Kimberly Krawiec, Expert in Controversial Markets, To Join Faculty

Kimberly D. Krawiec

Professor Kimberly D. Krawiec has explored how nontraditional markets become legitimized, as well as the potential merits of illegal and taboo ones. Photo courtesy Duke Law School

March 22, 2021

Kimberly D. Krawiec, a leading expert in market regulation, will join the University of Virginia School of Law faculty in the fall.

Krawiec, currently the Katharine Robinson Everett Professor of Law at Duke Law School, has academic interests that span a variety of fields, including the empirical analysis of contract disputes, the choice of organizational form by professional service firms, corporate compliance systems, insider trading, derivatives hedging practices and “rogue” trading.

But she has garnered the most attention for exploring how nontraditional markets become legitimized, as well as the potential merits of illegal and taboo ones.

“Kim is a major contemporary voice on misconduct and trade within forbidden or contested markets,” Dean Risa Goluboff said in welcoming Krawiec to the faculty. “I am thrilled that she is joining our faculty, and I know students and faculty alike will benefit enormously from engaging with her as a scholar and teacher.”

Prior to joining the academy, Krawiec was a member of the commodity and derivatives group at the New York office of Sullivan & Cromwell. That experience set her on a path of scholarship. Among her early articles was one titled “More Than Just New Financial Bingo: Risk-based Approach to Understanding Derivatives,” published in the Journal of Corporation Law, where she helped explain the area of investment, which is now commonly accepted.

She said insurance is another example of a market that we now take for granted. “Yet, in its early days, it was considered no different than gambling on somebody’s death,” she said. “Even though I started with what we think of as mainstream markets, at the beginning they weren’t.”

In more recent years, she has turned to more taboo markets, such as proposals to allow payments to kidney donors.

In the United States, for instance, kidney donations are legal, but kidney sales are still prohibited. Meanwhile, other high-risk ways of making money are legal, as she explores in her co-authored paper “If We Pay Football Players, Why Not Kidney Donors?,” published in Regulation in 2018.

“What I try to do is analyze the objections to these markets,” Krawiec said. “There are fewer health risks in kidney donations than professional football,” she said, “although riskiness is not the only objection.”

One reluctance to creating a marketplace for organs is that poor people would participate disproportionately, she said. Change has also been slow because there is no medical benefit to the donor.

But a sea change in paid exchange could potentially benefit countless sick people who are waiting for an organ donation that’s a match. To that end, Krawiec works with a team of economists that includes Al Roth, who won a Nobel Prize for his research into the practical aspects of matching buyers and sellers, and Michael Rees, who designed the first prototype of a paired kidney donation matching system in 2000.

Rees’ Global Kidney Exchange facilitates matches across borders, most often with nonprofit groups paying for the transplant expenses of pairs from developing nations, a concept that Krawiec acknowledges is not without controversy. She co-authored with Rees “Reverse Transplant Tourism,” published in 2014 in Law & Contemporary Problems.

“Acceptance is coming, but it’s slow,” she said.

Professor Julia Mahoney, whose scholarship has also focused on markets, said Krawiec’s work is important to many larger conversations.

“Her scholarship spans corporate governance, financial regulation, contracts, and the ethics of market and non-market allocation of goods and services, and her work has both influenced and expanded debates in all these areas,” Mahoney said. 

Krawiec, who visited at UVA Law in 2004, has taught both large lecture classes and smaller ones, including her recent favorites Taboo Trades and Forbidden Markets, and Advanced Contracts. “Taboo Trades” is also the name of the podcast she launched in August, which so far has covered topics ranging from marijuana legalization to blood and other “repugnant transactions.”

She has also taught at Harvard, the University of North Carolina and Northwestern, where she received the 1999-2000 Robert Childres Award for Teaching Excellence.

Krawiec has served as a commentator for the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative of the American Bar Association and on the faculty of the National Association of Securities Dealers Institute for Professional Development at the Wharton School of Business. She earned her J.D. from Georgetown University and her B.A. from North Carolina State University.

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