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Rebecca Sandefur

Rebecca Sandefur headshot

Faculty Fellow

Joint appointment

Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Illinois


Ph.D., Sociology University of Chicago

Curriculum vitae


Rebecca L. Sandefur joined the American Bar Foundation in 2010 to found and lead a new access to justice research initiative. She continues to head up this initiative as Faculty Fellow at the…

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Research focus

Access to justice, how legal services are delivered and consumed, how civil legal aid is organized around the nation, the role of pro bono, the efficacy of lawyers and non-lawyers as advocates and representatives, and how ordinary people think about their justice problems and try to solve them


Roles Beyond Lawyers

Latest finding: Oct 13, 2015
Many in the United States who need assistance handling civil justice issues do not obtain it; some call this an “access to justice crisis.” Emerging strategies for responding include new…
Access to Justice
Latest finding: Aug 7, 2013, with Robert L. Nelson, Laura Beth Nielsen
Accessing Justice in Contemporary America: The Community Needs and Services Study
Latest finding: Apr 3, 2012, with Laura Beth Nielsen, Pascoe Pleasence
This community-sited, multi-method study investigates the American public’s experiences with problems that fall within the purview of the civil justice system.

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After the JD III: Third Results from a National Study of Legal Careers (with R. Dinovitzer, B. Garth, G. Plickert, R. Sandefur, J. Sterling & D. Wilkins (American Bar Foundation and NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education, 2014)
American Bar Foundation and NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education
The Face of Access to Justice: Diversity, Debt and Aspiration among American Lawyers in Early Career
Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession 2014 Review: The State of Diversity and Inclusion in
Accessing Justice in the Contemporary USA: Findings from the Community Needs and Services Study
American Bar Foundation

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Nonlawyer Advocates – How Well Do they Do?
Jun 2013
Pervasive Civil Justice Problems, Why People Lack Aid, What’s Done Without It
Apr 2013
Can Lawyers Afford to Do the Public Justice?
Apr 2013

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Professional Service & Recognition

2013 The Hague Visiting Chair in the Rule of Law

Collaborator, Cost of Justice Research Alliance, Canadian Forum on Civil Justice  

Sargent Shriver Civil Right to Counsel Evaluation Committee

Member, Research Advisory Board of the Civil Right to Counsel Leadership and Support Initiative