American Bar Foundation names new director

The American Bar Foundation has announced that Ajay K. Mehrotra, Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Law at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, has been appointed Director of the American Bar Foundation, effective Sept. 1, 2015. He is also appointed a full Research Professor at the ABF and will become a professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law. Mehrotra succeeds Robert L. Nelson, Director and MacCrate Chair in the Legal Profession and Professor of Sociology and Law at Northwestern University, who will return to full-time research and teaching.

Mehrotra, who is also the Louis F. Niezer Faculty Fellow and adjunct professor of history at Indiana University, is a legal scholar whose research focuses on the relationship between taxation and American state formation in historical and comparative contexts. He is the author of Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), which received the 2014 Best Book Award from the Society for U.S. Intellectual History.  He is the co-editor (with Isaac William Martin and Monica Prasad) of The New Fiscal Sociology: Taxation in Comparative and Historical Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and author of numerous articles in law reviews and scholarly journals. His scholarship and teaching have been supported by grants and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.

As Associate Dean for Research and co-director of the Center for Law, Society, and Culture, at Indiana’s Maurer School of Law, Mehrotra was a university-wide leader on inter-disciplinary approaches to the study of law.

Mehrotra’s ties to the American Bar Foundation reach back to the beginning of his career. He completed his doctoral dissertation at the American Bar Foundation and received his Ph.D. in history from University of Chicago. He received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and his B.A. from the University of Michigan.

“I am deeply honored by the tremendous privilege to be the next Director of the American Bar Foundation,” said Mehrotra.  “The ABF is not only the preeminent research institute for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law, it is also the organization that launched my academic career.  I’m thrilled and delighted by this opportunity to return to the ABF and work closely with its faculty, staff, and board in building upon the momentum of Bob Nelson’s outstanding leadership.”

Mehrotra’s appointment to the American Bar Foundation will make him the ninth director in the ABF’s 63-year history. Established by the American Bar Association in 1952 to advance the study of law and legal processes, the ABF in recent years has retained and recruited an internationally distinguished research faculty that has garnered major awards, including the Nobel Prize in Economics; the Stockholm Prize in Criminology; the MacArthur Genius Fellowship and elections to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“The American Bar Foundation is delighted with the appointment of Ajay Mehrotra as our director designate,” said David A. Collins, President of the ABF. “Throughout his career he has exemplified the core values of the ABF and its dedication to the highest standards of empirical, interdisciplinary research on law.  He will bring to the role energetic and inspired leadership together with a first-hand understanding of this unique institution.”  He added, “The Board of Directors of the American Bar Foundation is proud to welcome Ajay Mehrotra to the ABF as its new director.”

“Everyone at Northwestern Law School is looking forward to having Ajay as part of our tenured faculty and as the ABF director,” said Daniel B. Rodriguez, Dean and Harold Washington Professor, Northwestern Law School.  “This appointment of this first-rate law teacher and scholar will continue the tradition of close collaboration between Northwestern and the ABF.”