University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law


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Martha Ertman

Carole & Hanan Sibel Professor of Law

Phone: (410) 706-3923
Fax: (410) 706-0407
mertman @

Office: 230

BA, 1985, Wellesley College
JD, 1990, Northwestern University

Curriculum Vitae

Biography | Selected Publications | In the News

Martha M. Ertman is the Carole & Hanan Sibel Research Professor. She teaches Contracts, Commercial Law and Contract Drafting courses. She writes about pedagogy re: transactional skills and also the often-surprising prevalence of contracts and mini-contracts she calls "deals" in contexts such as family relationships and transfers of genetic materials.

Professor Ertman’s new book, Developing Professional Skills: Secured Transactions (West Academic 2018) gives students hands-on experience as they negotiate and draft the documents for the financed sale of a hardware store. Her 2015 book, Love’s Promises: How Formal & Informal Contracts Shape All Kinds of Families (Beacon Press) reaches a broad audience by blending memoir with family law stories about exchanges in reproductive technology, adoption, cohabitation, and marriage. Love’s Promises was Family Equality Council’s 2015 Book Club Pick, a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and covered by media such as Mother Jones, Washingtonian Magazine, the LA Review of Books, Time Magazine, and the Women’s Review of Books. A two-minute video describes the book.

Her other law review articles and book chapters explore teaching methods and uncover the often-hidden role of contracts and deals in the legal rules governing the value of homemaking labor; what she calls "Plan B" baby-making through reproductive technologies; and polygamy; her book Rethinking Commodification: Cases and Readings in Law and Culture (with Joan Williams) (NYU Press 2005) explores the reach of markets into all areas of our lives.

Public presentations of her work on contracts and same-sex marriage include a New America Foundation reading, an online symposium on Concurring Opinions, and articles on,, and the Women=Books blog. She has also been interviewed by WYPR, Newstalk, and Keeping Democracy Alive.

Professor Ertman a member of the American Law Institute. Before joining the Maryland Carey law faculty in 2007, she taught at University of Utah and University of Denver law schools, and has also been a visiting faculty member at the universities of Michigan, Connecticut, and Oregon. Prior to entering academia, she clerked for the Honorable Peter H. Beer, a U.S. district court judge in Louisiana, and practiced law at Davis, Wright Tremaine in Seattle.


Developing Professional Skills: Secured Transactions (2018). [Abstract]

Love's Promises: How Formal and Informal Contracts Shape All Kinds of Families (2015). [Abstract]

Editor, Rethinking Commodifcation: Cases and Readings in Law and Culture (2005) (with Joan C. Williams). [Abstract]

Book Chapters

Adoption, in Springer Encyclopedia of Law & Economics (Alain Marciano & Giovanni Battista Ramello eds., 2015).

Love and Contracts in Don Quixote, in Don Quixote: Interdisciplinary Connections 251 (Matthew D. Warshawsky & James A. Parr eds., 2013). [Full Text]

The Productive Tension between Official and Unofficial Stories of Fault in Contract Law, in Fault in American Contract Law 132 (Omri Ben-Shahar & Ariel Porot eds., 2011). [Full Text]

The Upside of Baby Markets, in Baby Markets: Money and the New Politics of Creating Families 23 (Michele Bratcher Goodwin ed., 2010). [Abstract]

The Story of Reynolds v. United States: Federal "Hell Hounds" Punishing Mormon Treason, in Family Law Stories 51 (Carol Sanger ed., 2007) [Full Text]

Private Ordering Under the ALI Principles: As Natural as Status, in Reconceiving the Family 284 (Robin Fretwell Wilson ed., 2006). [Full Text]

The Business of Intimacy: Bridging the Private-Private Distinction, in Feminism Confronts Homo Economicus: Gender, Law, and Society 467 (Martha Albertson Fineman & Terence Dougherty eds., 2005). [Full Text]


We Who Believe . . . Cannot Rest, 17 University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class 9 (2017).

The Social Life of Blood, Milk & Sperm, 51 Tulsa Law Review 393 (2016). [Full Text]

Drinking from the Data Well: Response to Gamete Donor Anonymity and Limits on Numbers of Offspring: The Views of Three Stakeholders, 3 Journal of Law and the Biosciences 655 (2016). [Full Text]

Marital Contracting in a Post-Windsor World, 42 Florida State University Law Review 479 (2015). [Full Text]

Unexpected Links Between Baby Markets and Intergenerational Justice, 8 Law & Ethics of Human Rights 271 (2014). [Full Text]

The Legacy of Jane Larson: The Politics of Practicality and Surprise, 28 Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society 207 (2013). [Full Text]

Exchange as a Cornerstone of Families, 34 Western New England Law Review 405 (2012). [Full Text]

Race Treason: The Untold Story of America's Ban on Polygamy, 19 Columbia Journal of Gender & Law 287 (2010). [Full Text]

Book Review, For Both Love and Money, The Far Reach of Viviana Zelizer’s The Purchase of Intimacy, 34 Law & Social Inquiry 1017 (2009). [Full Text]

Mapping the New Frontiers of Private Ordering, 49 Arizona Law Review 695 (2007). [Full Text]

Accepting the Court’s Invitation, 57 Journal of Legal Education 159 (2007). [Full Text]

Legal Tenderness, 18 Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 545 (2006) (reviewing Feminist Perspectives on Contract Law (Linda Mulcahy & Sally Wheeler eds., 2005)). [Full Text]

The Elasticity of Contract, 18 Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 202 (Supp. 2006). [Full Text]

What's Wrong with a Parenthood Market? - A New and Improved Theory of Commodification, 82 North Carolina Law Revew 1 (2003). [Full Text]

Love and Work: A Response to Vicki Schultz's Life's Work, 102 Columbia Law Review 848 (2002). [Full Text]

Marriage as a Trade: Bridging the Private/Private Distinction, 35 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 79 (2001). [Full Text]

The ALI Principles' Approach to Domestic Partnership, 8 Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy 107 (2001) [Full Text]

Changing the Meaning of Motherhood, 76 Chicago-Kent Law Review 1733 (2001). [Full Text]

Contract Sports, 48 Cleveland State Law Review 31 (2000). [Full Text]

Oscar Wilde: Paradoxical Poster Child for both Identity and Post-Identity, 25 Law & Social Inquiry 153 (2000). [Full Text]

Commercializing Marriage: A Proposal for Valuing Women's Work Through Premarital Security Agreements, 77 Texas Law Review 17 (1998). [Full Text]

Reconstructing Marriage: An InterSEXional Approach, 75 Denver University Law Review 1215 (1998). [Full Text]

Vive no Différence, 91 Northwestern University Law Review 642 (1997). [Full Text]

Contractual Purgatory for Sexual Marginorities: Not Heaven, but Not Hell Either, 73 Denver University Law Review 1107 (1996). [Full Text]

Denying the Secret of Joy: A Critique of Posner's Theory of Sexuality, 45 Stanford Law Review 1485 (1993). [Full Text]

Recent News featuring Martha Ertman

June 1, 2018

Professor Martha Ertman's work on domestic relationships and contracts is the basis of an article in Mother Jones.

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500 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 PHONE: (410) 706-7214 FAX: (410) 706-4045 / TDD: (410) 706-7714

Admissions: PHONE: (410) 706-3492 FAX: (410) 706-1793

Copyright © 2018, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. All Rights Reserved