Fred S. McChesney, a leader in applying economics to the study of law, and the former holder of the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law James B. Haddad Chair from 1999-2011, died October 12 in Washington, D.C., after battling an extended illness. He was 68. Professor McChesney received a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law in 1978 and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Virginia in 1982. He practiced law at Steptoe & Johnson in D.C. and went on to become the Associate Director for Policy and Evaluation at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) during the Reagan administration. The bulk of his substantial career, spanning 35 years, was as a professor of both law and economics at numerous universities, including Northwestern, where he was a professor both at the School of Law and the Kellogg School of Management. During this time he also served as the Director of the Northwestern's Executive LL.M. Program in Europe and the Director of the Law and Business Program. McChesney also taught at Cornell Law School from 1997 to 1999, was the Robert T. Thompson Professor of Law and Business at Emory University School of Law from 1983-1997, and, most recently held the de la Cruz-Mentschikoff Endowed Chair in Law and Economics at the University of Miami School of Law. Professor McChesney was a significant figure in the confluence of business, finance and law. In addition to his teaching, he was the author or co-author of five books and scores of articles, monographs, and scholarly works on antitrust, business and economics in leading academic presses and journals. He is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work in the field of public choice economics, which argues that political actors behave according to private incentives instead of the public good. Professor McChesney significantly extended the literature in this area in his 1997 Harvard Press book, "Money for Nothing: Politicians, Rent Extraction and Political Extortion," arguing that politicians receive contributions and other rewards not only for acting, but also for threatening to act, and then not executing on those threats. "As those of us who had the privilege of knowing Fred as a friend, colleague or teacher know, he was a kind and generous person with a remarkably good nature," wrote Miami Law Dean Patricia D. White, in an email to the community. "He was also a very distinguished scholar and exceptional teacher. We are all the poorer for losing him and all the richer for having had him among us." Timothy J. Muris, a former chairman of the FTC, friend, and fellow lover of baseball, said, "Fred is a world-class scholar. He is also a world-class individual. Fred makes friends easier than anyone. To eat at Shorty's with Fred is to become engaged in a conversation with the entire picnic-style table, most of whom you have never met. Fred also knows more about pre-Beatles rock'n'roll than anyone alive." Always the Renaissance man, McChesney was a Francophile who spoke fluent French and German, and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the music of the 1950s and 1960s, according to friends and family. His love of music was genetic: his father worked as a big band drummer and his daughter, Mary Elizabeth "Lizzy," is a professional musician. Born in Washington, D.C., McChesney grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland, the oldest of seven. He attended Catholic school starting at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Bethesda through his undergraduate years at College of the Holy Cross. McChesney is survived by his father, Robert William McChesney, Jr., and sisters, Kathleen, Louise Forte and Mary Woodchek, and brothers Robert William III, Michael, and David; four children, Madeleine McChesney Wisbrun (Eduardo), Mary Elizabeth ("Lizzy"), Robert William, IV (Kristina), James Edward, and two grandchildren, Thomas and Nicolas Wisbrun. He was predeceased by his wife, Elaine, and mother, Louise Sanderson McChesney. Visitation will be held Friday, November 10 from 4 - 7:30 p.m. at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 9705 Summit Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895. There will be a Mass of Christian Burial at Holy Redeemer Church on Saturday November 11 at 10:00 a.m. Instead of flowers, donations may be made to the University of Miami School of Law in memory of Fred S. McChesney, 1311 Miller Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146.
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store
Published by Chicago Tribune from Oct. 20 to Oct. 21, 2017.