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The Papers of Jeffrey O'Connell

Identifier: MSS-84-3

Scope and Contents

MSS 84-3 contains the professional papers of Jeffrey O'Connell, Love Professor of Law at the University of Virginia. O'Connell's primary field of research wasis insurance law. In 1964-1965, he was associate director of the Study of Proposed Improvements in the Automobile Personal Injury Claims System at Harvard, where, with Judge Robert E. Keeton, he established the principle of no-fault insurance, the "Basic Protection Plan." O'Connell's more recent projects include applying this principle to other areas of tort law, such as athletic injuries.


  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1951-1987


Biographical / Historical

Jeffrey O'Connell was a specialist in accident and insurance law, and co-author of the principal work that proposed no-fault insurance. O'Connell designed an "early offers" plan where businesses facing personal injury lawsuits could promptly pay injured parties for out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages.

After O'Connell graduated from Harvard Law School, he was a trial lawyer in Boston with the firm of Hale & Dorr. He came to the University of Virginia in 1980, after 16 years at the University of Illinois. He also taught at the University of Iowa and was a visiting professor at Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Washington, and Oxford and Cambridge universities in England. He was the recipient of Guggenheim fellowships in 1973 and 1979. In 1989, he was the Thomas Jefferson Visiting Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge University and, in 1991, the John Marshall Harlan Visiting Distinguished Professor at New York Law School. In 1992 he received the Robert B. McKay Award for Tort and Insurance Scholarship from the American Bar Association.

O'Connell served on the board of directors of Consumers Union, the Educational Advisory Board of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Medical and Safety Committee of the NCAA.

He wrote or co-wrote 12 books dealing with accident law, published dozens of articles on tort and insurance law, and lectured extensively throughout the United States and the world.

Professor O'Connell died 6 January 2013.


21 Cubic Feet (45 archival boxes, plus 3 cartons)

3 items (Cartons)

Language of Materials



This collection includes research materials and clippings, professional and personal correspondence, publishing and editing material for many books, and information on O'Connell's method for public speaking. In the latter category are numerous letters to and from presidential candidates and their staffs, including Jimmy Carter, Edmund Muskie, Michael Dukakis, and Gary Hart.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Papers of Jeffrey O'Connell were donated to the Law Library in May of 1984 by Jeffrey O'Connell.

The Papers of Jeffrey O'Connell1951-1987 MSS 84-3
The Papers of Jeffrey O'Connell MSS 84-3
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Language of description note
Description is inEnglish

Repository Details

Part of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections Repository

Arthur J. Morris Law Library
580 Massie Road
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22903 United States