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History and Culture

The Honorable Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, speaks at the Bar Center dedication in Rockefeller Chapel on August 19, 1954.

Since its founding in 1952, the American Bar Foundation has become the preeminent institute for empirical research fundamental to legal institutions and legal processes. It has achieved this preeminence by supporting independent research that combines the best tools of social science analysis with a variety of intellectual perspectives associated with disciplines ranging from law, economics, political science and history to sociology, psychology and anthropology.

Today, ABF Research faculty are among the leading scholars in all of these disciplines, serving as intellectual leaders and respected experts in several fields of law and social science. They have garnered such honors as the Nobel Prize in Economics, the Stockholm Prize in Criminology, elections to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science, the MacArthur Genius Awards, the Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, and the Bancroft Prize.

While the ABF draws upon the talents of leading scholars in their fields, it is equally important that these scholars use their talents to understand legal phenomena as they affect real people and events. The ABF is a source of research that is shaping law and policy, and our projects frequently produce findings that are relevant to the legal profession and of more general importance to our society. Our faculty participate in national and international media discussions of current events and policy debates, and their research has been featured or cited in many media outlets.

The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, receives The Fellows annual award for outstanding research in law and government from Marna Tucker, Vice-Chair of The Fellows, 1995 Annual Meeting.

The ABF also fosters a robust intellectual community, hosting several programs that support the next generation of law and society scholars and practitioners. Our doctoral and postdoctoral fellowship programs serve as an incubator for such scholars, as our fellows go on to faculty and leadership positions in leading universities. Our undergraduate summer research program responds to the critical need to increase diversity in the educational pipeline leading to the profession.  Law & Social Inquiry, the ABF’s quarterly, peer-reviewed scholarly journal of international standing, examines pressing socio-legal issues across multiple disciplines.

Key to the strength of the ABF is the ongoing and significant financial support generously provided by the American Bar Endowment (ABE) and the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation.


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