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American Bar Foundation Scholars Win Major Honors from Law and Society Association

June 7, 2011, Press releases


Bryant G. Garth receives Herbert Jacob Best Book Prize and Christopher L. Tomlins receives J. Willard Hurst Legal History Prize at June 4 ceremony in San Francisco

CHICAGO, IL June 6, 2011 – Two American Bar Foundation scholars are recipients of major prizes from the Law and Society Association.  ABF Director Emeritus, Bryant G. Garth, with co-author, Yves Dezalay, has won the 2011 Herbert Jacob Book Prize, and Christopher L. Tomlins, ABF Research Professor Emeritus, has won The J. Willard Hurst Prize. The awards were presented at the annual meeting of the Law and Society Association on June 4 in San Francisco.

The Herbert Jacob Book Prize, awarded annually, recognizes new, outstanding work in law and society scholarship. Garth and Dezalay were honored for their book, Asian Legal Revivals (University of Chicago Press, 2010), an analysis of the increasing importance of the positions of  law and lawyers in South and Southeast Asia. Encompassing fieldwork from over 350 interviews, Asian Legal Revivals examines the more recent past and present of legally changing nations in South and Southeast Asia and explains the profession’s recent revival of influence, as spurred on by American geopolitical and legal interests.

The J. Willard Hurst Prize is given annually by the Law and Society Association for the best work in sociolegal history published in the previous year. Tomlins was honored for his book, Freedom Bound; Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580–1865(Cambridge University Press, 2010). Freedom Bound is a comprehensive history of American law, and labor, and examines the concept of civic identity from the beginnings of English presence on the mainland until the Civil War. Freedom Bound has also captured the prestigious 2011 Bancroft Prize and in 2010 was named among The Atlantic’s “Books of the Year.”


Other American Bar Foundation affiliated scholars also received honors from the Law and Society Association. Joseph  A. Conti, former American Bar Foundation doctoral fellow, received the 2011 Law and Society Association Article Prize for his article, “Learning to Dispute: Repeat Participation, Expertise, and Reputation at the World Trade Organization.” The prize recognizes exceptional scholarship in the field of sociolegal studies for an article published in the previous two years. Co-authors Jay D. Aronson and Simon A. Cole received Honorable Mention for their article, “Science and the Death Penalty: DNA, Innocence, and the Debate over Capital Punishment in the United States.”  Both articles were published in Law and Social Inquiry, The Journal of the American Bar Foundation, in 2010 and 2009, respectively.

New American Bar Foundation research professor Jothie Rajah received  Honorable Mention in the Law and Society Dissertation Prize category for her dissertation, “Legislating Illiberalism: Law, Discourse & Legitimacy in Singapore.”

“We are extremely proud of the ABF scholars’ extraordinary achievements this year,” said Robert L. Nelson, American Bar Foundation Director. He added, “These honors by the Law and Society Association are especially meaningful, as they at once recognize important work by ABF scholars at the height of their academic careers, and the work of those scholars who are emerging as leaders in their respective fields of study. We offer congratulations to all our honorees.”

 The American Bar Foundation is the nation’s leading research institute for the empirical study of law.  An independent, nonprofit organization for more than fifty years, the ABF has advanced the understanding and improvement of law through research projects of unmatched scale and quality on the most pressing issues facing the legal system in the United States and the world.

Contact:         Lucinda Underwood


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