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Three YLS Professors Named to New Endowed Chairs

The Yale Corporation recently approved named professorships for three Yale Law School professors.

Amy Chua was appointed the John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law; John J. Donohue III was named the inaugural Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law; Jonathan R. Macey was appointed Sam Harris Professor of Corporate Law, Corporate Finance, and Securities Law.

 

Amy Chua has been a professor at YLS since 2001. Before that she taught at Duke Law School and worked for the law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton for several years.

Her first book, World on Fire, published in 2003, became a New York Times bestseller and was selected by both the Economist and the Guardian as one of the best books of 2003. In it she studies how free markets and democracy can exacerbate ethnic and political conflict in societies where an ethnic minority controls disproportionate wealth. "I was surprised that World on Fire produced a positive response from so many different quarters," says Chua. The book has since been translated into Spanish, Italian, Indonesian, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese, indicating its international relevance. "In Burma, Cambodia, and even Iraq, the dynamics I discuss are starting to play out in a dangerous way," she says. "I think international policymakers are often too reactive, because they don't understand the underlying forces that produce social upheaval."

Chua is working on a new book, also comparative in perspective, which will explore what Chua describes as the "striking correlations between the rise and fall of empires across history and their attitudes toward ethnicity or religious difference." The societies under scrutiny will include Achaemenian Persia, the Tang dynasty of 7th century China and the present-day United States.

 

John Donohue came to Yale in 2004 after teaching for many years at Northwestern University School of Law and Stanford Law School. He also served as an academic associate dean for research at Stanford and has a Ph.D. in economics from Yale in addition to his J.D.

Donohue says his work has focused on empirical "evaluation of the impacts of particular laws and public policies." Some of his early work looked at how civil rights laws affected the economic well-being of women and minorities. He has also analyzed various aspects of employment law. One paper that he says got a lot of attention recently looked at the legalization of abortion. "The thesis of that paper," says Donohue, "was that unwanted kids have a much higher likelihood of involvement in subsequent criminality. The legalization of abortion has reduced the number of unwanted kids, and, lo and behold, eighteen years later you see a substantial drop in crime."

One challenge to the empirical study of complex social phenomena--even after collecting good data and finding the time to evaluate it--is that the world is not set up as a science experiment. Says Donohue, "It turns out to be very difficult to tease out causal relationships when the legal and political process create the interventions, as opposed to the ideal of the medical, randomized, double-blind trials.... There are a million ways to get it wrong and only a few ways to get it right." But Donohue sees such studies as a way to advance fields in which scholars have already done a great deal of theoretical work, and help guide the implementation of better policies.

 

Jonathan Macey came to YLS from Cornell Law School, where he was the J. DuPratt White Professor of Law and director of the John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics.

Macey's work focuses on three areas: banking, capital markets, and corporate law and governance. He notes that with the recent spate of scandals, from Enron to Adelphia, his field is in a "boom time," and he has written about Arthur Andersen, Enron, and the legal response to the scandals. However, the lesson he draws from these events is different from what many others have seen. "What they demonstrate is that corporate managers and the people working in corporations and providing services to corporations are under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform and to succeed. In the aggregate, this is a great thing, it makes managers work harder to maximize value for investors, it makes people take risks and be innovative.... The challenge for the regulatory system, which I think is very poorly understood, is how to confront and reduce the incidence of pathological behavior without killing the goose that laid the golden egg by stifling competition."

In some of his current work, Macey is also looking at relationships between the forms companies take and political systems. He argues that the differences in how corporations are organized from country to country often "represent well informed political choices by incumbents."