Thomas S. Ulen


This Article argues that law and economics has worked a remarkable but unexpected change on legal scholarship. Many critics mistakenly claim that the most notable effect of law and economics lies in its conclusions about substantive legal rules. This Article argues that this criticism misses the far more radical effect of law and economics on the study of law—namely, its commitment to the scientific method of inquiry, a method that relies upon theorizing, then performing empirical work to verify or refute the theory, and then refining the theory in light of the results. The Article explains why this change has occurred, what paths it is likely to travel in the near future, and how this effect of law and economics is likely to be more lasting and profound that the effects of other recent innovations in legal scholarship, such as law and society and law and philosophy. Law and economics' changes on the prevailing norms and methods of legal scholarship has brought law schools more firmly within the scholarly traditions prevailing in other academic disciplines within research universities but may have distanced the work of law professors from the concerns of the legal profession.