Category Archives: Tribute

Happy Birthday to the Law & Society Association!

We at the New Legal Realism blog want to congratulate the Law & Society Association on the occasion of its 50th anniversary meetings.  The LSA Meetings, currently underway in Minneapolis, have for many years drawn social science and legal scholars together for productive scholarly conversations across many tough-to-traverse disciplinary boundaries.  The “broad tent” approach always espoused by LSA has drawn its critics, but it also has permitted diversity of many kinds to flourish – not least of which is the constant back-and-forth between theories and methods from a broad range of social sciences, on the one hand, and the concerns of lawyers who struggle on the ground to bring law to its best potential.  We celebrate that ongoing vibrant exchange in our May NLR post.

Work in the LSA tradition has spanned all of the social sciences, permitting scholars to match the methods they use to the questions they seek to answer (rather than adhering to methodological orthodoxies).  It has, importantly, drawn on theory as well as method from the social sciences, while it has also bridged the divide between legal scholarship and empirical research.  The very first winner of the LSA’s prestigious Harry J. Kalven, Jr. Prize in 1983 was University of Chicago law professor Hans Ziesel, who along with sociologist Kalven, had conducted a famous study of “The American Jury.”  Abraham Goldstein described the project as follows:

… directed by a distinguished lawyer and sociologist, it offered at long last to fulfill the promise of realist jurisprudence.  The legal   realists, who came of age in the 20’s and 30’s, had called academic lawyers away from the abstract doctrines announced by appellate courts and had urged them instead to study legal institutions and processes as they functioned in the real world – the behavioral assumptions underlying them, the interactions among them and the relation they bore to other social phenomena. (Review of “The American Jury” in Commentary Magazine (April 1967))

Since 1983, the Kalven Prize (along with other LSA honors) has been awarded to scholars from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds, including psychology, anthropology, law, criminology, political science, and sociology – and has recognized work using experimental, qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods conducted to high standards.  At the same time, we see among those honored by the LSA an enduring concern with justice and with applying social science knowledge to real world problems.  This year’s honorees include Empirical Legal Studies founder Ted Eisenberg, whose quantitative research contributed to better understandings of the law in action across a host of arenas (from jury behavior to capital punishment to attorney fee systems) – and Kim Lane Scheppele, whose empirical ethnographic work on comparative constitutional law manages to also bridge legal and social science theory at high levels, while speaking directly to urgent policy issues.

The John Hope Franklin Prize at LSA honors top-notch research on race, racism, and the law — and work by outstanding scholars on gender, class, legal history, and international topics (to mention just a few) has been fostered and recognized by the LSA (which regularly draws scholars from across the world together).  In its ongoing support for truly interdisciplinary research and intellectual exchange about the law in action, LSA exemplifies the spirit of the new legal realism.  Happy Birthday, LSA, and here’s to the next 50 years!


Honoring Jane Larson

**Update: Click here for Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender, and Society’s special issue in memory of Jane Larson**

As January comes to an end, we pause to share with you some of the tributes we’ve received this month honoring our colleague Jane Larson…

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J. Larson Tributes: Albiston, Balkin, Becker, Bernstein

From KT Albiston — University of California-Berkeley (JSP and Boalt)

I will always remember Jane as being especially welcoming to me when I arrived in Madison.  She reached out to me both professionally and personally, supporting my identity as a newly minted (and very nervous) assistant professor and as a feminist.  We worked together on a project, and she helped me connect to other like-minded scholars interested in gender.  I will always be grateful to her, and she will be sorely missed by so many of us.

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J. Larson Tributes: Bowman, Burns, Crane, Erlanger

Cynthia Grant Bowman — Cornell Law School

Memories of Jane — When I first saw Jane Larson as a new law professor at Northwestern in 1990, I thought she was magical.  The way she walked and talked and belonged in her body attracted me at first….

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J. Larson Tributes: Ertman, Kaplan, Law, Luna

Martha Ertman — University of Maryland Law School

Thoughts on Jane Larson’s Passing  —  The poet Mary Oliver famously asks “tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  The question has been my compass these past ten years.  Hearing that Jane Larson passed away brings up the question in bold font, all caps.  What did Jane, a mother, an academic, a feminist, a lawyer, do with her one wild and precious – and short –life?

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J. Larson Tributes: Macaulay, Mertz, Mitchell, Nice, Nourse

From Stewart Macaulay — University of Wisconsin Law School

I’ll always have a large collection of wonderful memories of my friend Jane Larson.   She was a scholar who left her law school office to test elegant theories in the all-too-real world of ordinary people….

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J.Larson Tributes: Rubinowitz, Spillenger, Torres

From Len Rubinowitz  — Northwestern University Law School

Jane was an extraordinary presence at Northwestern Law School on so many levels.  She was a gifted teacher, who worked so hard at it that she made it look easy.  She prepared detailed notes as part of her preparation and turned them face down before the class started…..

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Remembering NLR Scholar Jane Larson

We at the NLR Blog mourn the loss of colleague Jane Larson.  We will be posting an extended tribute soon.