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‘She is impossible to forget’: Berkeley Law professor Lauren Edelman dies Feb. 7

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Edelman was born in 1955 and raised in Wisconsin, She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin before earning a doctoral degree from Stanford University and a Juris Doctor degree from UC Berkeley.


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FEBRUARY 24, 2023

Lauren Edelman, the Agnes Roddy Robb Professor of Law and Sociology at Berkeley Law, died of pneumonia Feb. 7.

According to Catherine Albiston, a colleague at Berkeley Law, Edelman was a pioneer for her work studying the application of anti-discrimination laws to different organizations and institutions and developing the “field of neo-institutional organizational theory.”

Edelman was born in 1955 and raised in Madison, WI, Albiston said. She pursued a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin before earning a doctoral degree from Stanford University and a Juris Doctor degree from UC Berkeley.

“She is one of the theorists in social sciences that has really articulated a rich theory about how organizations and law really influence each other,” said Yan Fang, a campus doctoral candidate in jurisprudence and social policy and Edelman’s mentee. “To have someone that’s done so many great things have confidence in you, it really made me feel like I have value and my work has value.”

Edelman was an accomplished scholar and received many honors during her time in academia. According to her Berkeley Law profile, she was a Guggenheim fellow and a recipient of the Law and Society Association’s Harry J. Kalven Prize.

Additionally, Edelman held positions as the secretary and president of the Law and Society Association, the chair of the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Law section and the Associate Dean for Berkeley Law’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy program, among many others.

“Even more important than her incredibly important research, I would argue, is her legacy of shaping a pipeline into the profession and the futures of so many undergraduate and graduate students,” said Alexa Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center and Berkeley Law lecturer, in an email. “I—and so many others—are incredibly lucky to have learned from her and to have had such a thoughtful mentor to help launch our careers.”

Both Koenig and Fang remembered Edelman as a mentor who supported and advocated for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as an advisor who felt truly passionate about shaping the future of her mentees.

According to a remembrance page published by the Law and Society Association, Edelman fostered a love for dogs and an interest in hand-making jewelry when she was off campus. She was described to have a “quick and infectious laugh.”

“I will remember Laurie as a trailblazer — as someone who produced groundbreaking scholarship that generated invaluable insights into how organizations operate. I will also remember her as someone who was simultaneously brilliant and kind,” Koenig said. “Once you have met her and engaged with her work, she is impossible to forget.”

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FEBRUARY 24, 2023