Maria O'Brien

Maria O’Brien

Professor of Law

Paul Siskind Scholar

AB magna cum laude, Harvard University
JD, Yale University


Biography

Noted employee benefits law and insurance law specialist Maria O’Brien began her teaching career at Boston University School of Law in 1988. She taught at De Paul University College of Law from 1989 until rejoining the Boston University faculty in 1995, and was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School in 1993.

While in law school, Professor O’Brien was editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review. After graduation, she served as a law clerk for Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and then as an associate at the Boston law firm of Hale and Dorr. She has numerous publications to her credit, most recently articles about pension plan recoupment of over payments in the Kansas Law Journal and the effects of overruling Abood on public sector employees in the Connecticut Insurance Law Journal. She also is the co-author of Cases and Materials on Employee Benefits Law and Using Civil Remedies for Criminal Behavior: Rationale, Case Studies, and Constitutional Issues. Her most recent lectures include “Friedrichs and the Move Toward Private Ordering of Public Employee Wages and Benefits,” at the 5th Annual Employee Benefits Conference (2016), “Understanding the Moral Hazard of Public Pensions” at the Creighton Law Review Symposium in 2014 and “Employee Benefits in Turmoil” at the Law & Society meeting in 2012.

Professor O’Brien teaches courses on employment law, ERISA, contracts, and insurance law. She has long been active in a number of professional organizations. She is a member of the American Law Institute (ALI) and an editor of the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal. She serves on the board of the Pension Action Center which provides free legal services to low income retirees and their dependents.

Publications

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  • Maria O'Brien, Red Creative: Culture and Modernity in China 52 Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society (2022) (book review)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien & Calvin Utter, Understanding University Fee Litigation: A Few Lessons About The Perils of Imprudence for Higher Ed Plan Sponsors 90 Mississippi Law Journal (2021)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, A Common-Sense Defense of Janus: Forthcoming Changes in the Public Sector 6 Belmont Law Review (2019)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien & Sophie Esquier, The Future of ERISA’s Church Plan Exemption After Advocate Health: Abolition or Robust State Law Contract Remedies, in 2018 NYU Review of Employee Benefits (2018)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, A Few Observations about the Curious State of Massachusetts Labor Law: Public-Sector Unions after Janus 22 Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal (2018)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien & Jeanne Medeiros, Recoupment of Pension Overpayments: Equitable Liens and Meaningful Reform After Montanile 26 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy (2017)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Friedrichs and the Move Toward Private Ordering of Public Employee Wages and Benefits 23 Connecticut Insurance Law Journal (2016)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Introduction to Thinking about a Post-ACA World: Litigation, Cost Shifting and Enforcement of Statutory Rights 20 Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal (2016)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, After Tackett: Incomplete Contracts for Post-Employment Healthcare No. 15-30 Boston University School of Law, Public Law Research Paper (2015)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, The Case for Public Pension Reform: Early Evidence from Kentucky No. 14-22 Boston University School of Law, Public Law Research Paper (2014)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Central Falls Retirees v. Bondholders: Assessing Fear of Contagion in Chapter 9 Proceedings 59 Wayne Law Review (2013)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Disclosure to the Rescue: A Conceptual Framework for Retained Asset Accounts 80 Tennessee Law Review (2012)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Combating Moral Hazard: The Case for Rationalizing Public Employee Benefits No. 11-36 Boston University School of Law, Public Law Research Paper (2011)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Post-Firestone Skirmishes: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Discretionary Clauses and Judicial Review of the ERISA Plan Administrator Decisions 2.1 The William & Mary Policy Review (2011)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Together We Can: Imagining the Future of Employee Pensions 12 Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal (2008) (book review)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Creeping Impoverization: Material Conditions, Income Inequality, and ERISA Pedagogy Early in the 21st Century 34 Fordham Urban Law Journal (2007)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Insecure Retirement Income, Wrongful Plan Administration and Other Employee Benefits Woes -- Evaluating ERISA at Age Thirty 53 Buffalo Law Review (2005) (book review)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Constance Hiatt, Shannon Minter & Teresa S. Collett, Same Sex Marriage and Its Implications for Employee Benefits: Proceedings of the 2005 Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools Sections on Employee Benefits, and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues 9 Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal (2005)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, The Changing World of Employee Benefits 79 Chicago Kent Law Review (2004)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, The Supreme Court's Labor and Employment Decisions: 2002-2003 Term 19 Labor Lawyer (2003)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Employee Benefits Law: Foreword 5 Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal (2001)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Y2K ERISA Update: Key Issues and Trends Facing Employers and Plan Participants 51 Labor Law Journal (2000)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Douglas D. Scherer, James Sharf, Richard Seymour & Paulette Caldwell, Proceedings of the 1999 Annual Meeting, Association of American Law Schools Section on Employment Discrimination Law: Is There a Disconnect between EEO Law and the Workplace? 3 Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal (1999)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Shortage and Tension on the Upper Rio Grande: Protecting Endangered Species during Times of Drought, Comments from the Perspective of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District 39 Natural Resources Journal (1999)
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  • Maria O'Brien, Possible Solutions: Policy Tools to Achieve Flexibility to Meet New Conditions, Preliminary Thoughts for Coping with Future Droughts 39 Natural Resources Journal (1999)
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  • Maria O'Brien, Recent Developments in ERISA Law 49 Labor Law Journal (1998)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Evaluating the Case for Social Security Reform: Elderly Poverty, Paternalism and Private Pensions 64 Brooklyn Law Review (1998)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Lorraine A. Schmall & Maria O'Brien, Cases and Materials on Employee Benefits Law (1998)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Some Preliminary Thoughts on the Deregulation of Insurance to Advantage the Working Poor 24 Fordham Urban Law Journal (1997)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Discussion, in Proceedings of the Forty-Ninth Annual Meeting (1997)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Legal and Policy Implications of the Flexible Employment Relationship 17 Journal of Labor Research (1996)
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  • Maria O'Brien, The Case against Regulating the Market for Contingent Employment 52 Washington and Lee Law Review (1995)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Insurance Risk Classification After McGann: Managing Risk Efficiently in the Shadow of the ADA 47 Baylor Law Review (1995)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Peter Finn & Maria O'Brien, Using Civil Remedies for Criminal Behavior: Rationale, Case Studies, and Constitutional Issues (1994)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Working and Poor: The Increasingly Popular Practice of Excluding Disabled Employees from Health Care Coverage 3 Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy (1994)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Personal Narratives and Racial Distinctiveness in the Legal Academy 41 DePaul Law Review (1992) (book review)
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  • Maria O'Brien, The Economics and Politics of Emergency Health Care for the Poor: The Patient Dumping Dilemma 1992 Brigham Young University Law Review (1992)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Socially Responsible Investing in an Inefficient Market: Doing Good Versus Doing Well 42 American University Law Review (1992)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Parental Leaves and Poor Women: Paying the Price for Time Off 52 University of Pittsburgh Law Review (1991)
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  • Keith N. Hylton & Maria O'Brien, Rational Decisions and Regulation of Union Entry 34 Villanova Law Review (1989)
    Scholarly Commons
  • Maria O'Brien, Vanessa Redgrave v. Boston Symphony Orchestra, Inc.: A Breach of Constitutional Dimension 32 (1988)
    Scholarly Commons

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Courses

Employment Discrimination: LAW JD 853

3 credits

Comprehensive coverage of federal and state statutory anti-discrimination and accommodation laws governing employment. Federal statutes treated include Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Equal Pay Act, and section 1981. Constitutional equal protection law also will be treated where applicable. Topics include disparate treatment, disparate impact, systemic disparate treatment, harassment, retaliation, remedies, including affirmative action, and procedural choices.

SPRG 2023: LAW JD 853 A1 , Jan 17th to Apr 25th 2023
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg Room
Tue,Thu 8:30 am 9:55 am 3 Maria O’Brien LAW 209

Insurance Law: LAW JD 850

3 credits

The presence or absence of insurance is in many instances the single most important determinant of whether and how a tort or contracts action is litigated. This course focuses on both individual and commercial forms of insurance coverage. Students are introduced to the key insurance concepts of risk management, including the transfer, pooling and allocation of covered risks. Problems of contract interpretation, imperfect information, adverse selection and discrimination will be treated at length. Additionally, the class will take up issues particular to property, life, health, disability, liability and auto insurance. Finally, some time will be devoted to the state regulatory regimes designed to ensure solvency and profitability, and to the secondary market (i.e. reinsurance, and surplus and excess lines). A final exam is required.

FALL 2022: LAW JD 850 A1 , Sep 6th to Dec 8th 2022
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg Room
Tue,Thu 11:00 am 12:25 pm 3 Maria O’Brien LAW 203