It’s not unusual to hear law students complaining when they have to do math, but many find it also difficult to deal with courses such as tax law. However, the economy is rather a quite
theoretical discipline and it should be seen as an ally rather than an obstacle in the legal field.
Multidisciplinarity is a very relevant feature nowadays, as the cooperation of different fields can lead to the most satisfactory response to complex concerns. My personal study journey has led me to think that, despite being keener on law, studying economics has led to broadening my knowledge and expanding my range of possibilities to face legal issues.
In the case of international lawyers or policy makers, understanding the exchange mechanisms of goods and services is vital to understand global trade fully. The existence of barriers such as tariffs (and the different kinds) would determine which country is more benefited and which measures should be taken to facilitate or restrict commerce.
Legal issues, such as human rights, are usually conceived by the general public in opposition to trade. But they can be better addressed if a multidisciplinary lens is combined. For example, poverty necessarily encompasses many aspects. In other words, considering economics, sociology, politics, law and psychology, among others, could contribute to designing a complex and effective response to poverty.
However, there are also situations in which the use of the economy has encroached on a branch of law, hindering conceptual development on its own terms. This is the case of International Environmental Law (1). Some authors seem to support the use of market economy solutions to address climate change, as the future of the economy and the environment goes hand-in-hand, while also criticizing implementation and political resistance (2). Others are sharper towards the collaboration between law and economy, unexpectedly blaming legal and policy systems for failing to observe the enforcement of measures (3).
It’s clear that the current global economic system is far from perfect, since it causes many of the problems we face today. Despite acknowledging this fact, why not use its own processes to find a solution instead of rejecting it outright? In that sense, the right use of economics, to target the SDGs, and the use of law, to prevent opportunistic behavior, would likely lead to an economy limited by law, in order to fulfill the goals for the well-being of humankind.
I admit that, even though this article aims to briefly introduce economics for law students from a bird’s eye view, other disciplines such as politics, international relations, sociology, psychology, natural sciences, etc. are potentially effective in cooperation too. I recognize as well that this article is written in general terms and research could prove me wrong in some cases, as analyzed before with international environmental law.
However, cooperation is likely to leave fewer loose ends so it should be promoted. Thus, the risk of combining disciplines should be taken, especially in academia and policy-making. Because, concerning the legal field, it relates to many elements of life.
1 Ghaleigh NS, “Economics and International Climate Change Law” in Cinnamon Carlarne, Kevin Gray and
Richard Tarasofsky (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Climate Change Law (Oxford University Press
2 Hsu S-L, “International Market Mechanisms” in Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne, Kevin R Gray and Richard
Tarasofsky (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Climate Change Law (Oxford University Press 2016)
3 Asselt Hvan, “The Design and Implementation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading” in Cinnamon Piñon
Carlarne, Kevin R Gray and Richard Tarasofsky (eds), The Oxford Handbook of International Climate Change
Law (Oxford University Press 2016) 332–356.