Skip to main content


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.

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…

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…

Globalization of Law and Markets

Terence Halliday
This longstanding research program examines the ways global institutions create law for world trade and shape national markets. The most recently completed project studied interactions among global,…

Criminal Defense in China

Terence Halliday, Sida Liu, University of Toronto
Terence Halliday and Sida Liu completed a National Science Foundation funded research project that studied the development of criminal procedure law and practice in China between 2005 and 2015. The…

See all projects »

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  »

Site design by Webitects

© 2019 American Bar Foundation (
750 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611-4403
(312) 988-6500
Contact Us
Media Contacts
Privacy policy
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in ABF publications are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Bar Foundation or the American Bar Association. The AMERICAN BAR FOUNDATION, ABF and related seal trademarks as used by the American Bar Foundation are owned by the American Bar Association and used under license.