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ABF Scholars Win LSA Awards for their Outstanding Contributions to Law and Society Research

July 13, 2022, Press releases

ABF Scholars Win LSA Awards for their Outstanding Contributions to Law and Society Research 

CHICAGO - Two American Bar Foundation (ABF) Research Professors have been selected as recipients of the 2022 Awards of the Law and Society Association (LSA). Elizabeth Mertz and Reuben Jonathan Miller have been recognized for their exceptional contributions to the research and scholarship on law and society. ABF Affiliated Scholar Spencer Headworth and former ABF/AccessLex Visiting Scholar Swethaa Ballakrishnen have also been recognized by LSA with honorable mentions. As announced on the LSA website, these awards will be presented to this year’s winners during the first ever hybrid LSA Global Meeting on Law & Society held both in Lisbon, Portugal and virtually from July 13-15. 

“The LSA Prizes represent the very best of interdisciplinary empirical scholarship designed to interrogate the relationship between law and society,” ABF Research Professor and LSA President Laura Beth Nielsen said. “It is particularly meaningful that so many ABF scholars have been recognized this year.” 

Elizabeth MertzABF Research Professor and John and Rylla Bosshard Professor of Law Emerita at the University of Wisconsin Law School, has received two recognitions from the LSA this year. She has won the Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Prize in recognition of her legal scholarship on law and language. She has also received the Stan Wheeler Mentorship Award for her steadfast guidance to junior scholarand her commitment to legal education. 

Reuben Jonathan Miller, ABF Research Professor and Associate Professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice, has won thHerbert Jacob Book Prize for Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration (Little, Brown and Company, 2022). Drawing on 15 years of person experience, he provides an account of the suppressive afterlife of imprisonment.  

Spencer Headworth, ABF Affiliated Scholar and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Purdue University, received an Honorable Mention for thHerbert Jacob Book Prize for his work studying crime, social control, and inequality. His book Policing Welfare: Punitive Adversarialism in Public Assistance (University of Chicago Press, 2021) was recognized for its analysis of welfare fraud control units, a novel intersection between the worlds of public benefits and law enforcement.  

Swethaa BallakrishnenAssociate Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine and former ABF/AccessLex Visiting Scholar on Legal Educationreceived an Honorable Mention for the Herbert Jacob Book Prize for Accidental Feminism: Gender Parity and Selective Mobility among India’s Professional Elite (Princeton University Press, 2021), which was completed during their time at ABF. 

“The American Bar Foundation has a long tradition of contributing outstanding and innovative research to socio-legal scholarship and providing superb service to the Law and Society Association,” ABF Director Ajay K. Mehrotra said. “We are proud that this tradition has been acknowledged once again this year with a slew of LSA awards to our ABF scholars.” 

Read the official LSA announcement of the 2022 award winners here 


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. 


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