Lawrence Solan

Don Forchelli Professor of Law and Director of Graduate Education

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 780-0357 |  Email  | CV
Areas of Expertise

Criminal Law
Language and the Law
Statutory Interpretation

B.A., Brandeis University
Ph.D., University of Massachusetts
J.D., Harvard Law School

Vox: The science of blame


Professor Larry Solan provides insights into our legal system's concepts of culpability when addressing tragedies like the Germanwings Flight 9525 incident.

Professor Larry Solan Appears on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show


Professor Larry Solan was a guest on the April 1 episode of The Diane Rehm Show, discussing how technology is changing criminal linguistic evidence in modern court cases.

Professor Lawrence Solan quoted in The New York Times


Professor Lawrence Solan provided analysis in a March 12, 2015, New York Times article “Wondering what the Fed’s Statements Mean? Be Patient,” about how the meanings of certain words vary in specific contexts. The story comes in light of Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen’s use of the word "patient" at a Senate hearing last month.

Professor Solan Quoted in The Washington Post Article on “Forensic Linguistics”


Lawrence Solan, Don Forchelli Professor of Law and Director of Graduate Education, was recently quoted in a Feb. 27 Washington Post article about the growing and increasingly controversial realm of forensic linguistics. The sometimes acrimonious controversy, Solan explains, hinges on the state of the science — whether linguists can provide reliable statistics on their accuracy or “error rate.”

Professor Lawrence Solan Comments on How the Increasing Use of Adverbs in Statutes Affects Judicial Decision Making in the Wall Street Journal

Professor Lawrence Solan spoke to the Wall Street Journal about how since the 1980s there has been a surge of adverb-dense disputes.

Professor Larry Solan Featured in Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics


Wiley-Blackwell's newest edition of the Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics featured an entry on Professor Larry Solan. Professor Solan is internationally known for his contribution to the field of language and law.

Professor Lawrence Solan Featured in Wall Street Journal Blog about J.K. Rowling Revelation


The Wall Street Journal Speakeasy Blog cited Professor Lawrence Solan's scholarship in an article about The Cuckoo’s Calling, the crime novel revealed to be written by J.K. Rowling. The London Times broke the news last week after hiring authorship attribution experts, whose software programs detected stylistic similarities between “Robert Galbraith” and Rowling, prompting the author to confess to her pen name.

Professor Lawrence Solan's Op-Ed on Law Firm Associate Pay Featured in Huffington Post

Professor Lawrence Solan’s op-ed “Pay Associates Less? A Novel Response to a Rapidly Changing Legal Market” was recently featured in the Huffington Post.

The Lawyers Weekly Discusses Professor Lawrence Solan's Article on Insurance Policy Interpretation

In a recent issue, Canadian legal magazine The Lawyers Weekly compared insurance policy interpretation practices in Canada versus the United States. They cited Professor Lawrence Solan's 2008 article in the Columbia Law Review that studied false consensus bias and how judges and lay people in court interpreted insurance policy language differently.

Professor Lawrence Solan's Book, The Language of Statutes, Laws and Their Interpretation, Reviewed


Canadian legal blog Slaw reviewed Professor Lawrence Solan's book, The Language of Statues, Laws and Their Interpretation. Reviewer Simon Foddon called the publication "a balanced, pragmatic view of statutory interpretation and the role of the courts."

Professor Lawrence Solan Cited in State of Iowa v. Hicks

Professor Lawrence Solan was cited on November 24, 2010 in State v. Hicks, a decision of the Supreme Court of Iowa. The court referred to his article written with Peter Tiersma, Cops and Robbers: Selective Literalism in American Criminal Law, 38 Law & Soc’y Rev. 229, 249, 255 (2004).

Professor Lawrence Solan Cited in State of Minnesota v. Andersen

Professor Lawrence Solan was quoted on June 30, 2010 in State v. Andersen, a decision of the Supreme Court of Minnesota. The court quotes his article, Convicting the Innocent Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Some Lessons About Jury Instructions from the Sheppard Case, 49 Clev. St. L. Rev. 465, 481 (2001), in which he writes, “…once the government puts on a case, even a weak one, it appears to be up to the defendant to rebut it.”

Professor Lawrence Solan Cited in United States ex rel. Gonzalex v. Fresenius Medical Care North America

Professor Lawrence Solan was cited on March 24, 2010, in United States ex rel. Gonzalez v. Fresenius Medical Care North America, a decision of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division. The court referred to his article written with Peter Tiersma, Author Identification in American Courts, 25 Applied Linguistics 448, 463 (2004), in which he examines testimony on authorship and suggests that linguistic methods require further testing and improvement to be accepted in American courts.

Professor Lawrence Solan Cited in O'Donnabhain v. Comm'r

Professor Lawrence Solan was quoted on February 2, 2010, in O’Donnabhain v. Comm’r, a decision of the United States Tax Court. The court quotes Professor Solan’s book, The Language of Judges 45, 52 (1993) in which he opines about the original intent of the drafters of a statute, saying, “we have no way of telling whether the drafters of the statute intended that De Morgan’s Rules apply or not.” The court also pointed to his work on how courts have dealt with statutes containing the negation of “and.”