Commercial Trusts in U.S. Legal Thought: Historical Puzzles and Future Directions

14 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2020

Date Written: April 6, 2019


The law of commercial trusts has been taught in universities in London and Cambridge, Sydney and Melbourne, Hong Kong and Singapore, but it is absent from the law schools of the United States. This is a puzzle. Commercial trusts have been prominent in U.S. legal and economic history and today hold trillions of dollars in assets. Indeed, the prominence and behavior of U.S. commercial trusts in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to our unusual name for what the rest of the world calls “competition law”: we call it “antitrust” law. This Essay, prepared for a symposium on the Business Uses of Trusts, has two parts and two objectives. Part I — subtitled “Historical Puzzles” — seeks to explain the absence of learning, teaching, or thinking about commercial trusts in U.S. law schools. Part II — subtitled “Future Directions” — offers reflections on the possible future inclusion of commercial trusts into U.S. legal education and legal thought.

Keywords: trusts, commercial trusts, business trusts, legal education, law school, comparative law

JEL Classification: K11, K20

Suggested Citation

Gallanis, Thomas P., Commercial Trusts in U.S. Legal Thought: Historical Puzzles and Future Directions (April 6, 2019). University of Cincinnati Law Review, Vol. 88, No. 3, 2019, U Iowa Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-18, Available at SSRN:

Thomas P. Gallanis (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics