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Internationally Known Law and Politics Scholar Joins USC

Lee Epstein will teach in USC Dornsife and USC Law.

Lee Epstein, an internationally renowned scholar of law and judicial politics, will hold joint appointments as the Provost Professor of Law and Political Science in USC Dornsife and the inaugural Rader Family Trustee’s Chair in Law at the USC Gould School of Law.
Lee Epstein, an internationally renowned scholar of law and judicial politics, will hold joint appointments as the Provost Professor of Law and Political Science in USC Dornsife and the inaugural Rader Family Trustee’s Chair in Law at the USC Gould School of Law.

The University of Southern California has recruited Lee Epstein, an internationally renowned scholar of law and judicial politics at Northwestern University School of Law to USC. Epstein will hold joint appointments as the Provost Professor of Law and Political Science in USC Dornsife and the inaugural Rader Family Trustee’s Chair in Law at the USC Gould School of Law.

 “What an absolute thrill it is to have Lee join our community,” said Howard Gillman, dean of USC Dornsife. “She is perhaps the world’s leading scholar on the study of law, legal institutions and judicial politics; her work has always set the standard for excellence and importance. On a more personal note, I have known Lee for almost two decades. We have served together in leadership positions for the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association and have worked together on a number of projects. She is a cherished colleague and one of the most impressive researchers and teachers I have ever met.  Her presence will have a transformative impact on the social sciences within USC Dornsife.”

“Lee Epstein is a pioneering figure in the study of judicial behavior and we are delighted she is joining us,” said Robert K. Rasmussen, dean of USC Law. “It is fair to say that Lee has been the initiator in applying rigorous methods of empirical analysis to the decision-making of judges. She has also been an academic leader at Washington University and Northwestern. Lee’s appointment underscores that USC has become a destination for scholars of the first order.”

Epstein adds to an already strong USC faculty who examine the intersection of law and politics including Susan Estrich, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science; Elizabeth Garrett, USC Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Gillman, the Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair and professor of political science, history and law; Jack Knott, C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Dean and Professor at the USC School of Public Policy, Planning and Development; and Mat McCubbins, Provost Professor of Business, Law and Political Economy.

“USC brilliantly blends the inspirational and the aspirational,” said Epstein. “I look forward to collaboration and intellectual exchange with colleagues and students.”

Epstein will be the first holder of the Rader Family Trustee’s Chair in Law. The Rader Family Trustee’s Chair was established in 2006 to honor the members of the Rader family who have attended the Gould School of Law. Stanley R. Rader graduated from the law school in 1957, his daughter Janis A. Rader graduated in 1977, and son Stephen P. Rader in 1981. The family has been extremely devoted to the Gould School, with Stanley teaching at the school shortly after graduation, and Stephen currently chairing USC Law’s Board of Councilors.

Epstein currently holds the Henry Wade Rogers Professorship, a university-wide chair, at Northwestern University. Her research interests center on the United States Supreme Court, constitutional courts abroad, judicial behavior and constitutional law.

Epstein is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Political and Social Science. A recipient of 12 grants from the National Science Foundation for her work on law and legal institutions, she has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles and essays, as well as 14 books. Among those is The Choices Justices Make, which won the C. Herman Pritchett Award for the best book published on law and courts, and the Lasting Contribution Award for a book or journal article, 10 years or older, that has made a lasting impression on the field of law and courts, both presented by the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association.

Epstein is at work on three projects: Case Selection on the Supreme Court (with Jeffrey Segal and Harold Spaeth), A Macro-Theory of the Courts: How National and Local Trends Affect Judicial Decisions (with Thomas Brennan and Nancy Staudt), and Are Judges Realists? An Empirical Study (with William M. Landes and Richard A. Posner).

Epstein is a co-editor of the Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization; vice-president of the International Society for New Institutional Economics; a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; chair of the Law School Admission Council’s Grants Subcommittee; a principal investigator of the National Science Foundation-funded project on the U.S. Supreme Court Database; and a member of the editorial boards of American Politics Research, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and Social Science Quarterly. She is a former chair of the Law and Courts Section of the American Political Science Association and a past president of the Midwest Political Science Association.

Epstein earned her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Emory University.