Four 2015 VLS graduates earn Ph.D. in Law and Economics

May 14, 2015

2015 Law and Economics Ph.D. graduatesThree graduates were awarded both a J.D. and a Ph.D. in Law and Economics at Vanderbilt Law School’s commencement May 8, while a fourth received his Ph.D. in Law and Economics.

All were students in Vanderbilt’s Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics, co-directed by W. Kip Viscusi, University Distinguished Professor of Law, Economics and Management, and Professor of Law and Economics Joni Hersch.

V. Blair DruhanBlair Druhan Bullock successfully defended her dissertation, “Judicial and Agency Enforcement of Nondiscrimination Laws,” on March 13. Her adviser was Professor of Law and Economics Joni Hersch, and Professors Michael Selmi of George Washington University Law School, Kevin Stack and W. Kip Viscusi served on her dissertation committee. She will serve a judicial clerkship with Judge Stephen A. Higginson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit beginning in fall 2015. Bullock was executive editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review in 2012-13 and received a 2014 Burton Award for Distinguished Writing and Vanderbilt’s Myron Penn Laughlin Award for her Law Review Note.

Jacob BylJacob P. Byl successfully defended his dissertation, “Toward More Effective Endangered Species Regulation,” on March 10. His adviser was David Daniels Allen Distinguished Professor of Law J.B. Ruhl, and Professors Kathy Anderson, Cindy Kam and W. Kip Viscusi served on his dissertation committee. He will serve two judicial clerkships with Judge Robert J. Jonker of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan beginning 2015 and with Judge Jane Stranch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit beginning in fall 2016. Byl was an associate editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review in 2012-13.

PhD graduate Benjamin J. McMichael '15Benjamin J. McMichael successfully defended his dissertation, “Occupational Licensing and Legal Liability: The Effect of Regulation and Litigation on Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, and the Healthcare System,” on March 11. His adviser was Associate Professor of Management R. Lawrence Van Horn, and Professors James Blumstein, Kelly Haws and W. Kip Viscusi served on his dissertation committee. McMichael will serve a judicial clerkship with Judge Carolyn Dineen King of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit beginning in fall 2015. McMichael was an articles editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review in 2012-13.

Samuel Miller '15Samuel M. Miller, who earned his J.D. from Harvard University and an M.Phil. in economics from Oxford University, successfully defended his dissertation, “Economic and Empirical Analysis of Contractual Dispute Resolution,” on March 20. His adviser was Professor Paige Marta Skiba, and Professors Andrew Daughety, Erin O’Hara O’Connor and Edward Van Wesep of the University of Colorado Boulder served on his dissertation committee. He will practice immigration law for the Miller Law Offices in Studio City, California. After earning his J.D. in 2007, Miller served a judicial clerkship with Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 2007-08.

“The law school community benefits tremendously from the contributions of the bright and ambitious students in our Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics,” said Chris Guthrie, Dean and John Wade-Kent Syverud Professor of Law. “Blair, Jake, Ben and Sam have already made significant contributions to the legal academy as scholars, and I look forward to their future accomplishments.”

The Ph.D. Program in Law and Economics was launched in 2007, and Jennifer Bennett Shinall, now a member of Vanderbilt’s law faculty, became its first graduate in 2012. Caroline Cecot and Jinghui Lim each received a J.D. and Ph.D. through the program in 2014 and 2013, respectively. Lim was a postdoctoral fellow at New York University’s Center of Law, Economics and Organization in 2013-14 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Cecot was a postdoctoral research scholar in law and economics at Vanderbilt Law School in 2014-15 and will clerk for Judge Raymond Lohier on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit beginning in fall 2015.

“Our students’ training in economics and law enables them to raise and analyze legally relevant issues in a novel way,” Viscusi said. “Their outstanding performance is a testament to the tremendous impact of Vanderbilt’s commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship,” Hersch added.

For more information about the program, email phd.lawecon@vanderbilt.edu.


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