Joshua Kleinfeld

Associate Professor of Law
Affiliated Faculty, Department of Philosophy


Joshua Kleinfeld is an Associate Professor of Law and Associate Professor of Philosophy by courtesy at Northwestern University, where he teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, corporate criminal law, and jurisprudence.  His research on criminal law and procedure focuses on the distinctive social function and sense of justice at work in the criminal system, and he is involved in the democratization movement for criminal justice reform.  His research on philosophy focuses on the socio-theoretic tradition of Hegel, Weber, and Durkheim, aiming to understand and critique social life by bringing to light the normative ideas implicit in social practices and institutions.

He holds a JD from Yale Law School, a PhD in philosophy from the Goethe University of Frankfurt (supervised by Axel Honneth, Klaus Günther, and Rainer Forst), and a BA in philosophy from Yale College.  He clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; Judge Janice Rogers Brown on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; and then-President (chief justice) Aharon Barak of the Supreme Court of Israel.  He was an Associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in Frankfurt, Germany, working in the area of corporate criminal law, and Senior Research Analyst at the White House’s Council on Bioethics.  He is the recipient of the Paul M. Bator Award, given annually on a nationwide basis to one legal scholar under 40 for excellence in legal scholarship, significant public impact, a commitment to teaching, and a concern for students.

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Areas of Expertise

  • Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Political, Moral, and Legal Philosophy
  • Corporate Criminal Law

Selected Publications

  • Reconstructivism: The Place of Criminal Law in Ethical Life in 129 harvard law review 1485 (2016).
  • Two Cultures of Punishment in 68 stanford law review 933 (2016).
  • A Theory of Criminal Victimization in 65 stanford law review 1087-1152 (2013) (selected for Yale- Stanford-Harvard (formerly Yale-Stanford) Junior Faculty Forum).
  • Enforcement and the Concept of Law in 121 yale law journal online (2011).

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  • JD, Yale Law School
  • PhD in Philosophy, Goethe University Frankfurt
  • BA in Philosophy, Yale College

Prior Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law
  • Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton
  • Law Clerk, Hon. J. Harvie Wilkinson III, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • Law Clerk, Hon. Janice Rogers Brown, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
  • Law Clerk (summer), Hon. Aharon Barak, President (Chief Justice), Supreme Court of Israel
  • Senior Research Analyst, The President's Council on Bioethics

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