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Current projects

Civil justice

Access to Justice
Authors: Robert L. Nelson, Laura Beth Nielsen, Rebecca Sandefur, Updated Aug 7, 2013
The Heckman Equation
Author: James J. Heckman, Updated Nov 30, 2012
Research. Data. Lectures. Advocacy. The resources on The Heckman Equation promote the value of investing in early childhood development. Click here to visit the site. See also: The Heckman…
It's Deja Vu All Over Again: Plaintiff's Lawyers and the Evolution of Tort Law and Practice in Texas
Authors: Stephen Daniels, Joanne Martin, Updated Oct 31, 2012
This project is examining the effects of tort reform on plaintiffs’ lawyers’ practices in Texas. Recognizing that these lawyers are the gatekeepers of the civil justice system and that…
Optimizing the Jury Instruction Process
Authors: Shari Seidman Diamond, Elizabeth L. Murphy, Updated Apr 18, 2012
This project studies approaches courts can use in revising jury instructions.
Accessing Justice in Contemporary America: The Community Needs and Services Study
Authors: Laura Beth Nielsen, Rebecca Sandefur, Pascoe Pleasence, Updated Apr 3, 2012
This community-sited, multi-method study investigates the American public’s experiences with problems that fall within the purview of the civil justice system.
The Legal Complex and Struggles for Political Liberalism
Author: Terence Halliday, Updated Mar 2, 2012
Understanding the foundations of political liberalism has become one of most critical issues of the past fifteen years. Countries that are not democracies or that are in transition face global…
Conceptualizing, Contextualizing, and Testing the Effects of the Rule of Law
Authors: Robert L. Nelson, Tom Ginsburg, Updated Dec 29, 2011
Using a mix of methodologies, this project seeks to identify the conditional mechanisms under which the rule of law produces its desired results. First, the project exploits its unique access to the…
Building on the Arizona Filming Project
Authors: Shari Seidman Diamond, Mary R. Rose, Updated Sep 10, 2008
A variety of studies have been conducted based upon the deliberations of jurors in the 50 civil trials in the Arizona Filming Project. Ongoing studies are focusing on how juries handle comparative…
Public Interest Law Firms
Authors: Laura Beth Nielsen, Catherine R. Albiston, Updated Feb 21, 2008
Using a multi-method research design, this project investigates how lawyers in public interest law organizations (PILOs) conceptualize and pursue their goals. At the organizational level of analysis,…
The Social Psychological Role of Subjective Harm in Punishment
Author: Mary R. Rose, Updated Jan 23, 2008
This research investigates the factors that play a psychological role in laypersons’ decisions about justice and responsibility. In criminal cases jurors sometimes hear, by way of victim impact…
Expressive Law
Authors: Janice Nadler, Richard McAdams, Updated Jan 23, 2008
This project seeks to understand empirically the effects that law has apart from sanctions that it imposes. It tests experimentally the theory that law influences behavior in coordination games with…
Condemn-Nation: The Social Psychological Foundations of the Kelo Backlash
Authors: Shari Seidman Diamond, Janice Nadler, Updated Jan 23, 2008
This project seeks to understand and explain the extreme public reaction to the Kelo case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that governments are permitted to force the sale of private property…
Public Opinion and the Civil Justice System
Authors: , Updated Jan 22, 2008
What do people think of the civil justice system? This project seeks to answer that question against the backdrop of the politics of tort reform and the changes in the law that have resulted from the…

Criminal justice

Imprisonment and Neighborhood Political Participation
Author: Traci Burch, Updated Jan 13, 2014
This project explores the impact of mass imprisonment and other aspects of the criminal justice system on political behavior. A book stemming from the project, entitled Trading Democracy for…
Capabilities and Self-control: Implications for Crime, Health and the Law
Author: James J. Heckman, Updated Mar 6, 2013
This project researches the economics and psychology of capabilities with an emphasis on self-control with a particular focus on the effects of self-control on crime and health. The research…
Home Foreclosures and Criminal Violence
Authors: John Hagan, Andrea Cann Chandrasekher, Updated Mar 5, 2013
This is a study of the patterning of bank foreclosures in Chicago and the possible relationship of foreclosures to neighborhood increases in person and property crime.
Punishment Regimes and the Multi-Level Effects of Parental Imprisonment: Inter-Institutional, Inter-Generational and Inter-Sectional Models of Inequality and Exclusion 
Authors: John Hagan, Holly Foster, Updated Mar 5, 2013
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…
Criminal Defense in China
Authors: Terence Halliday, Sida Liu, University of Wisconsin, Department of Sociology and School of Law, Updated Jun 15, 2011
Terence Halliday and Sida Liu are conducting a National Science Foundation funded research program (2009-2012) that studies the development of criminal procedure law in China. The research has three…
Moral Judgment and the Psychology of Legal Blame
Author: Janice Nadler, Updated Jun 7, 2011
In this project, I propose to conduct a series of experiments to map the contours ofpsychological blame, as it is influenced by the wrongdoer’s motive, the wrongdoer’s character, and…
Explaining Death and Atrocity in Darfur
Authors: John Hagan, Alberto Palloni, Updated Feb 9, 2009
Drawing on a unique set of data - interviews with refugees - this project is examining empirically the claims of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. It will provide an objective and…
Parental Incarceration and Intergenerational Social Exclusion: “The Long Arm of the Law”
Authors: John Hagan, Holly Foster, Updated Jan 23, 2008
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…
Popular Justice, Communal Violence, and Alternative Policing in the New South Africa (2004-2008)
Authors: John Comaroff, Jean Comaroff, Updated Jan 22, 2008
South Africa is currently beset by so-called “vigilantism,” a term that covers a range of different kinds of “alternative” policing, retributive violence, and popular justice,…

Law and globalization

Punctuated Globalization:  Law, Institutionalization, and Globalization in Medicine and Health Care
Author: Carol A. Heimer, Updated Jan 29, 2014
This project will use the case of medicine and health care to look closely at how developments in law affect globalization. The legal regulation of health care is a useful arena in which to…
Global Legislators: The Making of International Trade Law
Authors: Terence Halliday, Susan Block-Lieb, Updated Mar 5, 2013
This book project provides an empirically-based analysis of how global norms are produced for international trade law, which states or non-state organizations are the most influential shapers of…
Crime, War and Wealth in Pre-and Post-Invasion Iraq
Author: John Hagan, Updated Mar 5, 2013
The U.S. led invasion and occupation of Iraq by Coalition forces coincided with a transformation in crimes against persons and property. Drawing on three data sets outlining the experiences of a…
Global Norms for the Rule of Law
Author: Jothie Rajah, Updated Dec 29, 2011
This study analyses the different ways in which global institutional actors (the UN, the World Bank, the International Commission of Jurists, the World Justice Project) define ‘rule of…
Globalization of Law and Markets
Author: Terence Halliday, Updated Jun 15, 2011
In the wake of the global financial crisis of 2008/2009, Stanford University Press published the prize-winning Bankrupt: Global Lawmaking and Systemic Financial Crisis. Authors Terence Halliday and…
Globalization of Law and Basic Legal Freedoms
Author: Terence Halliday, Updated Sep 5, 2008
Across the world basic legal freedoms are being fought for, consolidated, and defended. That is the case for nations that have never enjoyed those freedoms, for nations that have advanced towards and…
World Justice Project
Author: James J. Heckman, Updated Apr 23, 2008
The World Justice Project, sponsored by the American Bar Association, seeks to broaden and institutionalize the network of organizations and individuals committed to advancing the rule of law. The…
The Legal Transformation of Medicine: How Rules Work in the International World of HIV/AIDS
Author: Carol A. Heimer, Updated Jan 23, 2008
This book project braids together investigations of three transformative events - the “legalization” and internationalization of medicine and the advent of HIV/AIDS - in a study of how…
International Strategies, Law, and the Reconstruction of Asian States
Authors: Bryant G. Garth, Yves Desalay, Updated Jan 23, 2008
Lawyers and the Construction of the Rule of Law: National and Transnational Processes
Authors: Bryant G. Garth, Yves Dezalay, Updated Jan 23, 2008

Legal history

The New Legal Realism
Authors: Elizabeth Mertz, University of California at Irvine School of Law, University of Wisconsin Institute for Legal Studies, Emory University School of Law, Updated Apr 5, 2014
Building from the considerable expertise of the American Bar Foundation, the New Legal Realism Project promotes improved interdisciplinary communication among law professors, lawyers, and social…
The Sit-Ins: Protest, Law, and Social Change
Author: Christopher Schmidt, Updated Feb 3, 2014
This book project is a legal history of the lunch counter sit-in movement of 1960s. It tells the story of the sit-ins, the events they set in motion, and what they achieved. The central argument is…
Local Courts and African American Life, 1865-1930
Author: Dylan C. Penningroth, Updated Mar 8, 2013
This book project seeks to describe and analyze African Americans’ participation in law at the local level from the Civil War to the beginnings of the modern civil rights movement. It combines…
Suing Henry Ford: America's First Hate Speech Case
Author: Victoria Saker Woeste, Updated Oct 19, 2012
This project examines a well-known event in the life of Henry Ford -- a 1927 federal libel lawsuit against him and his antisemitic newspaper -- from the perspective of the people who sought to stop…
Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865
Author: Christopher L. Tomlins, Updated Sep 25, 2012
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…
Creating Brown v. Board of Education: Ideology and Constitutional Change, 1944-2007
Author: Christopher Schmidt, Updated Dec 29, 2011
This book offers a kind of biography of the Supreme Court’s most famous decision. It begins with Brown’s origins in the distinctive atmosphere of post-World War II racial liberalism, and…
The Cambridge History of Law in America
Authors: Christopher L. Tomlins, Michael Grossberg, Updated May 17, 2008
In 2001, the American Bar Foundation pledged resources to support the production of a multi-volume, multi-contributor history of law in America to be published by Cambridge University Press. The…
Legacies of Slavery in Early-twentieth-century Gold Coast Africa
Author: Dylan C. Penningroth, Updated Jan 24, 2008
The histories of Ghana and the U.S. South during the nineteenth century were significantly shaped by debates about the claims that slaves and their descendants made to kinship and to the products of…
Law and Everyday Life among Black Southerners
Author: Dylan C. Penningroth, Updated Jan 24, 2008
This study focuses on husband-wife relations, the rise of the independent black church, migration, and the interaction between legal categories and popular conceptions such as respectability and…
The People's Government: Law and the Creation of a Modern American State, 1877-1932
Author: William J. Novak, Updated Jan 24, 2008
This project is the second installment in a more long term effort to write a legal history of the American State and Police Power from the American Revolution to the present. The first segment of…

Legal profession

The Language of Law School

Author: Elizabeth Mertz, Updated Apr 7, 2014
This project, funded by the American Bar Foundation and the Spencer Foundation, examined the language of first-year law school classrooms. Employing an innovative empirical design, the study used…

After Tenure:  Senior Status in the Legal Academy

Authors: Elizabeth Mertz, Katherine Barnes, University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law; Wamucii Njogu, Northeastern Illinois University, Updated Apr 7, 2014
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…
After Tenure:  Senior Status in the Legal Academy
Authors: , Updated Apr 4, 2014
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…
 A Cohort Study of the Global Economic Recession and the Early Careers of Women and Men Lawyers in New York City 
Authors: John Hagan, Gabriele Plickert, Patricia Parker, Updated Feb 5, 2014
Early Post-Law School Careers of Women and Men Lawyers in U.S. and German Cities
Authors: John Hagan, Gabriele Plickert, Hans Merkens, Patricia Parker, Updated Feb 5, 2014
International Study of Lawyers Berlin - Frankfurt am Main - New York City - Washington D.C. Free University Berlin and Law Associations of Berlin and Frankfurt Internationale…
Lawyers in the Pursuit of Basic Legal Rights: Criminal Defense in China
Authors: Terence Halliday, Sida Liu, Updated Oct 2, 2013
This project examines lawyers’ political mobilization in the Chinese criminal justice system. Building on a large cross-national research project on lawyers and political liberalism, we use the…
Networks among Lawyers Active in National Policymaking
Authors: John P. Heinz, Ann Southworth , Anthony Paik, Updated Mar 6, 2013
This study examines the networks of relationships among lawyers engaged in a broad range of political issues, including abortion, gun control, judicial selection, eminent domain, bankruptcy, medical…
From Law School to Later Life
Authors: John Hagan, Fiona Kay and Ronald J. Daniels, Updated Dec 14, 2012
The purpose of this research is to increase our understanding of how the large-scale entry of women with men into the profession in the last quarter of the 20th century has changed both the…
After the JD
Authors: Bryant G. Garth, Robert L. Nelson, Ronit Dinovitzer, Gabriele Plickert, Joyce Sterling, Updated Oct 19, 2012
The After the JD (AJD) project is an empirical study of the career outcomes of a cohort of almost 5,000 new lawyers, offering both a nationally representative picture of lawyer career trajectories…
Urban Lawyers: The New Social Structure of the Bar
Authors: John P. Heinz, Robert L. Nelson, John P. Heinz, Robert L. Nelson, Rebecca L. Sandefur and Edward O. Laumann, Updated Sep 24, 2008
Published by The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 2005 Over the past several decades, the number of lawyers in large cities has doubled, women have entered the bar at an…
Corporate Purchasing of Legal Services
Author: Ryon Lancaster, Updated Feb 11, 2008
This project, which is a collaborative effort with the Program on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, examines the processes by which large corporations, and in particular the general…
Lawyers of the Right, Networks and Organization
Authors: John P. Heinz, Anthony Paik , Ann Southworth, Updated Jan 23, 2008
Lawyers for conservative and libertarian causes are active in organizing interest groups within the conservative coalition, and networks of relationships among those lawyers help to maintain and…
A Peace Corps for Lawyers: From Legal Services to the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative
Authors: John Hagan, Ron Levi, Updated Jan 23, 2008
This project is an historical and empirical study of the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI) and its life course implications for its voluntary lawyer participants. It represents…


Surrogate Decisionmaking at the End of Life: An Observational Study
Author: Susan P. Shapiro, Updated Oct 18, 2012
The most significant “life-and-death” decisions of our lives - literally - are overwhelmingly made by others who act on our behalf when we are not competent to make our own medical…
The Impact of Banks, Regulation, and Taxes on the Survival and Operation of Entrepreneurial Ventures
Author: Austan Goolsbee, Updated Dec 1, 2008
This project is using confidential data from the U.S. Census about the characteristics of entrepreneurs and small business owners to examine the impact of tax and other policies on the operation of…

Social justice

Speech and Civil Rights in the Post World War II Era
Author: Victoria Saker Woeste, Updated Mar 8, 2013
This project explores the relationship between hate speech regulation, school desegregation, and public housing desegregation laws in Midwestern U.S. cities after 1945.
The Effects of Land Restitution in South Africa: A Qualitative Study
Author: Bernadette Atuahene, Updated Feb 21, 2013
Under the South African Restitution of Land Rights Act (LRA), only those dispossessed of a “right in land after 1913 as a result of a racially discriminatory law or practice” are eligible…
Contested Constructions of Discrimination
Authors: Laura Beth Nielsen, Jill D. Weinberg , Jeremy Freese, Updated Dec 12, 2012
Contested Constructions uses experimental research to investigate how judges and laypeople define employment discrimination and perceptions of the legal system as the appropriate forum to adjudicate…
Employment Discrimination Litigation
Authors: Robert L. Nelson, Laura Beth Nielsen, Ryon Lancaster, John Donohue III, Peter Siegelman, Updated Dec 12, 2012
At the center of current debates about the role of anti-discrimination law in American society is the system of discrimination litigation. Despite the sheer magnitude of changes in employment…
Pursuing Law’s Promise: Researching Access to Justice in 21st Century America
Authors: Robert L. Nelson, Laura Beth Nielsen, Aaron C. Smyth, Updated Apr 3, 2012
Through a series of innovative empirical research projects, Pursuing Law’s Promise investigates Americans’ experiences with their civil justice problems and the institutions of remedy…
The Lawyer Statistical Report
Author: Barbara A. Curran, Updated Feb 9, 2012
The Lawyer Statistical Report, which has been an early and continuing publication in cooperation with Martindale-Hubbell, provides a profile of the legal profession and data on its composition and…
Antigone, Interrupted (in development)
Author: Bonnie Honig, Updated Dec 22, 2009
This project is in development. It will be a book about the ways in which Antigone, the heroine of Sophocles' famous 5th centruy play and a nearly universal figure of civil disobedience admired…
Imprisonment and Neighborhood Political Participation
Author: Traci Burch, Updated Oct 5, 2009
By 2007, more than 2.25 million people were in prison in the United States. In an election year where every vote counts and our political system seems poised for a dramatic change, it is imperative…
Cause Lawyering in Context
Authors: Laura Beth Nielsen, Catherine Albiston, Updated Feb 12, 2008
The Constraints and Opportunities of Practicing Public Law in Public Interest Law firms will provide an unprecedented, empirical portrait of a national sample of the public interest bar. Aenean eros…
Legal Services for the Poor: A Supply Side Analysis
Author: Joanne Martin, Updated Jan 23, 2008
Providing adequate legal services to the poor is a perennial problem. Typically, it is addressed in terms of the amount of unmet demand. Little attention, however, is paid to the supply side of the…
Measuring the Impact of Crack Cocaine
Authors: Steven D. Levitt, Roland Fryer, Updated Jan 23, 2008
This project is developing a statistical index to measure the extent to which crack cocaine can account for the adverse trends in many indicators of African American progress in major urban areas…
The Foundation and Application of Disparate Impact Doctrine
Author: James J. Heckman, Updated Jan 23, 2008
The goals of this project include (1) the development of models and methods for detecting discrimination due to disparate treatment and disparate impact; (2) the examination of the extension of…