Shakespeare's King Lear and the Authority of Kings, Presidents, and Judges

Boston Lawyers Chapter
Start : Wednesday, May 21, 2008 05:00 PM
End : Wednesday, May 21, 2008

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The Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA

Featured Speakers:
Kenneth W. Starr
Michael Greco
Paul Cellucci
Douglas P. Woodlock
Rya W. Zobel
Patti B. Saris
F. Dennis Saylor IV
Nathaniel M. Gorton
Robert J. Cordy
Judith A. Cowin
Joan Lukey
Harvey Silverglate
J.W. Carney, Jr.
Daniel J. Kelly
Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz



  • Honorable. Kenneth Starr, Dean, Pepperdine University Law School
  • Michael Greco, Past President, ABA, and Partner, K&L Gates
  • Honorable Paul Cellucci, former Governor of Massachusetts and Ambassador to Canada
  • Judge Douglas Woodlock, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts
  • Judge Rya Zobel, U.S. District Court, Massachusetts
  • Judge Patti Saris, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts
  • Judge Dennis Saylor, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts
  • Judge Nathaniel Gorton, U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Massachusetts
  • Justice Robert Cordy, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Justice Judith Cowin, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • John Montgomery, Ropes & Gray Managing Partner
  • Joan Lukey, Wilmer Hale Partner and President-elect of the American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Harvey Silverglate, civil liberties attorney and writer
  • J.W. Carney, Jr., Criminal Defense Attorney
  • Dan Kelly, Chairman, Boston Lawyers Chapter
  • Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Georgetown University Law Center

 While Shakespeare's King Lear is often viewed by modern audiences as an intensely personal drama about the conflicts and struggles between an aging father and his daughters, it also a lesson of statecraft -- a tragedic example of how not to transfer power. In its opening scene, Lear, an octogenarian at the height of his power, elects to surrender his authority and divide his kingdom among his three daughters. This sets off a series of cataclysmic events leading to the destruction of Lear and his family and the foreign occupation of his kingdom, and serves as a fitting backdrop for the discussion to follow the play. The participants will examine the nature of and basis for authority and the tenuous hold those in authority have over the reigns of power. The participants will discuss the roots of authority held by the three branches of the American government and the perils to each of those branches when authority of one is surrendered in favor of or usurped by another. The participants will also look at the international dimensions of this issue as the United States wrestles with its own sovereignty and that of the United Nations, foreign countries and international tribunals. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions and join the debate.



Former Whitewater Independent Counsel, Solicitor General, and Federal Appeals Court Judge, now Dean of Pepperdine Law School, Kenneth W. Starr will host a discussion and debate on issues of national sovereignty and the independence and authority of the branches of government, framed by a staged reading of Shakespeare's King Lear at The Cutler Majestic Theatre on May 21 2008 at 5 pm. Former ABA President and K&L Gates Partner Michael Greco will take on the role of Lear.

The FREE event is the eighth in the series "Shakespeare and the Law," produced by the Boston Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, in conjunction with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. The event is directed by CSC's Artistic Director Steven Maler and produced by McCarter & English partner Daniel J. Kelly. The Massachusetts Bar Association serves as a co-sponsor of the event.

As in the past, the first hour features prominent judges, public officials and members of the bar performing an abridged version of a Shakespeare work. This is followed by a discussion of the legal and political issues addressed in the play and their application to today's headlines. In addition to Mr. Greco, the event features former Governor and Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, federal judges Douglas Woodlock, Rya Zobel, Patti Saris, Dennis Saylor and Nathaniel Gorton, Supreme Judicial Court Justices Robert Cordy and Judith Cowin, Ropes & Gray Managing Partner John Montgomery, Wilmer Hale Partner and President-elect of the American College of Trial Lawyers Joan Lukey, civil liberties attorney and writer Harvey Silverglate, and criminal defense attorney J.W. Carney, Jr.

Dean Starr will preside over the discussion following the play.

Registration details: Members of the public may gain admittance by RSVP'ing prior to the event to the Federalist Society c/o Dottie Moore at 617-449-6617 or