NLJ on the Launch of the Institute for Law and Economics

Chicago Aims to Protect its Supremacy in Law-and-Economics Movement
Karen Sloan
National Law Journal
October 10, 2011

The University of Chicago School of Law gave birth to the law-and-economics movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Now the school is reasserting its commitment to the study of the law through the lens of economics with an initiative it has dubbed Law and Economics 2.0.

"Law and economics has been the most important legal movement of the past half century. We're very proud of it and it's part of our legacy," said Dean Michael Schill. "We want to be a leader for the next 50 years. We've been actively looking at what we can do to keep us comfortably at the forefront."

After about 18 months of discussion, administrators settled on a plan that includes the formation of a formal Institute for Law and Economics; a joint J.D./Ph.D. program intended to produce faculty well-versed in the law and economics; a number of joint faculty appointments in the university's economics department and law school; and a series of internationally focused conferences and collaborations with legal educators and judges outside the United States.

The initiative is large in scope — it includes 34 faculty members from the law school, business school and economics departments with the law school planning to hire more professors  — and comes at a price, Schill said. It¹s being funded with money from the law school, the university, as well as private money from a fundraising campaign that is likely to launch next year. He said the investment would substantial, but declined to provide a dollar figure.

The investment will come at no cost to students, Schill said. The school simultaneously plans to add three clinics while expanding its research mission. "We can walk and chew gum at the same time," he said.

Perhaps the highest-profile aspect of the push is the Law and Economics Institute, launched on Oct. 10. Until now, the school lacked a formal center to coordinate the law-and-economics work produced by its faculty.

"We will use the institute to focus all of the activities we already are doing under a new, more organized umbrella," Schill said.

Michael H. Schill
James J. Heckman
John List
Steven Levitt
Kevin Murphy