This July, temperatures weren’t the only thing heating up here at the ABF. Our researchers were everywhere this month: network television news, critically acclaimed podcasts, even sitting before a presidential commission. Read on to learn more about the newest ABF-affiliated American Law Institute members, the doctoral fellows that are joining us as our student interns leave, and a symposium celebrating one of our foremost scholars.

ABF Researchers in the News
ABF Research Professor Tom Ginsburg Argues in Favor of Increased Supreme Court Justice Turnover Before Presidential Commission 

ABF Research Professor Tom Ginsburg testified in front of the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States on July 20, 2021. President Joe Biden formed the commission on April 9, 2021, to gather information and arguments from a bipartisan group of experts regarding the ongoing Supreme Court reform debate. Professor Ginsburg drew from his comparative research on international democracies to argue in favor of increased rotation on the Supreme Court, preferably through the institution of term limits.

Read Professor Ginsburg’s written testimony here, or watch below:
ABF Research Professor Bernadette Atuahene Discusses Property Tax Inequity on "NBC Nightly News"

On July 9, 2021, ABF Research Professor Bernadette Atuahene shared her research insights for an "NBC Nightly News" story about property tax foreclosures in Detroit, Michigan. The report, which was led by Meagan Fitzgerald, exposed the higher tax assessments in predominantly black vs. predominantly white neighborhoods in the region. Despite the city of Detroit’s claims that property tax inequity is a problem of the past, Professor Atuahene helped 68 homeowners in the last year alone file assessment appeals.

Watch the broadcast below:
ABF Research Professor Laura Beth Nielsen Featured on Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History Podcast

On July 22, 2021, ABF Research Professor Laura Beth Nielsen was a guest on Malcolm Gladwell’s hit podcast Revisionist History. Professor Nielsen joined a diverse group of experts in the first of a three-part series diving into the troubling cultural messages embedded in Disney’s 1989 film The Little Mermaid. She shared her experiences watching the film with her sons and discussed her disagreement with the film’s portrayal of the relationship between law and morality.

Listen to the episode here.

Read Professor Nielsen’s 2013 article, co-authored by Nehal A. Patel and Jacob Rosner, “‘Ahead of the Lawmen’: Law and Morality in Disney Animated Films 1960 – 1998,” here.
Fellows in the News
Below are highlights from our Fellows news segment, Fellows in the News. You can view many more on our website here. Please send Fellows in the News submissions to
ABF Director and Five ABF Fellows Among Newly Elected American Law Institute Members
ABF Executive Director and Research Professor Ajay K. Mehrotra and five ABF Fellows have been elected as new members of the American Law Institute. The ALI has been the leading voice in refining, clarifying, and improving the practice of law since its inception in 1923, and membership remains one of the highest honors for legal professionals. The Fellows included are:

Jonathan Cuneo, Fellow
Erika George, Fellow
Hon. Peter M. Kelly, Life Fellow
Professor Kathryn E. Kovacs, Fellow
Samuel W. Silver, Fellow

Read more here.
Thomas Leatherbury, Texas Life Fellow, Appointed to Texas Access to Justice Commission

Texas Life Fellow Thomas Leatherbury has been appointed to the Texas Access to Justice Commission to serve a three-year term. Based in Dallas, Mr. Leatherbury co-leads the Appellate practice group of Vinson & Elkins LLP and also serves as Director of the First Amendment Clinic at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. The commission, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 2001, is charged with developing and implementing initiatives designed to expand access to justice in civil legal matters for low-income Texans.

Read more here.
David J. Steele II, Montana Fellow, Elected 2022 State Bar of Montana President

Montana ABF Fellow and Geiszler Steele Managing Partner David Steele is the new President-Elect for the State Bar of Montana. Mr. Steele, who has previously worked with the Montana Bar as a board member, Secretary, and Treasurer, will begin his two-year presidential term in 2022.

Read more here.
ABF Faculty Spotlight

Meet the ABF’s New 2021-22 Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Fellows

The ABF is committed to fostering the next generation of scholars in the field of law and social science. As a new academic year enters the horizon, so too does a new crop of Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Fellows at the ABF. This year, we welcome five new scholars as they engage in groundbreaking sociolegal research:

Brandon Alston
ABF/Northwestern University Doctoral Fellow in Law and Social Science

Isabel Anadon
ABF/National Science Foundation (NSF) Doctoral Fellow in Law and Inequality

Hardeep Dhillon
ABF/NSF Post-Doctoral Fellow in Law and Inequality

Sonya Rao
ABF/AccessLex Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow in Legal and Higher Education

Alex Reiss-Sorokin
ABF/AccessLex Institute Doctoral Fellow in Legal and Higher Education

Read more about the Fellows’ backgrounds and research interests here.
ABF Event Spotlight:

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows & DRW College Prep —Talk Research to Me!

The ABF’s season of mentorship and inspiration came to a close in the last week of July with a series of farewell presentations from our Summer Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF). During their fellowship, each SURFer is paired with an ABF faculty member as a research assistant. On Wednesday, July 28, they reflected on their experiences with the program over Zoom, with each student exploring their mentor’s research and musing about how the lessons they learned will affect their academic and professional goals.

The ABF community was also treated to an audience with our inaugural cohort of high school interns from DRW College Prep in Chicago. The rising juniors and seniors shared their experiences learning about different areas of the legal profession from ABF researchers and meetings with local practitioners.

Watch the SURF presentations below:
ABF Event Spotlight:

Suites, Streets, and States Conference and Symposium: Celebrating Professor John Hagan's Research
Nearly 50 years after the start of his illustrious academic career, scholars from various institutions came together to celebrate ABF Research Professor John Hagan’s research with a conference and symposium. The May 31, 2021 event was sponsored by the American Bar Foundation, the Northwestern University Department of Sociology, and the University of Toronto Global Justice Lab, and was broken into three basic themes: inequalities in law firm culture, incarceration, and genocide.

Watch the conference here. 
Register Now:
ABF Fellows Virtual Business Meeting
in conjunction with the
2021 ABA Hybrid Annual Meeting

Thursday, August 5, 2021
11:00am PT / 12:00pm MT / 1:00pm CT / 2:00pm ET
Join us as we recap the work of the American Bar Foundation from the past year and discuss new Fellows business. We will also recognize the work of outgoing State and International Fellows Chairs.
Support the ABF

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