Dis­tin­guished admin­is­tra­tive law schol­ar Christo­pher Walk­er joins Michi­gan Law faculty.

Christo­pher Walk­er, a lead­ing admin­is­tra­tive law schol­ar who has worked in all three branch­es of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, has joined the Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan Law School as a pro­fes­sor of law. 

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Michi­gan law fac­ul­ty includes some of the deep­est thinkers on admin­is­tra­tive law, reg­u­la­tion, and sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers, and it’s a thrill to now be a mem­ber of this dynam­ic group,” said Walker.

Walk­er earned his JD from Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty in 2006, the same year he also cap­tured a master’s degree in pub­lic pol­i­cy from Har­vard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

A pro­lif­ic schol­ar with three-branch research and prac­tice experience

Over a decade-long run on the fac­ul­ty at The Ohio State Uni­ver­si­ty Moritz Col­lege of Law, Walk­er cement­ed his sta­tus as an expert on admin­is­tra­tive law, reg­u­la­tion, and law and pol­i­cy at the agency level. 

I like to get into the bureaucratic trenches, meet agency officials, and understand how federal agencies work in the real world.

From 2012 to 2022, he pub­lished more than 40 arti­cles and essays on top­ics such as admin­is­tra­tive adju­di­ca­tion, agency rule­mak­ing, Chevron def­er­ence, and qual­i­fied immu­ni­ty, a pro­lif­ic schol­ar­ly out­put that made Walk­er one of the most fre­quent­ly cit­ed sources on admin­is­tra­tive law.

His 2016 arti­cle Leg­is­lat­ing in the Shad­ows” — a detailed study of fed­er­al agen­cies’ deep involve­ment in leg­isla­tive draft­ing for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia Law Review—earned the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Law Schools Schol­ar­ly Papers Com­pe­ti­tion Award. 

In addi­tion, Walk­er has served on the Admin­is­tra­tive Con­fer­ence of the Unit­ed States — the inde­pen­dent fed­er­al agency charged to improve admin­is­tra­tive process­es and pro­ce­dures among fed­er­al agen­cies — and chaired the Amer­i­can Bar Association’s Sec­tion of Admin­is­tra­tive Law & Reg­u­la­to­ry Practice.

He also helped launch the Yale Jour­nal on Reg­u­la­tion Notice and Com­ment blog, for which he remains a reg­u­lar contributor. 

Admin­is­tra­tive law is a fas­ci­nat­ing field because it affects us all on a dai­ly basis giv­en that the vast major­i­ty of fed­er­al law­mak­ing today hap­pens at fed­er­al agen­cies,” said Walker.

His forth­com­ing book, Con­strain­ing Bureau­cra­cy Beyond Judi­cial Review, offers analy­sis of how the Unit­ed States might rethink admin­is­tra­tive law in light of the fact that most agency actions nev­er make it to court.

Con­gres­sion­al and agency staff reg­u­lar­ly call upon Walk­er for train­ing, feed­back, and service.

In 2017, for exam­ple, Walk­er served on the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, work­ing on the Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion of Neil Gor­such as well as on reg­u­la­to­ry reform leg­is­la­tion for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

Ohio’s two U.S. sen­a­tors, Sher­rod Brown and Robert Jones Port­man, mean­while, sum­moned Walk­er to serve on and lat­er chair a bipar­ti­san judi­cial advi­so­ry com­mis­sion tasked to fill 10 fed­er­al dis­trict court vacan­cies in Ohio.

Walker’s schol­ar­ship also helps courts review and elect­ed offi­cials under­stand gov­ern­ment agen­cies rang­ing from the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and the Fed­er­al Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion to the Depart­ment of Home­land Security.

I like to get into the bureau­crat­ic trench­es, meet agency offi­cials, and under­stand how fed­er­al agen­cies work in the real world,” Walk­er said.

Pri­or to enter­ing acad­e­mia, the Las Vegas native worked at a lit­i­ga­tion bou­tique in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., as well as on the civ­il appel­late staff at the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, where he rep­re­sent­ed fed­er­al agen­cies in a vari­ety of reg­u­la­to­ry contexts.

He also clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Jus­tice Antho­ny M. Kennedy, a par­tic­u­lar­ly eye-open­ing experience.

For one year, I got to be a fly on the wall and see how the judi­cia­ry works at the high­est lev­el,” Walk­er said. 

Pro­vid­ing class­room and real-world expe­ri­ence for the next generation

These diverse expe­ri­ences inform and inspire Walker’s schol­ar­ship and teach­ing, includ­ing efforts to help stu­dents land oppor­tu­ni­ties in state and fed­er­al government.

As direc­tor of the Moritz Wash­ing­ton, D.C. sum­mer pro­gram for nine years, Walk­er helped place more than 150 stu­dents in intern­ships in and around the nation’s capital. 

At Michi­gan Law, Walk­er will teach cours­es on admin­is­tra­tive law, civ­il pro­ce­dure, con­sti­tu­tion­al lit­i­ga­tion, leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tion, and fed­er­al courts.

He enjoys push­ing stu­dents to under­stand both law and pol­i­cy con­sid­er­a­tions, as well as the strate­gic choic­es advo­cates must make to rep­re­sent clients and their broad­er interests.

In this way, they can bring about change beyond their direct client,” he said.

Walker’s com­mit­ment to thought­ful schol­ar­ship and teach­ing excel­lence has not gone unnoticed.

Last March, the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety for Law and Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Stud­ies award­ed Walk­er the pres­ti­gious Joseph Sto­ry Award. Named in hon­or of the for­mer Supreme Court Jus­tice, the award rec­og­nizes a young aca­d­e­m­ic with a demon­strat­ed excel­lence in legal schol­ar­ship and a com­mit­ment to teach­ing who has also made a sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic impact to advance the rule of law in a free society. 

As a teacher and a schol­ar, my over­ar­ch­ing goal has been to iden­ti­fy and mag­ni­fy voic­es and ideas such that every per­spec­tive is heard and exam­ined,” he said.

—Daniel P. Smith