The University of Wisconsin-Madison has long been recognized as a center for interdisciplinary studies related to law and legal institutions. The Center for Law, Society, and Justice (CLSJ) is the organizational home for two undergraduate academic programs related to law, legal institutions and criminal justice.

The Legal Studies Program is an undergraduate major that provides a liberal arts education across traditional disciplines, focusing on law, legal processes, legal institutions, and how they operate in society.

The Criminal Justice Certificate Program is an undergraduate certificate program available to students from a variety of majors who wish to enhance their academic training related to the criminal justice system. The Program consists of a special sequence of courses and field work for students seeking to learn about the dynamics of criminal and juvenile justice systems.

The faculty teaching courses in both programs come from a wide variety of departments and schools including Sociology, Political Science, History, Social Work, Economics, Journalism and Mass Communication, Philosophy, Psychology, Gender and Women’s Studies, Communication Arts, Languages and Cultures of Asia, and Anthropology.


The Center for Law, Society, and Justice was founded in the mid-1960s as the Center for Law and Behavioral Science (CLBS). Starting in 1976 CLBS served as the institutional home of the Behavioral Science & Law Program, the predecessor of the Legal Studies Program. The original Center drew on resources provided by grants from the Russell Sage Foundation and the Walter Meyer Foundation. Its early activities included providing the first institutional home for the Law & Society Association (Wisconsin faculty were instrumental in starting the Association), organizing a series of faculty seminars intended to develop a “rigorous empirical approach to law,” conducting three NSF-supported Summer Institutes on Behavioral Science and Law (led by Joel Grossman, Jack Ladinsky, and Stuart Scheingold), and housing the editorial offices of the Law & Society Review (1978-1982) during the editorship of Professor Joel Grossman.

For over 20 years, the two programs that currently comprise the core of the Center’s activities were directed by Professor Jack Ladinsky. Professor Ladinsky was instrumental in both the operation of the programs and in the development of the Criminal Justice Certificate Program which, starting in 1983 functioned as a replacement for a long-standing specialized major in Correctional Administration within Sociology. The Correctional Administration program was founded in the 1930s by Professor John L. Gilliam, and was directed for many years starting in 1952 by Professor Michael Hakeem.

Today, there are over 3,000 alumni of the various recent and more distant programs that have evolved into the Legal Studies Program and the Criminal Justice Certificate Program. These alumni have gone on to distinguished careers in law, public service, and business.


The Center for Law, Society, & Justice is a unit of the College of Letters and Science. It is directed by a member of the faculty, Professor Alexandra Huneeus; the Director is assisted by Martine Delannay, Kiara Hibler, Josh Mayers and Micha Schwab. Martine Delannay and Micha Schwab serve as undergraduate advisors for Legal Studies majors and Criminal Justice Certificate students and oversee the day-to-day operation of these programs. Kiara Hibler and Josh Mayers teach our internship course and support students with the internship process. The governing body of the Center is a committee of faculty.