Video: A conversation on the legal legacy of Judge Henry Friendly

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A panel of distinguished judges and scholars gathered at Harvard Law School with author David Dorsen ’59 on Nov. 14 to discuss and celebrate his recent biography, “Henry Friendly: Greatest Judge of His Era.”

At the event, moderated by Professor Carol Steiker ’86—who is the Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at HLS—Judges Michael Boudin ’64, Pierre Leval ’63, Jon Newman, and Richard Posner ’62, together with HLS Professors Todd Rakoff ’75 and Dan Coquillette ’71, joined Dorsen to share personal memories of Friendly and to discuss his accomplishments and legacy.

The introduction to the book was written by Posner, who is a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School. Posner said he is typically wary of judicial biographies because they are often written so long after the subject’s death that they lack personal recollections. But Dorsen, he said, was able to talk to people who knew Friendly, painting a “vivid picture” of his personality and conveying little-known details about the man, including both his depression and his “freewheeling character.”

“We all knew that Friendly was extraordinarily intelligent and such a great judge, but the biography conveys the fact that he was really a genius,” said Posner.

Watch a video of the panel on the Harvard Law School website.