Jo Backer Laird concentrates her practice on all aspects of art law, working with artists, private collectors, museums, art organizations and tax exempt organizations, galleries, dealers and advisors and financial institutions. Ms. Laird brings over 25 years of experience to Patterson Belknap, including 10 years as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Christie’s Inc., one of the world’s leading auction houses, where she was responsible for all legal issues relating to the company’s business in North and South America. She has extensive knowledge and experience in the full range of transactions and litigation issues related to works of art and the art market, including auction and private sale agreements, consignments, financing arrangements using art as collateral, commissions of art, authenticity and title disputes, artists’ rights and intellectual property, and issues relating to World War II restitution and cultural property cases.

Ms. Laird was recently named in Artnet Magazine's list of the Art World's 10 Most Powerful Lawyers. Ms. Laird was recognized by Best Lawyers in 2023 as “Lawyer of the  Year” for her work in Art Law in New York City. Chambers High Net Worth recognized Ms. Laird in 2020, 2021 and 2022 as a top-tier notable practitioner in the area of Art and Cultural Property Law. Ms. Laird is described as "a very good transactional lawyer - she is very straightforward, collaborative and gets things done quickly." One interviewee reports, Jo is "a go-to lawyer when galleries find themselves in a pickle. She is so knowledgeable, so thoughtful and excellent to deal with. She's a lawyer's lawyer in the art world. For major problems in the art world, Jo is your person." Clients also stated that "she is a go-to name for deals and litigation and she really understands the business as well as the law."

Prior to joining Christie’s, Ms. Laird spent 10 years at Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated, where she was involved in both advisory and litigation work, including employment-related, securities and commercial matters.

Ms. Laird is a regular speaker on art related topics, and has taught Law and the Visual Arts as an adjunct professor of Art Law at the Columbia University School of Law. She is also a contributor to the book American Art: Collecting and Connoisseurship, published by Merrell Publishers (2020).

Ms. Laird received her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. She received her M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and her A.B. from Princeton University.

  • U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York
  • New York
Professional Activities

Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Former Committee Member: Committee on Art Law; Committee on International Trade; Committee on International Affairs; Committee on International Human Rights; Committee on Federal Legislation)

Former Board Member: Human Rights First, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts; New Jersey Geriatric Center of the Workmen’s Circle; Children for Children

Adjunct Professor of Art Law, Cardozo Law School (2006-2010); Faculty, CLE International, Visual Arts and the Law (2004); Faculty, American Law Institute-American Bar Association, Employment and Labor Relations Law for the Corporate Counsel and General Practitioner (1994-1998); Faculty, American Law Institute- American Bar Association, Basic Law and Labor Law In Depth (1995-1998)