Jeff Sovern joins the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law faculty as the inaugural Michael Millemann Professor in Consumer Law in the 2023-2024 academic year. He comes to Maryland Carey Law after 40 years on the faculty of St. John’s University School of Law where he wrote about and taught consumer protection law. Sovern has often written for media outlets like The New York Times, Boston Globe, USAToday, Politico, The Hill, and CNN.com, and is valued for his ability to translate complicated legal concepts for the public.
“Professor Sovern is a renowned expert in consumer law and an exciting addition to the faculty,” said Maryland Carey Law Dean Renée McDonald Hutchins. “We are thrilled he is joining us and look forward to his contributions that will strengthen our curricular offerings and expertise in this important area of the law.”
Sovern is passionate about consumer protection law scholarship, an area in which he submits there are large gaps in the literature. “Consumer law is about economic justice,” said the New York native. “There is a lot of work to be done.”
His academic writing has appeared in journals including Wisconsin Law Review, Fordham Law Review, Washington Law Review, William and Mary Law Review, Ohio State Law Journal, University of California-Irvine law Review, Maryland Law Review, SMU Law Review, University of Pittsburgh Law Review, Rutgers Law Review, Missouri Law Review, DePaul Law Review, Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review, and many others. He has written about how consumer protection failures contributed to the Great Recession, how consumers agree to arbitration clauses—and so surrender constitutional rights--without even knowing that they are doing so, consumer privacy issues, laws that are intended to protect consumers but fail to do so effectively, and many other consumer protection topics. He is a co-coordinator of the Consumer Law and Policy Blog and editor of the Consumer Law Abstracts eJournal for the Social Science Research Network.
Sovern is co-author of the casebook, Consumer Law: Cases and Materials (5th ed. 2020 West) with professors Dee Pridgen and Christopher Peterson, with whom he also co-edited Selected Consumer Statutes (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2019 editions).
He is also a fellow of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers.
Sovern’s current research explores ways to strengthen the power of federal regulatory agencies to act against companies that engage in discrimination. His other recent work examines unfair arbitration clauses and consumer understanding of credit card disclosures on phones versus computers or paper.
Sovern earned his JD and AB degrees from Columbia University after which he clerked for Judge Frank A. Kaufman of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. “The first lawyers I saw in action were Maryland lawyers,” Sovern recalled fondly, adding, “I learned a lot from them.”
Glad to be back in his old stomping grounds and part of the intellectual community at Maryland Carey Law, Sovern says he is especially inspired by the professor after whom his endowed chair is named. “Michael Millemann is an amazing guy who has touched many areas of the law,” says Sovern. “It’s exciting to get to work with him.”
In the 2023-2024 academic year, Sovern is teaching Consumer Law, Payment Systems, and Civil Procedure.
The endowed professorship is possible thanks to the efforts of members of the Gordon, Wolf & Carney law firm, under the leadership of Maryland Carey Law Board of Visitors member, Richard Gordon ’89.