John and Rylla Bosshard Professor of Law
Ph.D., Duke University (Anthropology)
J.D., Northwestern University School of Law
Law & Society
Recently Taught Courses
940 L&CP: Sociology of Law: The Law in Action
Legal education, legal profession
Law & social science, legal anthropology
Family law, violence in families
The new legal realism, translating law
Joint Appointment with American Bar Foundation
Professor Mertz is a leading legal anthropologist, and a
pioneer in the field of law and language. She uses this background to study legal language in the United States, with a special focus on law school education. Her research also examines the problems involved in translating between law and social science, particularly in
the domain of family law. In addition to her position on the faculty of
the University of
Wisconsin, she is a Senior
Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation, where she has conducted empirical research on legal education. The results of this research have appeared in
numerous journals and edited collections. Her
book, The Language of Law School: Learning to "Think Like a Lawyer" (Oxford University Press) was 2008 co-winner of the Herbert Jacob Book Prize, awarded by the Law & Society Association for "distinguished work that fulfills the high expectations of interdisciplinary scholarship that define this association." Mertz's study has drawn national attention from
scholars interested in reforming the current system of legal education in the U.S.
As a law student, Professor Mertz won the John Paul Stevens Prize for graduating first in her class, the Lowden-Wigmore Prize for best student-written law review article, and the Wigmore Fellowship. She clerked for Judge Richard D. Cudahy, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and served as a PILI Fellow at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights under Law. Before attending law school, she earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology and held the position of Project Director for the Law & Language Project at the Center for Psychosocial Studies, in Chicago.
In recognition of her work at the intersection of law and social science, Professor Mertz was elected a Fellow of the American Anthropological Association, as well as Treasurer of the Law & Society Association. She served for many years as Editor of Law & Social Inquiry, and was Editor of PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review from 2007 to 2011. From 2010-2011 she was the Katherine and Martin Crane Fellow at the Princeton University Program in Law and Public Affairs, where she taught an undergraduate course on law & language as well as a graduate seminar on linguistic anthropology. Her writings on family violence and law, legal translations, and other topics have appeared in such publications as the Harvard Law Review, Law & Society Review, and the Annual Review of Anthropology. Along with other scholars, she is active in the New Legal Realism Project (www.newlegalrealism.org), which spearheaded a collaborative research network on "Realist and Empirical Methods" under the aegis of the Law & Society Association. She is also a co-organizer of the LSA's IRC on International Legal Education.
Professor Mertz co-taught the Sociology of Law class with Professor Macaulay in Fall 2012 and will do so again in the fall semester of 2013. She is also collaborating with Professor Mansfield in developing combined clinical and social science training for family law students. During the spring semester of 2013, she was a Visiting Professor at Princeton University, teaching courses in the Department of Anthropology.
[Mertz, ed.] The Use of Social Science in Legal Decisions (Ashgate, 2008)
The Language of Law School: Learning to "Think" Like a Lawyer (Oxford University Press, 2007)
[Macaulay, Friedman, & Mertz, eds.] Law in Action: A Socio-Legal Reader (Thomson-West, 2007)
[Greenhouse, Mertz, & Warren, eds.] Transforming States: Ethnographies of Subjectivity and Agency in Changing Political Contexts. (Duke University Press, 2006)
Selected Recent Publications
"Is It Fair? Law Professors' Perceptions of Tenure." Journal of Legal Education (2012, in press) [with Katherine Barnes]
Comparative Anthropology of Law. Comparative Law and Society, D. Clark, ed. Edward Elgar Publishing. (2012, in press) [with Mark Goodale]
"Undervaluing Indeterminacy: Legal Translations of Social Science." 60 DePaul Law Review 397 (2011)
"Social Science and the First Apprenticeship: Moving the Intellectual Mission of Law Schools Forward." 17 Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute 427 (2011)
"After Tenure: Senior Status in the Legal Academy (Phase I Report) [with Frances Tung, Kathering Barnes, Wamucii Njogu, Molly Heiler, and Joanne Martin] (2011) Available on the American Bar Foundation website at http://www.americanbarfoundation.org/publications/367
"Toward a New Legal Empiricism: Empirical Legal Studies and New Legal Realism." 6 Annual Review of Law & Social Science 555 (2010) [with Mark Suchman]
"Introduction: Toward a Systematic Translation of Law and Social Science." In The Use of Social Science in Legal Decisions, E. Mertz (ed). (Ashgate, 2008)
Introductions --PoLAR: Political and Legal
34:1 2011 Topic: "Getting it Done: The Anthropology of Bureaucracy" [with Bernstein]
33:2 2010 Topic: NGOs [with Timmer]
33:1S 2010 Topic: Disciplinary Edges [with Bowie]
33:1 2010 Topic: Anthropology at Many Crossroads
32:2 2009 Topic: Law's Ambivalent Role (Indigenous Land Rights)
32:1 2009 Topics: Translating Anthropology, and the "New Anthropology of Crime"
31:2 2008 Topic: "Studying the Trial"
"Inside the Law School Classroom: Toward a New Legal Realist Pedagogy," 60 Vanderbilt Law Review 483 (2007)
"Translating Science into Family Law," 56 DePaul Law Review 799 (2007)
"Anthropology of Law," Encyclopedia of Law and Society: American and Global Perspectives, D. Clark, ed. [with Mark Goodale] (Sage, 2007)
"Semiotic Anthropology," in 36 Annual Review of Anthropology (2007)