Ian Ayres

William K. Townsend Professor of Law

(on leave, fall 2015)

Ian Ayres is a lawyer and an economist. He is the William K. Townsend Professor at Yale Law School, the Anne Urowsky Professorial Fellow in Law, and a Professor at Yale's School of Management.


Contact Information

Yale Law School

P.O. Box 208215

New Haven, CT 06520

Education & Curriculum Vitae

Ph.D. (Economics), M.I.T. 1988

J.D., Yale, 1986

B.A., Yale, 1981

Courses Taught

  • Antitrust
  • Civil Rights
  • Commercial Law
  • Contracts
  • Corporations
  • Corporate Finance
  • Intellectual Property
  • Law and Economics
  • LGBT Litigation Seminar
  • Property
  • Quantitative Corporate Finance
  • Quantitative Methods

Ian Ayres is a lawyer and an economist. He is the William K. Townsend Professor at Yale Law School, the Anne Urowsky Professorial Fellow in Law, and a Professor at Yale's School of Management.

(Ayres Resume)

Professor Ayres has been a columnist for Forbes magazine, a commentator on public radio’s Marketplace, and a contributor to the New York Times' Freakonomics Blog. His research has been featured on PrimeTime Live, Oprah and Good Morning America and in Time and Vogue magazines.

Ian has published 11 books (including the New York Times best-seller, Super Crunchers) and over 100 articles on a wide range of topics. His latest book is Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done. In 2010, he also published Lifecycle Investing (with Barry Nalebuff).

Ian is a co-founder of stickK.com, a web site that helps you stick to your goals.

In an Illinois post-conviction proceeding, Ayres helped convince a court to vacate his client's death sentence.

In 2006, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His book with Greg Klass, Insincere Promises: The Law of Misrepresented Intent, won the 2006 Scribes book award "for the best work of legal scholarship published during the previous year." Professor Ayres has been ranked as one of the most prolific and most-cited law professors of his generation. See James Lindgren & Daniel Seltzer, The Most Prolific Law Professors and Faculties, 71 CHI.-KENT L. REV. 781 (1996); Fred R. Shapiro, The Most-Cited Legal Scholars, 29 J. LEGAL STUD. 409 (2000). The Chronicle of Higher Education referred to Ayres as “a law-and-economics guru.”

He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, received his B.A. (majoring in Russian studies and economics) and J.D. from Yale and his Ph.D in economics from M.I.T. Professor Ayres clerked for the Honorable James K. Logan of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has previously taught at Harvard, Illinois, Northwestern, Stanford and Virginia law schools and has been a research fellow of the American Bar Foundation. From 2002 to 2009, he was the editor of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization.

In the spring 2005, he published three books, Straightforward (with Jennifer Gerarda Brown); Optional Law; and Insincere Promises (with Gregory Klass). He is also the author of Why Not? (2003) (with Barry Nalebuff); Voting with Dollars (2002) (with Bruce Ackerman) and Pervasive Prejudice? (2001).

His two most cited law review articles are Fair Driving: Gender and Race Discrimination in Retail Car Negotiations, 104 Harvard Law Review 817 (1991) and Filling Gaps in Incomplete Contracts: An Economic Theory of Default Rules, 99 Yale Law Journal 87 (1989) (with Robert Gertner).

Does Affirmative Action Reduce the Number of Black Lawyers?, 57 Stanford Law Review 1807 (2005) (with Richard Brooks); To Insure Prejudice: Racial Disparities in Taxicab Tipping, 114 Yale Law Journal 1613 (2005) (with Fred Vars and Nasser Zakariya); A Separate Crime of Reckless Sex, 72University of Chicago Law Review 599 (2005) (with Katharine Baker);Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis, 55 Stanford Law Review 1193 (2003) (with John J. Donohue III); Measuring the Positive Externalities from Unobservable Victim Precaution: An Empirical Analysis of Lojack, 113 Quarterly Journal of Economics 43 (1998) (with Steven D. Levitt); Pursuing Deficit Reduction Through Diversity: How Affirmative Action at the FCC Increased Auction Competition, 48 Stanford Law Review 761 (1996) (with Peter Cramton); A Market Test for Race Discrimination in Bail Setting, 46 Stanford Law Review 987 (1994) (with Joel Waldfogel); and Racial Equity in Renal Transplantation: The Disparate Impact of HLA-Based Allocation, 270 Journal of American Medical Association 1352 (1993) (with Robert Gaston, Laura Dooley and Arnold Diethelm).

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ian Ayres Teaches On-demand MOOC

A year after launching its Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) on Coursera, Yale is offering a new set of “on-demand” MOOCs. Ian Ayres ’86, William K. Townsend Professor of Law, is teaching one of the courses, titled “A Law Student’s Toolkit.”

Sunday, December 26, 2010

YLS Professor Ian Ayres: Put Your Money Where Your New Year’s Diet Resolution Is

YLS professor Ian Ayres ’86 offers “The $500 Diet,” a new way to lose weight based on his book, Carrots and Sticks.

Friday, September 10, 2010

YLS Professor Ian Ayres ’86 To Discuss His New Book, Carrots and Sticks, Sept. 21

YLS Professor Ian Ayres ’86 will discuss his new book, Carrots and Sticks, Sept. 21 at Yale Law School.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Books Fall like Rain for Prof. Ian Ayres

On May 11, 2005, Ian Ayres's new book, Insincere Promises will be released--an exciting moment for any author. Less than three weeks later, his next new book, Straightforward, will come out, relegating Insincere Promises to the heap where his five other old books sit. Then, after only a month, yet another Ayres tome, Optional Law, will make its debut, bumping its two siblings down. "It's an amazing time for me," says Ayres.