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Research

The American Bar Foundation’s 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 and its impact on society. Primary funding for the ABF is provided by the American Bar Endowment.

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 program is implemented through the projects designed and conducted by the 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.


Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865
Sep 25, 2012, Christopher L. Tomlins
Freedom Bound, published September 2010, is the end product of a project of research that has examined the legal history of work and labor, the history of colonizing, and the construction of civic…
Optimizing the Jury Instruction Process
Apr 18, 2012, Shari Seidman Diamond, Elizabeth L. Murphy
This project studies approaches courts can use in revising jury instructions.

After Tenure:  Senior Status in the Legal Academy

Nov 2, 2014, Elizabeth Mertz, Katherine Barnes, University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law; Wamucii Njogu, Northeastern Illinois University
This is the first national study examining the post-tenure experiences of law professors in the United States. Tenured law professors shape many aspects of the institutional settings within law…
Accessing Justice in Contemporary America: The Community Needs and Services Study
Apr 3, 2012, Laura Beth Nielsen, Rebecca Sandefur, 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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Current projects

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

Browse our current 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.

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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  »