About Adolf A. Berle, Jr.
Adolf A. Berle, Jr. (1895 - 1971) was a practicing lawyer, a teacher, a scholar, and a public servant extraordinaire. He was an exceptional student, and excelled at everything he undertook. He had a passion for social justice. His life is an example of the very best that a lawyer can hope to achieve over a lifetime of service.
As a public servant, Berle is remembered as one of the original members of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "brain trust." He was influential in shaping New Deal legislation to reform banking, the stock market, the bankruptcy system, and railroading. He became an expert on Latin-American affairs, serving as ambassador to Brazil, Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs under Roosevelt, and Chair of President Kennedy's Advisory Task Force on Latin American Affairs.
As a scholar, Berle is most remembered for The Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932), co-authored with Gardiner Means. In that work, Berle set out a compelling critique of the profound changes wrought by the modern business corporation. Berle saw that corporations would become the dominant institution in society. Moreover, he foresaw that corporations would be loosely united by common goals and interests into a force that would compete with the modern state for influence and power. Berle spent the rest of his career as a scholar working out these understandings as the corporate system continued to evolve and change.