Rebecca L. Sandefur

Rebecca L. Sandefur is Associate Professor of Sociology and Law and Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She is also Faculty Fellow at the American Bar Foundation, where she founded and leads the Foundation's access to justice research initiative.

Sandefur's research focuses on inequality, particularly as it relates to law. Her scholarship includes investigations of work and inequality in the legal profession and other professional occupations, lawyers' pro bono service and its contributions to legal aid, and studies of ordinary people’s experiences with common problems that could bring them into contact with the civil justice system. Her current research on the public includes the Community Needs and Services Study (CNSS), a community-sited, multi-method study of ordinary people’s experiences with civil justice problems and the resources available to assist them in handling those problems. The CNSS is funded by the National Science Foundation (SES-1123507) and the American Bar Foundation. Her current research on the legal profession includes work drawing on the After the JD (AJD) surveys that explores how lawyers who take relatively low-paying jobs serving government, public interest causes, or ordinary people are able (or not) to manage high levels of educational debt. She also serves on the Executive Coordinating Committee of the AJD. In 2013, she was The Hague Visiting Chair in the Rule of Law, affiliated with the Hague Institute for the Internationalization of Justice (HiiL).

Her public service has included advising state access to justice commissions and service on the Right to Counsel Committee of the California Access to Justice Commission, the Research Advisory Board of the Civil Right to Counsel Leadership and Support Initiative, California's Sargent Shriver Civil Right to Counsel Evaluation Committee, and American Bar Association working groups on pro bono service and employment for new attorneys that expands the public's access to justice. Before joining the American Bar Foundation and the University of Illinois, Sandefur received her PhD in sociology from the University of Chicago in 2001 and served for 9 years on the sociology faculty of Stanford University.

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