Skip to main content


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.

Legal Education: Challenges, Changes, and Rhetoric – an Empirical Exploration

Jan 9, 2017, Stephen Daniels, Parts of the project are being done in collaboration with Professor David Thomson, Sturm College of Law, University of Denver, Denver, CO
This project’s objective is straightforward - to follow up on and expand the work of the 2014-15 American Bar Association Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education (Daniels served as the…

Licensed Legal Professionals and the Justice Gap 

Jan 9, 2017, Stephen Daniels, The project is being done in collaboration with Dean and Professor James Bowers, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY
Using nurse practitioners as a reference point this project his two main goals: exploring the role such professionals can play in providing access to justice, and examining the current and past…

Access to Justice

Dec 9, 2016, Rebecca Sandefur
From the founding of the American Bar Foundation, ABF scholars have been deeply engaged with fundamental questions of access to justice. Faculty Fellow Rebecca L. Sandefur's research on access to…

Punishment Regimes and the Multi-Level Effects of Parental Imprisonment: Inter-Institutional, Inter-Generational and Inter-Sectional Models of Inequality and Exclusion 

Oct 24, 2016, John Hagan, Holly Foster
This study is designed to better understand the difference that parental incarceration makes in the life of an adolescent. American incarceration is four times larger than in the 1970s, six to ten…

See all projects »

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.

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  »