The Law & Economics Center was founded in 1974 at the University of Miami School of Law by Henry G. Manne. From its inception, the LEC was dedicated to offering the academic world regular conferences for scholars, both in law and in economics. It also published a newsletter reporting on academic developments in these fields. In 1976, the LEC began offering what would become its flagship 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, the federal judicial component became the exclusive focus of the LEC until July of 2010, when the LEC was revitalized under the leadership of Henry Butler (Executive Director, 2010-2015 and 2018-2022). 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, including state judges, state attorneys general and their senior staff attorneys, and Congressional staff. In June 2015, Henry Butler became Dean of Scalia Law and in July 2018, returned as Executive Director of the LEC.

Today, the LEC is home to five cutting-edge research and education programs, each dedicated to introducing sound economic analysis into the public policy debates and legal discussions encountered by public servants, professors, and legal professionals alike. The LEC does not charge for its programs and, thus, must rely on the generous support of individuals, foundations, and corporations to achieve its success. It continues to operate under the belief that if policymakers understand economics, they will be more likely to make decisions that support the rule of law and the free enterprise system, thus advancing innovation, job creation, and economic growth.