University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content

News and views for UB faculty and staff


Mather’s article has stood the test of time


Published May 29, 2014

Jimmy Carter was still president when Lynn Mather’s article “Language, Audience and the Transformation of Disputes” (co-authored with anthropologist Barbara Yngvesson) was published in the journal Law and Society Review (Vol. 15, Issue 3-4).

That 1980 article by Mather, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the UB Law School, has now been cited by the American Political Science Association as this year’s winner of the Law and Courts Lasting Contribution Award, given annually for a book or journal article, 10 years old or older, that has made a lasting impression on the field of law and courts. The award will be formally presented in August at the annual meeting of the Association’s Law and Courts Section.

Lynn Mather

The 47-page article develops an analytic framework for studying the transformation of disputes across a range of social, political and economic settings. By focusing on the language that participants use in negotiating the meaning of a dispute, the article links processes of rephrasing, narrowing and expansion to transformations of the broader normative and political order. Expansion of disputes, for example, is shown to be a mechanism through which new rules may emerge in the legal process and through which social change is linked to legal change.

Mather is co-authoring a chapter to further develop the concept for the forthcoming edition of the “International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences.”

Mather joined the UB faculty in 2002 as a professor of law and political science, and director of the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy.

A leading scholar in the field of law and society, she has published extensively on lawyers, legal professionalism, women in the legal profession, courts in popular culture, litigation against tobacco, trial courts and public policy, divorce mediation, plea bargaining and the transformation of disputes.

Her most recent books are “Lawyers in Practice: Ethical Decision Making in Context” (University of Chicago Press, 2012), co-edited with Leslie C. Levin, and “Private Lawyers and the Public Interest: The Evolving Role of Pro Bono in the Legal Profession” (Oxford University Press, 2009), co-edited with UB sociologist Robert Granville.

A former president (2001-02) of the international Law and Society Association, she continues to remain active in the multidisciplinary, scholarly association, contributing to its intellectual pursuits and mentoring younger colleagues in the field.