Robert Emerson
Huber Hurst Professor Robert Emerson

Professor Robert Emerson receives distinguished career achievement award

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Robert Emerson, Huber Hurst Professor in the Department of Management, is the recipient of the 2021 Distinguished Career Achievement Award from the Academy of Legal Studies in Business (ALSB), the world’s oldest, largest society of professors in business law and legal studies.

The Distinguished Career Achievement Award is given to a professor who is an exemplar of excellence in research, teaching and service throughout that professor’s career.

“I feel tremendously honored,” said Emerson. “There are so many fantastic business law professors, and to be the one chosen for this award leaves me so grateful to the lawyers and legal studies colleagues worldwide who have been such good mentors and role models, especially early in my career.”

“Non-law colleagues and students know me for (and I think the results show there is value in) my unorthodox lectures, with costumes and drama and humor for topics often viewed as unrelentingly staid and tedious. But there is much more to my career than the fun that the students and I have in class. I am so happy that the very title of this award speaks to a career of achievements in all three prime functions of an academic: teaching, service, and research.” 

“I love to teach and to research, at all stages – the preparation, the performance, and the end ‘products.’ To make a difference in students’ lives with my teaching and counsel, and to effectuate some change in law or legal processes with my research work and presentations, continues to energize me as much now as when I started my career. Being a professor really can be a wonderful avenue for advancement of knowledge and even self-expression, but also – I think – for doing good. Even though it is, in effect, a lifetime award, I hope to have many more years ahead of me, still teaching, writing, and serving.”       

Emerson, who has been a member of the ALSB since 1989, was presented with the honor at the ALSB’s annual conference in August 2021. In the presentation of the Distinguished Career Achievement Award, University of Michigan Professor of Business Law Cindy Schipani described Emerson as “one of the ALSB’s most prolific scholars” and “a phenomenal and dedicated teacher as well as an ALSB member who has engaged in very important [and] significant service.”

Emerson came to the Warrington College of Business in 1988. His research interests include comparative law, franchising, ethics, attorneys, contacts and dispute resolution. Emerson is Advisory Editor of the American Business Law Journal, and previously served in various editorial board positions, including its Editor-in-Chief, for five years. He was a reviewer with the American Business Law Journal for more than 20 years and for more than 15 years with Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. He has published several dozen articles in the top-tier law journals, written a number of books and book chapters, presented at hundreds of conferences and guest-lectured and visited at dozens of universities worldwide, and has testified as an expert in numerous legal proceedings and before Congress.

Throughout his career Emerson has received multiple Best Paper awards, including one from the International Society of Franchising (the leading global, multidisciplinary association of professors dedicated to all research on franchising, from fields such as accounting, economics, entrepreneurship, marketing, strategic management, and information systems to internationalization, finance and law), seven from the ALSB and dozens of them for specific subjects or other conferences. He has served as the president of the ALSB’s Interdisciplinary Section since 2019, and, among other things, was for many years the Director of the ALSB’s Research Consortium as well as officer, including President, of the Southeastern regional organization of the business law academy.  

He has also won 22 teaching awards, including the University of Florida’s Teacher of the Year Award 16 times and the ALSB’s John Bonsignore Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Legal Studies Education Award. At Warrington, Emerson teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in courses such as Legal Aspects of Technology Management, Business Law, and the Legal Environment of Business. In addition to his professorship at Warrington, Emerson is an Affiliate Professor with the Center for European Studies in the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“[Emerson] is so popular that when business school classes at his school were broadcast on local television, and by the way, he was teaching remotely way before it was really a thing, he was said to be the best thing on daytime TV by patients at the local university hospital,” noted Schipani in her presentation of Emerson. “Residents of local nursing homes gathered in the TV room daily to watch his lectures.”

In 2008, Emerson was inducted as an inaugural member of the Conseil Scientifique for the Union Internationale des Huissiers de Justice (UIHJ) – the Scientific Council for the International Union of Justice Officers. He is the sole member from North America in the 10-person council, advising the 100-nation, Paris-based body that aims to promote model laws, advocate for treaties as well as for efficient and effective national and international procedural and enforcement law, including reforms, promoting legislation and professional projects and initiatives to elevate the effectiveness and independence of judicial officers. Emerson has also served as the Reporter (Editor) for the UIHJ’s triennial conference and proceedings.

He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Sewanee: The University of the South. He is a member of the bar, having practiced law for many years before becoming a full-time academic, and Emerson remains active in the American Bar Association, especially its Forum on Franchising, ever hopeful that his role as a professor with practical experience, and decades of researching and teaching help him to advocate for improvements in the law and in the legal profession.