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Professor Gillian Hadfield of the University of Southern California delivers the first installment of our spring seminar series. The event is open to faculty and PhD students from King’s and other London universities.

About the Speaker

Gillian K. Hadfield is the Richard L. and Antoinette Schamoi Kirtland professor of law and professor of economics at the University of Southern California. She studies the design of legal and dispute resolution systems; the nature of normative systems; contracting; and the performance and regulation of legal markets and the legal profession.  Her recent work focuses on the innovation and design of legal institutions and regulations to promote access to justice and economic growth in both advanced and developing countries, particularly in innovative, digital, and rapidly evolving settings.   Her book, Rules for a Flat World:  Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy was published by Oxford University Press in November 2016.

Professor Hadfield holds a B.A.H. from Queen’s University, a J.D. from Stanford Law School and Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University. She served as clerk to Chief Judge Patricia Wald on the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. She has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, and NYU law schools, a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, and a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Technology, Values, and Policy, the American Law Institute, former director of the American Law and Economics Association and the International Society for New Institutional Economics, and past president of the Canadian Law and Economics Association.

About the Talk

Rules have been around as long as humans have.  What’s changed over time is how we choose and enforce our rules, a dynamic that has been endogenous to the increasing specialization and division of labor generated by economic growth.  As human societies have grown more differentiated, complex, and faster-paced, our systems for coming up with the rules that support contracting, investment, the management of externalities, and ongoing cooperation in communities have needed to adapt, evolving from the simple organic cultural rules that governed in simple economies to the elaborate legal systems of hierarchical nation-states that emerged to govern industrialized economies.

The advent of a globalized digital economy is putting new pressure on our established rulemaking systems.  How can rules developed in the politically-driven legislatures and bureaucracies of the nation-state meet the demands for regulation created by digital goods that are constantly evolving, artificially intelligent agents that challenge human intelligence and move far faster than regulators, or multi-sided digital platforms with massive market share where it is difficult to determine who is a consumer, who is a supplier, who is a potential competitor, and just what is being transacted?

In this talk Professor Hadfield will discuss a few chapters from her book, Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy. She will focus first on how digitization and globalization has transformed the economic demand for law and undermined standard economic assumptions about how to regulate markets. She will then propose a new form of regulation to address the challenges of a complex and global digital economy:  competitive private approved regulators.  This form of “superregulation” attempts to harness the benefits of markets to attract private investment and innovative effort to the business of developing regulatory infrastructure that is better adapted to the realities of the global digital environment.