Michael D Frakes

Michael D Frakes

Professor of Economics

External Address: 
Duke Law School Rm 3188, Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
Duke Law School Rm 3188, Box 90362, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 613-7185

Michael Frakes joined the Duke Law faculty in June, 2016 from Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, where he was an associate professor. He also holds a secondary faculty appointment in the Duke Economics Department.  He is generally interested in empirical research in the areas of health law and innovation policy. His research in health is largely focused on understanding how certain legal and financial incentives affect the decisions of physicians and other health care providers. His research in innovation policy centers on the relationship between the financing of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and key aspects of its decision making.  Michael also serves as a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.  While at Northwestern, Frakes also served as a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research. He was previously an assistant professor of Law at Cornell Law School from 2011-2014.

Frakes’ scholarship has appeared in, or is forthcoming in, various economics and law & economics journals including the American Economic Review, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Journal of Public Economics, the Journal of Health Economics, the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, and the American Law and Economics Review, along with various law reviews including the Stanford Law Review, the University of Chicago Law Review, the Duke Law Journal, and the Vanderbilt Law Review.  He is currently serving as the Principal Investigation on an R01 award from the NIH, exploring the effects of immunizing physicians from medical liability on the extent and quality of the medical care they deliver.

Frakes received his BS in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001, his JD, cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 2005, and a PhD in economics from MIT in 2009. He was an associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Wilmington, Del., from 2005 to 2007. From 2009 to 2011, he was an academic fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.


  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2009
  • J.D., Harvard University 2005

Frakes, M., and M. Wasserman. “Are There as Many Trademark Offices as Trademark Examiners?Duke Law Journal 69 (2020).

Frakes, M., and M. Wasserman. “Irrational Ignorance at the Patent Office.” Vanderbilt Law Review 72, no. 3 (2019): 975–1030.

Frakes, M., and M. Wasserman. “Empirical Scholarship on the Prosecution Process at the USPTO,” 2019, 77–91.

Frakes, M., and M. Wasserman. “Patent Trial and Appeal Board's Consistency-Enhancing Function.” Iowa Law Review 104, no. 5 (2019): 2417–46.

Elsamadicy, Aladine A., Amanda R. Sergesketter, Michael D. Frakes, and Shivanand P. Lad. “Review of Neurosurgery Medical Professional Liability Claims in the United States.Neurosurgery 83, no. 5 (November 1, 2018): 997–1006. https://doi.org/10.1093/neuros/nyx565. Full Text

Frakes, M., and M. Wasserman. “Is the Time Allocated to Review Patent Applications Inducing Examiners to Grant Invalid Patents? Evidence from Microlevel Application Data.” Review of Economics and Statistics 99, no. 3 (2017): 550–63.

Frakes, M., and J. Koehlmoos. “Defensive Medicine: Evidence from Military Immunity,” 2017.

Frakes, M., A. Chandra, and A. Malani. “Challenges to Reducing Discrimination and Health Inequity Through Existing Civil Rights Laws.” Health Affairs 36, no. 6 (2017): 1041–47.


Frakes, M., and M. Wasserman. “Do Patent Law Suits Target Invalid Patents?” In Selection and Decision in the Judicial Process Around the World: Empirical Inquiries, 6–29. Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Frakes, M., M. Franks, and K. Rozema. “The Economics of Healthcare Rationing.” In The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Health Law, 914–33, 2017.

Selected Grants

The Impact of Exempting Medical Providers from Malpractice Protection awarded by National Bureau of Economic Research (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2018