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In the Spotlight   


Professor Michael Simkovic at ALI

Professor Michael Simkovic at the American Law Institute

Professor Simkovic presented before the ALI, “What Can We Learn from Credit Markets?” which summarized his data-driven research on the connections between law and finance


Professor Michael N. Simkovic was honored with the American Law Institute’s 2016 Young Scholars Medal, awarded to “early-career law professors whose work has the potential to influence improvements in the law.”  

Professor Simkovic presented before the ALI, “What Can We Learn from Credit Markets?” which summarized his data-driven research on the connections between law and finance. He opened by explaining the societal value of credit markets and their importance to economic growth:   

Ideally, financial markets help solve a fundamental problem: namely how to coordinate billions of people’s activities to increase the world’s collective standard of living. Isolated individuals can barely feed, clothe and shelter themselves. On the other hand, a system that enables individuals to specialize can support a modern, sophisticated civilization.   

Professor Simkovic described problems that can prevent credit markets from operating effectively, and how legal reforms could improve market functions. He also explained how market data can help inform legal and regulatory decisions, especially in areas such as fraudulent transfer law.

Ultimately, Professor Simkovic is passionate that data-driven research can help improve law to better serve society:

Law depends on predictions about human behavior and how laws alter that behavior. These predictions will inevitably be imperfect. Therefore laws will have unexpected consequences. I believe that improvements in law require an iterative process that tests hypotheses using data. The results of these empirical studies refine our intuitions and enable us to refine our laws. Just as medicine advances by studying the impact of treatments, we can use empirical methods to improve the law. We make mistakes, and we learn from those mistakes. 

Professor Simkovic joined the Seton Hall Law faculty in 2010, already having a strong scholarly portfolio of work. His article, Secret Liens and the Financial Crisis of 2008 (American Bankruptcy Law Journal, Vol. 83, 2009), is one of the most widely read papers on the origins of the subprime mortgage crisis, and influenced the Government Accountability Office’s framework for Housing Finance Reform. He also won the American College of Consumer Financial Services writing award for that article.      

Prior to coming to Seton Hall Law, Professor Simkovic was a management consultant in the Financial Institutions Group of McKinsey and Company in New York and a corporate bankruptcy attorney at Davis Polk. He earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Duke University, and his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School where he was an Olin Fellow in Law and Economics.