May 02, 2012
Lawyers as Transaction Cost Engineers in Medieval Germany
Posted by Erik Gerding

Here is a highly productive way for business law professors to procrastinate from grading exams:

The National Bureau of Economic Research just circulated a new version of a paper that provides a medieval complement to the law & finance literature and to Gilson's lawyer as transaction cost engineer idea.  The paper by Davide Cantoni and Noam Yuchtman presents evidence that the training of commercial lawyers by new universities contributed to the expansion of economic activity in medieval Germany.  Here is the abstract:

We present new data documenting medieval Europe's "Commercial Revolution'' using information on the establishment of markets in Germany. We use these data to test whether medieval universities played a causal role in expanding economic activity, examining the foundation of Germany's first universities after 1386 following the Papal Schism. We find that the trend rate of market establishment breaks upward in 1386 and that this break is greatest where the distance to a university shrank most. There is no differential pre-1386 trend associated with the reduction in distance to a university, and there is no break in trend in 1386 where university proximity did not change. These results are not affected by excluding cities close to universities or cities belonging to territories that included universities. Universities provided training in newly-rediscovered Roman and Canon law; students with legal training served in positions that reduced the uncertainty of trade in medieval Europe. We argue that training in the law, and the consequent development of legal and administrative institutions, was an important channel linking universities and greater economic activity.

A very interesting read.

Economic Development, Europe, Globalization/Trade, Law & Economics, Law & Society, Law Schools/Lawyering, Legal History, Religion, Teaching, Transactional Law | Bookmark

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