Michael D. Gilbert

  • Vice Dean
  • Professor of Law

Michael Gilbert is vice dean of UVA Law. He teaches courses on election law, legislation, and law and economics, and his current research focuses on campaign finance law, corruption and the adjudication of “culture war” disputes. In 2022, Oxford University Press published Gilbert’s book, Public Law and Economics. His research has appeared in multiple law reviews, peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes, and he has lectured throughout the United States and around the world, including in Ecuador, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel and Mexico. 

Gilbert is a member of the Democracy Initiative’s Corruption Lab for Ethics, Accountability, and the Rule of Law. In spring 2020, he was a visiting professor at Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires. Gilbert has won UVA’s All-University Teaching Award and the Student Council Distinguished Teaching Award. He was the inaugural director of UVA Law’s Center for Public Law and Political Economy.     

Prior to joining the faculty, Gilbert clerked for Judge William A. Fletcher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He received his J.D. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as articles editor on the California Law Review and received multiple distinctions, including Olin Fellowships in Law and Economics and a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

Website on SSRN


  • Ph.D.
    University of California at Berkeley
  • J.D.
    University of California at Berkeley School of Law
  • B.S.
    Tulane University


Constitutional Law and Economics (with Robert D. Cooter), in Research Methods in Constitutional Law: A Handbook , Edward Elgar Publishing (2021).

Works in Progress

Truth Bounties: A Market Solution to Fake News (with Yonathan A. Arbel) 1–54 (2022).
Enforcing Rules Versus Enforcing Standards (with Nicholas Almendares & Rebecca Kerley) (2021).


Public Law and Economics (with Robert Cooter), Oxford University Press (2022).

Book Chapters

Contributions and Corruption: Restoring Aggregate Limits in the States, in Democracy by the People: Reforming Campaign Finance in America, Cambridge University Press, 328–343 (2018).

Articles & Reviews

Do Good Citizens Need Good Laws? Economics and the Expressive Function (with Andrew Hayashi), 22 Theoretical Inquiries in Law 153 (2021).
Constitutional Locks (with Mauricio Guim & Michael Weisbuch), 19 International Journal of Constitutional Law 865–886 (2021).
Conflicts Among Rights: An Economic Approach, 9 Revista de la Facultad de Jurisprudencia (RFJ) 66–78 (2021).
Active Virtues (with Mauricio Guim), 98 Washington University Law Review 857–909 (2021).
Conflict Avoidance in Constitutional Law (with Charles Barzun), 107 Virginia Law Review 1–56 (2021).
Waiting to Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election: Evidence from a Multi-County Study (with Robert M. Stein et al.), 73 Political Research Quarterly 439–453 (2020).
Insincere Evidence (with Sean Sullivan), 105 Virginia Law Review 1115–1175 (2019).
The Law and Economics of Entrenchment, 54 Georgia Law Review 64–109 (2019).
Pedagogical Value of Polling-Place Observation by Students (with others with), 51 Political Science & Politics 831–837 (2018).
Transparency and Corruption: A General Analysis, 2018 University of Chicago Legal Forum 117–138 (2018).
Entrenchment, Incrementalism, and Constitutional Collapse, 103 Virginia Law Review 631–671 (2017).
Aggregate Corruption (with Emily Reeder), 104 Kentucky Law Journal 651–670 (2016).
The Coordination Fallacy (with Brian Barnes), 43 Florida State University Law Review 399–426 (2016).
Disclosure and Corruption (with Benjamin F. Aiken), 14 Election Law Journal 148–164 (2015).
Insincere Rules, 101 Virginia Law Review 2185–2223 (2015).
The Problem of Voter Fraud, 115 Columbia Law Review 739–775 (2015).
Judicial Independence and Social Welfare, 112 Michigan Law Review 576–625 (2014).
Campaign Finance Disclosure and the Information Tradeoff, 98 Iowa Law Review 1847–1894 (2013).
Interpreting Initiatives, 97 Minnesota Law Review 1621–1653 (2013).
Disclosure, Credibility, and Speech, 27 Journal of Law & Politics 627–640 (2012).
Does Law Matter? Theory and Evidence from Single Subject Adjudication, 40 Journal of Legal Studies 333–365 (2011).
A Theory of Direct Democracy and the Single Subject Rule (with Robert D. Cooter), 110 Columbia Law Review 687–730 (2010).
Direct Democracy, Courts, and Majority Will (reviewing Kenneth P. Miller, Direct Democracy and the Courts) 9 Election Law Journal 211–214 (2010).
Reply to Hasen and Matsusaka (with Robert D. Cooter), 110 Columbia Law Review Sidebar 59–62 (2010).
Less Can Be More: Conflicting Ballot Proposals and the Highest Vote Rule (with Joshua M. Levine), 38 Journal of Legal Studies 33–418 (2009).
Single Subject Rules and the Legislative Process, 28 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 803–870 (2006).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

The Redistricting Amendment Will Strengthen Democracy in Virginia (with Rebecca Green & Alex Keena), Richmond Times-Dispatch 17A (January 30, 2020).
For Campaign Finance Violators, Crime Pays (with Samir Sheth), Take Care (April 24, 2019).
Super PACs and the Market for Data (with Samir Sheth), Harvard Law Review Blog (November 2, 2018).
The Darker Side of Sunshine Laws, UVA Lawyer 46 (2018).
Disclosure Can Encourage Political Speech (with Abby K. Wood), The Hill (October 21, 2016).

Current Courses

All Courses

Constitutional Law and Economics
Direct Democracy
Judicial Decision-Making
Law and Economics I
Law and Economics II
Regulation of the Political Process




Understanding ‘Public Law and Economics’

Featured Scholarship