Joel Handler

Joel Handler

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Law and Public Policy. Richard C. Maxwell Professor of Law


J. D., Harvard University Law School

Areas of Interest:

Economics, Ethnic Communities - African American, Politics, Poverty, Welfare


(310) 267-4736


Office Location:

Law School, 1242, Law Building

Professor Handler’s principal areas of research are poverty issues in law and administration, the structure and operation of welfare programs, client-agency relationships and welfare reform. While on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin Law School, he was a senior researcher at the Institute for Research on Poverty and chaired the Governor’s Task Force for the Reform of General Relief. He is past president of the Law and Society Association.

A Guggenheim Fellow and former member of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on the Status of Black America, he also served as chair of the Academy’s Panel on High Risk Youth. Lately, he has been working on the symbolic politics of welfare reform, from a historical perspective as well as dealing with current welfare reform proposals. He also has explored client-agency relationships in the areas of education, health care, worker safety, local government and low-income housing.


Hard Labor: Women and Work in the Post-Welfare Era
Handler, J. and Lucie White (eds.) Hard Labor: Women and Work in the Post-Welfare Era. M.E. Sharpe, (1999).

Down From Bureaucracy: The Ambiguity of Empowerment and Privatization
Handler, J. Down From Bureaucracy: The Ambiguity of Empowerment and Privatization. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (1996).

The Poverty of Welfare Reform
Handler, J. The Poverty of Welfare Reform. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.
Publication Link: The Poverty of Welfare Reform

Selected Books and Publications

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Research Interests