Michael Frakes

Associate Professor of Law


Michael Frakes joined the Northwestern faculty in June of 2014 as an Associate Professor of Law. He is also a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Faculty Fellow at Northwestern's Institute for Policy Research. He was previously an Assistant Professor of Law at Cornell Law School from 2011-2014. He is generally interested in empirical research in the areas of health law and innovation policy. His research in health is largely focused on understanding how certain legal and financial incentives affect the decisions of physicians and other health care providers. His research in innovation policy centers on the relationship between the financing of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and key aspects of its decision making. His scholarship has appeared in, or is forthcoming in, various economics and law & economics journals including the American Economic Review, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Journal of Health Economics, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, and the American Law and Economics Review, along with various law reviews including the Stanford Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, and the Vanderbilt Law Review.  He is currently serving as the Principal Investigation on an R01 award from the NIH, exploring the effects of immunizing physicians from medical liability on the extent and quality of the medical care they deliver.

Areas of Expertise

  • Torts
  • Patents
  • Health Law
  • Law and Economics

Selected Publications

  • Does the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Grant Too Many Bad Patents?: Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment in 67 stanford law review (forthcoming 2015) (with Melissa Wasserman).
  • The Surprising Relevance of Medical Malpractice Law in 82 university of chicago law review (forthcoming 2015).
  • The Impact of Medical Liability Standards on Regional Variations in Physician Behavior: Evidence from the Adoption of National-Standard Rules in 103 american economic review 1 (2013).
  • Does Agency Funding Affect Decisionmaking?: An Empirical Assessment of the PTO's Granting Patterns in 66 vanderbilt law review 67 (2013) (with Melissa Wasserman).
  • Defensive Medicine and Obstetric Practices in 9 journal of empirical legal studies 457 (2012).
  • Does Falling Smoking Lead to Rising Obesity? in 25 journal of health economics 183 (2006) (with Jonathan Gruber).

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  • BS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • JD, Harvard Law School
  • PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Prior Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Law and Jia Jonathan Zhu and Ruyin Ruby Ye Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow, 2011-2014, Cornell Law School
  • Academic Fellow and Lecturer on Law, 2009-2011, Harvard Law School
  • NBER Aging and Health Economics Pre-Doctoral Fellow, 2007-2009
  • Associate, 2005-2007, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

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