Thomas Miles

Thomas J. Miles

Dean, Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics

Thomas J. Miles is the Dean and Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Chicago Law School. 

Professor Miles is a leading scholar of criminal justice and judicial behavior, and an expert in a wide range of contemporary issues such as race and immigration enforcement. He has been widely published in economics and legal journals, with extensive expertise on such varied topics as judicial diversity, immigration, mail fraud, and wiretapping. His work makes creative use of the tools of law and economics—an approach that originated at the Law School, which maintains leadership in the field through such initiatives as the Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics. Frequently, Miles’ work uses the methods of law and economics to investigate social questions not conventionally thought to fall within that field, such as his recent work with Adam Cox at New York University School of Law that examined how African-American judges tended to decide voting rights cases differently than white judges and that the presence of an African-American judge on a judicial panel also tended to influence how white judges decided the case. Their research was the first to find robust statistical evidence that the racial identity of judges matters in how judicial panels decide cases, and highlighted the importance of diversity on the bench.

Miles has taught a wide variety of courses at the Law School including securities regulation, federal criminal law, economic analysis of law, and empirical law & economics, as well as first-year criminal law and tort law. In 2009, he received the Graduating Students Award for Teaching Excellence. Before joining the faculty, Miles was the Olin Fellow in Law and Economics at the Law School. He has served in several leadership roles during his time on the faculty, including chairing the appointments committee and the accreditation review committee.

Miles received his PhD in economics from the University of Chicago and his JD cum laude from Harvard Law School. Upon graduation, he served as a law clerk to the Hon. Jay S. Bybee of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. From 2005 to 2013, Miles was an editor of the Journal of Legal Studies. He graduated summa cum laude with a BA in political science and economics from Tufts University.


Harvard Law School

JD, cum laude, 2003

  • John M. Olin Fellowship in Law and Economics
  • Irving Oberman Memorial Award for Written Work on Corporate Governance
  • John M. Olin Prize for Written Work in Law and Economics

The University of Chicago

PhD, Department of Economics, 2000

  • Dissertation: "Three Empirical Essays in the Economics of Crime"
  • Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation Fellowship
  • University of Chicago Century Scholarship
  • Illinois Economics Association Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Paper

Tufts University

BA, summa cum laude in political science and economics, 1990

  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • James Vance Elliott Political Science Prize
  • Marion Ricker Houston Prize Scholarship in Economics


The University of Chicago Law School

Dean, 2015-present
Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics, 2013-present

Walter Mander Research Scholar, 2012-2015
Professor of Law, 2010-2012
Assistant Professor of Law, 2005-2010
Olin Fellow in Law and Economics 2004-2005
Faculty Affiliate, University of Chicago Crime Lab, 2009-present

Columbia Law School

James S. Carpentier Visiting Professor of Law, Autumn 2009 

The Honorable Jay S. Bybee, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Law Clerk, San Francisco, CA, 2003-2004

Ropes & Gray LLP

Summer Associate, Chicago, IL, 2002

American Bar Foundation

Doctoral Dissertation Fellow in residence, Chicago, IL, 1998-2000

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Research Department

Research Assistant and Associate to Director of Research, 1990-1993

Books (Editor)

  • Economics of Criminal Law. (Edward Elgar, 2008) (edited with Steven Levitt). cu

Journal Articles

  • "Introduction," 50 Journal of Legal Studies S1 (2021).
  • "Do Attorney Surveys Measure Judicial Performance or Respondent Ideology? Evidence from Online Evaluations," 44 Journal of Legal Studies S231 (2015). cu www
  • "Introduction: Rational Choice Approach to Judicial Behavior," 44 Journal of Legal Studies S1 (2015) (with Omri Ben-Shahar). cu www
  • "Does Immigration Enforcement Reduce Crime? Evidence from Secure Communities," 57 Journal of Law and Economics 937 (2014) (with Adam B. Cox). cu
  • "Does the “Community Prosecution” Strategy Reduce Crime? A Test of Chicago's Experience," 16 American Law and Economics Review 117 (2014). cu www
  • "The Teaching/Research Tradeoff in Law: Data from the Right Tail," 39 Evaluation Review 46 (2014) (with Tom Ginsburg). ssrn cu
  • "The Role of Skill Versus Luck in Poker: Evidence from the World Series of Poker," 15 Journal of Sports Economics 31 (2014) (with Steven Levitt). cu
  • "Is Texas Hold 'Em A Game Of Chance? A Legal and Economic Analysis," 101 Georgetown Law Journal 581 (2013) (with Steven Levitt & Andrew M. Rosenfield). cu
  • "Policing Immigration," 80 University of Chicago Law Review 87 (2013) (with Adam B. Cox). ssrn cu
  • "Racial Disparities in Wiretap Applications before Federal Judges," 41 Journal of Legal Studies 419 (2012). cu
  • "The Law’s Delay: A Test of the Mechanisms of Judicial Peer Effects," 4 301 (2012). cu
  • "Empiricism and the Rising Incidence of Coauthorship in Law," 2011 University of Illinois Law Review 1785 (2011) (with Tom Ginsburg). ssrn cu
  • "Dupes and Losers in Mail Fraud," 77 University of Chicago Law Review 1111 (2010). cu
  • "Depoliticizing Administrative Law," 58 Duke Law Journal 2193 (2009) (with Cass R. Sunstein). cu
  • "The New Legal Realism," 75 University of Chicago Law Review 831 (2008) (with Cass R. Sunstein). ssrn cu
  • "Documenting Discrimination?," 108 Columbia Law Review Sidebar 31 (2008) (with Adam B. Cox). ssrn cu
  • "Judicial Ideology and the Transformation of Voting Rights Jurisprudence," 76 University of Chicago Law Review 1493 (2008) (with Adam B. Cox). ssrn cu
  • "An Empirical Analysis of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted," 5 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 275 (2008). cu
  • "Judging the Voting Rights Act," 108 Columbia Law Review 1 (2008) (with Adam B. Cox). ssrn cu
  • "The Real World of Arbitrariness Review," 75 University of Chicago Law Review 761 (2008) (with Cass R. Sunstein). ssrn cu
  • "The Silence of the Lambdas: Deterring Incapacitation Research," 23 Journal of Quantitative Criminology 287 (2007) (with Jens Ludwig). cu
  • "Posner on Economic Loss in Tort: EVRA Corp v. Swiss Bank," 74 University of Chicago Law Review 1813 (2007). cu
  • "Economic Contributions to the Understanding of Crime," 2 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 147 (2006) (with Steven Levitt). ssrn cu
  • "Do Judges Make Regulatory Policy? - An Empirical Investigation of Chevron," 73 University of Chicago Law Review 823 (2006) (with Cass R. Sunstein). ssrn cu
  • "Empirical Economics and the Study of Punishment and Crime," 2005 University of Chicago Legal Forum 237 (2005). cu
  • "Estimating the Effect of America's Most Wanted: A Duration Analysis of Wanted Fugitives," 48 Journal of Law and Economics 281 (2005). cu
  • "Judging the Tournament," 32 Florida State University Law Review 1055 (2005) (with Jay S. Bybee). cu
  • "Felon Disenfranchisement and Voter Turnout," 33 Journal of Legal Studies 85 (2004). cu
  • "Common Law Exceptions to Employment at Will and U.S. Labor Markets," 16 Journal of Law, Economics and Organization 74 (2000). ssrn cu

Book Sections

  • "Depoliticizing Administrative Law," in Ideology, Psychology, and Law, Jon S. Hanson ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012) (with Cass R. Sunstein). cu
  • "Criminal Procedure: Empirical Analysis," in The Encyclopedia of law and Economics., Chris W. Sanchirico ed. 2011). cu
  • "For General Deterrence (Comment on Chapter 5, Paul H. Robinson, 'The Difficulties of Deterrence as a Distributive Principle')," in Criminal Law Conversations, Kimberly Ferzan, Stephen Garvey & Paul H. Robinson eds. (Oxford University Press, 2009) (with Jonathan S. Masur & Richard H. McAdams ). cu
  • "Economic Analyses of Deterrence: Empirical," in The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics., Lawrence Blume & Steven Durlauf eds. 2008) (with Steven Levitt). cu
  • "The Empirical Study of Criminal Punishment," in The Handbook of Law and Economics, A. M. Polinsky & Steven M. Shavell eds. (Elsevier, 2007) (with Steven Levitt). cu

Working Papers

  • "Legitimacy and Cooperation: Will Immigrants Cooperate with Local Police Who Enforce Federal Immigration Law?," , No. 15-17 (2015) (with Adam B. Cox). ssrn
  • "Legitimacy and Cooperation: Will Immigrants Cooperate with Local Police Who Enforce Federal Immigration Law?," University of Chicago Public Law & Legal Theory Paper Series, No. 543 (2015) (with Adam B. Cox). ssrn cu
  • "Legitimacy and Cooperation: Will Immigrants Cooperate with Local Police Who Enforce Federal Immigration Law?," Coase-Sandor Working Paper Series in Law and Economics, No. 734 (2015) (with Adam B. Cox). ssrn cu
  • "Legitimacy and Cooperation: Will Immigrants Cooperate with Local Police Who Enforce Federal Immigration Law?," , No. 15-43 (2015) (with Adam B. Cox). ssrn

Other Publications

  • "Robust Debate Encourages Healthy Communication," Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, April 25, 2023.
  • "Can Changing How Prosecutors Do Their Work Improve Public Safety?," OUP Blog, August 18, 2014. www
  • "The Supremes," Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2007, at p. A21 (with Cass R. Sunstein). www
  • "The Real Judicial Activists," American Prospect, January 2007 (with Cass R. Sunstein). www

"Does Immigration Enforcement Reduce Crime? Evidence from 'Secure Communities'," working paper with Adam B. Cox, June 2014

"Substitutes in Criminal Procedure: Defendant Cooperation and Electronic Surveillance," working  paper, May 2014

"The Mechanisms of “Community Prosecutions”: A Test from Chicago," working paper, March 2014

"Do Attorney Surveys Measure Judicial Performance? Evidence from Online Evaluations," working  paper, February 2014

"Which States Enter into Treaties and Why?," working paper with Eric A. Posner, January 2012

"Markets for Stolen Property: Pawnshops and Crime," unpublished dissertation chapter, November 2007


  • Co-chair, Appointments Committee (2014-2015)
  • Chair, Accreditation Review Committee (2012-2013)

Editorial Work

  • Co-editor, Journal of Legal Studies (2005-2013)
  • Referee, Academia Sinica Law JournalAmerican Economic ReviewAmerican Journal of Political Science, American Law & Economics ReviewAmerican Political Science ReviewBerkeley Electronic Journal of Economic Analysis & PolicyCanadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal JusticeEconomic InquiryInternational Review of Law & EconomicsJournal of European Economic AssociationJournal of Labor EconomicsJournal of Law & EconomicsJournal of Legal StudiesJournal of Political EconomyJournal of Quantitative CriminologyJustice QuarterlyLabour EconomicsLaw & Social InquiryPolitical Science QuarterlyQuarterly Journal of EconomicsReview of Economics & StatisticsReview of Financial StudiesSocial Science QuarterlySupreme Court Economic Review
  • Referee, National Science Foundation – Law and Social Science Research Press, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Press, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Arete Foundation for Advancing the Study of Wisdom, Yale University Press

Other Activities

  • Advisor, National Opinion Research Center on behalf of U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics