Ian Ayres

This article is about the American lawyer and economist. For the filmmaker, see Ian Ayres (filmmaker).

Ian Ayres is an American lawyer and economist. He is a professor at the Yale Law School and at the Yale School of Management.[1]


Ayres grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, where he graduated from Pembroke Country Day School in 1977. He played varsity basketball, ran cross country, and served as executive editor of his high school newspaper. Ayres wrote an op-ed piece his senior year called "Black Like Me" (named for the 1961 book of the same name), a controversial piece detailing the consequences of his checking the "African- American" box for race on his PSAT, which led to consideration for academic awards.[2] Ayres graduated summa cum laude in 1981 from Yale University with a dual degree in Russian studies and economics. He then received his J.D. at Yale Law School in 1986, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.[3] He received his Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988.


Ayres has taught at Northwestern University School of Law, the University of Virginia School of Law, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations Cardoza Law Institute, the University of Iowa College of Law, the University of Illinois College of Law, Stanford Law School, the University of Toronto Law School, and Yale University.

Since 1994, Ayres has served as the William K. Townsend professor at the Yale Law School and is a professor at the Yale School of Management. He teaches antitrust, civil rights, commercial law, contracts, corporations, corporate finance, law and economics, property, and quantitative methods. In 2006, Ayres was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[4] and also currently serves as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research'. Ayres has previously served as a research fellow of the American Bar Foundation and has clerked for James K. Logan of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. In a post-conviction petition, Ayres was successful in vacating the death sentence for his client.[5]

Ayres has published eight books and over 100 articles in law reviews and magazines on a variety of subjects, and has been ranked as one of the 250 most prolific and most-cited legal scholars of his generation.[6]

In 2007, Ayres co-founded StickK, a web startup enabling users to enter commitment contracts to reach personal goals.

Ayres currently serves on the Advisory Council of Represent.Us, a nonpartisan anti-corruption organization.[7]


In a September 2007 review of Ayres' book Super Crunchers, the New York Times' David Leonhardt wrote that he "came across two sentences about a doctor in Atlanta that were nearly identical to two sentences I wrote in this newspaper last year." [8] Leonhardt was particularly disturbed that "many readers will surely assume that Ayres witnessed some events" that he did not.[8]

On October 4, the Yale Daily News reported that it had found nine passages in the book, some more than a couple paragraphs long, that were identical or similar to those in the Times and four other publications.[9] In reference to Ayres' case and a similar one in Illinois, George Washington University professor of English Margaret Soltan wrote in Inside Higher Ed: "Both men simply stuck passages from other writers into their text when it suited them, and gave either minimal or no attribution. In some of the passages in question, neither used quotation marks, even when they quoted at length, verbatim."[10]

After some controversy over three weeks, Ayres apologized and said: "in several brief instances in the book, my language is too close to the sourced material and I should have used quotation marks to set it apart from my text." However, The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that he insisted: "his citations are proper for a book intended for a popular audience but that he will make changes in future printings of the book."[11] Critics were not satisfied with his explanation that he had simply made a mistake nor did they accept that these practices were acceptable in popular books. Inside Higher Ed noted that the same behavior by students is "severely sanctioned."[10] Professors at other universities were quite critical of Ayres' explanation and pointed out that the method used by the Yale Daily News to discover plagiarized passages was unlikely to catch them all.[12][13][14]


Ian Ayres’ books include:

Ian Ayres’ two most well-known articles are:


  1. "Ian Ayres - Yale Law School". law.yale.edu. Yale Law School. 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  2. Conniff, Richard (May 2004). "Flipping It". Yale Alumni Magazine. Archived from the original on February 7, 2005. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
  3. "Yale Law Journal" (PDF). Yale Law School. 95 (4). March 1986.
  4. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  5. Ian Ayres (August 27, 2013). "About Ian Ayres". islandia.law.yale.edu/. Ian Ayres. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  6. James Lindgren and 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)
  7. "About | Represent.Us". End corruption. Defend the Republic. Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  8. 1 2 Leonhardt, David (September 16, 2007). "Let's Go to the Stats". New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
  9. Torbati, June (October 4, 2007). "Law prof. borrows text for book". Yale Daily News. New Haven, Connecticut.
  10. 1 2 Soltan, Margaret (October 8, 2007). "Plagiarism: Yours, Mine, and Ayres'". insidehighered.com (Blog). University Diaries. Inside Higher Ed.
  11. "Where Plagiarism and Ghostwriting Intersect," The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 8, 2007.
  12. Bruce D. McCullough, "Ian Ayres's Super Crunchers is Not about Super Crunching," SIGKDD Explorations, July, 2008.
  13. "Plagiarism II: Yours, Mine, and Oz," Inside Higher Ed, October 9, 2007.
  14. Michael Dorf, "Harvard Law 3, Yale Law 1: Plagiarism or Ghostwriting?," Dorf on Law, October 4, 2007.

External links

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