the Socratic Method to teach critical thinking skills underemphasized in China and group competency skills underemphasized in the U.S.).
  • Environmental Law After Sebelius: Will the Court’s New Spending Power Limits Affect Environmental State-Federal Partnerships ? , American Constitution Society (October 1, 2013) (issue brief analyzing how the new spending power doctrine in the Supreme Court’s 2012 health reform decision, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, will impact state-federal environmental partnerships).
  • Negotiating Federalism Past the Zero-Sum Game, ”  38 Administrative and Regulatory Law News 4, Fall 2012, (invited essay reviewing how state-federal bargaining will be impacted by the Supreme Court’s spending power analysis in its 2012 Affordable Care Act decision) (also reprinting Spending Power Bargaining After Sebelius).
  • The Once and Future Challenges of American Federalism , in Alberto López Basaguren and Leire Escajedo San-Epifanio, eds., THE WAYS OF FEDERALISM IN WESTERN COUNTRIES AND THE HORIZONS OF TERRITORIAL AUTONOMY IN SPAIN, Vol. 1 (Springer, 2013) (book chapter analyzing current federalism controversies in the United States through the FEDERALISM AND THE TUG OF WAR WITHIN framework of analysis).
  • In Tribute to Judge James R. Browning: The Center of His Circle , 73 Montana l. rev. 14 (2012) (invited short piece honoring the legacy of Judge Browning, Chief Judge Emeritus of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit).
  • Negotiating Federalism , 52 B.C.L. REV. 1 (2011) (article exploring the role of state-federal bargaining in allocating authority, shepherding collaboration, and interpreting federalism in contexts of jurisdictional overlap). Cited by Professor Lawrence Solum on the Legal Theory Blog on April 7, 2010.
  • Intergovernmental Bargaining and Climate Federalism , United Nations Institute for Training and Research research paper, September, 2010 (web-published essay applying the negotiated federalism model in the specific context of multilevel climate governance), extrapolated from Negotiating Federalism.
  • Federalism at the Cathedral: Property Rights, Liability Rules, and Inalienability Rules in Tenth Amendment Infrastructure , 81 COLORADO L. REV. 1 (2010) (article critiquing the theoretical basis for, and practical implications of, the Court’s creation in New York v. United States of an inalienability rule for Tenth Amendment entitlements). Cited in PERCIVAL, ET. AL., ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION: LAW, SCIENCE, AND POLICY (Aspen, 6th ed., 2009). Also cited by Professor Benjamin Barros on the Property Prof Blog on March 4, 2009.
  • How the New Federalism Failed Katrina Victims , in Robin Malloy & John Lovett, eds., LAW AND RECOVERY FROM DISASTER: HURRICANE KATRINA (Ashgate Press, 2009) (book chapter addressing the relationship between federalism and the Katrina aftermath), drawn from Federalism and the Tug of War Within, 66 Md. L. Rev. 503 (2007). Cited on the Legal Theory Blog (7/12/10), Law Matters Blog (7/12/10), and Poverty Law Blog (7/23/10).
  • Reporting on Palin: Negotiations in Political Theater , HARVARD NEGOTIATION LAW REVIEW ONLINE, October 2, 2008 (essay using negotiation theory as a lens for analyzing a campaign’s efforts to manipulate its media coverage).
  • Federalism and the Tug of War Within: Seeking Checks and Balance in the Interjurisdictional Gray Area , 66 MARYLAND L. REV. 503 (2007) (article exploring how tension between underlying federalism principles shaped the progression of federalism theory over the 20th century, culminating in the New Federalism’s difficulty accounting for interjurisdictional problems). Excerpted in STONE, SEIDMANN, SUNSTEIN, TUSHNET, & KARLAN, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (Aspen, 6th ed., 2009) and FARBER, CHEN, & VERCHICK, DISASTER LAW AND POLICY (Aspen, 2010). Cited in the 2010 HARVARD LAW REVIEW “Foreword,” Heather Gerken, Federalism All the Way Down, 124 HARV. L. REV. 4, 20-21, nn. 50 & 58 (as scholarship developing the kinds of “new conceptual tools” needed in the federalism discourse).
  • Palazzolo, The Public Trust, and the Property Owner’s Reasonable Expectations: Takings and the South Carolina Marsh Bridge Debate , 15 S.E. ENVTL. L. J. 121 (2006) (invited symposium article reviewing the implications of the Palazzolo v. Rhode Island aftermath for takings claims relating to public trust tidelands and wetlands). Republished as a chapter in PROPERTY: A LEGAL PARADIGM (Amicus Books, 2009) and ENVIRONMENT AND THE PUBLIC TRUST DOCTRINE (Amicus Books, forthcoming, 2010).
  • New Orleans, The Chesapeake, and the Future of Environmental Assessment: Overcoming the Natural Resources Law of Unintended Consequences , 40 U. RICH. L. REV. 981 (2006) (invited lead article in symposium; tracing flood control and wetlands protection policies that led to New Orleans’ post-Katrina flooding and Chesapeake Bay wetlands loss, and proposing a network-based model of assessment to help forestall future unintended consequences). Selected as one of the 20 best environmental law articles of 2006 by LAND USE & ENVIRONMENTAL LAW REVIEW faculty panel.
  • Building the Emotionally Learned Negotiator , 22 NEGOTIATION J. 209 (2006) (invited essay reviewing three recent books on emotion in negotiation, situating each work within a proposed theory of practice for learned negotiators). Quoted on second edition jacket of FISHER & SHAPIRO, BEYOND REASON (Viking, 2005).
  • The Discourse Beneath: Emotional Epistemology in Legal Deliberation and Negotiation , 10 HARV. NEGOT. L. REV. 231 (2005) (article exploring how the cognitive processing of emotionally resonant data facilitates inductive reasoning and how the subterranean exchange of emotional information between participants facilitates negotiation). Excerpted in BROOKS & MADDEN, RELATIONSHIP-CENTERED LAWYERING: SOCIAL SCIENCE THEORY FOR TRANSFORMING LEGAL PRACTICE (Carolina Academic Press, 2009).
  • Zoning, Taking, & Dealing: The Problems and Promise of Bargaining in Land Use Planning , 7 HARV. NEGOT. L. REV. 337 (2002) (article analyzing the theoretical disconnect between the Supreme Court’s anti-bargaining takings jurisprudence and optimal practice of land use law). Republished in LAND USE AND PLANNING HANDBOOK (West Publishing, 2003 ed.).
  • Public Trust & Distrust: Theoretical Implications of the Public Trust Doctrine for Natural Resources Management , 31 ENVTL. L. 477 (2001) (essay contrasting the public trust with other theoretical frameworks for natural resource management and environmental protection). Included in Federalist Society CLE materials, July, 2005.
  • ADR, the Judiciary, & Justice: Coming to Terms with the Alternatives , 113 HARV. L. REV. 1851 (2000) (note reviewing developments in alternative dispute resolution and related due process issues).

Other Publications

  • Spending Power Bargaining After Sebelius,” OUP Blog, July 3, 2012 (essay commenting on the spending power implications of Chief Justice Robert’s opinion in the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision). Available at (Versions of the same essay were published on the AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY BLOG and the ENVIRONMENTAL LAW PROFS BLOG later that month.)
  • Health Care Reform and Federalism’s Tug of War Within,” REGBLOG, AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY BLOG, June 21, 2012 (essay explaining the battle over the Affordable Care Act in terms of the classic American federalism debates, and proposing a better way of analyzing this and all federalism issues). Available at (Republished on OXFORD BLOG, June 28.)
  • Beyond I-Got-Mine-Jack Health Care,” versions published in the VIRGINIAN-PILOT (VA), September 21, 2009 at 9; the STAR LEDGER (NJ), September 22, 2009 at 13, and as a guest blog on the American Constitution Society at William & Mary School of Law, September 23, 2009 (op-ed urging those who warn that health care reform will lead to rationing not to forsake the victims of the rationing we already have). Available at
  • Breaking Ground on the New Green Deal,” AMERICAN CONSTITUTION SOCIETY AT WILLIAM & MARY SCHOOL OF LAW, Guest Blog, February 14, 2009 (op-ed urging reluctant members of Congress to act on stimulus proposals to invest in a renewable energy economy). Available at Republished October 1, 2009, by the Hampton Roads Partnership Blog.
  • A Swing State Voter’s Epiphany,” CHICAGO TRIBUNE, November 6, 2008, at C-43 (op-ed forecasting redemption for the fractured American electorate based on deep election-day kindnesses in politically divided southeastern Virginia). Republished November 7, 2008, by the Hampton Roads Partnership Blog at:
  • Protecting Even ‘Incendiary’ Speech from Censorship,” CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, March 18, 2005 (letter to the editor arguing that “the answer to disquieting speech is more speech” in response to controversy over Professor Ward Churchill’s post-9/11 remarks). Available at
  • New Housing Laws Favor Developers,” WESTERN CITY, Vol. LXXXIX, No. 3 (March 2003), at 14 (article critiquing incentives for localities by new limits on judicial discretion in applying land use fee-shifting statutes). Quoted at length in the California State Senate’s June 23, 2003 Bill Analysis for proposed SB 619, a bill seeking substantial reform of the state’s affordable housing laws to expedite the development of affordable housing in California. (Bill Analysis available at
  • Commentary: Vedanta Society of Southern Cal. v. California Quartet (limiting “private attorney general” fee-shifting under California Environmental Quality Act), 2003 CAL. ENVTL. L. REPORTER 16 (Jan. 2003).
  • Commentary: Environmental Defense Center v. EPA (affirming in part and remanding in part EPA’s Clean Water Act stormwater regulations), 2003 CAL. ENVTL. L. REPORTER 122 (March 2003).
  • The Once and Future Farm: Keeping Farms in Vermont,” CONSERVATION MATTERS, Vol. VI, No. 3 (Fall 1999), at 32 (article contrasting environmentally unsound “factory” farming practices with stewardship approach of small farms, and proposing an economically sustainable intergenerational transfer program to forestall further decline).
  • The Worcester Report, The Better Homes Foundation, 1992 (monograph analyzing MA housing crisis).
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Erin Ryan’s office is located in room 221 of Legal Research Center.


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Erin Ryan Associate Professor of Law

Lewis & Clark Law School 10015 S.W. Terwilliger Boulevard MSC 51 Portland OR 97219 USA

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