The Legal Origins Theory in Crisis

48 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2012

See all articles by Lisa M. Fairfax

Lisa M. Fairfax

George Washington University - Law School

Date Written: 2009


The Legal Origins Theory purports to predict how countries respond to economic and social problems. Specifically, the legal origins of the United States should strongly influence the manner it approaches economic problems and its approach should be distinct from the response of civil law countries. If the theory is accurate, America's legal tradition should have a profound impact on its response to the crisis. This Article seeks to test the boundaries of the theory by assessing whether it could have predicted the manner the U.S. responded to the current economic crisis. After analyzing the U.S. response to the crisis, this article reveals that such response runs fundamentally counter to its legal origins. This inconsistency suggests that political, social, and economic forces do more to explain the U.S. response to significant turmoil than its legal origins. It also suggests that the current crisis may have been so severe that it overwhelmed any explanatory or predictive value potentially derived from the legal origins theory.

Keywords: Legal Origins Theory, Legal Origins, LLSV, Financial Crisis, Recession, TARP, Economic Reinvestment, Federal Reserve, Automaker, Bailout, Over-Reliance, Judicial Review, Ideology, Common Law Tradition, Common Law Country, Common Law Countries, Civil Law Tradition, Civil Law Country

JEL Classification: D73, E44, E62, G00, G21, G28, G30, G31, G34, G38, G39, J68, K33, N10, N20, N40, P11, P50

Suggested Citation

Fairfax, Lisa M., The Legal Origins Theory in Crisis (2009). 2009 Brigham Young University Law Review, 1571-1617 (2009), GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-94, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2012-94, Available at SSRN:

Lisa M. Fairfax (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-4630 (Phone)


Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics