The Right Coast

January 26, 2006
Coup for Vanderbilt and a good idea
By Tom Smith

This really is impressive. Vanderbilt Law School is starting a PhD program in law and economics and has hired two of the top legal economists away from Harvard to do it. Don't you just love competitive labor markets?

It is a great idea, provided you are willing to commit the resources to do it right, and it certainly seems like Vanderbilt is doing it right. Apart from more obvious reasons for wanting to produce law and economics PhD's are some less obvious ones. A separate PhD program at a law school could stress the importance of knowing the law you are talking about. At times in the past, I have been pretty shocked at what passes for legal knowledge among economists. Also, law and economics has some of its own valuable, scholarly traditions, such as a commitment to empiricism that is not as absolute as you might think in economics, where some practitioners are pure mathematician wannabe's. So, overall, a very encouraging and exciting development at Vanderbilt.