Like other well-intentioned progressives, legal advocates for residents of poor Black neighborhoods face a persistent accusation: that their efforts hurt the very people they mean to help.
Disputing this charge, Harvard law professor emeritus Duncan Kennedy will propose a method for evaluating a wide range of legal reform projects at the fall 2022 James McCormick Mitchell Lecture, the School of Law’s signature lecture series that brings distinguished legal scholars to the law school.
The event, “Law Distributes: Housing and Credit in Poor Black Neighborhoods,” will take place from noon to 2 p.m. Sept. 16 in the Charles B. Sears Law Library in O’Brian Hall, North Campus, or via live broadcast. A link to the live broadcast will be posted here on the day of the event.
Following the lecture, Kennedy will discuss his proposal with UB Law experts Heather Abraham, housing policy; Matthew Dimick, political economy; and Athena Mutua, race, gender and class.
A reception will follow. The program is free and open to the public, although registration is required.
Kennedy, the emeritus Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence at Harvard Law School, is one of the founders of the Critical Legal Studies movement; his scholarly work is widely recognized for its influence on the history of legal thought, legal semiotics, law and economics, contract law and legal education.
Kennedy joined the Harvard faculty in 1971 after completing a clerkship with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, and has taught contracts, torts, property, trusts, the history of legal thought, low-income housing law and policy, Israel/Palestine legal issues, the globalization of law and legal thought, and the politics of private law.
His work includes five academic books, numerous articles and contributions to public debates on the war on Iraq and Israel/Palestine in journalistic writings and beyond.
The Mitchell Lecture Series was endowed in 1950 by a gift from Lavinia A. Mitchell in memory of her husband, James McCormick Mitchell. An 1897 graduate of the Buffalo Law School, James Mitchell later served as chairman of the Council of the University of Buffalo, which was then a private university.
Justice Robert H. Jackson delivered the first Mitchell Lecture in 1951, titled “Wartime Security and Liberty Under Law.” The lecture was published that year in the first issue of the Buffalo Law Review.
Mitchell Lecture programs have brought many distinguished speakers to the School of Law, among them C. Edwin Baker, Derrick Bell, Barry Cushman, Carol Gilligan, Elizabeth Holtzman, Irene Zubaida Khan, Lawrence Lessig, Stewart Macaulay, Catharine McKinnon, Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Richard Posner and Clyde Summers.