JS Nelson

Professor of Law


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Professor Nelson is a leading voice on issues of white collar crime and corporate misconduct. She brings a deep, diverse background to business law, bridging both business and law school. She has an active scholarly and public profile with appearances on venues such as the TODAY Show and NBC News Now.

Professor Nelson’s work explores the intersection of corporate law, white collar crime, and compliance. She concentrates on the way that legal rules shape ethical behavior within business organizations and the impact of different frameworks on large-scale corporate wrongdoing.

Her scholarship has been published in both legal and business journals, including the Harvard Law Review, Cornell Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Cardozo Law Review, U.C. Davis Law Review, Berkeley Business Law Journal, Journal of Management Inquiry, Journal of Legal Studies in Business, and the Academy of Management Learning and Education journal. Her chapters are in academic books published by the Oxford University Press, the Cambridge University Press, Routledge, and Edward Elgar. She has received numerous awards for her work from the Academy of Legal Studies in Business, including its 2017 Distinguished Proceedings Paper and Holmes-Cardozo awards, 2016 Ralph Bunche prize for Outstanding International Paper, and its 2015 Outstanding Proceedings award. In 2022, she again won the Ralph Bunche Outstanding International Paper Award.

Her recent book, co-authored with the late Lynn Stout, and published by the Oxford University Press, is Business Ethics: What Everyone Needs to Know. The book has been called a “modern classic,” and it is available in a wide variety of formats. Her next book is on workplace surveillance.

Professor Nelson is additionally an organizer in academia and active in outreach to the business community. She is one of the conveners of the ComplianceNet international network of scholars, serves as an officer for the Ethics Section of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business, and helps organize the Corporate and Securities Law Collaborative Research Network for Law & Society. She speaks about her work to counsel for corporations ranging from Caterpillar, to Walmart, Boeing, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and others. 

Professor Nelson was previously a tenured Professor of Law at the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law, where she also held a courtesy appointment in the Management & Operations Department of Villanova Business School. Over 2021-23, she visited at Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, where she was part of the team teaching the required curriculum for approximately 1,100 students in HBS’s MBA class. Before teaching in law school, she was in business schools for about ten years. Prior to academia, she worked for the federal courts, served as a deputy district attorney, and was a business litigator in Denver, Colorado. Nelson is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where she was the Supreme Court Co-Chair of the Harvard Law Review, and Yale University, where she was awarded her degree with honors and distinction in the major.

Key/Recent Publications


  • Business Ethics: What Everyone Needs to Know, co-authorship with Lynn A. Stout, Oxford U. Press (2022)
    • Nominated before publication for Next Big Idea Club Winter 2021-22 (curated by Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Daniel Pink)

Scholarly Articles

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Book Chapters

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  • Regaining Worker Autonomy, ComplianceNet2023, Wash. D.C., June 2023
  • Business Ethics: What Everyone Needs to Know, Author Meets Readers, L. & Soc’y Conf., San Juan, PR, June 2023
  • New Business Ethics Resource & Workplace Surveillance, Lab. & Emp. L. Council, The Conf. Board, on-line meeting, May 2023
  • Compliance and Ethics Takeaways, Caterpillar Corp. Int’l, online, May 2023
  • Behavioral Ethics Developments and Resources for Ethics Professionals, Ass’n for Practical and Professional Ethics, 32nd Ann. Int’l Conf., online, March 2023
  • Corporate Criminal ESG, Conf. on Standardized Corp. Soc. Responsibility Reporting, U. of Fla. Levin Coll. of L., Gainesville, FL, Feb. 2023
  • Structuring Enforcement to Deter Misconduct and Induce Disclosure, Program on Corp. Compliance and Enforcement, NYU Sch. of L., New York, NY, Nov. 2022
  • Berkeley Forum for Corporate Governance, Berkeley Ctr. for L. and Bus., Berkeley L., San Francisco, CA, Nov. 2022
  • Business Ethics for Corporate Governance Panel, Soc’y for Corp. Govern. NYC Conf., NY, NY, Oct. 2022
  • Corporate Criminal ESG, Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics, McDonough Sch. of Bus., Geo. U., Wash., D.C., Oct. 2022
  • Corporate Criminal ESG, guest lecture to Regul. L. & Pol’y class, U. Penn. Carey Sch. of L., U. Penn., Phila., PA, Nov. 2022
  • Keynote Address, EM Normandie Business School, France, and SCMHRD Bus. Sch., India, joint international conference on compliance, online, Sept. 2022
  • Corporate Criminal ESG, Ninth Annual Corporate & Securities Litigation Workshop, U. of Ill., Chicago, IL, Sept. 2022
  • Scholarly Papers: Fraud and Corruption Panel, Soc’y for Bus. Ethics, Seattle, WA, Aug. 2022 (chair)
  • Legal Interpretation and Ambiguity Panel, ComplianceNet2022, The Ctr. for L. and Behavior, Dep’t of Jur., U. Amsterdam Sch. of L., Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July 2022 (chair)
  • New Books About Compliance Panel, ComplianceNet2022, The Ctr. for L. and Behavior, Dep’t of Jur., U. Amsterdam Sch. of L., Amsterdam, the Netherlands, July 2022
  • Corporate Criminal ESG, Acad. of Legal Stud. in Bus., Louisville, KY, July 2022 (Ralph Bunche Finalist Session and repeated for Holmes-Cardozo Finalist Session)
  • Revisiting Ethics and Corporate Culture, Seattle U. Albers Ethics Week, Seattle, WA, May 2022
  • Building an Ethical Career, Bridge MBA Class, Albers Ethics Week, Seattle, WA, May 2022
  • Ethics, Culture, and the Dark Side of Compliance, Northwest Ethics Network, Seattle, WA, May 2022
  • Roundtable on Civic Responsibility, Ira M. Millstein Ctr. for Global Mkts and Corp. Ownership, Colum. L. Sch., New York, NY, April 2022
  • Vanderbilt Law and Business, 24th Annual Law & Business Conference, Vanderbilt L. Sch., Nashville, TN, Mar. 2022

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Programs & Courses