Institute for Legal Studies

Institute Overview 

The Institute for Legal Studies acts as a catalyst and facilitator for scholarly work on sociolegal topics carried out by law faculty and their collaborators and provides technical assistance for their external funding proposals. It provides support for the Legal History Program, the Wisconsin Contracts Project, and programs involving New Legal Realism and Real Estate, Land Use and Community Development. The Institute has collaborated with the ABF and the ASLH on joint projects, and it houses the Review Section of Law & Social Inquiry. The Institute sponsors faculty workshops on works-in-progress, professional development, and research methods, a legal studies series for graduate students, as well as guest lectures, symposia and conferences. The Institute hosts two biennial signature events: the Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History and the Midwest Law and Society Retreat. For additional details, please see ILS History

  Administration, Fellows & Visiting Scholars

Events: Lectures, Workshops & Conferences


  • Law and Society Graduate Fellows Program A program for graduate students at UW-Madison. ILS Law and Society Graduate Fellows are JD and doctoral students drawn from a range of disciplines across the UW-Madison campus. The program aims to expand students' research skill set and assist in preparing for the dissemination of their research.

  • Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History Biennial two-week summer session for early-career legal historians. The next Hurst Institute will take place June 4-17, 2017.

Programs and Activities:

  • Midwest Law and Society Retreat Biennial event bringing together faculty and graduate students from the Midwest's diverse law and society programs for a weekend of intellectual exchange and community building. The next retreat will take place November 18-19, 2016. See: Midwest Retreat 2016.
  • Wisconsin Discussion Group on Constitutionalism  Annual invitation-only faculty workshop hosted by Professor Heinz Klug and other constitutional law professors, held during the fall semester. See Events at the Institute.

  • The New Legal Realism Project Jointly sponsored by the Institute for Legal Studies and the American Bar Foundation, the New Legal Realism Project is a network of scholars who seek to develop an interdisciplinary paradigm for empirical research on law.

  • External Funding Proposal Support Budget development and technical support is available for UW law faculty and academic staff in collaboration with the Law School Dean's office. More information for law faculty and staff can be found here. (net ID required).

  • Legal Studies Workshop Series  Hosted by the Law and Society Postdoctoral Fellow or a graduate student, students and faculty share papers at presentations every other Tuesday during the academic year. Information about the workshop schedule is included on the ILS events page

  • Faculty Workshop Series  A small group of faculty commit to reading and commenting on a works in progress. Sessions take place on Wednesdays. Each presenter serves at the moderator for the next session. See the ILS events page for schedule details.

  • Ideas and Innovations Series and Law and Society Speaker Series  Distinguished scholars are invited to present works in progress and receive feedback at a workshop for faculty, graduate students, academic staff, and visiting scholars.  See the ILS events page for schedule details.

Legal History at Wisconsin:

  • The Wisconsin Tradition in Legal History  The history of legal history. The "Wisconsin tradition" in legal history consists of both a long-standing university commitment to the teaching and study of legal history and an approach to historical studies that examines the interaction between law and social forces: "law in context," rather than law as a system unto itself.

Past Programs:

Affiliated Centers:

ILS collaborates on interdisciplinary projects with various campus departments and with two Centers at the Law School:

Related Publication Links:

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