James Hicks

Columbia Law School

Small picture of James Hicks


I am a lawyer and social scientist, and an Academic Fellow at Columbia Law School. My research focuses on intellectual property law and innovation policy, and I specialize in empirical work.

I will be on the legal academic job market in 2023. I hold a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy, a J.D. from Berkeley Law, and a B.A. in Political Science from Reed College.


Thumbnail image of graph from venture capital project

Do Patents Drive Investments in Software?

118 Northwestern University Law Review ___ (2024)

Are patents an important factor for venture capitalists making decisions about where to invest? Past research been unable to tease out the effect of the patent itself, distinct from the quality of the invention. I use a novel quasi-experiment to show that patents play no role in channeling investment amongst early-stage software startups.

Thumbnail image of graph from copyright project

Copyright and Economic Viability: Evidence from the Music Industry

17 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 696 (2020)

Copyright has a long term—the life of the author plus another seventy years. Does this align with the economic incentives of artists? Using data from the music industry, we find that the typical sound recording has a commercial viability on the order of months, rather than decades, and that decay rates are steep even for blockbuster songs (with Kristelia García and Justin McCrary).

Thumbnail image of graph from MeToo project

Do Social Movements Spur Corporate Change? The Rise of “MeToo Termination Rights” in CEO Contracts

98 Indiana Law Journal 125 (2022)

Are there lasting effects of MeToo at the top of corporate America? In the wake of the movement, we find a significant and growing rise in contractual provisions that allow companies to fire CEOs without severance payouts in cases of harassment or discrimination (with Rachel Arnow-Richman and Steven Davidoff Solomon).

Thumbnail image of table from benefit corporation project

The Future or Fancy? An Empirical Study of Public Benefit Corporations

11 Harvard Business Law Review 113 (2021)

Public benefit corporations (“B-corps”) have received a lot of hype, but how do investors respond? We find that venture capital and private equity investors treat early-stage PBCs much like their traditional corporate peers (with Michael Dorff and Steven Davidoff Solomon).


My primary teaching interests are in intellectual property law, including patent, copyright, and trademark. I'm also interested in teaching classes in property and contract law, as well as seminars in innovation policy and empirical legal studies. I've taught various classes at all levels at Columbia and UC Berkeley.

Legal Research & Writing
LLM · Instructor 2022, 2023

Introduction to Intellectual Property
LLM · Co-Instructor 2022; TA 2021, 2018

Foundations of U.S. Law
LLM · TA 2018

Law and Economics survey
Undergraduate · Co-instructor 2016; TA 2015

Introductory Statistics
JD/PhD · TA 2016