Louis E. Wolcher

  • Professor Emeritus of Law


Phone: (206) 543-0600
Email: wolcher@uw.edu

Louis Wolcher


B.A. 1969, Stanford University J.D. 1973, Harvard University

Areas of Expertise

Legal Philosophy and Theory — Human Rights — Torts — Contracts

Selected Publications

See the full list under the Publications tab below.

Professor Wolcher joined the faculty in 1986, after nine years of law practice with the firm of Pettit & Martin, in San Francisco, and three years on the faculty of the Rutgers-Camden Law School, in New Jersey. He was promoted to Professor of Law in 1989, was appointed Charles I. Stone Professor of Law (an endowed professorship) in 2004, and since 2013 has held the title of Emeritus Professor of Law. He served as Director of Faculty Scholarship and Development in 2005-2007. His primary research interests are in the fields of philosophy of law, legal and political theory, and human rights. Holding an undergraduate degree in history from Stanford University, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1973, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. In 1973-1974, he served as a law clerk to Justice Bernard Levinson on the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Professor Wolcher has taught many different subjects in his time at UW Law School, including human rights, contracts, torts, civil procedure, federal courts, antitrust, restitution, admiralty, critical perspectives on law, and philosophy of law. He also taught classes on theories of justice to undergraduates in the University of Washington's Honors Program.

A member of the editorial board of Law & Critique (Kluwer Academic Publishers), an international journal of legal theory, he also serves on the advisory board of the Slovenian Law Review (University of Ljubljana). His honors include a Fulbright Award to study and teach in Slovenia in 1996, an invitation to lecture to the judges of the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France, in 1999, a philosophical prize in the 2000 International Essay Competition, co-sponsored by the city of Weimar and the European cultural magazine Lettre International, and the Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair in American Studies for the fall semester of 2009 at University of Cergy-Pontoise School of Law, in France.

Recognized by the students as Teacher of the Year in 1992 and 1999, he received the University of Washington's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2005. Professor Wolcher has also visited and lectured at a number of institutions around the world, including the Institute of Political Science and Management (Uzbekistan), the University of California, Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco), Birkbeck College (London), the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Kobe University (Japan), Osaka University (Japan), Mofid University (Iran), the University of Bergen (Norway), the Irish Centre for Human Rights (Ireland), Szechuan University Law School (Chengdu, China), Peking University School of Transnational Law (Shenzhen, China), and Southwest University School of Political Science and Law (Chongqing, China).

Peer Reviewed Journals & Law Reviews

Books or Treatises

Book Chapters

  • Louis E. Wolcher, Law and the Ethical Turn: The Ethical Turn in Critical Legal Thought, in Research Handbook of Critical Legal Theory 181-200 (Emilios Christodoulidis, Ruth Dukes & Marco Goldoni eds., Edward Elgar Publishing 2019).
  • Louis E. Wolcher, Foreword, in Michelle Farrell, The Prohibition of Torture in Exceptional Circumstances xi-xiv (Cambridge University Press 2013).
  • Louis Wolcher, The Problem of Unity and Diversity in International Human Rights, in 1 NAM Yearbook on Human Rights and Cultural Diversity 13-42 (Kamran Hashemi & Linda Briskman eds., NAM Center for Human Rights and Cultural Diversity 2012).
  • Marijan Pavcnik & Louis Wolcher, A Dialogue on Legal Theory Between a European Legal Philosopher and His American Friend, in Marijan Pavcnik, Auf Dem Weg Zum Mass des Rechts: Ausgewahlte Schriften zur Rechtstheorie 215-66 (Franz Steiner Verlag 2011).
  • Louis E. Wolcher, The Problem of the Subject(s), in Prospects of Legal Semiotics 145-69 (Anne Wagner & Jan M. Brokeman eds., Springer 2010).
  • Louis E. Wolcher, Rules and Statements, in Obscurity and Clarity in the Law: Prospects and Challenges 39-67 (Anne Wagner & Sophie Cacciaguidi-Fahy eds., Ashgate 2008).
  • Louis Wolcher, The Times of Religion and Human Rights, in Human Rights and Religion 101-04 (Mofid Univ. Publications 2007).
  • Louis Wolcher, Human Rights and Human Suffering, in Theoretical Foundations of Human Rights 141-60 (Carl Wellman & M. Habibi Modjandeh, eds., Mofid Univ. Publications 2007).
  • Louis E. Wolcher, Removal to Federal Court, in 3 Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties 1315-16 (Paul Finkelman ed., Routledge 2006).
  • Louis E. Wolcher, Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts, in 2 Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties 866-69 (Paul Finkelman ed., Routledge 2006).
  • Louis E. Wolcher, Annotated Einstein Haiku, in Der Einstein-Komplex: 99 Philosophen, Schriftsteller, Künstler und Wissenschaftler Über Ein Genie [The Einstein Complex: 99 Philosophers, Writers, Artists and Scientists on a Genius] 146-47 (Gerd Weiberg & Frank Berberich eds., Wunderhorn 2005).
  • Louis E. Wolcher, Thought’s Prison: An Image of Images, in Imaginary Boundaries of Justice: Social and Legal Justice across Disciplines 21-49 (Ronnie Lippens ed., Hart 2004).
  • Louis E. Wolcher, The Question Concerning Law and Technology, in Law and Modernity: Particular Problems 143-58 (Ola Zetterquist ed., Polpress 2004).
  • Louis E. Wolcher, Ronald Dworkin’s Right Answers Thesis Through the Lens of Wittgenstein, in Wittgenstein and Law 357-79 (Dennis Patterson ed., Ashgate 2004).
  • Louis Wolcher, The Paradox of Remedies, in Human Rights in Philosophy and Practice 549-86 (Burton M. Leiser & Tom D. Campbell eds., Ashgate 2001).
  • Louis Wolcher, Introduction: Thinking Critically About Human Rights, in Human Rights, Women's Rights, Minority Rights: Proceedings of the 17th World Congress of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR), New York, June 24-30, 1999, at 11-18 (Alexander Brostl & Marijan Pavcnik eds., Franz Steiner Verlag 2001).
  • Louis Wolcher, "Sigan ui Ono" ("Time's Language"), in Sigan Uro Put' O Ui Haebang 195-254 (Nam Kyong-t'ae trans., Sein 2000 (Korean)).

Book Reviews

Professional Publications

Other Publications

  • Louis E. Wolcher, Kommentierte Haikus, 69 Lettre Int'l 115 (2005).

  • Speaker, Eclipse of Ethics Amsterdam Centre on the Legal Professions and Access to Justice, University of Amsterdam (September 14, 2023)
  • Speaker, "A Lecture on the Ethics of Law and Justice", University of Liverpool School of Law and Social Justice (May 7, 2019)
  • Commentator, Professor Adam Gearey Inaugural Lecture: Lives That Slide Out of View: Jurisprudence and Poverty, University of London (June 17, 2015)
  • Speaker, "The Ethics of Justice Without Illusions", Annual Meeting (Power, Capital, Chaos), Critical Legal Conference (September 5, 2014)
  • Speaker, "Sustainable Development of What? The Cultural and Historical Ambiguities of “Nature"", University of Szechuan Law School (July 2, 2014)
  • Speaker, "On Speechlessness", Critical Legal Conference Annual Meeting, (September 6, 2013)
  • Speaker, "The Impossible Ethics of the Real", 2012 Critical Legal Conference, (September 16, 2012)
  • Keynote, "Human Rights and Cultural Diversity", First International Conference on Human Rights and Cultures: Cultures in Support of Humanity, Non-Aligned Movement for Human Rights and Cultural Diversity, the Irish Center for Human Rights, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (November 24, 2011)
  • Speaker, "The Critical Imperative", Critical Legal Conference: Momentum: Critical Thought, Critical Action, University of Idaho (October 21, 2011)
  • Speaker, "On Diversity", British Critical Legal Conference, Aberystwyth University (September 9, 2011)
  • Speaker, "Intent to Charge for Unsolicited Benefits Conferred in an Emergency: A Case Study in the Meaning of "Unjust" in the Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment", Restitution Rollout Symposium for the Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment, Washington and Lee University, Frances Lewis Law Center (February 25, 2011)
  • Keynote, "Asking the Right Question in Business Ethics", Annual Conference, Pacific Southwest Academy of Legal Studies in Business (February 19, 2011)
  • "The Meaning of Justice in the World Today", Orcas Crossroads Lecture Series, (October 10, 2010)
  • "The Meaning(s) of Corruption in Business Ethics", International Business Corruption, University of Cergy-Pontoise (December 11, 2009)
  • Speaker, "The Problem of the Subject(s)", Forum in Legal and Political Theory, London School of Economics (October 27, 2009)