Rules for a Flat World: Why Humans Invented Law and How to Reinvent It for a Complex Global Economy was published by Oxford University Press in November 2016. Buy it on Amazon or Google Books.

In Rules for a Flat World, Gillian Hadfield tracks the evolution of law as a platform for managing human complexity, documents how legal systems around the world are failing to do what we need to them to do in the complex global economy, and proposes how we can reinvent them.

Hadfield argues that our traditional institutions still have a role to play, but that we also need to develop a much more dynamic and responsive legal ecosystem. We need to open up our existing markets for legal services and develop competitive, well-regulated markets for rules and regulations that can provide better legal infrastructure to meet the demands of our complex global economy.

Download the policy brief based on the book.

To book Gillian Hadfield for speaking engagements or consulting work, please contactDonna Bowater, Marchmont Communications,

The book has received high praise from leading thinkers in law, business and global politics:

“We give far too little thought to how our institutions work and whether they are doing their job in the midst of rapid social and technological change. This book is a treasure trove of fresh thinking on these deep topics.” – Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Better Angels of Our Nature

“Rules for a Flat World is a rare book that is both an advocacy charter for a more rational and inclusive legal system for our increasingly complex global economy, and a scholarly tome that tells the story of law, from ancient times to the contemporary. Weaving in evidence and anecdotes from across time and space, Hadfield’s book makes for a most absorbing read and should be of interest to scholars and lay people alike.” – Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the World Bank & Professor of Economics and C. Marks Professor at Cornell University

A thoughtful and thought provoking look at one of the compelling questions of our time: in the face of massive changes to commerce, culture, and community, can our legal systems and infrastructure adapt to keep pace with the change? Gillian Hadfield answers that question in the affirmative but with a call to arms that anyone interested in the relationship between law and society should hear.  Engagingly written, I highly recommend this book to lawyers, business people, and all of us who are caught up in the arc of global change.” – Bruce SewellSenior Vice President and General Counsel, Apple 

“Technology is stressing laws that were developed primarily to fit the industrial revolution.  In this fantastic book, Hadfield shows how we got where we are, and demonstrates that while markets require law, good law increasingly needs markets to work well.  This book is an essential and delightful read for anyone interested in economics, politics, international relations, the impact of technology on people, and, of course, law.” – Preston McAfee, Chief Economist, Microsoft

“This book is a must read for anyone who believes the legal system can be improved or who wants better results from legal services spending. From an insightful, engaging, and charming exploration of the history of how we came to have our current legal system, to careful analogies to the transformation other industries have experienced in the digital age, to a set of prescriptions for change in the legal system to grow the global economy, Gillian Hadfield never disappoints. I never expected that I would say about a book on the legal system, I couldn’t put it down.” – Mark ChandlerSenior Vice President and General Counsel Cisco Systems Inc.

“This important book is at once an education and a manifesto. Drawing on economics, jurisprudence and legal history, Hadfield argues with authority that our legal institutions are out of step with advances in the digital world. She calls for greater investment, innovation, and competition in legal services and, crucially, challenges lawyers and policymakers to think very differently about the future role of law in society.” – Richard Susskind, co-author, The Future of the Professions

“Hadfield takes the reader on an exhilarating journey toward her remarkable destination of markets for law and regulation, illuminating waypoints like Silicon Valley, Zimbabwe, and ancient Athens with insights from economics, history, political science, and law.” – Paul Brest, former Dean and Professor Emeritus Stanford Law School and former President William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Upcoming Appearances:

March 13 2018: Centre for the Study of Governance & Society, King’s College London

Feb 23-25 2018: Global Legal Hackathon, Los Angeles

Jan 12 2018: AI Alignment and Human Normativity, Information Sciences Institute, USC

Nov 14 2017: Lecture, Academy of Law, Dubai International Financial Centre

Oct 30 2017Symposium on Rules for a Flat World, Cardozo Law School, New York

Oct 19 2017: Book discussion, Chicago-Kent Fin(Legal) Tech Conference, Illinois Tech Chicago-Kent College of Law

Previous Appearances:

Sept 22 2017:  IDEO and Stanford Legal Design Lab Law + Design Summit, Stanford CA

Sept 13 2017: Keynote, 4th Annual Silicon Valley Tech Talk, Marriott Santa Clara CA

July 11-13 2017: On-stage book discussion, World Justice Forum, The Hague

June 29-30 2017: Major Transitions Workshop, Centre Recherches Interdisciplinaires, Paris

June 26 2017: Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University

May 21-24 2017: Gruter Institute Conference on Innovation and Growth, Squaw Valley, CA

May 16-18 2017: Keynote, Governance of Emerging Technologies Conference, Phoenix AZ

May 5-6 2017: Presentation, Center for Human-Compatible AI, University of California Berkeley

Nov 7, 2016: The Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago, IL

Nov 4, 2016: Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM
Annual Trustees and Applied Complexity Network Symposium

Nov 2, 2016: Harvard Business School, Cambridge, MA
Digital Initiative Seminar Series

Oct 27, 2016: University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, IL
Works-In-Progress Workshop

Oct 26, 2016: American Bar Foundation, Chicago, IL
The ABF Seminar

Oct 13, 2016: Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Chicago, IL
Law and Economics Workshop

Oct 10, 2016: Singularity University, NASA Research Center, CA
Global Solutions Program

Oct 6, 2016: Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, Ottawa Canada


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