John W. Head

Robert W. Wagstaff Distinguished Professor
415 Green Hall

John Head holds both an English law degree from Oxford University and a J.D. degree from the University of Virginia. Before joining the KU law faculty, he was in private practice in Washington, D.C., and served as legal counsel to the Asian Development Bank and to the International Monetary Fund. He has taught law in several countries in Europe and Asia and regularly undertakes overseas assignments involving international financial law, international organizations, and international legal training. He was the Paul Hastings Visiting Professor at the University of Hong Kong in March-April 2008 and spent the spring 2009 term teaching and conducting research at the University of Trento in northern Italy as the Trento Chair in Law, part of the Fulbright Distinguished Chairs Awards Program.

Head is an outstanding teacher who has held the Schroeder Teaching Fellowship and has received the W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, the Provost's Award for Leadership in International Education, the Immel Award for Teaching Excellence, the Dean Frederick J. Moreau Award, the Graduate Mentor of the Year Award and the Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award. He was named the Robert W. Wagstaff Distinguished Professor in 2010. He coaches two of the school's highly successful international law moot court teams and serves as co-sponsor of the International Law Society.

Courses Taught:
  • Comparative Law
  • International Commerce and Investment
  • International Economic Law
  • Public International Law


Representative Publications


  • "Great Legal Traditions: Civil Law, Common Law, and Chinese Law in Historical and Operational Perspective" (Carolina Academic Press, 2011)
  • "China's Legal Soul — The Modern Chinese Legal Identity in Historical Context" (Carolina Academic Press, 2009)
  • "General Principles of Business and Economic Law" (Carolina Academic Press, 2008)
  • "Losing the Global Development War" (Brill-Nijhoff, 2008)
  • "Global Business Law: Principles and Practice of International Commerce and Investment" (Carolina Academic Press, 2006)
  • "The Future of the Global Economic Organizations" (Transnational Publishers, 2005)
  • "Law Codes in Dynastic China" (Carolina Academic Press, 2005) (co-authored with Yanping Wang)


  • "The Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 in Context: Reflections on International Legal and Institutional Failings, 'Fixes,' and Fundamentals," 23 Pacific McGeorge Global Business & Development Law Journal 43 (2010).
  • "Feeling the Stones When Crossing the River: The Rule of Law in China," 7 Santa Clara Journal of International Law (2010).
  • "The Asian Financial Crisis in Retrospect: Observations on Legal and Institutional Lessons Learned after a Dozen Years," 5 East Asia Law Review 31 (2009).
  • "In Whose 'Best Interests'? An International and Comparative Assessment of US Rules on Sentencing of Juveniles," 1 Human Rights and Globalization Law Review 89 (2008) (co-authored with Jelani Jefferson).
  • "Law and Policy in International Financial Institutions: The Changing Role of Law in the IFIs," 17 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 194 (2008).
  • "How Letters of Credit Operate in International Commercial Transactions," 77 Journal of the Kansas Bar Association 16 (2008).
  • "Protecting and Supporting Indigenous Peoples in Latin America: Evaluating the Recent World Bank and IDB Policy Initiatives," 14 Michigan State University Journal of International Law 383 (2006).

Research Interests
International economic law, international public law, comparative law legal history, dynastic Chinese law.

J.D., Virginia, 1979, Editorial Board, Virginia Journal of International Law; B.A., M.A. Juris, Oxford, 1977; B.A., Missouri-Columbia, 1975.

D.C. 1979

Career History
Judicial Clerk, D.C. Court of Appeals, 1979-80; Associate, Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, 1980-83; Counsel, Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines, 1983-88; Counsel, International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C., 1988-90; Associate Professor, University of Kansas, 1990-95; Professor, 1995-present.

American Society of International Law.

Why KU
  • One-third of full-time faculty have written casebooks used at U.S. law schools
  • 2 KU law faculty were U.S. Supreme Court clerks
  • KU’s Project for Innocence: 28 conviction reversals since 2009
  • 7,300+ alumni live in all 50 states and 18 foreign countries
  • Routinely ranked a “best value” law school
  • 12 interdisciplinary joint degrees
  • 26th nationwide for lowest debt at graduation. — U.S. News & World Report
  • 23rd nationally among public law schools. “When Lawyers Do the Grading,”
    —U.S. News & World Report
  • 70 percent of upper-level law classes have 25 or fewer students
  • 37th: for number of law graduates who are partners at nation’s largest law firms