Renowned Tax Scholar Dhammika Dharmapala Joins the Law School Faculty

Dhammika Dharmapala, an expert in tax policy and law and economics, will join the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School this Fall. Dharmapala was most recently on the faculty at the University of Illinois College of Law, where he has been since 2009. He visited at the Law School in the Winter and Spring of 2014.

“Dhammika adds a huge dimension to our faculty,” said Michael Schill, Dean and Harry N. Wyatt Professor of Law. “His scholarship on taxation, corporate law, and public finance is exceptional and is regularly published in the nation’s leading economics and finance journals. He will contribute mightily to our intellectual activities and to our law and economics and Doctoroff Business Leadership programs.”

Professor Dharmapala is a leading authority in tax policy, public economics, and law and economics. His most recent work has sought to use quasi-experimental empirical methods to analyze the consequences of tax law and securities law. “Chicago will be an ideal place to pursue this agenda because of the breadth and depth of faculty expertise in empirical methods as well as in these substantive fields,” said Dharmapala. “During my visit here last year, I found that the Law School provides a rigorous yet supportive environment for developing and refining scholarship.” He joins a group of tax scholars that includes Julie Roin and David Weisbach, which Dean Schill says “constitutes the most formidable tax faculty in the nation.”

“I am delighted to be joining the faculty,” said Dharmapala. “My scholarship is focused on the areas of taxation and the economic analysis of law. In both of these areas, the University of Chicago Law School has been the home of scholars who made fundamental early contributions that continue to shape the way we approach the fields today—for instance, Ronald Coase in the economic analysis of law and Henry Simons in taxation.”

Dharmapala is currently an International Research Fellow of the Oxford University Centre for Business Taxation and a Fellow of the CESifo Research Network (based in Munich). Prior to Illinois, Dharmapala taught at the University of Connecticut in the department of economics. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and a John M. Olin Visiting Fellow in Law and Economics at Georgetown University Law School. Professor Dharmapala earned his master’s degree in economics from the University of Western Australia and his PhD in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. His PhD thesis was awarded the National Tax Association’s Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. 

“We are very fortunate and very excited to hire such a brilliant tax scholar as Dhammika Dharmapala,” said Professor Richard McAdams, Bernard D. Meltzer Professor of Law, who cochaired the Appointments Committee that hired Dharmapala. “He is an excellent economist specializing in tax and corporate finance, with an extremely impressive record publishing in the best peer-reviewed journals. He was very well received by the students in his classes last year.”

In the upcoming school year, Dharmapala is excited to be teaching courses in Introductory Income Taxation and Corporate Finance. “During my visit, I found the students in my classes to be remarkably motivated and engaged, with a deep interest in the world of ideas,” he said. Dharmapala says that his Corporate Finance course teaches concepts that are essential to understanding modern corporate transactions and to enabling lawyers to structure transactions in ways that achieve particular business objectives. He will also offer a seminar on Corporate Governance in Emerging Markets. This seminar provides an overview of recent developments and scholarship relating to corporate governance in the context of developing and transitional economies, which he said is “an increasingly important area of both scholarship and practice.” 

Fellow tax expert David Weisbach, Walter J. Blum Professor of Law, is delighted to gain Dharmapala as a colleague. “Dhammika is a superstar, and we are incredibly lucky to have him join our faculty,” said Weisbach. “He is not only one of the top tax scholars in the country; his work on the intersection of taxation and corporate finance also makes him one of the best corporate law scholars, and his work in law and economics puts him at the top of that field as well. Having a scholar of his caliber at Chicago will make an immediate impact.”