In Memoriam: Richard “Red” Schwartz, LSA Founder

On the Passing of Richard D. Schwartz, founder of the Law and Society Association, and founding editor of the Law & Society Review.

Richard D. (Red) Schwartz, founding editor of the Law & Society Review, and one of the founders and the fourth president of the Law and Society Association, died at his home in Milford, Connecticut on October 10, 2017. He was ninety-two. He received his BA and PhD in Sociology from Yale, and began his scholarly career with his article, “Social Factors in the Development of Legal Controls: A Case Study of Two Israeli Settlements,” which stemmed from his dissertation and was published in the Yale Law Journal. This article is a seminal piece in the law and society canon and established Red’s reputation in the emerging field of the sociology of law. He went on to have a distinguished scholarly career, publishing a number of influential articles and books, and teaching at Northwestern, SUNY Buffalo, and Syracuse.

Members of the Law and Society Association will also remember him as an institution builder. In the 1950s, Red was one of several sociologists and legal scholars who began to meet in rump sessions at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems , who began to say, “there ought to be an Association.” He was one of the first to translate these thoughts into actions. He was one of three signers of the Association’s articles of incorporation in 1964. In 1966 he became the founding editor of the Law & Society Review, and he served as the Association’s fourth president from 1972 to 1975. In 1975 he organized and hosted the first national meeting of the Law and Society Association. Expecting fifty attendees, he was overwhelmed with far more. The rest, as they say, is history. In 2013, the Association bestowed upon him the Ronald Pipkin Service Award for his long and distinguished service to the Association.


His institution-building was not limited to the Law and Society Association. His scholarship and industry were one of the reasons the Russell Sage Foundation initiated its program in Law and the Behavioral Sciences. That program supported the establishment of the Law & Society Review, and several law and society programs across the country, including those at the Yale Law School, the Center for the Study of Law and Society at Berkeley, the Denver Law School, and Northwestern. He was also instrumental in organizing the Russell Sage Program in law and behavioral sciences at Northwestern and in establishing its joint JD-PhD program. He made law school history when as a non-lawyer he was appointed as dean of the law school at SUNY Buffalo and founder of the Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy. Later in his career, at Syracuse, he continued to foster law and society programming at that institution.

Red was a tireless advocate for the social science study of law, not just the use of the social sciences in law. He had a deep sense that law is one of the universal forms of social ordering, deserving a central place in the liberal arts study of enduring social institutions. Throughout his long and productive life he sought to institutionalize this understanding in the academy. This view informed all his major scholarly writing over the course of seven decades and the institutional efforts just described. In retirement, he continued to write about the importance of extending law even more deeply into the international realm in an effort to manage seemingly intractable conflicts. No one who knew Red would ever label him a pessimist. He was incurably curious, incurably industrious, and incurably optimistic throughout a long and well-spent life. Schwartz was also a kind and generous mentor. Over the course of his career he was instrumental in shaping the careers of any number of scholars who went on to be active in the Law and Society Association, including the two authors of this Note. With the first edition of the Law & Society Review in 1966, and the first national meeting of the Association a few years later, he actively drew in and involved graduate and law students, a practice that continues to set the LSA and LSR apart from other scholarly associations.

Susan Olson, University of Utah
Executive Officer of the Law & Society Association (2012-2017)
Malcolm M. Feeley
President of the Law & Society Association (2005-07)

An extended interview with Red Schwartz, conducted by Calvin Morrill at the 2013 meeting of the Law and Society Association, appears as #11 of the Conversations in Law and Society series of the Center for the Study of Law & Society at the University of California, Berkeley: