American Bar Foundation Faculty Fellow Rebecca Sandefur was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant on Oct. 4 for her work to increase access to civil justice for low-income communities. She is one of 25 recipients to be awarded a no-strings $650,000 grant.
Sandefur, 47, is a sociologist who also serves on the Sociology and Law faculty of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. She joined the ABF in 2010 to lead an access to justice initiative. Her comprehensive research examines access to civil justice, including how legal services are delivered and consumed, how civil legal aid is organized around the nation, the role of pro bono, the relative efficacy of lawyers and nonlawyers as advocates and representatives and how ordinary people think about their justice problems and try to resolve them.
In its citation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation noted that Sandefur “is providing the empirical evidence necessary to guide and implement wide-scale reforms to address the civil legal needs of low-income people.”
The ABA provides both financial and legal resources to the American Bar Foundation, which is the nation’s leading research institute for the empirical study of law. An independent, nonprofit organization for more than 50 years, ABF seeks to advance the understanding and improvement of law through research projects on the most pressing issues facing the legal system in the United States and the world.