Gund Affiliate, Director, Program on Law and Innovation, Co-director, Energy, Environment and Land Use Program, Vanderbilt Law School

J. B. Ruhl is an expert in environmental, natural resources and property law, and also studies the legal industry and legal technology. He was named director of Vanderbilt's Program on Law and Innovation in 2014 and serves as the Co-director of the Energy, Environment and Land Use Program. 

Before he joined Vanderbilt’s law faculty as the David Daniels Allen Distinguished Chair of Law in 2011, J.B. was the Matthews & Hawkins Professor of Property at the Florida State University College of Law, where he had taught since 1999.

J.B.'s influential scholarly articles relating to climate change, the Endangered Species Act, ecosystems, governance, and other environmental and natural resources law issues have appeared in the California, Duke, Georgetown, Stanford and Vanderbilt law reviews, the environmental law journals at several top law schools and peer-reviewed scientific journals. His works have been selected by peers as among the best law review articles in the field of environmental law ten times from 1989 to 2016.

Over the course of his career, J.B. has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, George Washington University Law School, the University of Texas Law School, Vermont Law School, and Lewis and Clark College of Law.

He began his academic career at the Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he taught from 1994 to 1999 and earned his Ph.D. in geography. Before entering the academy, he was a partner with Fulbright & Jaworski (now Norton Rose Fulbright) in Austin, Texas, where he also taught on the adjunct faculty of the University of Texas School of Law.


  • "The Production Function of the Regulatory State," 102 Minnesota Law Review (forthcoming 2017) (with J. Nash & J. Salzman)
  • "Regulating Business Innovation as Policy Disruption," 70 Vanderbilt Law Review 1561 (2017) (with E. Biber, J. Salzman and S. Light)
  • "Agencies Running from Agency Discretion," 58 William & Mary Law Review 97 (2016) (with K. Robisch)
  • "Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Legal Complexity," 101 Iowa Law Review 191 (2015) (with D. Katz)
  • "Regulatory Exit," 68 Vanderbilt Law Review 1295 (2015) (with J. Salzman)
  • “The Permit Power Revisited: The Theory and Practice of Regulatory Permits in the Administrative State,” 62 Duke Law Journal 975 (2014) (with E. Biber)
  • "Managing Systemic Risk in Legal Systems," 89 Indiana Law Journal 559 (2014)
  • "Climate Change Meets the Law of the Horse," 62 Duke Law Journal 975 (2013)
  • "Designing Administrative Law for Adaptive Management," 67 Vanderbilt Law Review 1 (2014) (with R. Craig) Selected for reprinting in the 2015 Land Use and Environment Law Review.
  • "An Empirical Assessment of Climate Change in the Courts: A New Jurisprudence or Business as Usual?" 64 Florida Law Review 15 (2012) (with D. Markel). Selected for reprinting in 2013 Land Use and Environment Law Review.
Gund Affiliate J.B. Ruhl

Areas of Expertise and/or Research

Ecosystem services, endangered species, adaptive management, complex adaptive systems, climate change adaptation


  • PhD, Southern Illinois University
  • LLM, George Washington University
  • JD, BA, University of Virginia