This list ranks the most cited papers in Law and Economics. It was compiled using statitics from Google Scholar, which is admittedly a very crude metric (e.g., Google Scholar seems to count citations from unpublished preprints). Nevertheless, absent a significant investment in time and resources, it would be difficult to obtain more precise numbers. Additionally, we have no reason to think that the inaccuracies of Google Scholar citation counts will skew the results, and the inaccuracies should cancel out if given more precise measures. We do not think that more precise measures would necessarily change the order of ranks substantially, and it would be surprising to discover a paper not presently on the list, which would be included if more accurate measures were introduced. Moreover, the list seems to agree (more or less) with Fred Shapiro's ranking of the most cited law papers of all time, corroborating our results.
Some discretion was required in determining what ought (and ought not) to count as a Law & Economics paper. This is obviously no trivial matter, and requires some subject judgment about where the boundaries of the field fall. In general, we have avoided including any paper better characterized as economics with incidental legal implications, as well as law papers that only incidentally involve some acknowledgment, mention, or use of economic ideas. Clearly, there is room for disagreement in some cases, though we have attempted to filter the data in a way that we think the "mainstream" of Law and Economics scholars would find unobjectionable.
The counts were retrieved on Saturday, Nov. 28 2015. We will update the list approximately yearly.