I first heard Henry’s name at Harvard Law School, in Victor Brudney’s Corporate Finance class. Brudney was a demanding teacher in the (Paper Chase) Kingsfield mold, and as he incorporated ideas from the finance literature in his course he had the reputation of being conservative. Not that he really was right of center. “If you think I’m right-wing, you should see this guy Manne,” he told us.
Henry Manne, you see, had written a book to defend insider trading, and that had brought down on him the wrath of the entire legal establishment. They couldn’t tell you what was wrong with insider trading, mind you, but they didn’t need to. They just knew! But while they had passion on their side, Henry had reason, the intelligence and knowledge of economics that could demonstrate just how impoverished their ideas were.
Henry was the true founder of law-and-economics, one of the most consequential schools of thought in the last 100 years. Forget literary deconstruction, feminism, gender studies, fads devoid of content or rigor. Law-and-economics has transformed the legal academy, judging, and the rules we live by. And it started with Henry.