Skip to main content

Laura Beth Nielsen Elected President of the Law and Society Association

November 11, 2020, Press releases

Five former American Bar Foundation scholars also elected to the Class of 2023 Board of Trustees

CHICAGO, Nov. 11, 2020 - Laura Beth Nielsen, American Bar Foundation (ABF) Research Professor and Northwestern University Sociology Professor, has been elected President of the Law and Society Association (LSA). The association announced the results of the 2020 elections on Tuesday, November 10. Nielsen will become LSA’s 32nd president in 2021 and will serve a two-year term.  

“We congratulate Laura Beth Nielsen on being named president of the Law and Society Association, a well-deserved honor that underscores all of her exceptional contributions to the field of sociolegal studies,” said ABF Executive Director Ajay K. Mehrotra. “Everyone at the ABF is confident she will find great success in advancing the entire field of law and society scholarship during her time as LSA president.”

In addition to her role as ABF Research Professor, Nielsen currently is professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University. Her research explores law’s capacity for social change. She studies legal consciousness and the relationship between law and inequalities of race, gender, and class. 

Nielsen is the author of License to Harass: Law, Hierarchy, and Offensive Public Speech (Princeton University Press, 2004), and co-author of Rights on Trial: How Workplace Discrimination Law Perpetuates Inequality (with Ellen Berrey and Robert L. Nelson, University of Chicago Press, 2017). She has also published in The Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Law & Society Review, Law and Social Inquiry, Law and Policy, and leading law reviews. Several major media outlets, including the New York Times, Time Magazine, and the Los Angeles Timeshave featured her work and commentary.

Nielsen has earned numerous LSA awards, including the Stan Wheeler Mentorship Award (2018), Graduate Student Paper Prize (1999), Dissertation Prize (2000), and Article Prize (2002). She has also received grants and awards from the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation.

In addition to voting for a new President and Secretary every two years, LSA members also vote each year to elect a class of eight individuals to serve a three-year term on the Board of Trustees. Five former ABF scholars were named to the Class of 2023 Board of Trustees, including the following four former ABF Doctoral Fellows: Shaun Ossei-Owusu (ABF Doctoral Fellow 2010-12, currently faculty at University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School) as the Class Representative, Ayobami Laniyonu (ABF Doctoral Fellow 2016-18, currently faculty at the University of Toronto), Jeffrey Omari (ABF Doctoral Fellow 2016-18, currently faculty at Northern Illinois University College of Law), and Matthew Shaw (ABF Doctoral Fellow 2015-17, currently faculty at Vanderbilt University). Rachel Moran (law professor at University of California- Irvine School of Law), who served as the 2015-16 ABF Neukom Fellows Research Chair, was also elected to the Class of 2023 Board of Trustees.

“The election of five former ABF scholars to the LSA Board of Trustees is a great accomplishment for the entire ABF organization,” said Mehrotra. “We are proud that these phenomenal scholars spent time with the ABF community, and we look forward to witnessing their continued leadership of empirical and interdisciplinary research and programming.”

Additional elected Trustees included Fabio de Sa e Silva (University of Oklahoma), Linda Mulcahy (University of Oxford), and Alison Renteln (University of Southern California). Eve Darien-Smith (University of California-Irvine) was elected LSA Secretary.

About the American Bar Foundation

The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is among the world’s leading research institutes 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.

About The Law and Society Association

The Law and Society Association is an interdisciplinary scholarly organization committed to social scientific, interpretive, and historical analyses of law across multiple social contexts. For sociolegal scholars, law is not only the words of official documents. Law also can be found in the diverse understandings and practices of people interacting within domains that law governs, in the claims that people make for legal redress of injustices and in the coercive power exercised to enforce lawful order. Sociolegal scholars also address evasions of law, resistance and defiance toward law, and alternatives to law in structuring social relations.

 Find a PDF of the Press Release here

« Return to Press releases

Site design by Webitects

© 2023 American Bar Foundation (
750 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611-4403
(312) 988-6500
Contact Us
Contact the Fellows
Media Contacts
Privacy policy
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in ABF publications are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Bar Foundation or the American Bar Association. The AMERICAN BAR FOUNDATION, ABF and related seal trademarks as used by the American Bar Foundation are owned by the American Bar Association and used under license.