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Laura Beth Nielsen

Laura Beth Nielsen headshot

Research Professor

Joint appointment

Professor of Sociology and Law, Director of Legal Studies, Northwestern University


Ph.D., Jurisprudence & Social Policy, University of California, Berkeley; J.D., University of California, Berkeley

Curriculum vitae


View video of Laura Beth Nielsen


Follow @ProfLBNielsen // Laura Beth Nielsen is a Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation, Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of Legal Studies at Northwestern University. She…

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Research focus

The sociology of law, with particular interests in legal consciousness and the relationship between law and inequalities of race, gender, and class, civil rights generally and employment civil rights in particular


Access to Justice
Latest finding: Aug 7, 2013, with Robert L. Nelson, Rebecca Sandefur
Contested Constructions of Discrimination
Latest finding: Dec 12, 2012, with Jill D. Weinberg , Jeremy Freese
Contested Constructions uses experimental research to investigate how judges and laypeople define employment discrimination and perceptions of the legal system as the appropriate forum to adjudicate…
Employment Discrimination Litigation
Latest finding: Dec 12, 2012, with Robert L. Nelson, Ryon Lancaster, John Donohue III, Peter Siegelman
At the center of current debates about the role of anti-discrimination law in American society is the system of discrimination litigation. Despite the sheer magnitude of changes in employment…

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"Race and Representation: Racial Disparities in Legal Representation for Employment Civil Rights Plaintiffs"
New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy
"Situated Justice: A Contextual Analysis of Fairness and Inequality in Employment Discrimination Litigation"
Law & Society Review
"Examining Empathy: Discrimination, Experience, and Judicial Decisionmaking"
University of Southern California Law Review

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Panel Presentation, “Determining Discrimination: The Effect of Race and Political Ideology in Evaluations of Workplace Disputes”
May 2013
Presidential Panel, “The Future of Graduate Programming in the Social Sciences”
May 2013
Invited Presentation, “Race and Representation: Racial Disparities in Legal Representation for Employment Civil Rights Plaintiffs”
Jan 2013

All presentations »

Professional Service & Recognition

  • Advisory Panel, National Public Radio, The Life of the Law
  • Secretary, Law and Society Association
  • Editor, Law & Social Inquiry
  • Director, Northwestern University, Center for Legal Studies
  • External Grant Committee Chair, Law & Society Association
  • Elected Member, Sociology of Law Council, American Sociological Association