NULR Hosts 2022 Symposium, “Fraud and the Erosion of Trust”


Public Interest Events Students Visitors
U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff

In October, Northwestern University Law Review hosted its 2022 Symposium, “Fraud and the Erosion of Trust,” bringing together scholars to discuss the history of fraud in America. U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff (Southern District of New York) delivered the keynote address, which was followed by a discussion with Duke University Professor and Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies Edward Balleisen. During the conversation, the judge discussed the theme, and why it’s so difficult to catch and convict white-collar criminals.

The event was co-hosted by Emily Kadens, Edna B. and Ednyfed H. Williams Professor of Law, and Professor Balleisen. Students, faculty, and staff congregated in both the Thorne Auditorium and Atrium to partake in the daylong symposium.

“Fraud seems pervasive in American society. Accusations of political fraud, healthcare fraud, and business fraud are front page news every day,” said Professor Kadens. “In the symposium, we wanted to explore the problem of fraud from a multi-disciplinary perspective and examine the effect the prevalence of fraud is having on Americans’ trust in institutions. We were especially thrilled to have a practitioners’ roundtable with lawyers representing law firms, state government, business, and public interest discussing the reality of fraud that they see every day in practice.”

During the keynote, Judge Rakoff focused on financial fraud and the difficulty of prosecuting it. “It’s much harder to catch people committing fraud because fraud’s essence is deception,” he said. He empathized that many times a person does not know they’ve been defrauded until much later. “The plausibility of deception often makes it harder for prosecutors to prove that the deception was purposeful, as opposed to an innocent mistake.”

Dean Hari Osofsky highlighted the important role that the Symposium played in creating needed dialogue about important issues. “The Law School is grateful to our Northwestern University Law Review students and Professors Kadens and Balleisen for putting together this impactful symposium. Issue of fraud and the erosion of trust in our society could not be more timely.” She also acknowledged the work the Bluhm Legal Clinic has done to combat mortgage fraud; Professor Kadens’ study of the history of commercial fraud; and Class of 1940 Professor of Law Michael Kang’s study of voter fraud.

Other panels included “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Fraud,” “The Evolution of Anti-Fraud Regulation,” and “Practitioner Roundtable.” Northwestern Pritzker Law faculty participated in these panels alongside scholars from Dartmouth College, Georgetown University Law, Yale Law School, Penn Law, and more.