Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Faculty Profile

Alan L. Calnan

Alan L. Calnan

Professor of Law

B.A., cum laude, History, 1981, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania; J.D., magna cum laude, 1985, Syracuse University; Member, Pennsylvania State Bar

Courses    Publications

Phone: (213) 738-6811
Office: BW317


For over two decades, Alan Calnan has explored the fields of tort law and jurisprudence from a multitude of angles. In fact, Professor Calnan’s four original books on torts place his work within extremely exclusive company. First applying a moral-philosophical approach in Justice and Tort Law, Professor Calnan next offered a unique history of torts in A Revisionist History of Tort Law. In Duty and Integrity in Tort Law, Professor Calnan delved deeply into the tort concept of duty, presenting a principled and policy-based methodology for analyzing duties in theories of intentional torts, strict liability, and negligence. Most recently, Professor Calnan's perspective has turned both procedural and constitutional, proposing in The Right to Civil Defense in Torts a novel process for protecting the due process rights of civil defendants.

Professor Calnan's latest writing project is both his most ambitious and potentially his most prodigious. Inspired by exciting interdisciplinary trends, Professor Calnan's "Jurisilience" theory of jurisprudence unites knowledge from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to support an unprecedented, holistic conception of law. This piece caps off an already auspicious and diverse collection of scholarship, which includes a copious list of book chapters and periodical publications.

"I love the interaction with students. If I do my job well, I can cause them to see the world in a completely different way."

Because of Professor Calnan's wide interests and expertise, public and private agencies alike frequently have sought his counsel on a wealth of important issues. Most notably, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Marking, Rendering Inert, and Licensing of Explosive Materials invited Professor Calnan to study and report on the civil justice concerns raised by terrorist bombings. More generally, Professor Calnan has been quoted on an extensive array of tort and products liability questions by numerous media outlets around the country and world, including The Associated Press (newspaper), The Los Angeles Times (newspaper), USA Today (newspaper), CNN The World Today (television),  Bloomberg Radio (radio), National Public Radio (radio), Radio Free Europe (radio), (internet), and (internet).

Professor Calnan's inquisitiveness and eclecticism date back to the beginning of his legal career. Starting out a judicial clerk to Judge Donald E. Wieand of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, he went on to serve as a litigation associate with the law firm of White & Williams before returning to academia at Villanova University School of Law as a Legal Writing Instructor.

Professor Calnan's passion for teaching as well as scholarship continues to shape his tenure at Southwestern. About teaching, Professor Calnan says, "I love the interaction with students. If I do my job well, I can cause them to see the world in a completely different way." Acknowledging his service to students and the law school community, Professor Calnan was awarded Southwestern's Excellence in Teaching Award for 1999, and was named as the Irving D. and Florence Rosenberg Professor of Law for 1999, the Paul E. Treusch Professor of Law in 2004, and the Irwin R. Buchalter Professor of Law in 2010.


Books and Chapters

THE RIGHT TO CIVIL DEFENSE IN TORTS (Carolina Academic Press, June 2013)

DUTY AND INTEGRITY IN TORT LAW (Carolina Academic Press, 2009)


CONTAINING THE THREAT FROM ILLEGAL BOMBINGS (with the National Research Council Committee on Marketing, Rendering Inert, and Licensing of Explosive Materials; National Academy Press, 1998)

JUSTICE AND TORT LAW (Carolina Academic Press, 1997)

Reasonableness, Justice, and the No-Duty-to-Rescue Rule of Torts in TORT REFORM DEBATE: EMERGING TRENDS (B. Padmashree ed.; Amicus Books, 2008)

Course Structure: Negligence and Duty First; De-Mystifying Causation; Teaching Palsgraf; and Visualizing Foreseeability in TEACHING THE LAW SCHOOL CURRICULUM (S. Friedland and G. Hess, eds.; Carolina Academic Press, 2004)


The Distorted Reality of Civil Recourse Theory, 60 CLEVELAND STATE LAW REVIEW 159 (2012)

The Instrumental Justice of Private Law, 78 UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-KANSAS CITY LAW REVIEW 559 (2010)

Perspectives on Asbestos Litigation: Overview and Preview, 37 SOUTHWESTERN LAW REVIEW 459 (co-authored with B. Stier; 2008)

Strict Liability and the Liberal-Justice Theory of Torts, 38 NEW MEXICO LAW REVIEW 95 (2008)

The Fault(s) in Negligence Law, 25 QUINNIPIAC LAW REVIEW 695 (2007)

Anomalies in Intentional Tort Law, 1 TENNESSEE JOURNAL OF LAW AND POLICY 187 (2005)

In Defense of the Liberal Justice Theory of Torts: A Reply to Professors Goldberg and Zipursky, NYU JOURNAL OF LAW AND LIBERTY (2005)

A Consumer-Use Approach to Products Liability, 33 UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS LAW REVIEW 755 (Summer 2003) cited in Baseball Bats in the High Tech Era: A Products Liability Look at New Technology, Aluminum Bats, and Manufacturer Liability, 16 MARQUETTE SPORTS LAW REVIEW 353 (M.R. Wilmot; 2006)

Defusing Bomb-Blast Terrorism: A Legal Survey of Technological and Regulatory Alternatives, 67 TENNESSEE LAW REVIEW 177 (with A. Taslitz; 1999)

Distributive and Corrective Justice Issues in Contemporary Tobacco Litigation, 27 SOUTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 577 (1998) and ARISTOTLE AND MODERN LAW (R. Brooks and J. Murphy, eds.; Ashgate Press, 2003)

Ending the Punitive Damage Debate, 45 DEPAUL LAW REVIEW 301 (1995) cited in "Punishment by the People: Rethinking the Jury's Political Role in Assigning Punitive Damages," 56 DUKE LAW JOURNAL 1110 (N.S. Chapman; 2007)

Ending the Punitive Damage Debate, 45 DEPAUL LAW REVIEW 301 (1995)

The Admissibility of Insurance Questions During Voir Dire: A Critical Survey of Federal Approaches and Proposals for Change, 44 RUTGERS LAW REVIEW 241 (1992) (reprinted in 42 DEFENSE LAW JOURNAL 135, 1993)

The Insurance Exclusionary Rule Revisited: Are Reports of Its Demise Exaggerated?, 52 OHIO STATE LAW JOURNAL 1177 (1991)

Perpetuating Negligence Principles in Strict Products Liability: The Use of State of the Art Concepts in Design Cases, 36 SYRACUSE LAW REVIEW 797 (1985)

Selected Achievements

Consultant, Committee on Marketing, Rendering Inert, and Licensing of Explosive Materials, National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences, 1996-98