Revolutionizing Legal Discourse: Law and Economics: John M. Olin Foundation, 1978

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



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Many mark the birth of the law and economics movement at the University of Chicago in the 1950s, when Aaron Director, an economist, served as a professor at Chicago’s law school. Staff members at the conservative John M. Olin Foundation noted that lawyers tend to play influential leadership roles in various segments of society. The Foundation consequently provided substantial funding to shape the intellectual climate in the legal realm to embrace free market insights through the study of economic implications of law. According to the Foundation, law and economics was an accepted paradigm in legal scholarship in the 1970s, but its use was limited. The Foundation perceived an opportunity to spread its adoption in legal scholarship and among current and prospective legal practitioners.
Among its early initiatives was the funding of a center of law and economics at the University of Miami, as well as centers for economic study of the law at the University of Chicago and U.C.L.A. The Foundation then pursued a strategy of making grants to outstanding law schools (including Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Georgetown, Stanford, USC, Virginia, Michigan, Columbia, Toronto, and Cornell) to establish law and economics programs on those campuses. . . .



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