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William K. Townsend Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Professor, Yale’s School of Management
Ian 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. (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. His research has been featured on PrimeTime Live, Oprah and Good Morning America and in Time and Vogue magazines.
Ian has published 11 books (including the New York Times best-seller, Super Crunchers) and over 100 articles on a wide range of topics. His latest book is Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done. In 2010, he also published Lifecyle Investing (with Barry Nalebuff).
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 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 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. From 2002 to 2009, he was the editor of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization.
In the spring 2005, he published three books, Straightforward (with Jennifer Gerarda Brown); Optional Law; and Insincere Promises (with Gregory Klass). He is also the author of Why Not?(2003) (with Barry Nalebuff); Voting with Dollars (2002) (with Bruce Ackerman) and Pervasive Prejudice? (2001).
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).
He is the author of several empirical studies: Does Affirmative Action Reduce the Number of Black Lawyers?, 57 Stanford Law Review 1807 (2005) (with Richard Brooks); To Insure Prejudice: Racial Disparities in Taxicab Tipping, 114 Yale Law Journal 1613 (2005) (with Fred Vars and Nasser Zakariya); A Separate Crime of Reckless Sex, 72 University of Chicago Law Review 599 (2005) (with Katharine Baker); Shooting Down the More Guns, Less Crime Hypothesis, 55 Stanford Law Review 1193 (2003) (with John J. Donohue III); Measuring the Positive Externalities from Unobservable Victim Precaution: An Empirical Analysis of Lojack, 113 Quarterly Journal of Economics 43 (1998) (with Steven D. Levitt); Pursuing Deficit Reduction Through Diversity: How Affirmative Action at the FCC Increased Auction Competition, 48 Stanford Law Review 761 (1996) (with Peter Cramton); A Market Test for Race Discrimination in Bail Setting, 46 Stanford Law Review 987 (1994) (with Joel Waldfogel); and Racial Equity in Renal Transplantation: The Disparate Impact of HLA-Based Allocation, 270 Journal of American Medical Association 1352 (1993) (with Robert Gaston, Laura Dooley and Arnold Diethelm).
Notwithstanding ERISA’s fiduciary requirements, a significant portion of 401(k) plans establish investment menus that predictably lead investors to hold high-cost portfolios. Using data from more than 3,500 401(k) plans with more than $120 billion in assets, we provide evidence that fees and menu restrictions in an average plan lead to a cost of seventy-eight basis points in excess of index funds. We also document a wide array of “dominated” menu options, which we define as funds that make no substantial contribution to menu diversity but charge fees significantly higher than those of comparable funds in the marketplace. We argue that courts should read existing fiduciary-duty law to challenge plans that imprudently include high-cost or dominated options, even if other options are available in the plan menu. But because heightened fiduciary duties are unlikely by themselves to solve the problem of excess fees and dominated funds, we also propose three additional structural reforms. We argue that low-cost default options be made universally available, that investors be permitted to roll assets out of designated high-cost plans, and that participants be required to demonstrate financial sophistication before investing in higher-cost funds.