portrait of professor frank munger

Frank W. Munger

John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law
Co-Chair, Law and Society Colloquium

Frank W. Munger

John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law
Co-Chair, Law and Society Colloquium

A scholar of public law and a specialist in social science research, Frank Munger teaches Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Land Use Planning and seminars on the role of public interest lawyers in social change.

His interest in public interest lawyers is currently taking him to Asia, and especially Thailand, to interview human rights advocates and to study the role of law in Asia’s rapidly developing societies.  The influence of rights can be subtle and persistent even where political conditions have seemed unfavorable, he concludes, but the lawyer/advocate often wins support through networks of influence and alliances with government insiders.  “For a cause lawyer,” he concludes, “the social construction of law’s authority may be the greatest challenge and most important goal.”  (See Trafficking in Law:  Cause lawyer, bureaucratic state, and the rights of human trafficking victims in Thailand, publications).

Fieldwork in Southeast Asia is ongoing, including interviews with lawyers, law teachers, and ordinary people about the impact of recent constitutional reforms and global pressure for legal change.  The research is reported in numerous articles and edited collections (see publications). A forthcoming (2014) law review symposium organized with scholars Scott Cummings (UCLA) and Louise Trubek (Wisconsin, emerita), includes path breaking essays written by public interest lawyers from eleven Asian countries.

He has conducted research in the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia.  Recent books include Rights of Inclusion: Law and Identity in the Lives of Americans with Disabilities (2003), coauthored with Professor David Engel (SUNY Buffalo), a Gustavus Meyers Human Rights Award winner in 2003.  Rights of Inclusion describes the subtle and informal influence of rights on the everyday lives of persons with disabilities.  An earlier coauthored article, “Rights, Remembrance and the Reconciliation of Difference,” published in the Law & Society Review, received the first annual Law and Society Article Award in 1997.   Other books include: Laboring Below the Line: The New Ethnography of Poverty, Low-wage Work, and Survival in the Global Economy (2002), published by the Russell Sage Foundation, and Law and Poverty (2006), a collection of classic interdisciplinary essays published as a resource for teachers and poverty scholars.

Professor Munger has been General Editor of the Law & Society Review, President of the Law and Society Association, Chair of the Section on Sociology of Law of the American Sociological Association, Chair of the Law and Social Sciences section of the American Association of Law Schools, and has served on numerous editorial boards and government research review panels. He served as Academic Dean of Antioch Law School.   He is a co-organizer of the New York Law School, Law, Society, and History Colloquium, an interdisciplinary speakers series.


The International Library of Essays in Law and Society: Law and Poverty (an edited volume with an introduction).  Aldershot, England: Ashgate Press, 2006.

Rights of Inclusion: Law and Identity in the Lives of Americans With Disabilities, coauthored with David Engel, University of Chicago Press, 2003.  Winner of the Gustavus Meyers Human Rights Award, 2003.

Laboring Below the Line: The New Ethnography of Poverty, Low-Wage Work, and Survival in the Global Economy, (edited collection with an introduction and conclusion) New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2002.



Innovations in the Fight Against Human Trafficking: Advocates Perspectives and Proposals, 60 New York Law School Law Review No. 3 & 4 ( 2015/2016) a symposium and special issue organized with Melynda Barnhart and Chaumtoli Huq.

Social Justice Lawyers in Asia: Comparative Perspectives and Practitioner Narratives, a special edition of the Wisconsin International Law Journal, organized and with an introduction written with Scott Cummings and Louise Trubek (forthcoming, 2013).

Human Rights, Judicialization, and the New Public Interest Law, a special issue, co-edited with Penelope Andrews, 9 International Review of Constitutionalism 1-230 (2009).

Longitudinal Research on Trial Courts, a special issue of the Law & Society Review 25/3 (1990), an edited volume with an introduction and a conclusion.  The volume contains revised versions of twenty articles and comments delivered at a conference held in Buffalo in 1987.



“Political Change, Activism, and the Evolution of Judicial Culture in the Scholarship of Daniel Lev,” in M. Crouch (ed), The Politics of Court Reform: Judicial Change and Legal Culture in Indonesia (Cambridge University Press forthcoming).

“Thailand: The Evolution of Law, the Legal Profession and Political Authority,” in R.L. Abel and O. Hammerslev (eds), Lawyers in 21st-Century Societies. Vol.1 : National Reports (Hart forthcoming).

“An Alternative Path to Rule of Law? Thailand’s 21st-Century Administrative Courts,” 26 Indiana Journal of Global Legalization (forthcoming).

“Race, Law and Inequality: Fifty Years After the Civil Rights Era,” 13 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 331-350 (2017) co-authored with Carroll Seron. Read online.

“Rule of Law Inside Out in Myanmar,” Symposium on Nick Cheesman’s Opposing the Rule of Law, 9 Hague Journal on the Rule of Law 3-10 (2017). Read online.

“Introduction: Advocacy at the Leading Edge of Social Change: The Importance of Front Line Innovators,” 60 New York Law School Law Review 567-583 (2015/2016).

“Thailand’s Cause Lawyers and Twenty-First-Century Military Coups:  Nation, Identity, and Conflicting Visions of the Rule of Law,” 2 Asian Journal of Law and Society 301-322 (2015) and available online through Cambridge University Press.

“Trafficking in Law:  Cause Lawyer, Bureaucratic State and the Rights of Human Trafficking Victims in Thailand,” 39 Asian Studies Review 69-87 (2015).

“Revolution Imagined:  Cause Advocacy, Consumer Rights, and the Evolving Role of NGOs in Thailand,” 9 Asian Journal of Comparative Law 29-64 (2015) and published online. [ISSN (Online) 1932-0205, ISSN (Print) 2194-6078, DOI: 10.1515/asjcl-2013-0054 (2014)] and posted on SSRN.

Mobilizing Law for Justice in Asia: A Comparative Approach (Symposium: A Comparative Perspective on Social Justice Lawyering in Asia: Conditions, Practices, & Possibilities) 31 Wisconsin International Law Journal 353-420 (2013) (with S.L. Cummings & L.G. Trubek).

Organizer & Contributor, Symposium: A Comparative Perspective on Social Justice Lawyering in Asia: Conditions, Practices, & Possibilities) 31 WISCONSIN INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL Issue 3 (2013) (with S.L. Cummings & L.G. Trubek).

Revolution Imagined: Cause Advocacy, Consumer Rights, and the Evolving Role of NGOs in Thailand, 9 ASIAN JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE LAW available on De Gruyter and SSRN.

“Trafficking in Law:  Cause Lawyer, bureaucratic state, and the rights of human trafficking victims in Thailand,” Asian Studies Review (forthcoming).

“The Cause Lawyer’s Cause,” 29 Law in Context 28 (2012).

“Constructing Law from Development: Cause Lawyers, Generational Narratives, and the Rule of Law in Thailand,” in J. Gillespie and P. Nicholson (eds) Law and Development and the Global Discourses of Legal Transfers.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

“Cause Lawyers and Other Signs of Progress—Three Thai Narratives,” in Scott Cummings (ed) An Unfinished Project: Law and the Possibility of Justice.  Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.

“Global Funder; Grassroots Litigator—Judicialization of the Environmental Movement in Thailand,” 9 International Review of Constitutionalism 75 (2009).

“Globalization, Investing in Law, and the Careers of Lawyers for Social Causes—Taking on Rights in Thailand,” 53 New York Law Review 745 (2009).

“Constitutional Reform, Legal Consciousness, and Citizen Participation in Thailand,” 40 Cornell International Law Journal 455 (2007)

“Culture, Power, and Law: Thinking About the Anthropology of Rights in Thailand in and Era of Globalization,” 51 New York Law Review 817 (2007).

“Narrative, Disability, and Identity,” 15 Narrative 84-94 (2007) coauthored with David Engel and available online.

“Dependency by Law: Poverty, Identity, and Welfare Privatization,” 13 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 391 (2006).

“Law and Poverty,”  Encyclopedia of Law & Society, David Clark (ed).  Beverly Hills: Sage Publications (2007).

“Social Citizen as Guest Worker: A Comment on the Changing Identities of Immigrants and the Working Poor,” 49 New York Law Review 665 (2005).

“Beyond Welfare Reform: Can We Build A Local Welfare State?”  44 Santa Clara Law Review 999 (2004).

“Afterword: How Can We Save the Safety Net?,” 69 Brooklyn Law Review 543 (2004).

“Rights in the Shadow of Class: Poverty, Welfare, and the Law,” Blackwells Companion to Law and Society, Austin Sarat (ed).  London: Blackwell Publishers (2004).

“Dependency by Law: Welfare and Identity in the Lives of Poor Women,” in Sarat and Kearns (eds) Lives in the Law.   Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press (2002).

“Presidential Address: Inquiry and Activism in Law and Society,” 35 Law & Society Review 7 (2001).

“Re-Interpreting the Effects of Rights: Career Narratives and the ADA,”

62 Ohio State Law Journal 285 (2001) coauthored with David Engel.

“Civil Rights and Self-Concept:  Life Stories of Law, Disability and Employment,” in 35 Droit et Culture 43 (1998)  coauthored with David Engel.

“Mapping Law and Society,” in A. Sarat, et al. (eds)  Crossing Boundaries:  Traditions and Transformations in Law & Society Research  Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1998.

“Rights, Remembrance and the Reconciliation of Difference,” 30 Law & Society Review 7.

(1996) coauthored with David Engel.  Winner of the first annual Law and Society Association Article Prize, 1996.

“Fooling All of the People Some of the Time: 1990s Welfare Reform and the Exploitation of American Values,” 4 Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law 3 (1996) coauthored with Kathleen Kost.

“Law and Inequality:  Race, Gender…and, of course, Class,” 22 Annual Reviews of Sociology 187 (1996) coauthored with Carrol Seron.

“Miners and Lawyers:  Law Practice and Class Conflict in Appalachia, 1872-1920,” in Harrington and Cain (eds) Lawyers In a Postmodern World.  Buckingham, UK:  Open University Press, 1993.

“Sociology of Law for a Postliberal Society,” 27 Loyola Law Review 89 (1993).

“Beyond the Canon of Dispute Resolution Research,”  12 Studies in Law, Politics and Society 431 (1992).

“Legal Resources of Striking Miners:  Notes For a Study of Class Conflict and Law,” 15 Social Science History 1 (1991).

“Introduction:  The Evolution of a Field of Study” and “After­word:  Trial Courts and Social Change,” in 24(2)  Law and Society Review (1990), introduction and conclusion for a special issue which I edited on the longitudinal study of trial courts (see below).

“Law, Litigation and Social Change:  A Critical Evaluation of an Empirical Research Tradition,”  22 Law and Society Review 57 (1988).

“Tort Litigation and Social Change:  Accidents and Trial Court Litigation in West Virginia, 1870-1940,”  36 Buffalo Law Review 301 (1988).

“Commercial Litigation in West Virginia State and Federal Courts, 1870-1940,”  30 American Journal of Legal History, 322 (1986).

Co-authored with Carroll Seron, “Critical Legal Studies versus Critical Legal Theory:  A Comment on Method,” 6 Law and Policy 257 (l984).

“Movements for Court Reform – A Preliminary View,” in Dubois (ed) The Politics of Court Reform (1982).

“Contentious Gatherings in Lancashire, England l750-l830,” in Tilly and Tilly (eds), Class Conflict and Collective Action (1981).

“Lancashire County Justices of the Peace and the Repression of Popular Contentious Gatherings in the Industrial Revolution,” 25 American Journal of Legal History 111 (l98l).

“Clinical Legal Education:  The Case Against Separatism,” 29 Cleveland State Law Review 715 (l980).

“Measuring Repression of Popular Protest by English Justices of the Peace in the Industrial Revolution,” 11 Historical Methods 58 (l979).

With James J. White, “Consumer Sensitivity to Interest Rates:  An Empirical Study of New-Car Buyers and Auto Loans,” 69 Michigan Law Review 1207 (l97l).


Review Essay: “Globalization Through the Lens of Palace Wars:  What Elite Lawyers’ Careers Can and Cannot Tell Us About Globalization of Law,” 37 Law & Social Inquiry 476 (2012).

Review of Jennifer Klein, For All These Rights: Business, Labor and the Shaping of America’s Public-Private Welfare State, Contemporary Sociology, 2005.

Review of Bachrach and Turner, Sugar’s Life in the Hood: A Story of A Former Welfare Mother, Contemporary Sociology, 2003.

Review Essay: “Review Essay: Poverty, Welfare, and the Affirmative State,” 37 Law & Society Reivew 659 (2003).

Review Essay:  “Immanence and Identity: Understanding Poverty Through Law and Society Research,” 32 Law & Society Review 931 (1999).

“Asking the Right Question:  A Comment on Constable,” 19 Law & Social Inquiry 605 (1994).

Book Review, Lempert and Sanders, Invitation to Law and Social Science, 12 American Legal Studies Forum 89 (1988).

Book Review, Abel, The Politics of Informal Justice, 90 American Journal of Sociology 477 (l984).

Book Review, Macfarlane, Justice and the Mare’s Ale:  Law and Disorder in Seventeenth Century England, 10 Journal of International History 353 (l982).