Robert Nelson

Robert Nelson Director of American Bar Foundation and
Professor of Sociology-On leave

Mailing Address:
Department of Sociology
1810 Chicago Avenue
Evanston, IL 60208-1330

Office Address:
1810 Chicago Avenue, Room 321
Phone: (847) 491-3203
ABF: (312) 988-6532

Office Hours: On leave

Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Interest

Law and Society

Relevant Link

American Bar Foundation
Institute for Policy Research
Law School


Nelson is the founding director of the Center for Legal Studies at Northwestern, was the Director of the Bar Foundation's Program on Professionalism, Law and Economic Change from 1988 to 1992, and served as Department Chair from 1997-2000 and as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Sociology in 1991-92 and 1993 through 1996.

In 1992-93, he was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, and co-directed a Special Project at the Center from 2003-2008. He serves on the Council of the American Sociological Association's Section on the Sociology of Law and has served on the Board of Trustees of the Law and Society Association and as Secretary and treasurer of the Organizations, Occupations, and Work Section of the ASA. He is a member of the Sociological Research Association.


Global Perspectives on the Rule of Law
(with James J. Heckman and Lee Cabatingan), Routledge-Cavendish, 2010

Urban Lawyers: The New Social Structure of the Bar
(with John P. Heinz, Rebecca L. Sandefur, and Edward O. Laumann),
University Chicago Press, 2005

Handbook of Employment Discrimination Research: Rights and Realities
(with Laura Beth Nielsen), Springer, 2005

Courses Taught

SOCIOL 318: Sociology of Law Syllabus


Experiencing Discrimination: Race and Retention in America's Largest Law Firms
(with Monique R. Payne-Pikus and John Hagan), Law & Society, 2010

Individual Justice or Collective Legal Mobilization: Employment Discrimination Litigation in the Post-Civil Rights United States
(with Laura Beth Nielsen and Ryan Lancaster), Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2010

After the JD II: Second Results from a National Study of Legal Careers
(with Ronit Dinovitzer, G. Plickert, R. Sandefur, and  Joyce Sterling),
American Bar Foundation and The NALP Foundation for Law Career Research and Education, 2009

Are We There Yet?: Empirical Research and the Predicted Demise of Large Law Firms: An Introductory Essay, American Bar Foundation,
Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, 2009

Political Science/Sociology joint Assistant Professor of Instruction Search

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY'S Departments of Political Science and Sociology invite applications for a full-time, benefits-eligible, non-tenure eligible faculty appointment as Assistant Professor of Instruction, beginning September 1, 2016. Further details about the position are available online at 



Our faculty advisers can help you select Sociology courses, even if Sociology isn't your major or minor.

Searle Center for Advancing Learning & Teaching provides a variety of programs and workshops for graduate students and faculty interested in developing their teaching practices. In addition, the Searle Center offers a variety of programs for graduate students seeking to develop their skills as Teaching Assistant (TA) and instructor , such as, a yearly conference for new TA's, a teaching certificate program and fellowship opportunities.


Upcoming Events

Sociology Colloquium - Professor Kelly Moore, Loyola University
October 15, 201512:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Sociology Colloquium - Professor Laura Nelson, Northwestern University
October 22, 201512:30 PM - 2:00 PM

September 24, 2015