Duncan Kennedy - lecturing in classroom

Credit: Unbound – https://legalleft.org/previous-issues/volumex/

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 the previous episode, you heard the first part of Craig Orbelian’s interview with Duncan Kennedy. In that episode, they discussed Kennedy’s 1981 Root Room talk which would form the basis of his essay “Rebels From Principle.”

This episode contains the second part of Orbelian’s two-part interview of Kennedy. Here, they discuss Kennedy’s 1983 work “Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy: A Polemic Against the System.” In it, Kennedy critiques the various ways the American legal education system contributes to and reinforces gender, socioeconomic, and racial hierarchies. Kennedy touches upon ideas such as:

  • The impacts of radical law student activist groups that organized against administrative bodies and the broader institutions as a whole in the 1970s/1980s.
  • Potential contributors that spurred a generational de-radicalization of those leftist student activist coalitions in recent years. 
  • How CLS scholars and other cultural critics’ critiques of law school classrooms contributed to reforms in the repressive hierarchies found in these spaces. 
  • What it has looked like to shift away from the more traditionally brutal pedagogical regime towards a more liberal, softer style of teaching. 
  • And finally, among other things, Kennedy considers and discusses law professors’ techniques aimed at combating the gunner hierarchy and some of the drawbacks of these approaches, resistance as a habit and not just an activity, and what is meant by CLS members acting in their own interests. 

Disclaimer: This episode contains explicit language.