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Faculty Directory

Kara W. Swanson

Associate Professor of Law
Yale University, BS 1987
University of California, Berkeley, MA 1988
University of California, Berkeley, JD 1992
Harvard University, PhD 2009
Office: 37 Cargill Hall
Mail: 400 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: (617) 373-8288
Fax: (617) 373-5056
E-mail: k.swanson@neu.edu

Professor Swanson is an accomplished scholar, legal practitioner and scientist whose chief interests are in intellectual property law, the history of science, medicine, and technology and legal history. She earned her PhD in the history of science from Harvard University in 2009. 

Before coming to Northeastern, Professor Swanson was the Berger-Howe Visiting Fellow in Legal History at Harvard Law School and associate professor at Earle Mack School of Law, Drexel University. In addition to her numerous publications in law reviews and peer-reviewed journals, Professor Swanson is currently finishing a book on property in the human body, using the history of law and medicine to explore contemporary debates in the use of body parts. The book, Banking on the Body, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press in 2014.

Trained as a biochemist and molecular biologist at Yale University and the University of California at Berkeley, Professor Swanson was a published research scientist before entering law school, also at Berkeley. As an associate at Dechert LLP, she maintained an intellectual property law practice, where she was involved in drafting and negotiating technology licenses, advising biotech and computer services and software start-ups on protection of their inventions and drafting and prosecuting patents as a registered patent attorney. She clerked for Judge Cecil F. Poole, 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals and Judge William H. Orrick Jr., US District Court for the Northern District of California. 

Fields of Expertise

  • Copyright Law
  • Intellectual Property
  • Legal History 
  • Patent Law

Selected Works

Books

Selected Articles

Selected Chapters

  • “Patents, Politics and Abortion,” forthcoming in Willliam T. Gallagher and Debora J. Halbert, eds., Intellectual Property Law in Context: Law and Society Perspectives on IP (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press) 
  •  “Rubbing Elbows and Blowing Smoke: Gender and Science in the Mid-Nineteenth-Century Patent Office,” forthcoming in Ann M. Grenell and Lisa Kall, eds., Vulnerable Bodies/Embodied Boundaries (forthcoming, Springer)
  • “Authoring an Invention: Patent Production in the Nineteenth-Century United States,” Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective. Mario Biagioli, Peter Jaszi, and Martha Woodmansee, eds.,  University of Chicago Press, (2011)

Online Commentary