James M. Landis

American lawyer, regulator (1899–1964)
James M. Landis
James McCauley Landis cph.3b30465.jpg
5th Dean of Harvard Law School 22
In office
Preceded byRoscoe Pound
Succeeded byErwin Griswold
2nd Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission
In office
September 23, 1935 – September 15, 1937
PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded byJoseph P. Kennedy
Succeeded byWilliam O. Douglas
Personal details
Born(1899-09-25)September 25, 1899
Tokyo, Japan
DiedJuly 30, 1964(1964-07-30) (aged 64)
Harrison, New York, U.S.
Alma materPrinceton University
Harvard Law School

James McCauley Landis (September 25, 1899 – July 30, 1964) was an American academic, government official and legal adviser. He served as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1935 to 1937.


Landis was born in Tokyo, Japan, where his parents were teachers at a missionary school. After completing his studies at Mercersburg Academy in 1916, he graduated from Princeton University and in 1924 received a LL.B from the Harvard Law School, where he was a student of Felix Frankfurter. In 1925, Landis was a law clerk to Justice Louis Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court. He then became a professor at the Harvard Law School, until called into government service during the New Deal.

Landis served as a member of the Federal Trade Commission (1933–1934), as a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1934–1937), and as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (1935–1937). While dean of the Harvard Law School from 1937 to 1946, Landis served as regional director of the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense (1941–1942) and then as its national director (1942–1943). President Franklin D. Roosevelt then sent him to Egypt as American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East (1943–1945). In 1946, Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman, later appointed him chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board, a position he served until the next year. A friend of the Kennedy family for years, he served as a legal advisor to Joseph P. Kennedy and as Special Counsel to President John F. Kennedy. In 1960 he drafted the Landis Report to President-elect Kennedy, reexamining the federal regulatory commissions and recommending such reforms as strengthening the commissions' chairmen and streamlining their procedures, which the Kennedy administration adopted.

Landis failed to pay his income taxes from 1956 to 1960. After this came to light in 1963, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one month in jail. Because of illness, he spent the month in hospital facilities. Less than a year after he returned home, he suffered a heart attack and drowned in his swimming pool.


Further reading

  • McCraw, Thomas (1984). Prophets of Regulation: Charles Francis Adams, Louis D. Brandeis, James M. Landis, and Alfred Kahn. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674716078.
  • O'Brien, Justin (2014). The Triumph, Tragedy and Lost Legacy of James M. Landis: A Life on Fire. Portland, OR: Hart Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84946-617-2.
  • Ritchie, Donald A. (1980). James M. Landis: Dean of the Regulators. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674471717.

See also

  • List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 4)

External links

  • The Rise and Fall of SEC Pioneer James Landis (audio story from NPR)
  • "Finding aid for James McCauley Landis, Papers, 1924-1945". Harvard Law School Library.
  • www.law.harvard.edu/news/spotlight/classroom/related/hls-deans.html
  • "Instant Sentence, Time, Friday, Sept. 06, 1963". September 6, 1963. Archived from the original on December 20, 2008.
  • Newspaper clippings about James M. Landis in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW
Government offices
Preceded by Securities and Exchange Commission Chair
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Dean of Harvard Law School
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Civil Aeronautics Board Chair
Succeeded by
Authority control Edit this at Wikidata
  • ISNI
    • 1
  • VIAF
    • 1
  • WorldCat
National libraries
  • France (data)
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • United States
    • 2
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Faceted Application of Subject Terminology
  • National Archives (US)
  • Social Networks and Archival Context
  • SUDOC (France)
    • 1
  • Trove (Australia)
    • 1