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Faculty Directory

Stephen N. Subrin

Professor of Law
Harvard University, AB 1958
Harvard University, LLB 1963
Office: 30 Cargill Hall
Mail: 400 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: (617) 373-3923
Fax: (617) 373-5056

Before joining the Northeastern University faculty in 1970, Professor Subrin practiced civil litigation and labor law for seven years with the Boston firm of Burns & Levinson, where he became a partner in 1966. He has published extensively on civil procedure, with an emphasis on procedural reform, and the historical background of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Professor Subrin has taught Civil Procedure, Evidence, Complex Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Federal Courts, Civil Trial Practice, and Law and Literature: Life as a Lawyer. He was reporter to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure for 12 years and was consultant to the reporter on the Local Rules Project of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Professor Subrin is coauthor of a seminal casebook, Civil Procedure: Doctrine, Practice, and Context. With Professor Margaret Y.K. Woo, he has written a text about American civil procedure for the Chinese legal community, published in Chinese. He and Professor Woo wrote Litigating in America, Civil Procedure in Context (Aspen Publishers, 2006).

Professor Subrin has taught Civil Procedure at Harvard Law School and Renmin University in Beijing, China, and Complex Litigation at Yale Law School. He has also taught Introduction to the American Legal System at the Cornell Summer Institute of International and Comparative Law in Paris.

Fields of Expertise

  • Civil Liability
  • Civil Procedure
  • Court Procedure and Evidence
  • Legal Education
  • Tort Reform

Selected Works


Litigating in America: Civil Procedure in Context (Aspen Law and Business, 2006) (with Woo)

Civil Procedure: Doctrine, Practice and Context (Aspen Law & Business, 2000; Second Edition, 2004; Third Edition, 2008; Fourth Edition, 2012) (with Minow, Brodin, Main and Lahav),

Chapter and Forms on Massachusetts Civil Procedure (Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Annual Practice Skills Course Books, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc., 1967-1972)

Selected Articles

“Ashcroft v. Iqbal: Contempt for Rules, Statutes, the Constitution, and Elemental Fairness,  12 Nevada Law Journal 571, 2012.

“Litigation and Democracy: Restoring a Realistic Prospect of Trial”  (with Burbank), 46 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 399, 2011.

“The Integration of Law and Fact in an Uncharted Parallel Procedural Universe” (with Main), 79 Notre Dame Law Review 1981, 2004.

“A Traditionalist Looks at Mediation: It’s Here to Stay and Much Better Than I Thought,” Nevada Law Journal 196, 2003.

Discovery in Global Perspective: Are We Nuts?” 52 DePaul Law Review 299, 2002.

“Fishing Expeditions Allowed: The Historical Background of the 1938 Federal Discovery Rules,” 39 Boston College Law Review 691, 1998.

“Teaching Civil Procedure While You Watch It Disintegrate,” 59 Brooklyn Law Review 1155, 1993.

“Substance in the Shadow of Procedure: The Integration of Substantive and Procedural Law in Title VII Cases” (with Baumann and Brown), 33 Boston College Law Review 211, 1992.

“The Role of Local Rules” (with Coquillette and Squires), 75 American Bar Association Journal 62, 1989.

"David Dudley Field and the Field Code: A Historical Analysis of an Earlier Procedural Vision" 6 Law and History Review 909 (1988)

"How Equity Conquered Common Law: The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in Historical Perspective" 135 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 909 (1987)

“Notice and the Right to Be Heard: the Significance of Old Friends” (with Dykstra), 9 Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review 449, 1974.