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Ajay K. Mehrotra

Ajay K. Mehrotra headshot

ABF Research Professor and Former Director

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Joint appointment

Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law


B.A., University of Michigan J.D., Georgetown University Ph.D., University of Chicago

Curriculum vitae


Ajay K. Mehrotra is a Research Professor at the ABF, a Professor of Law at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, and an Affiliated Professor of History at Northwestern University. Mehrotra's scholarship and teaching focus on legal history and tax law. More generally, his research explores law and political economy in historical and comparative perspective, with a particular…

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Research focus

Tax law and policy; legal history; history of the legal profession; and comparative and historical approaches to law and political economy


Portrait Project 2.0

Asian Americans are a growing presence in all sectors of the legal profession. They work in BigLaw and in smaller firms and solo practice, and as government attorneys, corporate counsel, prosecutors,…

The VAT Laggard: A Comparative History of U.S. Resistance to the Value-added Tax

This project explores how and why the United States has historically rejected national consumption taxes. Nearly all developed countries, and many in the developing world, have some type of a…

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"Sociolegal Research, the Law School Survey of Student Engagement,and Studying Diversity in Judicial Clerkships"
“The Promise and Limits of Fundamental Tax Reform: Contrasting the 1986 Tax Reform Act with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act”
UC Davis Law Review
“‘Life in All Its Fullness’: Cardozo, Fellows, and the Critical Context of Welch v. Helvering”
Pittsburg Tax Review

All publications »


“Economic Expertise, Democratic Constraints, and the Historical Irony of U.S. Tax Policy: Thomas S. Adams and the Beginnings of the Value-Added Tax,”
Apr 2018
"The Relationship Between Corporations and American Democracy"
Nov 2017
"The VAT Laggards: A Comparative History of Japanese and U.S. Resistance to the Value-added Tax,”
Jun 2017

All presentations »

Professional Service & Recognition

  • Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historian Distinguished Lecturer Program, 2015-2018
  • Recipient, 2014 Society for U.S. Intellectual History Annual Book Award (for Making the Modern American Fiscal State)
  • Co-Principal Investigator (with H. Timothy Lovelace), American Society for Legal History Grant (to fund Junior Scholars’ Conference on “Globalization and the Law in Historical Perspective” at Indiana University, Bloomington), 2014-15
  • Co-Field Director (with Isaac Martin), Social Science Research Council, Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship Program, 2013
  • Academic Leadership Program Fellow, Committee on Institutional Cooperation, 2012-13
  • Leon E. Wallace Teaching Award, Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington, 2010
  • Co-Principal Investigator (with Michael Grossberg), Indiana University New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Research Grant, 2008-9 (for year long colloquium on “New Directions in Law & Society Scholarship”)
  • Co-Principal Investigator (with Isaac Martin), American Sociological Association/National Science Foundation Grant for the Advancement of the Discipline, 2006-7
  • Post-doctoral Visiting Scholar Fellowship, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2006-2007
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship, 2006-2007 (designated special recognition as part of the NEH’s “We the People Project”)

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