Letter from the Director & 2012 Highlights
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the American Bar Foundation. The American Bar Endowment created the American Bar Foundation in November 1952 “to insure that research projects are undertaken in an objective manner, … thus gaining the confidence of the profession and public….” Among the first major projects undertaken by the ABF was a comprehensive survey of the American legal profession by Blaustein and Porter, published as The American Lawyer in 1954. The report noted that only 2.48 % of lawyers were women. It went on to observe, “[T]he majority of large law offices still refuse (short of war) to interview them for jobs….Women must work twice as hard as men for half the pay.” (p.29) The report did not even mention attorneys of color, even though it was published in the year of Thurgood Marshall’s victory in the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education.
The last sixty years have seen remarkable transformations in the legal profession, the system of justice, and the importance of social science research in law. The American Bar Foundation has shaped and been shaped by those changes. As the leading authority on the social structure of the bar, the ABF has chronicled the dramatic increase in the number of women and people of color in the legal profession. But ABF research also has reported the continuing lag in the presence of these groups amongst the best paid and most influential lawyers in the profession today. ABF research continues to pursue why that is so, through our signature study of lawyer careers—the After the JD Study—which has been following the entering bar class of 2000, and through our new initiative to endow the Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law and to create a Research Center on Diversity and Law.
This year the ABF reached its own milestone as Judge Bernice B. Donald of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit became our President; the first African-American woman and only the second woman to hold this office in our sixty year history. We are fortunate to have such an extraordinary leader at the head of our Board.
The pages that follow summarize a year of significant accomplishment for the ABF, as our scholars continued to gain national recognition for their research, as we were successful in every grant application submitted to the National Science Foundation and received more than $1M in new grant funds, and as the Fellows of the ABF again broke their fundraising record by raising $1.45M in contributions. These achievements are meaningful because knowledge can blaze a trail to justice. It was that vision that led the American Bar Endowment to create the American Bar Foundation and to sustain it over these sixty years through major funding. It is that vision that inspires our work today. We thank all of our supporters for sharing the vision that research can lead the way to a more just society.
ABF Director Robert L. Nelson
Shari Seidman Diamond, Research Professor, American Bar Foundation, signs the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Book of Members, a tradition that dates back to 1780.
Photo courtesy of the American Academy of Art and Sciences
ABF research faculty garnered several important awards for their work in 2012. Shari Seidman Diamond was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in recognition of her influential contributions to empirical research on law and in particular the decision-making processes of juries. John Hagan was awarded the Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Prize from the Law and Society Association. Hagan’s award recognized his long career marked by extraordinary creativity and rigor on some of the most important issues of our time, including the treatment of homeless youth, genocide in the Balkans and in Darfur, the effects of incarceration on children, and gender inequality in the legal profession. Political scientist Bonnie Honig was honored with the David Easton Award by the Foundation of Political Theory Section of the American Political Science Association for her book, Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy (Princeton University Press). The Easton Award is given for a book that broadens the horizons of contemporary political science by engaging issues of philosophical significance in political science through any of a variety of approaches in the social sciences and humanities.
Research Professor Dylan Penningroth, recipient of a 2012 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship.
In October we were delighted to learn that Research Professor Dylan C. Penningroth had been selected as a 2012 MacArthur Fellow. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” awards provide a $500,000 no-strings attached award to a small number of exceptional individuals each year. Penningroth plans to use the award to expand the scope of his project “Local Courts and African American Life,” which is currently funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. In his research Penningroth uses court records such as docket books and case files from county courts in the United States between 1865 and 1950 to trace African Americans’ surprising relationship with the American legal system pre- and post-slavery. Penningroth is finding that while African-Americans often were being brutalized by law (and lawlessness) during this period, they also actively employed law to get married, get divorced, make contracts, claim property, and establish churches. We see here the early emergence of African-Americans as rights-bearers and rights-users—roles that laid the basis for the 20th century civil rights movement.
In November 2012 the ABF unveiled the public phase of its Pursuing the Promise campaign to endow the Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law as an essential first step in creating a Research Center on Diversity and Law. With the leadership of campaign co-chairs, David Houghton and Jimmy Goodman, the campaign has obtained financial support from the entire Board of the ABF and major gifts from Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Walmart, Kirkland and Ellis, and Sidley Austin. Five distinguished past presidents of the ABA—Dennis Archer, Martha Barnett, Robert Grey, Roberta Cooper Ramo, and Stephen Zack—are serving as honorary co-chairs for the effort. The vision of the campaign is that although the legal profession has struggled to advance diversity for several years, and has made considerable progress on some fronts, much more remains to be done. For progress to continue, rigorous research is necessary to analyze the roots of continuing barriers to diversity and to suggest what policies and practices are most likely to advance diversity.
The ABF is well positioned to lead such an effort. As the leading source of research on the legal profession, the ABF has an established track record of pioneering work in this field. To advance this initiative, the ABF formed the Research Group in Legal Diversity, co-directed by David Wilkins of Harvard, Ronit Dinovitzer of Toronto, and Robert Nelson of ABF, and invited many of the nation’s leading scholars doing empirical research on diversity and law to participate.
The American Bar Foundation Research Group on Legal Diversity met for the first time in May of 2012.
In May the Research Group on Legal Diversity held its first conference, entitled “The Future of Legal Diversity: Kickoff Conference of the Research Group on Legal Diversity” in Chicago. Over the course of two days, thirty presenters and commentators from across the country, representing both practitioners and scholars, shared new data and insights into issues of diversity in the legal profession. Among the many speakers featured at the conference, ABF Affiliated Scholar Monique Payne-Pikus presented research from ABF’s “After the JD” study that showed that women and especially women of color report much higher levels of social isolation in law firms—a pattern that helps explain the higher attrition of those groups from law firms. Columbia Business School Professor Damon Phillips reported research demonstrating that part-time leave policies in law firms do not necessarily result in higher rates of retention or promotion for female associates. UCLA Law Professor Jerry Kang presented findings on the potential role of implicit bias in limiting the career opportunities of minorities and women in law firms and corporate law departments, as well as surprisingly simple ways to reduce the effects of implicit bias in hiring, evaluation, and promotion decisions.
A second conference is scheduled for May 2013. The 2013 conference will be organized around the theme of talent, with a particular interest in how predicting, measuring, developing, promoting, and retaining talent in professional fields intersects with diversity along the lines of race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and religion. Information on the conferences and activities of the Research Group may be found on the ABF website.
Left to right: ABF Director Robert L. Nelson, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Gerald Rosen, Victoria Saker Woeste, Judge Avern Cohn, Marc Kruman, Director of the Center for the Study of Citizenship at Wayne State University, David A. Collins, ABF Board Member and Treasurer
In June ABF celebrated the publication of Research Professor Victoria Saker Woeste’s new book Henry Ford’s War Against Jews and the Legal Battle Against Hate Speech (Stanford University Press) with a book launch event in Detroit, Michigan. Held in the actual courtroom in which the trial of Henry Ford for libel against a leading Jewish attorney took place in 1927, the event featured a presentation by Woeste to an audience of Michigan Fellows.
Access to Civil Justice Workshop attendees participated in break-out sessions to identify the most pressing research projects and strategize on their implementation.
ABF’s research program on access to justice, launched in 2011, moved forward in 2012 with two important initiatives. ABF Faculty Fellow Rebecca Sandefur won a grant from the National Science Foundation to begin the Community Needs and Services Study, an analysis of the problems faced by residents of a mid-sized Midwestern city, and the legal services in that community that do or do not meet those needs. In December Sandefur also convened a Workshop in Chicago – also funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation- where fifty leading scholars and legal services administrators met to discuss new methods and frameworks for conducting research on access to justice.
In April The ABF’s Center on Law and Globalization (a joint effort with the University of Illinois College of Law) convened a conference, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, at the Bellagio Conference Center, Lake Como, Italy, entitled “Discourses on Darfur: Science, Law, Media.” The goal of the conference was to begin to bridge the gaps between the worlds of international criminal law, scholarship and journalism, and to lay a foundation for more effective communication between these groups. The participants included chief prosecutors of international tribunals/courts, journalists from the world’s leading newspapers, and scholars from prominent universities. The conference produced suggestions for how scholars, journalists, and lawyers can collaborate to investigate claims of genocide and crimes against humanity and thereby establish accountability for those responsible for committing such crimes. These proposals will be published in a book of conference proceedings.
Susan Shapiro, left, and colleague Rachel Billow, present to the Fellows CLE Seminar “Your Voice in the Future: The Role of Advance Directives Near the End of Life,” New Orleans, LA, February 2012.
The Midyear Meetings of the American Bar Association held in February in New Orleans, Louisiana, included a Fellows Research Seminar entitled “Your Voice in the Future: The Role of Advance Directives Near the End of Life,” where Research Professor Susan Shapiro and her associate Rachel Billow shared findings from her path-breaking research on surrogate decision-making at the end of life. The session was chaired by Doreen Dodson, Chair of the Fellows of the ABF, and included commentary by attorney and ABF Fellow Robyn S. Shapiro, the Reverend Donald P. Owens, Jr., Ph.D., and Dominique Anwar, M.D. The presentations led to a lively discussion about the tension inherent in the role of law at the end of life – law needs to protect decision makers in the unlikely event that they end up in court, and yet the specific constraints in advance directives can inadvertently create undesirable outcomes for both patients and decision makers.
Left to right: Ryan Green (SRDF, 2000), Debbie Oh (SRDF 2012), Larissa Davis (SRDF 2012), Nikita Korradi (SRDF 2012), ABF Research Professor Stephen Daniels, Merritt Steele (SRDF 2012), Hosea Harvey (SRDF 1994), ABF Director Emeritus Bryant Garth, Erika George (SRDF 1991), ABF Director Robert Nelson
The Montgomery Summer Research Diversity Fellowship program marked its 25th year with a celebration on July 18. In attendance were the 2012 Fellows, Fellows alumni, faculty, staff and ABF Director Robert Nelson and Affiliated Research Professor Bryant Garth. The program offers talented undergraduates from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to spend a summer working closely with an ABF Research Professor on their research and to experience the rewards and challenges of a research-oriented career in law and social science. The program now counts over 100 alumni who are working in the legal academy, law firms, business, government and the non-profit sector. During the academic year, ABF furthered its commitment to the next generation of scholars by hosting three returning and three new doctoral fellows.
Left to right: Karen Ellis, Sarah Morando and Jamie Rowen began their doctoral fellowships at ABF in 2012.
In September ABF was gratified to learn that the National Science Foundation renewed its grant to the joint Law & Society Association/American Bar Foundation program of residential fellowships for doctoral students. This crucial funding will allow ABF to host and mentor a total of eight to twelve promising young scholars in the field of law and social science over the next five years.
ABF Faculty continue to achieve an extraordinary success rate with grant applications to the National Science Foundation. The six applications submitted in 2012 were 100% funded, in comparison to the overall NSF success rate of 23%. Overall, ABF faculty brought in $1,143,648 in outside research funding in fiscal year 2011-2012.