How Law and Economics was Marketed in a Hostile World: A Very Personal History


This somewhat autobiographical essay surveys the legal background and the institutional development of modern law and economics scholarship. This field began to gain momentum only after the invention of new analytical tools by economists such as Ronald Coase, Armen Alchian, and Harold Demsetz and the careful interdisciplinary efforts of legal-economic scholars such as Richard Posner and Guido Calabresi. The author's personal contributions to the substantive scholarship, though earlier in time, were somewhat tangential to the academic success of law and economics for many years, since corporate law and securities regulation were considered marginal fields of importance in legal academia in the 1960s. The author's more important contributions to the development of law and economics as a field lie in his entrepreneurial work in founding the first academic center specializing in law and economics, conducting numerous early conferences bringing lawyers and economists together, and offering economics courses for law professors and federal judges. These efforts culminated with his deanship of the George Mason University School of Law, where he established the first law school exclusively emphasizing one interdisciplinary approach to legal education. This essay also examines the intellectual and ideological resistance to the development of law and economics, as encountered generally in the field and personally by the author.