Jeff Sovern

Michael Millemann Professor of Consumer Law




(410) 706-2937

Photo of Jeff Sovern

Jeff Sovern is the Michael Millemann Professor of Consumer Law and teaches Civil Procedure, Consumer Protection, and Payment Systems. The New York Times has called him "an expert in consumer law," while Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call has described him as a "leading figure in consumer financial law." He is a fellow of the American College of Consumer Financial Services Lawyers. The American Council on Consumer Interests awarded him its Russell A. Dixon Prize in 2002 and its 2010 Applied Consumer Economics Award.

Professor Sovern writes for three overlapping audiences.

For the public, he has published numerous op-eds, including essays in The New York Times (here and here, and in DealBook, here, here and here), USA Today, The Boston Globe, Fortune, the Christian Science Monitor,,Politico , the American Banker (here, here, here, here, and here), Newsday, the New York Daily News (here, here and here), Bloomberg Law, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (here, here, here, here, and here), The Conversation (here, here, andhere), The Hill (here, here, here, here, here and here), Commonwealth, The American Prospect, Morning Consult, and a variety of blogs.

Professor Sovern can be heard on public radio's Academic Minute and discussing privacy issues during an hour-long interview on the University of California—Irvine’s radio show Privacy Policy, initially broadcast on July 26, 2006. He has also published 42 letters in The New York Times. He has been quoted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, Newsday, Politico, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Daily News, National Law Journal, Consumer Reports, Mother Jones, Washington Examiner, The Oregonian,, Bloomberg,, The Huffington Post, the ABA journal eReports, the Associated Press, The Center for Public Integrity, MarketWatch, Forbes, CBS News, and Roll Call.

Professor Sovern also writes for law students. He co-authored a casebook titled 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 2020 editions). He previously co-authored the third and fourth editions of the casebook.

Finally, Professor Sovern writes for law professors, judges, lawyers and other academics interested in consumer issues. His scholarly writings have appeared in the Wisconsin Law Review, Fordham Law Review, Washington Law Review, William and Mary Law Review, , Ohio State Law Journal (twice), University of California-Irvine Law Review, Maryland Law Review, SMU Law Review, The Business Lawyer, Federal Rules Decisions, the University of Pittsburgh Law Review (here and here), Rutgers Law Review (here and here), Missouri Law Review, McGeorge Law Review, DePaul Law Review, Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review, Advancing the Consumer Interest, the Annual Review of Banking Law, Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, Journal of Consumer Affairs (twice), the Journal of Commercial and Consumer Law (twice), and the Encyclopedia of Housing. He is a co-coordinator of the Consumer Law and Policy Blog, and the editor of the Consumer Law Abstracts eJournal for the Social Science Research Network.

The federal Department of Education relied in part on an article Professor Sovern co-authored when it issued its 2016 student loan regulations barring the use of pre-dispute arbitration clauses. His writings have been cited more than 1,000 times. One of his articles was listed in Martha Minow’s "Archetypal Legal Scholarship: A Field Guide," 63 J. Legal Education 65 (2013) as an example of archetypal policy analysis.

Professor Sovern has spoken at the Pound Civil Justice Institute’s Forum for State Appellate Court Judges, Georgetown Law School, the Consumer Law Scholars Conference at the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice at the University of California-Berkeley Law School (four times), the University of California-Irvine (twice), the Conference of the American Association of Law Schools (twice), the National Consumer Law Center’s Consumer Rights Litigation Conference, the University of Houston's Conference on Teaching Consumer Law (multiple times), the Practicing Law Institute’s Consumer Financial Services Institute (three times), the Summer Judicial Seminar for New York State Judges, the Annual Conference of the American Council on Consumer Interests (three times), the Annual Conference of the International Association of Consumer Law, Rutgers Law School (twice), the Public Citizen/American Constitution Society Convening on Access to Justice Issues, Hofstra Law School, the New York City Consumer Advocates Task Force, the New York City Consumer Debt Working Conference, and the Privacy Law Scholars Conference, among other events. He has also spoken at webinars conducted by the American Bar Association and the Ballard Spahr law firm. Professor Sovern has served as reporter to the Eastern District Discovery Oversight Committee and on committees of the American and New York State bar associations and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

Before joining the law faculty, Professor Sovern served on the faculty at St. John's University School of Law and as a law clerk to Judge Frank A. Kaufman of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. He also practiced law in the litigation department of a major New York City law firm. He holds AB and JD degrees from Columbia University.

Despite all this, he still gets stuck taking out the garbage a lot at home.


Consumer Law: Cases and Materials (5th ed. 2020) (with Dee Pridgen & Christopher L. Peterson).

Selected Consumer Statutes (2019 ed.) (with Dee Dee Pridgen & Christopher L. Peterson).

Book Chapters

The FAA Should Not Cover Consumer Claims, in The Federal Arbitration Act: Successes, Failures, and a Roadmap for Reform (Richard A. Bales & Jill I. Gross eds., forthcoming 2024). Abstract


Not-so-Smartphone Disclosures, 76 Arkansas Law Review 437 (2023) (with Nahal Heydari). Abstract

Six Scandals: Why We Need Consumer Protection Laws Instead of Just Markets, 11 Michigan Business & Entrepreneurial Law Review 1 (2021). Abstract

Validation and Verification Vignettes: More Results from an Empirical Study of Consumer Understanding of Debt Collection Validation Notices, 71 Rutgers University Law Review 189 (2018) (with Kate E. Walton & Nathan Frishberg).

Free-Market Failure: The Wells Fargo Arbitration Clause Example, 70 Rutgers University Law Review 417 (2018).

Are Validation Notices Valid?: An Empirical Evaluation of Consumer Understanding of Debt Collection Validation Notices, 70 SMU Law Review 63 (2017) (with Kate E. Walton).

Whimsy Little Contracts with Unexpected Consequences: An Empirical Analysis of Consumer Understanding of Arbitration Agreements, 75 Maryland Law Review 1 (2015) (with Elayne E. Greenberg, Paul F. Kirgis & Yuxiang Liu).

Can Cost-Benefeit Analysis Help Consumer Protection Laws? Or at Least Benefit Analysis?, 4 UC Rivine Law Review 1241 (2014).

Written Notice of Cooling-off Periods: A Forty-Year Natural Experiment in Illusory Consumer Protection and the Relative Effectiveness of Oral and Written Disclosures, 75 University of Pittspurgh Law Review 333 (2014).

Student Laptop Use During Class for Non-Class Purposes: Temptation v. Incentives, 51 University of Louisville Law Review 483 (2013).

Preventing Future Economic Crises Through Consumer Protection Law or How the Truth in Lending Act Failed the Subprime Borrowers, 71 Ohio State Law Journal 761 (2010).

The Coase Theorem and the Power to Increase Transaction Costs, 40 McGeorge Law Review 935 (2009).

Toward a New Model of Consumer Protection: The Problem of Inflated Transaction Costs, 47 William & Mary Law Review 1635 (2006).

The Jewel of Their Souls: Preventing Identity Theft Through Loss Allocation Rules, 64 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 343 (2003).

Protecting Privacy with Deceptive Trade Practices Legislation, 69 Fordham Law Review 1305 (2001).

Opting in, Opting out, or No Options at All: The Fight for Control of Personal Information 74 Washington Law Review 1033 (1999).

Good Will Adjustment Games: An Economic and Legal Analysis of Secret Warranty Registration, 60 Missouri Law Review 323 (1995).

Toward a Theory of Warranties in Sales of New Homes: Housing the Implied Warranty Afdvocates, Law and Economics Mavens, and Consumer Psychologists Under One Roof, 1993 Wisconsin Law Review 13.

Private Actions Under Deceptive Trade Practices Act: Reconsidering the FTC Act as Rule Model, 52 Ohio State Law Journal 437 (1991).

Paradigm and Paradox in New York Consumer Credit Law: After Holder in Due Course, 6 Annual Review of Banking 119 (1987).

Enjoining Payment on a Letter of Credit in Bankruptcy: A Tempest in a Twist Cap, Business Lawyers, November 1982, at 21 (with Helen Davis Chaitman).

Allied Structural Steel v. Spannaus: Added Obligations, the Contract Claus, and Due Process, 16 Columbia Journal of Law & Social Problems 119 (1980).