Odette Lienau is a Professor of Law and a Faculty Member in the Graduate Field of Government at Cornell University. From 2018 to 2021, she was Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Intellectual Life. Her research and teaching interests include international economic law, bankruptcy and debtor-creditor issues, international law and international relations, and political and legal theory. Her scholarship seeks to understand the broad international market rules and principles that impact expectations about appropriate behavior for businesses, governments, and other actors.
Professor Lienau’s first book, Rethinking Sovereign Debt: Politics, Reputation, and Legitimacy in Modern Finance (Harvard University Press, 2014, winner of a Book Award from the American Society of International Law), challenges the conventional wisdom that all states, including those emerging from a major regime change, must repay debt or suffer reputational consequences in a functioning international capital market. Her current, early-stage research project considers different approaches to sovereign debt collection over time, and her articles and chapter contributions have appeared in the Harvard International Law Journal, the Yale Journal of International Law, the Virginia Journal of International Law, the Hastings Law Journal, the Yale Law Journal Forum, and Oxford University Press, among others. She has served as a consultant or expert for UNCTAD, the IMF, and the World Bank, among other organizations, and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
She practiced with the Financial Restructuring and Insolvency group at Shearman & Sterling in New York City prior to joining Cornell Law School and has been Nomura Visiting Professor of International Financial Systems at Harvard Law School and Martin R. Flug Visiting Professor at Yale Law School. She received an A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from NYU School of Law, where she was awarded graduation prizes in international law and legal philosophy. She earned a Ph.D. in political science at Harvard University, where her dissertation received the university's Charles Sumner Prize.