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Robert L. Nelson

Robert L. Nelson is the Director Emeritus of the American Bar Foundation, the MacCrate Research Chair in the Legal Profession at the ABF, and professor of sociology and law at Northwestern University.  He holds a J.D. and Ph.D. in sociology, both from Northwestern, and has held several positions of academic leadership throughout his career.  He is a leading scholar in the fields of the legal profession and discrimination law.  He has authored or edited eight books and numerous articles, including Diversity in Practice: Race Gender, and Class in Legal and Professional Careers, Legalizing Gender Inequality, which won the prize for best book in sociology in 2001, and Urban Lawyers: The New Social Structure of the Bar, co-authored with John Heinz, Edward Laumann, and Rebecca Sandefur, which was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2005. 

His current research includes After the JD, a national study of the careers of lawyers, which is tracking the entering bar class of 2000 for the first 12 years of their careers (with several collaborators);  the Future of Latinos in the United States: Law, Opportunity, and Mobility (with Rachel Moran); and the Changing Dynamics of Employment Discrimination project, which examines a large national sample of federal court filings between 1988 to present and has interviewed parties and their lawyers about their experiences in these cases (with Laura Beth Nielsen and Ellen Berrey). The findings from this research will appear in Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality, c0-authored by Nielsen and Berrey, which will be published by the University of Chicago Press in June 2017. He is co-director of the ABF’s Research Group on Legal Diversity.  

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