William E. Butler

William E. ButlerJohn Edward Fowler Distinguished Professor of Law

Email: web15@psu.edu
Phone: 717-240-5227

J.D., honoris causa, University of Uppsala
Dr. juris honoris causa, Academy International Independent Ecological-Politological University, Moscow
LL.D. honoris causa, Kyiv University of Law attached to the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
LL.D., University of London
Ph.D., Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
LL.M., School of Law of the Academy University of Law, Institute of State and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences
J.D., Harvard Law School
M.A., Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
B.A., The American University

History of International Law Seminar
International Investment Transactions
International Law
Law of the Sea
Law of Treaties
Russian Law Seminar

Butler on Teaching>

The courses and seminars which Butler offers at Dickinson Law have a lengthy history at University College London and the Moscow Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences, where they were first instituted. At London he was involved in teaching the LL.M. course on Soviet Law and introduced into the LL.B. at University College London a course entitled “Introduction to Socialist Legal Systems” (renamed in 1992 “Post-Soviet Legal Systems”). These were followed by LL.M. courses in “Comparative Approaches to International Law” and “The Legal Framework of East-West Trade”. When Butler removed to Dickinson Law in 2005, these specializations were enlarged and recast into his present course offerings.

Butler takes the view that research and teaching are mutually reinforcing: the classroom is a laboratory for presenting and testing the fruits of legal research and, in the form of seminar papers and dissertation supervision, for encouraging and evaluating the contributions of students and fledgling legal scholars at the highest professional level.

Butler on Scholarship>

William E. Butler is an international and comparative lawyer who has specialized on the law and legal systems of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the other post-Soviet legal systems, Mongolia, the Chinese Soviet Republic (1931-1934) and, in the field of public and private international law, pioneered the field of comparative international law. He has published numerous books, articles, translations, and reviews and founded learned journals and yearbooks, among them: Yearbook of Socialist Legal Systems (New York, Transnational Publishers, 1986-1989), Sudebnik (London, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 1996-2007), Russian Law: Theory and Practice (Moscow, Russian Academy of Legal Sciences 2004-2009, editor); East European and Russian Yearbook of International and Comparative Law (Idyllwild, Schlacks Publications, 2009-2015); Journal of Comparative Law (London, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2006-; co-editor); Jus Gentium: Journal of the History of International Law (Clark, New Jersey, Talbot, 2016-); edits a loose-leaf service: Russia & The Republics: Legal Materials (New York, Juris, 2006-).

Professor Butler is an Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (1992-), National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine (2012-), and Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (1992-), and Associate of the International Academy of Comparative Law. In March 2009 he was elected to the American Law Institute.

Butler has served as Dean of the Faculty of Laws, University College London (1977-79), of the University of London (1988-90), and of the Faculty of Law, Moscow Higher School of Social and Economic Sciences attached to the Academy of National Economy of the Russian Federation (1993-1998), an Anglo-Russian institution associated with the University of Manchester. He has been Visiting Professor of Law at New York University School of Law (1978) and Harvard Law School (1986-87), Lecturer at The Hague Academy of International Law (1985), Visiting Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University (Spring 2005), and Visiting Scholar countless times at Moscow State University and the Institute of State and Law of the USSR (now Russian) Academy of Sciences.

Butler on Service>

In 1989 Butler was appointed Special Counsel and Chairman of a Working Group attached to the Commission for Economic Reform of the USSR Council of Ministers. In this capacity he evaluated key draft perestroika legislation and was co-author of the Draft USSR Law on Pledge which, in May 1992, was the basis for legislation enacted by the Russian Federation Supreme Soviet and then of similar laws adopted in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The same Working Group prepared the Edict of the President of the Russian Federation on Trust Ownership, adopted 24 December 1993. He also has advised the President and the Prime Minister of Lithuania and deputies and members of the Government of the RSFSR on draft legislation, was a member of the team funded by the United Kingdom Know-How Fund to advise on the Russian Project Finance Bank (registered January 1993), and was a member of the Task Force which developed the Open Sector Concept in the Soviet Union, now known as the Free Entrepreneurship Zone.

In 1992 he was appointed a member of the European Commission Joint Task Force on Law Reform in the Independent States and advised the World Bank on energy and banking legislation in Russia and Kazakhstan. In September 1992 he served as a member of a team which advised, on behalf of the World Bank, the State Property Fund of Kyrgyzia on the legal framework for privatization. In 1992 he also was appointed to the group drafting the Russian Law on Securities in collaboration with the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law attached to the Russian Federation Supreme Soviet. From July 1992-February 1993 he was seconded as Senior Legal Counsel to the Russian Federation State Committee for the Administration of State Property, where he headed a small team of legal specialists to prepare draft Russian laws on trust ownership, securities and investment funds, joint-stock societies, full partnerships, Kommandit partnerships, and limited responsibility partnerships. In June 1993 he was appointed Convenor of the Anglo-Russian Working Group to draft a legal assistance treaty. In May 1994 he became Counsel to a Russian working party drafting legislation on finance leasing, and in November 1994 delivered lectures to the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice on commercial law at the invitation of the Council of Europe. In January 1995 he advised the Belarus Supreme Soviet on parliamentary procedure under a TACIS project and from July 1995, Uzbekistan on privatization investment funds. In 1998-99 he served as Special Counsel to the Commission for National Reconciliation in Tadzhikistan on behalf of the United Nations, advising on constitutional reforms. In March 2000, at the request of the Union of Jurists in Moscow, he assisted as an expert with the application of the Republic Azerbaijan for membership of the Council of Europe, helping to independently assess the record of that country in implementing law reforms, and acted as a formal signatory of the Report. In October-November 2002 he acted as a Consultant to a health project in Russia for the Department for International Development of the Government of the United Kingdom, and in Spring 2003 completed a substantial report for International Family Health on the legal regime of harm reduction programs in Russia. In December 2004 he was appointed one of two foreign members of the Committee on Corporate Management Reform attached to the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development of the Russian Federation. In spring 2010 he completed a study of Russian law for the Government of Vietnam as part of a judicial reform program arranged by the United Nations.

Butler's Engagement with the Profession>

Butler advises international organizations, governments, and leading companies and financial institutions who invest or do business in those countries with particular reference to the interface between domestic law and practice with international investment transactions. His experience extends to banking, securities, project finance, the creation and operation of companies of all types, commercial agreements, licensing, technology transfer, bankruptcy, privatization, finance and other leasing, concessions, economic zones, shipping, aircraft, oil and gas, nuclear power, electric power, and environmental protection, inheritance, family law, criminal law and procedure, among others.

For more than four decades he has advised on and given formal legal opinions with respect to all aspects of Russian and Soviet Law before English, American, and Australian courts and tribunals and in international arbitrations, and has prepared expert opinions and reports for the Office of the Legal Advisor, United States Department of State, the United States Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Social Security of the United Kingdom, the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the United Nations Development Programme, and for other international organizations, banks, large corporations, and industry associations.

In May 1995 he was elected to a five-year term as a member of the Russian International Court of Commercial Arbitration, and re-elected for further terms in 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2016. He has acted in more than twenty Moscow arbitrations, including as Chairman of the tribunal. In December 2012 he was elected to the Kazakhstan International Commercial Arbitrage and on 21 June 2013, to the International Commercial Arbitration Court attached to the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He also has acted in the London and Stockholm courts of international arbitration as an arbitrator and has conducted arbitrations ad hoc. In 2008 he was appointed to the Panels of Distinguished Neutrals, both International and Pennsylvania, as an arbitrator by the CPR International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution.

He has acted as Of Counsel to Cole Corette & Abrutyn (1988-92) and Clifford Chance (1992-94) and as Partner and Head of the CIS London Group and the Almaty and Tashkent offices of White & Case (1994-96). From 1997-2001 he was a co-founder and Senior Partner in the PwC (later Landwell) CIS International Law Firm in Moscow, and in 2002 co-founded Phoenix Law Associates CIS, a Russian law firm located in Moscow.

He is admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia (1967) and the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States (1970), and has been licensed by the respective Ministry of Justice in Uzbekistan (1996) and the Russian Federation (1997).

Butler's Outside Interests>

Butler is a collector of books and of bookplates (ex libris). In ex libris circles he served for thirty years as the Executive Secretary of the International Federation of Ex-Libris Societies (FISAE) and was the founding editor of The Bookplate Journal (London, 1982-) and of Bookplate International (1994-2004). He has been elected International Affiliates Director and, in 2018, Vice Chairman of the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS). He is a member of the National Union of Bibliophiles (Moscow, 1992-) and the Grolier Club (New York, 1996-). In September 2017 he organized and led a FABS bibliophilic visit to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

From October 2003 to June 2018 he served as a Custodial Trustee or Trustee of The Hakluyt Society and has served as a Member of the Committee for Central and Inner Asia attached to The British Academy since its inception.

Butler's Publications>

Butler has published extensively in his fields of interest. He is the author, co-author, editor, or translator of books, looseleaf services, casebooks, articles, translations, and reviews on Soviet, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarus, Tadzhikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Baltic, and other CIS legal systems. Salient titles include:


Soviet Law (London, Butterworths, 1983; 2d ed., 1988).

The Corporation and Securities Under Russian and American Law (with Maryann E. Gashi-Butler) (Moscow, Zertsalo, 1997).

Russian Law (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999; 2d ed., 2003; 3d ed., 2009).


Russian Law and Legal Institutions (London, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2014; 2d ed., 2018).

Russian Family Law (London, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2015);

Russian Inheritance Law (London, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2015).

Russia and the Law of Nations (London: Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2009).

Foreign Investment Law in the Commonwealth of Independent States (2002).

The Law of Treaties in Russia and Other Member Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (Cambridge University Press, 2002).

The Tunkin Diaries and Lectures (2012); and others.


Russian-English Legal Dictionary (Ardsley, Transnational, 2001; Moscow, Zertsalo, 2001).


The Soviet Legal System (with J. N. Hazard and P. B. Maggs) (Dobbs Ferry, Oceana Publications, 1977; new ed., 1984).

International Litigation and Arbitration (with T. E. Carbonneau) (2d ed.; St. Paul, West, 2013).

Legislative Collections and Texts:


Russian Legal Texts (with J. E. Henderson: Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1998).

Tadzhikistan Legal Texts (London, Simmonds & Hill; Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1999).

Uzbekistan Legal Texts (London, Simmonds & Hill; Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1999).

Civil Legislation:

Russian Civil Legislation (Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1999).

Russian Company Law (London, Simmonds & Hill; Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 2000).

Civil Code of the Russian Federation (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2003; London, Wildy, Simmonds, & Hill, 2010 and 2016).

Civil Code of the Republic Belarus (London, Simmonds & Hill; Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 2000).

Civil Code of Ukraine (Kyiv, 2011).

Civil Code of the Republic Uzbekistan (3d ed.; London, Simmonds & Hill; Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1999 and 2018).

Civil Code of the Republic Kazakhstan (3d ed; London, Simmonds & Hill, 1997 and 2007).

Turkmenistan Civil Code (London, Simmonds & Hill; Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1999).

Russian Company and Commercial Legislation (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2003).

Intellectual Property Law in the Russian Federation (London, Simmonds & Hill, 2002).

Criminal Legislation:

Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (4th ed.; London, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2004).

Russian Criminal Law and Procedure (London, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2011).

Criminal Code of Ukraine (Kyiv, 2011).

Tax Law:

Tax Code of the Russian Federation (Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1999).

Family Law:

Russian Family Law (London, Simmonds & Hill; Boston/The Hague, Kluwer Law International, 1998).

Family Code of Ukraine (Kyiv, 2011).

Economic Law:

Economic Code of Ukraine (London, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2004; Kyiv, 2011).

Procedural Law:

Russian Civil and Arbitrazh Procedure (2012).

In addition he has published numerous articles in the leading law reviews of the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the United States. In 2003 he completed a major study for the Department for International Development, published separately in the English and Russian languages as: HIV/AIDS and Drug Misuse in Russia: Harm Reduction Programmes and the Russian Legal System (London, DFID/IFH, 2003). In 2009 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime published in the English and Russian languages his The Right to Health and the United Nations Conventions on Narcotics, a study of Russian compliance with the United Nations conventions on narcotics.

He has translated and edited a number of treatises and monographs published in Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, among them:

G. I. Tunkin, Theory of International Law (London and Cambridge, Mass., 1974; 2d ed.; London, 2004).

A. Kh. Saidov, Comparative Law (London, 2003).

The Legal System of Ukraine, in 5 volumes (Kyiv, 2013).

Ukrainian Legal Doctrine, in 6 volumes (London, 2015-2018)

He has published translations of more than 3200 normative legal acts adopted in the former USSR, all CIS countries, and Mongolia, a full bibliography of which is contained in International and Comparative Law: A Personal Bibliography (London: Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2015).



Cited United States Court of Appeals, 2004.

Butler in the Media>