Steven J. Burton

John F. Murray Professor Emeritus

Steven J. Burton is the John F. Murray Professor of Law Emeritus. He joined the law faculty in 1977 after four years with the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State.


Professor Burton is the author or co-author of five books: Elements of Contract Interpretation (Oxford University Press, 2009); An Introduction to Law and Legal Reasoning (Wolters, Kluwer, 3d ed. 2006); Principles of Contract Law (West, 4th ed. 2012); Contractual Good Faith: Formation, Performance, Breach, Enforcement (Little, Brown Co., 1995) (with Eric G. Andersen); and Judging in Good Faith (Cambridge University Press, 1992).

He has edited The Path of the Law and Its Influence: The Legacy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (Cambridge University Press, 2000) and co-edited American Arbitration Principles and Practise (Practising Law Institute, 2008) (with Robert B. von Mehren and George W. Coombe, Jr.).

He is also the author of numerous journal articles, including "Collapsing Illusions: Standards for Setting Efficient Contract and Other Default," 91 Indiana Las Journal 1063 (10`6); "The Conflict Between Stare Decisis and Overruling in Constitutional Adjudication, " 35 Cardozo L. Rev. 1687 (2014); "Normative Legal Theories: The Case for Pluralism and Balancing," 98 Iowa Law Review 535 (2013); "The New Judicial Hostility to Arbitration: Federal Preemption, Contract Unconscionability, and Agreements to Arbitrate" 2006 Journal of Dispute Resolution 469; "Combining Conciliation with Arbitration in International Commercial Disputes," 18 Hastings Journal of International and Comparative Law 637 (1995); "Good Faith in Articles 1 and 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code: The Practice View," 35 William and Mary Law Review 1533 (1994); "Default Rules, Legitimacy, and the Authority of a Contract," 2 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 115 (1993); "Racial Discrimination in Contract Performance: Patterson and a State Law Alternative," 25 Harvard Civil Rights - Civil Liberties Law Review 431 (1990); "Ronald Dworkin and Legal Positivism," 73 Iowa Law Review 109 (1987); and "Breach of Contract and the Common Law Duty to Perform in Good Faith," 94 Harvard Law Review 369 (1980).


BA, University of California at Los Angeles, 1970

JD, University of Southern California, 1973

Awards and Honors:

Professor Burton received the University of Iowa's University Faculty Scholar Award, 1986-90, was a Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom in 1987, and won the Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for excellence in teaching, 1986-87. He serves on occasion as an arbitrator or expert witness in domestic and international commercial cases.