Ron Harris: A Scholar and Legal Historian

Ron Harris, born in 1960, is a distinguished professor in the field of law and history, holding the Kalman Lubowsky Chair at the Buchmann Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University. He previously served as the dean of the Buchmann Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University from 2012 to 2017.


Ron Harris was born in Jerusalem and grew up in the Kiryat Shmuel neighborhood. He attended the Sald Elementary School and later the Urban High School J. After completing his military service from 1978 to 1982, where he held the rank of sergeant and later served in the reserves as a lieutenant, he pursued his undergraduate studies in law at Tel Aviv University. Concurrently, he also earned his first undergraduate degree in general history. During this time, he specialized at the Tel Aviv Regional Court under Judge Yeshayahu Levit in the field of corporate restructuring and worked at the law offices of Igael Arnon, specializing in taxation. He continued his studies, earning a second undergraduate degree in general history, focusing on the industrial revolution and British imperialism.

In 1989, Ron Harris traveled to New York to further his studies and earned his doctoral degree at Columbia University in the Department of History, focusing on the development of business organizations during the industrial revolution in Britain. In 1993, he joined the faculty of law at Tel Aviv University, becoming a full professor in 2008.

Professor Harris has also served as a visiting professor at various institutions around the world, including the University of Southern California, the University of California, Berkeley, Cornell University, the London School of Economics, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, NALSAR University of Law, and was a research fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies and a research fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies at Stanford University.

Together with Professor Ariel Porat, Ron Harris established the joint program for a second degree in public law between Tel Aviv University and Northwestern University and founded the David Berg Institute for Law and History. From 2006 to 2008, he served as the Vice Dean of the Faculty of Law. From 2012 to 2017, he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Law. As dean, he developed international programs for the faculty and established connections with universities in India and China. He also led the development of a new undergraduate program, designed to promote diversity among the student body through mentoring programs and the integration of Arab students and students from ultra-Orthodox backgrounds. During his tenure, he also oversaw the construction of an additional building for the faculty.

Together with Professor Assaf Likhovski, Ron Harris helped establish the field of legal history at the faculty and in Israel by organizing the first workshop for research presentations in the field, establishing the Israeli Society for History and Law, and working to preserve historical documents related to legal figures in archives.

He resides in Kibbutz Olash with his partner Hadass, an educational consultant, and is the father of four children.

Key Research Areas

Professor Ron Harris's central research area is the legal and economic history of business organizations, particularly focusing on corporate entities. His research covers critical stages in the history of business organizations from their inception in 1600 to the mid-20th century. His work explores the establishment of East India Companies, both English and Dutch, the South Sea Bubble, the phenomenon of unincorporated companies, the governance of partnership companies, the development of limited liability for shareholders, and the concept of private property. He analyzes the mutual influences between economic and legal developments.

Additionally, Harris conducts research on the history of Israeli law, with a particular focus on the period of the British Mandate, examining the legislation of bankruptcy and company law. He has expanded his research to contemporary consumer credit law, insolvency, and mortgage law, proposing comprehensive reforms in these areas. His research delves into the psychological biases affecting consumer financial decisions, the variations in mortgage law across different countries, and the causes of the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States in 2007.

Public Engagement

In addition to his academic work, Ron Harris is actively involved in public discussions related to consumer credit and insolvency law. He has collaborated with the Israeli Ministry of Justice, the official receiver, the Enforcement and Collection Authority, members of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), and various civil society organizations to shape and amend legislation in this field. He has also organized the first annual conference of its kind on this subject. Harris chaired the committee that recommended parameters for drafting a debt relief and economic rehabilitation plan, aiming to increase debt repayments while considering the debtor's and their family's basic needs. To determine the monthly payments imposed on debtors in bankruptcy cases, the committee introduced an innovative method for calculating essential expenses required for a decent standard of living. This committee was appointed by the official receiver, Professor David Hahn, and presented its recommendations to the Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked.


1. "The Israeli Legal System: The Formative Years 1948-1977" (Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Hillel Ben-Chai Library for Jewish Studies, 2014).
2. "Beside the Bed of Justice: Hayyim Zadok" (The Israel Institute for Democracy, 2002).
3. "Industrializing English Law: Entrepreneurship and Business Organization, 1720 – 1844" (Cambridge University Press, 2000, Paperback 2010), Series: Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions. Japanese Translation 2013.
4. "The History of Law in a Multi-Cultural Society: Israel, 1917-1967" (Ashgate Publishing, 2002) Ed. With Sandy Kedar, Pnina Lahav, Assaf Likhovski.


Professor Harris has authored numerous articles, both in English and Hebrew, which span a wide range of topics. Some of his notable articles include:

* "Spread of Legal Innovations Defining Private and Public Domains" in "The Cambridge Economic History of Capitalism Vol. II" (Cambridge, 2014).
* "Non-Recourse Mortgages – A Fresh Start" in the "American Bankruptcy Institute Law Review" Vol. 21 (1), 119-154 (2013).
* "The Private Origins of the Private Company: Britain 1862-1907," in the "Oxford Journal of Legal Studies," Vol. 33 (2), 339-378 (2013).
* "The Institutional Dynamics of Early Modern Eurasian Trade: The Corporation and the Commenda" in the "Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization," Vol. 71 (3), 606-622 (2009).

External Links

Ron Harris' Faculty Page at Tel Aviv University
Article about Ron Harris on Globes
Article about Ron Harris on Globes (2)

This comprehensive overview provides insight into the life, career, and contributions of Professor Ron Harris, a prominent scholar in the field of law and legal history. His extensive research, engagement in public discourse, and dedication to promoting legal reforms make him a notable figure in both academia and society at large.

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