UCLA School of Law professor Scott Cummings has been awarded a 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship to support his research and writing about the impact that lawyers have played in backsliding democracies around the world.
Each year, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation “offers fellowships to exceptional individuals in pursuit of scholarship in any field of knowledge and creation in any art form, under the freest possible conditions.” Guggenheim Fellowships are among the most prestigious honors for people in academia and elsewhere who conduct this pathbreaking work.
This year, the foundation awarded fellowships to 171 people from 48 fields of study and 72 academic institutions, throughout the United States and Canada. Cummings is among five faculty members across the UCLA campus who earned a Guggenheim Fellowship this year.
As a Guggenheim Fellow, Cummings plans to write a book, tentatively titled Lawyers in Faltering Democracy, which, he says, “will examine the unprecedented role of lawyers in democratic backsliding across four countries that have experienced among the world’s most significant democratic declines over the last decade: the United States, Brazil, Hungary, and India. Using a comparative approach, the book will be the first to theorize and empirically analyze how lawyers — sworn to uphold the rule of law — become architects and agents of its destruction.”
Cummings is the Robert Henigson Professor of Legal Ethics at UCLA Law, where he teaches courses on legal ethics, local government law and community economic development. He joined the UCLA Law faculty in 2002 and has been a key member of the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy.
Earlier this year, he earned the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award, which is the university’s highest honor for classroom excellence. In 2020, he received a Fulbright award to conduct an interdisciplinary study of how lawyers use strategic litigation to advance claims before European Union courts in support of domestic movements for equality and political inclusion.
His numerous and highly regarded publications include three recent books, An Equal Place: Lawyers in the Struggle for Los Angeles (Oxford University Press, 2021), a landmark study of how lawyers have challenged inequality in Los Angeles; Global Pro Bono: Causes, Context, and Contestation (Cambridge University Press, 2022), the first-ever comparative analysis of lawyer volunteerism around the world; and Blue and Green: The Drive for Justice at America’s Port (MIT Press, 2018), a history of the legal campaign to end labor abuse and environmental damage at the Port of Los Angeles.
Cummings earned his B.A. at UC Berkeley and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.