William E. Westerbeke

Professor of Law
Primary office:
521 Green Hall

William Westerbeke joined the KU Law faculty in 1975 after graduation from Stanford Law School, service as a law clerk in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, and private practice in Los Angeles. His teaching research emphasis has been on tort law, including the law of product liability. A dedicated teacher known for his accessibility to students, he received the Dean Frederick J. Moreau Award for Student Counseling in 1987, the Immel Award for Teaching Excellence in 1987, the Robert A. Schroeder Teaching Fellowship (2001-04) and a William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2006. He was named a Dean James Green Fellow (1996-99) in recognition of his service to the law school.

Courses Taught:
  • Insurance
  • Products Liability
  • Torts
  • Workers' Compensation


Representative Publications
"The Immunity Provisions in the Kansas Tort Claims Act: The First Twenty-Five Years," 52 Kansas Law Review 939 (2004); "Survey of Kansas Tort Law: Part II," 50 Kansas Law Review 225 (2002); "Survey of Kansas Tort Law: Part I," 49 Kansas Law Review 1037 (with McAllister, 2001); "The Application of Comparative Responsibility to Intentional Tortfeasors and Immune Parties," 10 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 65 (1998); "The Reasonable Alternative Design Requirement," 8 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 65 (1998); "The Sources of Controversy in the New Restatement of Products Liability: Strict Liability Versus Products Liability," 8 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 1 (1998); "Strict Products Liability for Misrepresentation," 20 Journal of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association 20 (1997); "Tort Law" in Kansas Bar Association Annual Survey of Developments in Kansas Law (1994 through 2004); "Kansas Product Liability: Joint and Several Liability in the Chain of Supply and Distribution," 14 Kansas Trial Lawyers Journal 21 (1991).)

Research Interests
Tort law, product liability.

J.D., Stanford, 1970, Stanford Law Review; M.A., Middlebury College, 1968; B.A., Bowdoin College, 1964.

California 1971

Career History
Clerk, Hon. Irving Hill, U.S. District Court, Central District California 1970-71; Associate, O’Melveny & Meyers, California 1971-75; Associate Professor, Kansas 1975-80; Professor, 1980-present; Visiting Professor, University of Vienna, Spring 1990.

Order of the Coif; Civil Code Advisory Commission, Kansas Judicial Council 1984-89.

Why KU
  • One-third of full-time faculty have written casebooks and treatises
  • 2 KU law faculty were U.S. Supreme Court clerks
  • KU’s Project for Innocence: 34 conviction reversals since 2009
  • 7,600+ alumni in all 50 states, D.C., and 21 foreign countries
  • #18 “best value” law school in the nation — National Jurist Magazine
  • 12 interdisciplinary joint degrees
  • 20th nationwide for lowest debt at graduation. — U.S. News & World Report
  • 80 percent of upper-level law classes have 25 or fewer students
  • More than 600 employment interviews at law school, 2014-15
  • 92 percent overall employment rate for Class of 2014 – top 20 percent nationally
  • 23rd: for number of law alumni promoted to partner at nation’s largest law firms
  • #1 in Kansas and Missouri for July 2015 bar exam performance