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Ian Ayres is the William K. Townsend Professor at the Yale Law School and a Professor at the Yale School of Managementmarker.


Ian Ayres grew up in Kansas City and graduated from the Pembroke-Country Day Schoolmarker in 1977. He played varsity basketball, ran cross country, and served as executive editor of the Hilltop, the award winning high school newspaper. Ayres wrote an oped 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. Ian Ayres graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1981 from Yale Universitymarker 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. He received his Ph.D. in Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker in 1988. Throughout his career, Ayres has been committed to social justice and has been involved in public interest law. In a post-conviction petition, Ayres was successful in vacating the death sentence for his client.

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

Since 1994, Ayres has served as the William K. Townsend Professor at the Yale Law School and is Professor at the Yale School of Managementmarker. He teaches Antitrust, Civil Rights, Commercial Law, Contracts, Corporations, Corporate Finance, Law and Economics, Property, and Quantitative Methods. In 2006, Ayres was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciencesmarker, and also currently serves as a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and as the Editor of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization. Ayres has previously served as a research fellow of the American Bar Foundation and has clerked for the Honorable James K. Logan of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ayres has published 8 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.

Plagiarism Controversy

Ayres was caught plagiarizing nine passages of his 2007 book Super Crunchers. David Leonhardt of the New York Times noted how Leonhardt "came across two sentences about a doctor in Atlanta that were nearly identical to two sentences I wrote in this newspaper last year" and that with respect to an article in Fast Company Ayres "reproduces the exact words, without quotation marks." What particularly disturbed Leonhardt was that "many readers will surely assume that Ayres witnessed some events." The Yale Daily News found nine passages in his book, with some more than a paragraph long where he used the exact words of other authors without quotation marks. Inside Higher Ed said in reference to Ayres' case and another one at Southern Illinois University that "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." After some controversy over almost three weeks, Ayres did say "I apologize for these errors.".

Inside Higher Ed noted that the exact same behavior by students is "severely sanctioned." Professors at other universities were quite critical of Ayres' explanation for the mistakes and pointed out that the method used by the Yale Daily News to discover plagiarized passages was unlikely to catch all of them in Ayres' book.


Ian Ayres’ books include:

Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights, with Jennifer Gerarda Brown (Princeton University Press, 2005)

Optional Law: The Structure of Legal Entitlements (University of Chicago Press, 2005)

Insincere Promises: The Law of Misrepresented Intent, with Gregory Klass (Yale University Press, 2005)

Why Not?: How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small, with Barry Nalebuff (Harvard Business School Press, 2003)

with Dollars: A New Paradigm for Campaign Finance, with Bruce Ackerman (Yale University Press, 2002)

Pervasive Prejudice?: Non-Traditional Evidence of Race and Gender Discrimination (University of Chicago Press, 2001)

Ian Ayres’ two most well-known articles are:

“Fair Driving: Gender and Race Discrimination in Retail Car Negotiations”, 104 Harvard Law Review 817 (1991)

“Filling Gaps in Incomplete Contracts: An Economic Theory of Default Rules”, with Robert Gertner, 99 Yale Law Journal 87 (1989)

External links


  2. 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)
  3. "[1]" June Torbati, "Law prof. borrows text for book," Yale Daily News, October 4, 2007. "Although Ayres uses endnotes to cite his sources, sentences from many of those sources were printed without quotation marks or other in-text attributions."
  4. "[2]" "Plagiarism: Yours, Mine, and Ayres'," Inside Higher Ed, October 8, 2007.
  5. "[3]" June Torbati, "Law prof. borrows text for book," Yale Daily News, October 4, 2007.
  6. "[4]" Michael Dorf, "Harvard Law 3, Yale Law 1: Plagiarism or Ghostwriting?," Dorf on Law, October 4, 2007.
  7. "[5]" Bruce D. McCullough, "Ian Ayres's Super Crunchers is Not about Super Crunching," SIGKDD Explorations, July, 2008.
  8. "[6]" "Plagiarism II: Yours, Mine, and Oz," Inside Higher Ed, October 9, 2007.

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