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Research

The American Bar Foundation’s (ABF) mission is to serve the legal profession, the public, and the academy through empirical research, publications, and programs that advance justice and the understanding of law. Primary funding for the ABF is provided by the American Bar Endowment (ABE).

The Foundation is committed to broad dissemination of research findings to the organized bar, scholars, and the general public. The results are published in a wide range of forums, including leading academic journals, law reviews, and academic and commercial presses.

Our research falls under three categories:

  • Learning and Practicing Law
  • Protecting Rights and Accessing Justice
  • Making and Implementing Law

Our research program is implemented through projects designed and conducted by our resident research faculty. A research project is undertaken only after completion of a very extensive review process, including review by the external review body, The Wheeler Committee, and by the ABF Board of Directors.


Criminal Defense in China

Terence Halliday, Sida Liu, University of Wisconsin, Department of Sociology and School of Law
Terence Halliday and Sida Liu are completing a National Science Foundation funded research program that studies the development of criminal procedure law and practice in China. The research has…

The Sit-Ins: Protest and Legal Change in the Civil Rights Era 

Christopher Schmidt
This book project is a legal history of the lunch counter sit-in movement of the 1960s. It tells the story of the sit-ins, the events they set in motion, and what they achieved. The central argument…

Access to Justice

Rebecca Sandefur
Since the founding of the American Bar Foundation (ABF), ABF scholars have been deeply engaged with fundamental questions of access to justice. Faculty Fellow, Rebecca L. Sandefur's, research on…

The VAT Laggard: A Comparative History of U.S. Resistance to the Value-added Tax

Ajay K. Mehrotra
This project explores how and why the United States has historically rejected national consumption taxes. Nearly all developed countries, and many in the developing world, have some type of a…

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Research Projects

  • Civil justice
  • Criminal justice
  • Law and globalization
  • Legal history
  • Legal profession
  • Regulation
  • Social justice

Browse our research projects »

Access to Justice

Through a series of innovative empirical research projects, Access to Justice investigates Americans’ experiences with their civil justice problems and the institutions of remedy that exist to serve them. The goal is to produce new knowledge essential for policy makers and service providers as they seek to respond to the legal needs of the public today.

More about Access to Justice »

The Research Group on Legal Diversity

The American Bar Foundation is committed to expanding equity and opportunity within the legal profession and in society at large. The ABF’s Research Group on Legal Diversity lays the groundwork for a larger research program that we will undertake to further our committment to diversity.

More about the Research Group on Legal Diversity  »

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