Ian Ayres

Oscar M. Ruebhausen Professor of Law
(on leave, spring 2025)

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

Ian Ayres is a lawyer and an economist. They are the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Professor at Yale Law School 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. Their research has been featured on PrimeTime Live, Oprah and Good Morning America and in Time and Vogue magazines. Ayres 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 their client’s death sentence.

In 2023, Cambridge University Press published Ayres’s thirteenth book, Retirement Guardrails: How Proactive Fiduciaries Can Improve Plan Outcomes (with Quinn Curtis). In 2020, Harvard University Press published Ayres’s twelfth book, Weapon of Choice: Fighting Gun Violence While Respecting Gun Rights (with Fredrick Vars).

In 2006, they were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Ayres's 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.” Ayres has been ranked as one of the most prolific and most-cited law professors of their 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.”

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

Their 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).

Links to their publications as well as audio and video clips can be found at ianayres.com.

Videos of Ayres’s “A Law Student’s Toolkit” and “American Contract Law” courses are available here and here.