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The Research Group on Legal Diversity

From left to right: Research Group Co-Director David Wilkins, ABF Director Robert Nelson, ABF Board President Judge Bernice Donald, Research Group Co-Director Ronit Dinovitzer, and ABF Fellows Chair Myles Lynk

The American Bar Foundation is committed to expanding equity and opportunity within the legal profession and in society at large.  It pursues this goal in the selection of its leadership, the hiring of its research faculty and professional staff, through undergraduate and doctoral fellowship programs that reach out to students from diverse social groups, through the recruitment and selection of Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, and through several research projects that examine issues of equity and opportunity.

Allstate General Counsel Susie Lees with Jimmy Goodman of Crowe & Dunlevy

Building on this commitment to diversity and the American Bar Foundation’s position as the preeminent research institute for the empirical study of law, the Research Group on Legal Diversity was established in 2011 to examine trends in diversity in the legal profession and other institutions of justice, as well as the impact of diversity on legal processes and institutions. 

The Research Group’s co-directors — Robert Nelson, David Wilkins, and Ronit Dinovitzer — are all centrally involved in After the JD, the ABF’s national study of lawyers’ careers, and have published seminal research including “Why Are ­There So Few Black Lawyers in Corporate Law Firms?” (Wilkins), Urban Lawyers: ­ The New Social Structure of the Bar (Heinz, Nelson, et al), and “The Differential Valuation of Women’s Work: A New Look at the Gender Gap in Lawyers’ Incomes” (Dinovitzer).

Peggy Davis of the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, Barack Echols of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and Gerald Pauling of Seyfarth Shaw LLP

As an essential first step toward the goals of the Research Group in Legal Diversity, the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation sought to endow a Research Chair in Diversity and Law through a $1.5 million fundraising campaign. As of December 2012, the American Bar Foundation is on track to fully fund the Research Chair following a major gift from William H. Neukom, President and CEO of the World Justice Project. In recognition of Mr. Neukom’s generous contribution to the campaign, the Research Chair was officially named the William H. Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law.

For more information about how you can support the Research Group on Diversity and Law, please visit our giving page, contact Robert L. Nelson, Director of the American Bar Foundation, at , or contact Lucinda Underwood, Director of Communications and Development, at .

Member scholars and practitioner-leaders: click here to access password-protected materials.