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 Ronald Chester

Ronald Chester

Professor of Law


(617) 422 7254

A.B. Harvard University
J.D. Columbia University School of Law
M.I.A. Columbia University School of International Affairs
Dip. Crim. Cambridge University (Trinity College), England
Professor Chester is the author of From Here to Eternity? Property and the Dead Hand (2007); the award-winning Inheritance, Wealth, and Society (1982); and Unequal Access: Women Lawyers in a Changing America (1985). He has published numerous articles dealing with inheritance and trust law and the law of assisted reproduction. A New England faculty member since 1973, he teaches Wills, Estates, and Trusts and a seminar on bioethics. He has been a visiting professor at Indiana University Law School (Bloomington), Southern Methodist University Law School, and the University of California at Davis Law School and a Fellow in Law and Humanities at Harvard Law School, as well as Parsons Visitor at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is an elected member of the American Law Institute and an Academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He serves as chair of an American Bar Association committee on bioethics and of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Donative Transfers, Fiduciaries, and Estate Planning.

Selected Publications

History's Orphan: Arthur MacLean and the Legal Education of Women, 46 New Eng. L. Rev. 65 (2011)

Embryonic Stem Cell Therapeutics: Balancing Medical Need, Scientific Progress and Bioethics, 20 Health Matrix J. L. & Med. 203 (2010) (with Robert Sackstein)

The Psychology of Dead Hand Control, 43 Real Prop., Tr. & Est. L.J. 505 (2008)

Women, Property and Letters of the Law in Early Modern England, 54 Am J. Legal History 480 (2007) Nancy E. Wright et al (Book Review)

From here to Eternity? Property and the Dead Hand (2007)

Improving Enforcement Mechanisms in the Charitable Sector: Can Increased Disclosure of Information Be Utilized Effectively?, 40 New Eng. L. Rev. 447 (2006)
Social Science Research Network

Cloning Embryos from Adult Human Beings: The Relative Merits of Reproductive, Research, and Therapeutic Uses, 39 New Eng. L. Rev. 583 (2005)
Social Science Research Network

The Law of Trusts and Trustees (3d ed.2005) Sections 411-470 (with George Gleason Bogert and George Taylor Bogert)

Posthumously Conceived Heirs under a Revised Uniform Probate Code, 38 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 727 (2004)
Social Science Research Network

Removal of Corporate Trustees Under the Uniform Trust Code and Other Current Law: Does a Contractual Lense Help Clarify the Rights of Beneficiaries?, 67 Mo. L. Rev. 241 (2002) (with S. Ziomek)
Social Science Research Network

Grantor Standing to Enforce Charitable Transfers under Sectio 405(c) of the Uniform Trust Code and Related Law: How Important Is It and How Extensive Should It Be?, 37 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 697 (2001)
Social Science Research Network

Modification and Termination of Trusts in the 21st Century, 35 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 697 (2001)
Social Science Research Network

Cloning for Human Reproduction: One American Perspective, 23 Sydney L. Rev. 319 (2001)
Social Science Research Network

Mediation and Jury Trials as Means of Resolving Will Contests, 1 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J. 267 (2001)

The Use of Mediation and Jury Trials in Will Contests, 1 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L.J. 2 (2001) Symposium issue RE: Joint Program, AALS Sections on Donative Transfers and Alternative Dispute Resolution, January 2000 Annual Meeting.

Property: Legal Aspects of Intergenerational Transmission, in International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2001)

Double Trouble: Legal Solutions to the Medical Problems of Unconsented Sperm Harvesting and Drug-Induced Multiple Pregnancies, 44 St. Louis U. L.J. 451 (2000)
Social Science Research Network

Less Law But More Justice? The Use of Jury Trials and Mediation in Will Contests, 37 Duq. L. Rev. 173 (1999)
Social Science Research Network

Disinheritance and the American Child: an alternative from British Columbia, 1998 Utah L. Rev. 1 (1998)
Social Science Research Network

Inheritance in American Legal Thought, in Inheritance and Wealth in America (1997)

Should American Children Be Protected against Disinheritance?, 32 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 405 (1997)
Social Science Research Network

To Be, Be, Be...Not Just To Be: Legal and Social Implications of Cloning for Human Reproduction, 49 Fla. L. Rev. 303 (1997)
Social Science Research Network

Freezing the heir apparent: a dialogue on postmortem conception, parental responsibility, and inheritance, 33 Hous. L. Rev. 967 (1996)
Social Science Research Network

Is the Right to Devise Property Constitutionally Protected?, 24 Sw. U. L. Rev. 1195 (1995) Portions appear in Waggoner, Alexander, and Fellows, Family Property Law (2nd ed. 1997). (2 page excerpt reprinted in Waggoner, Alexander, and Fellows, Family Property Law, Foundation Press, Spring 1997).
Social Science Research Network

Reshaping First-Year Legal Doctrine: The Experience in the Law Schools,, 20 Fla. St. U. L. Rev. 599 (1993)
Social Science Research Network

Functionalizing first-Year Legal Education, 25 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 21 (1991)
Social Science Research Network

Unequal Access Women Lawyers in a Changing America (1984) [partially supported by a Radcliffe Research Grant (Mellon Foundation)]. Reviewed, e.g., in 84 Mich. L. Rev. 1052 (1986). This book, inter alia, traces the early history of New England School of Law.

Women Lawyers in the Urban Bar: An Oral History, 18 New Eng. L. Rev. 521 (1983)
Social Science Research Network

Inheritance, Wealth, and Society (1982) Reviewed, e.g., in 96 Harv. L. Rev. 775 (1983); 81 Mich. L. Rev. 1111 (1983); 3 Int'l Rev. of L. & Econ. (1983). Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1983 (Philosophy). (Choice magazine reviews all scholarly publications in a given year).

Professor Chester can comment on the following subjects:

  • Assisted Reproduction
  • Charities and the Law
  • Cloning, Human
  • Contracts
  • Estate Law
  • Inheritance Tax
  • Jurisprudence
  • Legal Education, First-Year Doctrine
  • Posthumous Conception and Inheritance Issues
  • Property Law
  • Trusts
  • Wealth, Distribution of
  • Wills
  • Women in the Legal Profession