“Diversity in Practice: Race, Gender, and Class in Legal and Professional Careers,” edited by Professor David B. Wilkins ’80, Spencer Headworth, Robert L. Nelson and Ronit Dinovitzer (Cambridge)

Wilkins, director of the school’s Center on the Legal Profession, serves as co-editor and also co-writes an essay in this volume, which contrasts the rhetoric that widely embraces the goal of diversity in the legal and other professions with the reality of continued barriers to full inclusion. The book includes contributions on diversity in corporate boards, race and class in the U.K. legal profession, the significance of network ties, and the job transitions women make.

“Law’s Abnegation: From Law’s Empire to the Administrative State,” by Professor Adrian Vermeule ’93 (Harvard)

Vermeule’s thesis is that law has steadily turned to a position of deference to the administrative state: “Law has abnegated its authority, relegating itself to the margins of government arrangements.” The result is that administrators increasingly set policy and even in some cases determine their own jurisdiction. He focuses on judicial review of administrative action and argues that the long-term trend of the law to cede power in this regard will be impossible to reverse.

“The Ethics of Influence: Government in the Age of Behavioral Science,” by Professor Cass R. Sunstein ’78 (Cambridge)

A prolific writer on behavioral science topics, in his latest book, Sunstein turns to government efforts to influence people’s actions, which should, he writes, “preserve freedom of choice, but … also steer people in directions that promote human welfare, dignity, and self-government.” He explores government policies designed to nudge desired behavior in areas such as consumer and environmental protection—and also when nudges turn into ethically impermissible manipula­tion. These government actions face a burden of justification; at the same time, he contends, some nudges, when they promote autonomy, are actually required on ethical grounds.

“Law and Order in Ancient Athens,” by Professor Adriaan Lanni (Cambridge)

A historian and law professor, Lanni presents and seeks to explain a seeming paradox about ancient Athens: It was a peaceful and well-ordered society yet did not have a “rule of law,” such as a police force or court system that consistently enforced statutes, which in the modern era is considered a prerequi­site for a society to flourish. Legal institutions did, however, help maintain order, she contends, by facilitating “the operation of informal social control” along with enforcement of law in selected instances.