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Laura Beth Nielsen

Laura Beth Nielsen headshot

Research Professor

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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


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Follow @ProfLBNielsen Laura Beth Nielsen is a Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation, Professor of Sociology and Director of Legal Studies at Northwestern University. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program (Ph.D. 1999) and Boalt Hall School of Law (J.D. 1996). Her primary field is the sociology of law, with…

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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


Contested Constructions of Discrimination

Despite the volume of empirical research about employment civil rights litigation, we know very little about how people come to assess whether workplace experiences are thought to be…

Consent to Sex on Campus

This project is a multi-year, large-scale data collection and analysis phase of a research project about “new” civil rights. Nielsen is studying the impact (if any) of the Obama-era…

Employment Civil Rights

The Employment Civil Rights Project is generating findings on the changing dynamics of employment discrimination litigation, the types of cases that succeed in litigation, and the parties'…

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Cover of Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality
The University of Chicago Press
O direito pensante, o direito pensante em movimento, “Thinking Law, Thinking in Motion,
Revista de Estudos Empíricos em Direito (REED).
Funding the Cause: How Public Interest Law Organizations Fund their Activities and Why it Matters for Social Change
Law and Social Inquiry

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The Procedural Attack on Civil Rights

Nov 13, 2019

Three cases before the Supreme Court this term address attorney fee shifting. The AARP wrote about the cases, quoting Laura Beth Nielsen here. The American Bar Foundation supported research on…

The Case for Restricting Hate Speech

Aug 28, 2019

Read it in the LA times here

Time Magazine - Here's what to Know before you File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Aug 28, 2019

By Laura Beth Nielsen & Ellen Berrey. Read it here.

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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

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Professional Service & Recognition

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