Rebecca L. Sandefur joined the American Bar Foundation in 2010 to found and lead the ABF’s Access to Justice Research Initiative. She continues to head this initiative as Faculty Fellow and is also Professor in and Director of the Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University.
She investigates access to civil justice from every angle—from how legal services are delivered and consumed, to how civil legal aid is organized around the nation, to the role of pro bono, to the relative efficacy of lawyers, nonlawyers, and digital tools as advisers and representatives, to how ordinary people think about their justice problems and try to resolve them.
Her public service includes her appointment by the Supreme Court of Utah to the state’s Office of Legal Services Innovation and her appointment by the Supreme Court of Arizona to the Arizona Commission on Access to Justice.
In 2013, Sandefur was The Hague Visiting Chair in the Rule of Law. In 2015, she was named Champion of Justice by the National Center for Access to Justice. In 2018, she was named a MacArthur Fellow for her work on inequality and access to justice. In 2020, she was awarded the Warren E. Burger Award by the National Center for State Courts.
Sandefur was born in and spent her early years in Oklahoma and is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation.