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About the Author

A. Mitchell Polinsky

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BA, Harvard University, 1970
PhD (economics), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1973
MSL (Master of Studies in Law), Yale Law School, 1976

A pioneering American figure in the applications of economic theory to law, A. Mitchell Polinsky is a prolific scholar, producing work on the economic analysis of a wide variety of legal issues, from property to contract law to liability and punitive damages. He has written major articles on the economic efficiency of various forms of legal sanctions in achieving deterrence across a range of problems, including criminal law, contract, and tort disputes. Professor Polinsky is the founder and director of the John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics at Stanford Law School. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a president of the American Law and Economics Association, and is currently a research associate in the Law and Economics Program of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1979, he was a member of the faculty at Harvard University.


  • A. Mitchell Polinsky and Daniel L. Rubinfeld, Aligning the Interests of Lawyers and Clients, 5 American Law & Economics Review 165-188 (Spring 2003).
  • A. Mitchell Polinsky and Steven Shavell, The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law, 38 Journal of Economic Literature 45-77 (March 2000).
  • A. Mitchell Polinsky and Steven Shavell, Punitive Damages: An Economic Analysis, 111 Harvard Law Review 869-962 (1998).
  • A. Mitchell Polinsky and Yeon-Koo Che, Decoupling Liability: Optimal Incentives for Care and Litigation, 22.4 RAND Journal of Economics 562 (Winter 1991).
  • A. Mitchell Polinsky and Steven Shavell, The Optimal Tradeoff Between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines, 69 The American Economic Review 880-891 (Dec.,1979).