Elisabeth D. de Fontenay

Associate Professor of Law


Elisabeth de Fontenay's primary research interests are in the fields of corporate law, corporate finance, and financial institutions.  She joined the Duke Law faculty in 2013 after serving as a Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.  At Duke Law, she teaches Corporate Finance and Business Associations, and received the Law School’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014.

Her broad research agenda focuses on how market actors behave in the less-regulated spaces of the financial markets.  In a recent paper entitled “Private Equity Firms as Gatekeepers” (published in the Review of Banking & Financial Law), de Fontenay contends that private equity firms create value not just through better corporate governance, but also by acting as gatekeepers in the debt markets.  Her most recent article, “Do the Securities Laws Matter?  The Rise of the Leveraged Loan Market” (forthcoming in the Journal of Corporation Law), argues that the dramatic convergence of regulated and unregulated products in the corporate debt markets suggests that the securities laws are having little effect in that space.

De Fontenay received her B.A., summa cum laude, in economics from Princeton University, where she was a two-time All-American rugby player.  She received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Journal on Legislation and provided tax preparation assistance to lower-income citizens.  After graduating from law school, de Fontenay practiced as a corporate associate at Ropes & Gray in Boston, where she specialized in mergers and acquisitions, debt financing, and private investment funds.