Big Coup for Vanderbilt Law School:

Vanderbilt has hired Kip Viscusi and Joni Hersch to found and run a Ph.D. program in law and economics.

M (mail):
It's a nice hire, of course, but what's so ground-breaking about the program? Is it just that it's a _formal_ joint JD/PhD program between an econ dept. and law school? Are there really no formal programs? The article wasn't very clear about what's supposed to be so unusual. Even if it's the first formal program, is it really "ground breaking" as compared to doing a law degree and PhD in econ in an ad-hoc way? I curious if there's something particular about this program that the article just doesn't make clear.
1.24.2006 11:44pm

As far as I can tell, the only selling point was that it is the first JD/PhD program "focused" on Law and Economics, and I take it that just means other people get their JDs and PhDs in Economics through JD/PhD programs with broader options.

Still, I think these hirings actually represent the potential advantage of such a program--the ability to bring in faculty (and perhaps fellows) specifically for that program.
1.25.2006 12:40am
Bingobob (mail):
George Mason University has a very talented staff (two Nobel Laureates) who lead a robust law and economics program with a focus on public choice. Several of the regular posters are professors at the school and should be able to articulate the advantages of coupling the two programs. But George Mason does have MA/JD as well as PhD/JD programs.
1.25.2006 8:30am
Viscusi rocks! He's a great teacher.
1.25.2006 9:35am
Nobody Special:
I don't know, I think that snagging a couple of noted Harvard professors is usually a big deal for a mid-major university, regardless of the uniqueness of the program.
1.25.2006 10:01am
Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't Viscusi and Hersch married? I think I had heard that somewhere.
1.25.2006 10:37am
Indian Paintbrush (mail) (www):
There are plenty of JD/MBA programs...I'm curious about the employment rate right out of school for these guys compared to students of the JD/PhD program...

Poppycock:A chronicle of the stupidest things ever said.
1.25.2006 11:18am
frankcross (mail):
They are married. Vanderbilt is not exactly a mid-major. And the breakthrough would be a Ph.D program housed in a law school
1.25.2006 1:55pm
mikemccann (mail) (www):
Just wanted to add my 2 cents: Kip Viscusi is an outstanding professor, and a huge addition to Vanderbilt Law. I am one of his former students, who very much enjoyed his teaching-style. He was also very accessible outside-of-class, and provided terrific advice, be it on school-related matters or job pursuits etc. He's also a prolific scholar with very innovative and useful publications on cognitive biases and heuristics.
1.25.2006 2:11pm
Nobody Special:
It is in the world of law schools, where you have Top 10, Top 20 or so, then "first tier."

Stuff in that generic category, which, if memory serves, is where Vanderbilt falls, is pretty mid-major for the legal world.
1.25.2006 2:17pm
Just thought I'd mention something about Joni Hersch, since most commenters are discussing Viscusi. I know nothing about her research, but I had her for econometrics as an undergrad, and she was an amazing teacher. I have never seen somebody get so excited about best linear unbiased estimates. (That's what it's called, right? It was a while ago.)
1.25.2006 2:26pm
frankcross (mail):
Vanderbilt is generally considered a top 20 law school.
1.25.2006 2:30pm
Kip (mail):
Thanks for all these interesting comments and questions. Our new program is a PhD program in law and economics offered by the law school, not by a companion economics department. The majority of the core courses will be developed specifically by economists on the law school faculty for our program. We will be admitting students next year for the Fall 2007, and we hope you encourage your students to check us out. And yes, Joni Hersch and I are married. Kip
1.25.2006 3:23pm
Harriet Miers' Law Partner:
This really disturbs me because I think this is absolutely the wrong idea. There is no reason for a law school to be running a PhD program. Law schools are for the training of lawyers. We already have enough trouble with scholars mucking up the law with unfathomable theories that are not relevant to or relied up on by judges and practioners. Law reviews used to be full of articles that were relevant and helpful to those who actually practice law. Law schools have been cited by just about everyone for failing to turn out competent practioners. If you want to be economics professor, go to graduate school but stay out of law school.
1.25.2006 3:47pm
I agree that the biggest risk of this program is the "jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none" issue. If Vanderbilt manages to give these dual-degree candidates the necessary foundations in the respective law and econ fields, and then is able to capitalize on tailored hybrid courses to give them an edge other dual degree grads won't have, it may prove a success. As for it being a coup for Vanderbilt to attract these two, I think it undoubtedly is . . . just as it would be a coup for almost any school outside of the HarvYaleStanColumChicago group to do so. My recollection is that, by almost every measure I've seen published, Vanderbilt has long been solidly top 20 in terms of faculty quality and the students it attracts.
1.25.2006 7:54pm
tia (mail) (www):
Vandy is a great school - all its professional programs are top twenty and they have great programs in the life sciences as well. whatever the case those students will be in that program for a long time at least 6 years.
1.25.2006 8:45pm