Legal Leader: Professor Eric A. Kades

Eric A. Kades, Professor of Law, is one of five College faculty profiled in an article titled "The Professors: Leading Students Down the Academic Road," William and Mary Alumni Magazine, Winter 2004/2005.

In fall 2004, Professor Eric A. Kades was one of five College faculty to receive an Alumni Fellowship Award from the William and Mary Alumni Association. The award was established by the College's Class of 1968 to recognize outstanding young faculty members. The following profile is excerpted, with permission, from the William and Mary Alumni Magazine.

How does an economics and mathematics major from Yale University end up in the lecture halls of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law?

"It's the tale of a frustrated economist," says Professor of Law Eric Kades, who feels there exists an overemphasis on mathematics in the study of economics. Kades, who at one time considered pursuing a career as an economics professor, found researching and teaching economics with real life applications more interesting. In his case, this meant cultivating an extensive knowledge of land use and zoning, property law, real estate transactions and corporate structure. So, Kades returned to Yale and obtained a law degree rather than pursuing a doctorate in economics, a track perhaps more conventional for someone with his undergraduate background.

But Kades also prefers a classroom to a law firm. "Students are energizing," he says. "You always get new questions and different perspectives. Also, if you're in practice, you don't have the time to do in depth research." And research in a school environment is not necessarily restricted to supporting a single argument. "You have to come out on one side if you're in practice," Kades adds.

He teaches and researches in a variety of areas, including corporate law, economic analysis of law, and land use. His primary interest, however, is property law. "Property law is not as abstract - it has a tangibility that students find appealing," Kades explains. "They have a visceral connection with owning a home." In the classroom, Kades subscribes to traditional methods to engage students. "I certainly follow the law school tradition of making the class conversational," he says.

Kades also values one-on-one time with his students as a significant part of the learning process. "The most important thing is to have an open door policy. You need to put things aside and make time for students."

A native of Beloit, Wis., Kades spent six years teaching law at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., before moving to Williamsburg, where he lives today with his wife, Leigh Ann, daughter Jennifer and son Theo.
"The students in large part make it an enjoyable place to be," he says. "They're happy with us and we're happy with them."