Kristen Matoy Carlson
  • Access to Justice Scholar

Kirsten Matoy Carlson

  • Access to Justice Scholar
ABF Researcher

Kirsten Matoy Carlson (she/her) is a Professor of Law at Wayne State University. She is a leading authority on federal Indian law. Her interdisciplinary, empirical research investigates access to justice issues, including legal mobilization and law reform strategies used by Native peoples to reform law and policy effectively. Her work seeks to elevate Native voices in their quest for justice within the legal system. It has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Levin Center at Wayne Law. Carlson earned a Ph.D. in Political Science and a J.D. from The University of Michigan and was a Fulbright Scholar in New Zealand.   

Research Focus

Carlson is investigating the gaps in existing measures of outcomes and impacts for legal services delivery in Native communities in the United States. Her work integrates sociolegal theories with Indigenous worldviews to develop an innovative new relational theory of legal effectiveness that reflects the values and experiences of Native communities served by legal services programs. She is collaborating with Michigan Indian Legal Services, which provides legal services to Native Americans throughout the state of Michigan, to develop, pilot, and evaluate the use of measures of impacts and outcomes informed by a relational theory of legal effectiveness. The goal is to improve access to justice by providing legal services programs with ways to measure social, institutional, relational, and generational impacts and outcomes