The Law & Economics Center was founded in 1974 at the University of Miami School of Law by Henry G. Manne. At its inception, the LEC was focused on the academic world offering regular conferences for scholars, both in law and in economics and publishing a newsletter reporting all academic developments in the law and economics field. In 1976, it began offering programs for federal judges.
The LEC remained at Miami for six years before moving to Emory University in 1980. In 1986, it moved once again, this time to its current home, the George Mason University, where it became an integrated part of the law school. Here, for a time, the federal judicial component became the exclusive focus of the LEC.
In July of 2010, under the leadership of Henry N. Butler (Executive Director, 2010-2015), the LEC was revitalized and expanded. In addition to its now well-known programs for federal judges, it successfully expanded its offerings to once again include robust programs for the academic community as well as for new groups of policymakers, which include state judges, state attorneys general and their senior staff attorneys, and Congressional staff. During the LEC’s 41st year (2014-2015 academic year), 47 educational and research events were offered to 2,610 participants, 7 advisory board meetings were convened, 23 scholarly papers were commissioned, 6 major empirical research initiatives were convened, and $8.5 million in funding to support these activities were secured. In July 2015, Henry Butler became Dean of the law school, and Todd J. Zywicki succeeded him as Executive Director of the LEC.
The LEC does not charge for its programs and, thus, must rely on the generous support of many individuals, foundations, and corporations to achieve its success. It operates upon the belief that if policymakers understand economics, they will be more likely to make sound decisions that support the rule of law and the free enterprise system, thus advancing innovation, job creation and economic growth. The mission of the LEC is to be a national center for research and education that focuses on the timely and relevant economic analysis of legal and public policy issues confronting our nation.