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Research Projects

Civil justice

Access to Justice

Author: 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 Future of Latinos in the United States: Law, Opportunity, and Mobility

Authors: Robert L. Nelson, Rachel F. Moran
To learn more about our Future of Latinos project, please visit: "The Future of Latinos in the United States: Law, Opportunity, and Mobility" has three goals: 1) To advance…

Employment Civil Rights

Authors: Robert L. Nelson, Laura Beth Nielsen, Ronit Dinovitzer
The Employment Civil Rights Project is generating findings on the changing dynamics of employment discrimination litigation, the types of cases that succeed in litigation, and the parties'…
The Heckman Equation
Author: James J. Heckman
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…

Criminal justice

Criminal Defense in China

Authors: 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…

Parental Incarceration

Authors: 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…

Law and globalization

Globalization of Law and Markets

Author: 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,…

World Justice Project

Authors: James J. Heckman, Robert L. Nelson
The World Justice Project (WJP) is a multinational, multidisciplinary initiative to strengthen the rule of law worldwide. It is building a broad and diverse constituency that will advance the rule of…

Legal history

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

Author: 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…

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

Author: 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…

New Legal Realism

Author: Elizabeth Mertz
The New Legal Realism (NLR) Project's goal is to develop rigorous, genuinely interdisciplinary approaches to the empirical study of law. Initially sponsored by the American Bar Foundation and the…

Legal profession

Portrait Project 2.0

Authors: Hon. Goodwin Liu , Ajay K. Mehrotra , NAPABA , Yale Law School , Northwestern Law School , Asian American Bar Association of the Bay Area , Asian American Bar Association of Silicon Valley
Asian Americans are a growing presence in all sectors of the legal profession. They work in BigLaw and in smaller firms and solo practice, and as government attorneys, corporate counsel, prosecutors,…

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
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…

Research Group on Legal Diversity

Authors: Robert L. Nelson, Ronit Dinovitzer
The American Bar Foundation is committed to expanding equity and opportunity within the legal profession and in society at large. It pursues this goal in the selection of its leadership, the hiring…

After the JD

Authors: Bryant G. Garth, Robert L. Nelson, Ronit Dinovitzer, Gabriele Plickert, Joyce Sterling
The After the JD (AJD) project is the first and most ambitious effort to gather systematic, detailed data about the careers and experiences of a national cross-section of law graduates. It follows a…


Trust 2.0: Law, Social Control, and New Technologies of Trust

Author: Susan P. Shapiro
Observers of the world of trust or fiduciary relationships have identified an evolution from institutional trust-which flows upward from individuals to states, organizations, and third parties-to…

Public Opinion, Private Governance, and the Influence of Source Credibility

Authors: Janice Nadler, David A. Dana, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
In this project, we seek to explore whether corporate endorsements and implementations of practices influence public support for legislation and regulation that would generally mandate such…

Surrogate Decisionmaking at the End of Life: An Observational Study

Author: Susan P. Shapiro
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…

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