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New Law-Murphy Center to focus on law and the economy

November 01, 2019 8:30 AM

The new Center for Law and the Economy, based in the Law School, will be a catalyst for interdisciplinary research and collaboration on important issues confronting policymakers and private markets in both developed and developing economies.


Tulane University’s Law School and Murphy Institute are partnering in launching a new academic center to critically examine the function of law and regulation in a modern economy, Law School Dean David Meyer and Murphy Institute Director Steven M. Sheffrin announced.

The new Center for Law and the Economy, based in the Law School, will be a catalyst for interdisciplinary research and collaboration on important issues confronting policymakers and private markets in both developed and developing economies.  It will also provide a rich resource for graduate, professional and undergraduate students at Tulane who are interested in issues related to the regulation of economic and financial activity.

The creation of the Center builds on nearly a decade of expanding collaboration between scholars at the Law School and the Murphy Institute, a unique interdisciplinary research and teaching program at Tulane focused on applied study of political economy.  The Murphy Institute was founded in the late 1970s with a generous endowment in memory of Charles H. Murphy, Sr. (1870-1954), and inspired by the vision of Charles H. Murphy, Jr. (1920-2002), to advance understanding of the interrelation between the economic, moral, and political dimensions of public policy.

“The new Tulane Center on Law and the Economy will bring greater national visibility to this vibrant collaboration while providing a foundation for a host of exciting new initiatives,” said law Dean David Meyer.  “We’re grateful for the partnership with the Murphy Institute and excited to see the scholarly impact this joint center will enable in the years to come.”

Law Prof. Adam Feibelman, the Sumter Davis Marks Professor of Law, who has spearheaded the years of collaboration between the law school and the Institute, will be the center’s founding Director. He will work closely with Institute Executive Director Steven M. Sheffrin to expand on existing collaborations and develop new initiatives that advance the Center’s mission. 

“The ongoing collaboration between faculty at the law school and many affiliated with the Murphy Institute has, I think, been a very valuable and productive one for both units, for the university, and for all of the individuals involved,” said Feibelman. “It has provided support for individual researchers, facilitated faculty collaborations within the law school, across campus, and beyond, and generated institutional support for various law school initiatives and the Murphy academic program.  The creation of the Center will help ensure that these activities continue and that they expand both organically and strategically.”

In recent years, the law school and the Murphy Institute have built an impressive portfolio of scholarly activities funded by the institute and conducted through the law school’s academic program. They include:

  • A law faculty position currently held by law Ann Lipton, the Michael M. Fleishman Associate Professor of Business Law and Entrepreneurship;
  • A visiting assistant professorship, roughly equivalent to post-doctorate positions in other departments, currently held by Blair Druhan Bullock;
  • A faculty/student workshop series on law and regulation;
  • Various ongoing and ad hoc roundtables, conferences, and lectures on topics such as tax, corporate and securities regulation, financial markets and property law;

Tulane Law faculty teach in Murphy’s undergraduate degree program in Political Economy, which has a concentration in law, economics and public policy. This track explores how legal institutions and practices shape economic behavior.

The law course, titled Law & Economics of the Regulatory State, introduces undergraduates to the law and the economics of regulation, and the challenges to governance posed by those regulations. Law students can take part in the Regulation and Coordination Workshop series, where a handful of prominent visiting scholars from across the country present works-in-progress on regulation of economic activity. 

Feibelman, who has helped to organize and lead many collaborations between the two programs over the years, expects to create an Innovation Fund in the Center to support new scholarly initiatives and to launch a new joint program to support faculty scholarship.

Law faculty formally affiliated with the new Center include:

  • Feibelman, an expert in bankruptcy, financial institutions, and international finance, and the law school’s former Associate Dean for Faculty Research;
  • Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Onnig Dombalagian, who specializes in U.S. and international regulation of securities and derivatives markets and the relationship of federal and state law in the governance of public companies;
  • Kristin Johnson, the McGlinchey Stafford Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Faculty Research, who is a nationally recognized scholar of financial risk management and corporate law, and increasingly on the impact of artificial intelligence on financial instruments.
  • Ann Lipton, an experienced corporate litigator and former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter, who is an expert in corporate governance, the relationships between corporations and investors, and the role of corporations in society;
  • Khrista McCarden, the Hoffman Fuller Associate Professor of Tax Law, whose scholarship focuses on tax law and policy, especially international taxation and the tax treatment of charitable giving;
  • Bullock, who earned a PhD in Law and Economics from Vanderbilt University and whose research focuses on economic and empirical analysis of discrimination law. 

“I am delighted with our collaboration with School of Law,” said Murphy Institute Executive Director Steven Sheffrin.  “The law is at the intersection where the ideas of political economy meet the realities of governance.  We look forward to continuing and expanding our collaborative efforts.”