Evan J. Criddle picks up a copy of his new book and thumbs through the pages with a smile.
“It’s a pretty substantial piece of work,” he says with understatement.
The book in question, The Oxford Handbook of Fiduciary Law (Oxford University Press), co-edited with Robert H. Sitkoff of Harvard Law and Paul B. Miller of Notre Dame Law, comes to 1,032 pages, contains 48 essays, and took about three years to produce.
“In the end, we wanted the Handbook to be a near-encyclopedic resource that scholars and practitioners and students could use to learn more about fiduciary law,” Criddle says.
Criddle, a Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School, was first approached by the publisher at a conference and invited to think about putting the book together. He immediately knew a handbook on fiduciary law needed to be created, but he also realized it would require a tremendous amount of work.
"In the end, I decided that it was important enough for the development of fiduciary law as a field that the book come out,” Criddle says. “And so I ended up recruiting two other collaborators—Paul Miller and Rob Sitkoff—both among the very best scholars in fiduciary law.”
The trio of editors then outlined their dream team of participants. An original proposal of 30 chapters grew to nearly 50 as the team thought of interesting topics, many of which break new ground.
Getting the green light from a major university press signified to Criddle that fiduciary law has come into its own as a field.
“In the past, fiduciary law has been broken up and covered in different courses—a little bit in corporate law, a little bit in trusts and estates, and other fields,” Criddle says. “But increasingly scholars are looking at fiduciary law in a cross-cutting way as a set of shared principles that govern disparate fields of law.”
Criddle and his co-editors brought the contributors together for a conference at Harvard in 2017 to allow everyone to sit down, share ideas, and get feedback on the papers. Following the conference, the editorial team provided individualized feedback to each author. Criddle himself wrote a chapter on “Fiduciary Principles in International Law” and an introduction in collaboration with his co-editors.
The lion’s share of the work was conceptualizing how the book would be organized. The editors’ goal was to offer an authoritative statement from the best scholars in the field on diverse areas of fiduciary law, including interdisciplinary, comparative, and historical approaches.
Aside from producing a massive—and physically heavy—tome, Criddle says the project fed his love of bringing interesting people together from different scholarly disciplines and fields of study.
“I think that the conference we held at Harvard will be remembered for a long time as a key moment for the field, and it will spawn lots of other conversations between scholars who might not otherwise have been in dialogue with one another,” Criddle says. “It’s exciting to see that starting to take off.”
Criddle, who received his J.D. from Yale Law School, teaches and writes across several fields, including public international law, international human rights, fiduciary law, administrative law, immigration law, and civil procedure. His publications have appeared in such leading academic journals as the American Journal of International Law, Cornell Law Review, European Journal of International Law, Georgetown Law Journal, Legal Theory, Northwestern University Law Review, Texas Law Review, and Yale Journal of International Law. His other books include Fiduciaries of Humanity: How International Law Constitutes Authority (Oxford University Press) (with Evan Fox-Decent), and Human Rights in Emergencies (Cambridge University Press).
Criddle hopes that when readers pick up his latest work, they will discover that fiduciary law is “startling in its diversity.”
“The Handbook is a map of the known world for fiduciary law, but there are still lots of spaces that need to be filled in,” he says. “My hope is that the volume will provide a research agenda by showing where fiduciary law stands right now and where we’ll be able to learn more in the future.”
For more about the Oxford Handbook of Fiduciary Law, please visit Oxford University Press.
About William & Mary Law School
Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America’s oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.