Joel Handler, the Richard C. Maxwell Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus at UCLA School of Law and a seminal figure in the field of poverty law, died on Sept. 22. He was 89.

For more than five decades, Handler broke new ground by drawing attention to how law shaped the experiences of poor people and how it could be used as a tool to promote equal justice. He brought rigorous analysis to reveal inequalities that others ignored, and he pioneered the use of empirical methods to study the impact of law on poor people and other marginalized groups.

Handler’s remarkable influence and range made him one of the world’s leading scholars of social welfare policy and administration, government bureaucracy, law and social change, social citizenship and sociolegal theory. Among the many honors he received were election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a German Marshall Fund grant and a Rockefeller Foundation residency.

Handler earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1954 and graduated from Harvard Law School three years later. Before coming to UCLA in 1985, Handler had spent more than 20 years as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin. He retired in 2011.

Read more on the UCLA School of Law website.