Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Paul Brest
Main content start

Paul Brest


Stanford University

Fellowship year


Faculty Fellow year

  • 2022-23
  • 2021-22
  • 2020-21
  • 2019-20
  • 2018-19

Paul Brest is former dean and professor emeritus (active) at Stanford Law School, a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, faculty director of the Effective Philanthropy Learning Initiative at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and co-director of the Stanford Law and Policy Lab. He was president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation from 2000 to 2012.

He is co-author of Money Well Spent: A Strategic Guide to Smart Philanthropy (Stanford University Press, 2018, 2nd ed.), Problem Solving, Decision Making, and Professional Judgment (Oxford University Press, 2010), and articles on constitutional law, philanthropy, and impact investing. His current courses include Problem Solving for Public Policy and Social Change and Advanced Topics in Philanthropy and Impact Investing. He created the online interactive course, Essentials of Nonprofit Strategy, on Stanford’s Lagunita platform and is the instructor in an online course, Essentials of Nonprofit Strategy, offered by Philanthropy University.

Brest is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds honorary degrees from Northwestern University School of Law and Swarthmore College. Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1969, he clerked for Judge Bailey Aldrich of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and Justice John M. Harlan of the U.S. Supreme Court, and did civil rights litigation with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in Mississippi. He was a fellow in 1983-84, and has been a faculty fellow since 2018-19.