Duncan Kennedy is the Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence, Emeritus at Harvard Law School. He is well known as one of the founders of the Critical Legal Studies movement.
In this episode, we’re bringing you the first portion of another interview with Duncan Kennedy. Here, Craig Orbelian and Duncan discuss Duncan’s 1981 Root Room lecture which formed the basis of his essay “Rebels From Principle: Changing the Corporate Law Firm from Within.”
In the written piece and the talk, Duncan attempted to deconstruct the psychic dichotomy, prevalent among many leftist and left-leaning law students, that one could either enter a career in public interest work, or entirely abandon one’s values to achieve wealth and conventional “success” at a morally corrupting corporate law firm.
Kennedy suggested the options did not have to be so black and white – and rebellion is possible in any context. “Sly resistance,” as he termed it, obviously wouldn’t do anything to change the systemic entrenchment of corporate power – rather, sly resistance within the law firm offered a way to “deal with” the perhaps unresolvable psychic situation of being enmeshed in something you perceive as profoundly illegitimate. Craig and Duncan explore, and respond to, a few of the many wide-reaching critiques provoked by the essay and talk.
Disclaimer: This episode contains explicit language.