History of the Law and Society Association

The Law and Society Association (LSA) was founded in 1964 by Professors Harry Ball, Robert Yegge, and Richard Schwartz. Professor Ball became the first President of LSA, and Professor Schwartz became the first editor of the Association’s journal, the Law & Society Review. With help from a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation, the first issue of the Review appeared in November 1966. For its first decade LSA meetings were held in conjunction with the meetings of other major disciplinary associations. LSA held its own first national meeting in Buffalo, New York, in 1975. Three years later in Minneapolis, Minnesota, LSA held its first annual meeting. The Executive Office of LSA began at the University of Denver in 1971, moved to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1987, and moved to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 2012.

The Center for the Study of Law and Society at the University of California-Berkeley has begun a project to document the intellectual origins of the field of law and society. It has conducted interviews with several founders of the field, most of whom were active in the Law and Society Association. Videos of these interviews are available at https://www.law.berkeley.edu/centers/center-for-the-study-of-law-society/conversations-in-law-and-society/

See a list of past Law and Society Association Presidents

Interests of our Members

Although they share a common commitment to developing theoretical and empirical understandings of law, interests of the members range widely. Some colleagues are concerned with the place of law in relation to other social institutions and consider law in the context of broad social theories. Others seek to understand legal decision-making by individuals and groups. Still others systematically study the impact of specific reforms, compliance with tax laws, the criminal justice system, dispute processing, the functioning of juries, globalization of law, and the many roles played by various types of lawyers. Some seek to describe legal systems and identify and explain patterns of behavior. Others use the operations of law as a perspective for understanding ideology, culture, identity, and social life. Whatever the issue, there is an openness in the Association to exploring the contours of law through a variety of research methods and modes of analysis.