Ian Ayres

William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale School of Management


  • Yale School of Management




Yale School of Management

an 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.

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 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 2020, Harvard University Press will publish Ian’s twelfth book, “Disarmed By Choice: Liberating Individuals to Reduce Gun Violence” (with Fredrick Vars). Ian has also published over 100 articles on a wide range of topics including several empirical studies.

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 and 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 and Columbia. From 2002 to 2009, he was the editor of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization.

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).


  • PhD , Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1988
  • JD , Yale University, 1986
  • BA , Yale University, 1981


  • Fellow , American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2006 - present
  • Insincere Promises: The Law of Misrepresented Intent (with G. Klass, Yale University Press, 2005) Winner of the 2006 Scribes Book Award "for the best work of legal scholarship published during the previous year."
  • Research in the Public Interest Award , Center for Public Representation, 1991
  • Clerk to the Honorable James K. Logan, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals , 1986-87


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