Ian Ayres

Ian Ayres

Ian Ayres is the William K. Townsend Professor at the Yale Law School and a Professor at the Yale School of Management.


Ian Ayres graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1981 from Yale University with a dual degree in Russian Studies and Economics. He then received his J.D. at Yale Law School in 1986 and his Ph.D. in Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988.

Ayres has taught at Northwestern University School of Law, the University of Virginia School of Law, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations Cardoza Law Institute, the University of Iowa College of Law, the University of Illinois College of Law, Stanford Law School, the University of Toronto Law School, and Yale University.

Since 1994, Ayres has served as the William K. Townsend Professor at the Yale Law School and is Professor at the Yale School of Management. He teaches Antitrust, Civil Rights, Commercial Law, Contracts, Corporations, Corporate Finance, Law and Economics, Property, and Quantitative Methods. In 2006, Ayres was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and also currently serves as a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and as the Editor of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization Ayres has previously served as a research fellow of the American Bar Foundation and has clerked for the Honorable James K. Logan of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Throughout his career, Ayres has been committed to social justice and has been involved in public interest law. In a post-conviction petition, Ayres was successful in vacating the death sentence for his client.

Described as “a law-and-economics guru” by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Ayres has published 8 books and over 100 articles on a variety of subjects, and has been ranked as one of the most prolific and most-cited legal scholars of his generation. His research has also been featured within popular magazines and television programs, including Time, Vogue, Primetime Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Good Morning America. In addition, Ayres regularly serves as a commentator on public radio’s Marketplace, and frequently contributes to Forbes and the New York Times.

Plagiarism Controversy

Ayres was caught plagiarizing nine passages of his 2007 book Super Crunchers. David Leonhardt of the New York Times noted how Leonhardt "came across two sentences about a doctor in Atlanta that were nearly identical to two sentences I wrote in this newspaper last year" and that with respect to an article in Fast Company Ayres "reproduces the exact words, without quotation marks. What particularly disturbed Leonhardt was that "many readers will surely assume that Ayres witnessed some events. The Yale Daily News found nine passages in his book, with some more than a paragraph long where he used the exact words of other authors without quotation marks. After some controversy over almost three weeks, Ayres did say "I apologize for these errors..


Ian Ayres’ books include:

Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights, with Jennifer Gerarda Brown (Princeton University Press, 2005)

Optional Law: The Structure of Legal Entitlements (University of Chicago Press, 2005)

Insincere Promises: The Law of Misrepresented Intent, with Gregory Klass (Yale University Press, 2005)

Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small, with Barry Nalebuff (Harvard Business School Press, 2003)

style="font-style : italic;">Voting with Dollars: A New Paradigm for Campaign Finance, with Bruce Ackerman (Yale University Press, 2002)

Pervasive Prejudice?: Non-Traditional Evidence of Race and Gender Discrimination (University of Chicago Press, 2001)

Ian Ayres’ two most well-known articles are:

“Fair Driving: Gender and Race Discrimination in Retail Car Negotiations”, 104 Harvard Law Review 817 (1991)

“Filling Gaps in Incomplete Contracts: An Economic Theory of Default Rules”, with Robert Gertner, 99 Yale Law Journal 87 (1989)



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