Photo of Professor Engel at commencement.

SUNY Distinguished Service Prof. David M. Engel attending the law school's 2018 Commencement Ceremonies.

Scholars group honors four with UB School of Law ties

Two former Baldy Center directors, as well as two other professors with UB School of Law connections, have been honored for helping to build a thriving organization of legal scholars.

photo of Lynn Mather.

SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emerita Lynn Mather

The Law and Society Association, the world’s premier organization of scholars who use the tools of the social sciences to study law, conferred its inaugural Legacy Awards at the group’s annual convention in Washington, D.C., this past Spring. Among the 21 recipients were Emeritus Professors David M. Engel and Lynn Mather, along with two colleagues whose careers have now taken them to other law schools, Marc Galanter and Frank Munger.

Says Law and Society Association President Kim Scheppele: “The Legacy Award honors people whose contributions significantly helped to develop the association through sustained commitment to the association’s mission and legacy. It’s a lifetime achievement award designed to honor a combination of intellectual vision and sheer effort that went into building the association into the strong and vibrant organization it is today.”

Engel, who previously received the association’s highest honor, the Harry S. Kalven Prize, served as the group’s president in 1997-98. He has long studied and written about American tort law and Asian legal cultures, with particular interest in the culture of Thailand.

The Law and Society movement, which employs the tools of historians, anthropologists and sociologists, among others, in studying law, has become a linchpin of Engel’s scholarly work.

“I was introduced to this field by Marc Galanter, who was on the UB School of Law faculty in the early 1970s,” he says. “Later, I came to UB myself in part because of its leadership in the law and society movement. As I think back to the origins of the field and how it came about for me, it’s very much a UB story. It’s been very gratifying.”

He continues to facilitate the development of such scholarship, having recently won a major grant from the Luce Foundation to fund a series of workshops for young Law and Society scholars in Singapore. And he notes that many currently on the UB School of Law faculty are using these tools in their scholarly work, including Associate Professors Anya Bernstein and Michael Boucai as well as legal historians such as Professors Samantha Barbas and John Henry Schlegel.

Mather was president of the Law and Society Association in 2001-02, just before she joined UB School of Law from Dartmouth College. She also served as the organization’s treasurer and on its board of trustees.

Her time as president, she recalls, centered around working with the organization’s counterpart, the Canadian Law and Society Association. “There were some tensions,” she says, over money and joint meetings. “It was a reflection of the growing internationalism of the association. I recall driving to Quebec and trying to mediate with the Canadians, and they were very grateful that I showed up.”

Partly because of that experience, she says, UB School of Law seemed a natural fit for her, with its interdisciplinary focus and its proximity to the Canadian border. A political scientist by training, Mather has written widely on lawyers’ ethical conduct and legal professionalism.

Galanter, now Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin Law School, taught at UB School of Law from 1971 to 1976. Munger, who is now on the faculty of New York University’s law school, was a UB School of Law professor in the 1980s and 90s.

In addition to the Legacy Awards, the Law and Society Association’s 2019 prizes included another UB School of Law-connected designation. Amanda Hughett, a postdoctoral fellow at the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, received the Dissertation Prize for her doctoral dissertation, Silencing the Cell Block: The Making of Modern Prison Policy in North Carolina and the Nation.”