Howard Erlanger

Professor Emeritus; Voss-Bascom Professor of Law, Emeritus

Howard  Erlanger

Room 9109, Law School


Ph.D., University of California-Berkeley
J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School


Howard S. Erlanger is Voss-Bascom Professor of Law, Emeritus, and Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he served as a full-time faculty member from 1971-2013 and continues to teach part-time. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin. His areas of interest include wills, trusts, marital property, estate planning, and socio-legal studies.

Professor Erlanger is the recipient of a number of awards for his teaching and research, including the Emil Steiger Award for Distinguished Teaching from the UW-Madison, the Underkofler Award for Distinguished Teaching from the UW System, and the Stan Wheeler Mentorship Award from the Law & Society Association. He is an Academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and a former President of the Law & Society Association. From 1998-2013 he served as Director of the Institute for Legal Studies at the Law School and from 2007-2013 he served Director of the Center for Law, Society, and Justice in the College of Letters and Science, which houses the interdisciplinary Legal Studies major and the Criminal Justice Certificate Program.

Since 1982 Professor Erlanger has been Review Section Editor of Law and Social Inquiry, where he has solicited and edited over 500 article-length essays representing the great diversity of views in socio-legal studies. His own socio-legal research focused on the legal profession -- especially on the careers of lawyers in public interest practice and the socialization of law students -- and on topics related to dispute resolution and to organizational implementation of law. Early in his career, he also specialized in the sociology of interpersonal violence.

From 1993 to 2006 Professor Erlanger served as Reporter for a committee of the State Bar of Wisconsin that prepared a comprehensive revision of the Wisconsin Probate Code (1997 Wis. Act 188) which became effective January 1, 1999.  A lengthy bill containing extensions and technical corrections (2005 Wis. Act 216) became effective in April 2006.

Selected Publications

Marital Property, Estate Planning, and Probate

  • The Marital Property Classification Handbook, Fifth Edition. Pinnacle Books, State Bar of Wisconsin.
  • Marital Property Law & Practice in Wisconsin, 5th Edition. Pinnacle Books, State Bar of Wisconsin. Introduction and chapters on classification. (Erlanger and Roberson).
  • Wisconsin's New Probate Code: A Handbook for Practitioners. University of Wisconsin Law School - Continuing Legal Education for Wisconsin.
  • Marital Property, Taxation, and Estate Planning in Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Law School - Continuing Legal Education for Wisconsin.

American Legal Profession and Public Interest Law

  • "Law Student Idealism and Job Choice: Some New Data on an Old Question," 30 Law & Society Review 851 (Erlanger, Epp, Cahill, and Haines).
  • "Mobilizing Law Schools in Response to Poverty: A Report on Experiments in Progress," 43 Journal of Legal Education 199 (Erlanger and Lessard).
  • Making It and Breaking It: The Fate of Public Interest Commitment During Law School, University of Illinois Press. (Stover, edited by Erlanger).
  • "Towards a Sociology of Law School Admissions," 34 Journal of Legal Education 374.
  • "Socialization Effects of Professional School: The Law School Experience and Students' Orientation to School Reform," 13 Law & Society Review 11 (Erlanger and Klegon).
  • "Social Reform Movements and the Subsequent Careers of Participants: A Follow-up of Early Participants in the OEO Legal Services Program," 42 American Sociological Review 233.

Dispute Resolution / Law and Organizational Behavior

  • "The Endogeneity of Legal Regulation: Grievance Procedures as Rational Myth," 105 American Journal of Sociology 406. (Edelman, Uggen, and Erlanger).
  • "Internal Dispute Resolution: The Transformation of Civil Rights in the Workplace," 27 Law & Society Review 497. (Edelman, Erlanger, and Lande).
  • "Participation and Flexibility in Informal Processes: Cautions from the Divorce Context," 21 Law & Society Review 585. (Erlanger, Chambliss, and Melli).

Interpersonal Violence

  • "Estrangement, Machismo, and Gang Violence," 60 Social Science Quarterly 235.
  • "The Empirical Status of the Subculture of Violence Thesis," 22 Social Problems 280.
  • "Social Class and Corporal Punishment in Childrearing - A Reassessment," 39 American Sociological Review 68.

Essays on the Field of Sociolegal Studies

  • "Presidential Address: Organizations, Institutions, and the Story of Shmuel: Reflections on the 40th Anniversary of the Law and Society Association," 39 Law & Society Review 1.
  • "Is It Time for a New Legal Realism?" 2005 Wisconsin Law Review 335 (Erlanger, Garth, Larson, Mertz, Nourse, and Wilkins).

Scholarship & Publications


Law Repository


Teaching Areas

  • Law & Society
  • Marital Property
  • Trusts & Estates

Recently Taught Courses

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