Ian Ayres

William K. Townsend Professor of Law


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.

FULL BIOGRAPHY

Contact Information


Yale Law School

P.O. Box 208215

New Haven, CT 06520

Education & Curriculum Vitae


Ph.D. (Economics), Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1988

J.D., Yale Law School, 1986

B.A., Yale University, 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).

Friday, March 10, 2017


Yale Law Students Decide the Cases in the Arbitration Project Clinic

When students from the Arbitration Project clinic step into a conference room in Hartford for a hearing, they are not representing a client on one side of the table.

Friday, August 19, 2016


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Announces New Advisory Board And Council Members

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that William K. Townsend Professor of Law Ian Ayres ’86 has been appointed to its academic research council.

Monday, January 18, 2016


Lower-Ranked Law Schools Should Be Thanking U.S. News—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Where Justice Scalia got the idea that African Americans might be better off at 'slower-track' universities

William K. Townsend Professor of Law Ian Ayres ’86 and adjunct professor Richard Brooks are mentioned in an article about Fisher v. University of Texas, a challenge to race-conscious admissions policy currently before the Supreme Court.

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.”

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Democracy Dollars’ Can Give Every Voter a Real Voice in American Politics—A Commentary by Bruce Ackerman ’67 and Ian Ayres ’86

Bruce Ackerman ’67 is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale Law School and Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Monday, October 19, 2015


Is Wall Street Eating Your 401(k) Nest Egg?

William K. Townsend Professor of Law Ian Ayres ’86 is quoted in a story about institutional fees charged on retirement accounts.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Fix VW's polluting diesels, and fix the recall system too—A Commentary by Ian Ayres

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Boeing Case Is Latest Targeting 401(k) Plans With Excessive Fees

William K. Townsend Professor of Law Ian Ayres ’86 was a guest to discuss 401k fees.

Friday, May 29, 2015


In Supreme Court redistricting case, it's the ‘whole number of persons’—A Commentary by Bruce Ackerman ’67 and Ian Ayres ’86

Bruce Ackerman ’67 is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale Law School and Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


John Roberts: Behavioral Economist?—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


John Roberts's Roadmap for Campaign-Finance Reform—A Commentary by Bruce Ackerman ’67 and Ian Ayres ’86

Bruce Ackerman ’67 is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale Law School and Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Discrimination Without Clear Intent: Statistical Methods Can Demonstrate Racial Disparity—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


University suppressed study into racism on buses and 'victimised' its co-author

William K. Townsend Professor of Law Ian Ayres ’86 is mentioned in an article about the author of a study that explored racism on Brisbane city buses.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


A Duty to Disgorge?—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


When Whites Get a Free Pass: Research Shows White Privilege is Real—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


A New Meaning of the Light Bulb—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86 and Amy Kapczynski ’03

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Amy Kapczynski ’03 is an Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School and director of the Global Health Justice Partnership. 

Monday, January 12, 2015


Necessity’s Child—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86 and Amy Kapczynski ’03

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Amy Kapczynski ’03 is an Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School and director of the Global Health Justice Partnership. 

Monday, December 29, 2014


Ending excessive police force starts with new rules of engagement—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86 and Daniel Markovits ’00

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Daniel Markovits ’00 is the Guido Calabresi Professor of Law at Yale Law School. 

Monday, December 22, 2014


Obama, the Least Lame President?—A Commentary by Ian Ayres ’86 and John Fabian Witt ’99

Ian Ayres ’86 is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School and John Fabian Witt ’99 is the Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale Law School. 

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.