Northwestern Law Review Online presents a discussion of the Law–STEM intersection in this special project. This project arose as part of a conference held at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in October 2016: Bridges II: The Law–STEM Alliance & Next Generation Innovation. After a robust conference that focused on the role of different disciplines in the innovation process, a group of scholars (mostly legal scholars who do interdisciplinary work) convened informally to discuss ways to foster interdisciplinary innovation and to overcome barriers to collaboration between legal and STEM professionals. We had such an interesting discussion that we decided to ask participants to submit written answers to questions discussed at that session. We provided five questions to the participants. Participants answered either a subset of the questions or wrote essays responding to the questions as a whole.
This Symposium has been a wonderful forum for identifying a number of challenges that Law and Development will face going forward. Like many of the contributors, I have thought about these issues as both an academic and as a practitioner/government adviser. I have concluded that the Law and Development movement suffers from both an inability to get good results (if we could figure out what “good” results actually are) and a lack of follow up regarding implementation efforts.
As to the former, it is not clear to me that those of us in the field actually know what results we want to achieve—or that we can actually (and accurately) measure them. Mariana Prado noted that in some areas it is easy to gauge success, such as in antitrust or telecoms. If telecom prices go down, Prado suggests, the antitrust suit is successful. I would argue that quantifying success is not so easy, even in these areas. In many cases, looking at easily quantifiable measures such as case counts or the number of successful prosecutions does not in fact measure success. Agencies might bring lots of small but unimportant antitrust cases to raise their number of wins. Moreover, agencies might bring a “winning” case even if the underlying economics behind the case do not mesh with any real consumer loss. For example, in a given developing world country, competitors might push the agency to bring a series of vertical restraints cases against efficient competitors. Finally, even if lower telecom rates result from an antitrust win, is such a win really a success of Law and Development? We have serious endogeneity issues in trying to attribute reduced telecom rates to a particular technical assistance intervention. It could be that rates would have gone lower regardless of the antitrust case. Foreign entrants, changes in technology across platforms (such as voice over internet or wimax), or a change in tariff policy by the telecom regulator may have affected telecom rates.