Ian Ayres

William K. Townsend Professor of Law

Faculty Directory

Ian Ayres is a lawyer and an economist. He is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School 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. He has served as the editor of the Journal of Law, Economics and Organization.

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. Professor Ayres has published eleven books and more than 100 articles on a wide range of topics. In 2007, he published Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-By-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart. 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). He is also author of Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights (Princeton University Press 2005) (with Jennifer Gerarda Brown); Optional Law: The Structure of Legal Entitlements (University of Chicago Press 2005); Insincere Promises: The Law of Misrepresented Intent (Yale University Press 2005) (with Gregory Klass); and Why Not? How to Use Everyday Ingenuity to Solve Problems Big and Small (Harvard Business School Press 2003) (with Barry Nalebuff). He 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


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

Selected Articles


  • 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