Michael McCann, Professor Emeritus and the former Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship at the University of Washington, has been honored with the 2024 Outstanding Scholar Award from the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation (ABF). McCann will be recognized during the 68th Annual Fellows Awards Reception and Banquet, which will be held in Louisville on February 3.
The Outstanding Scholar Award is given annually to an individual who has engaged in outstanding scholarship in law or government. This year, the ABF recognizes McCann for his commitment to the study of social justice and human rights, as well as his steadfast leadership at the University of Washington.
“We deeply appreciate Michael McCann’s commitment to social justice and human rights throughout his career, which has left an indelible mark on the field,” said ABF Fellows National Chair Laura V. Farber. “His leadership and his dedication to fostering a community of engaged scholars has set a high standard of excellence. Further, his prolific research on human rights–based struggles has significantly advanced our understanding of these crucial issues. We are honored to recognize Michael McCann with this award.”
McCann’s research focuses on the politics of rights-based struggles for social justice, with an emphasis on challenges to race, gender, and class hierarchies at work. He also was an important figure in the interpretive turn toward scholarly analysis of legal discourse as a constitutive form of power. McCann is author of over seventy article-length publications and author, coauthor, editor, or coeditor of eight books, including Rights at Work: Pay Equity Reform and the Politics of Legal Mobilization (Chicago, 1994) and Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis (Chicago, 2004) (with William Haltom). Both books have won multiple professional awards. His most recent book, with George Lovell, is titled Union by Law: Filipino American Labor Activists, Rights Radicalism, and Racial Capitalism (Chicago, 2020).
McCann was the leading architect and director of the Law, Societies, and Justice program as well as the Comparative Law and Society Studies (CLASS) Center at the University of Washington. He also served two terms as director of UW’s Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, a center of publicly engaged scholars who address issues of working-class people around the world.
McCann has been recognized with awards and scholarships throughout his career, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (2008), a Law and Public Affairs Program Fellowship at Princeton (2011-12), the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award (1989), the Stanton Wheeler Mentorship Award from the Law & Society Association (2014), and the Harry J. Kalven Prize from the Law & Society Association (2023).
“I am very grateful, humbled, and yet also surprised by this recognition,” said McCann. “I have never viewed myself or my contributions to engaged legal scholarship in the same league as previous awardees. That said, as a social scientist long committed to studying and critically assessing struggles for social justice on legal terrain, I have found the ABF to be an extraordinary research community. Participating on the Wheeler Research Committee for many years in particular has left me deeply impressed with the rigor and social value of legal research that the ABF supports, directly and indirectly. I consider my involvement in many aspects of ABF work an honor as well as a source of intellectual excitement.”
About the American Bar Foundation
The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is the world’s leading research institute for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law. The ABF seeks to expand knowledge and advance justice through innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions. To further this mission the ABF will produce timely, cutting-edge research of the highest quality to inform and guide the legal profession, the academy, and society in the United States and internationally. The ABF’s primary funding is provided by the American Bar Endowment and the Fellows of The American Bar Foundation.