Adolf Berle’s ideas have attained a remarkable longevity in corporate law with an influence exceeding that of any other twentieth century law professor. Participants in the now ten Berle symposia often have framed the discussion of his career as an intellectual history, usually built around the powerful transformative effect of The Modern Corporation and Private Property (MCPP). Yet this approach is insufficient to explain large parts of Berle’s professional career, including what Berle did during the twelve years of the Roosevelt Administration that immediately followed MCPP. This Article offers an alternative focus that better accounts for the career of an intellectual jobber, as Berle described himself. Intellectual history is still relevant—how could it not be when ideas were Berle’s stock in trade—but political history is at the forefront of this account, with particular attention to the interaction of Berle’s personal traits in this historical context, particularly his inclination to focus on one-off settings into which he could parachute and quickly exit.
Robert B. Thompson, Adolf Berle During the New Deal: The Brain Truster as an Intellectual Jobber, 42 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 663 (2019).
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