Joel Bakan

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Joel Bakan
Born 1959
Lansing, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Law Professor, writer
Spouse Marlee Gayle Kline
Rebecca Jenkins (present)

Joel Conrad Bakan (born 1959) is a Canadian writer, jazz musician,[1] filmmaker,[2] and professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia.[3]

Born in Lansing, Michigan, and raised for most of his childhood in East Lansing, Michigan, where his parents, Paul and Rita Bakan, were both long-time professors in psychology at Michigan State University. In 1971, he moved with his parents to Vancouver, British Columbia. He was educated at Simon Fraser University (BA, 1981), University of Oxford (BA in law, 1983), Dalhousie University (LLB, 1984) and Harvard University (LLM, 1986).

He served as a law clerk to Brian Dickson in 1985. During his tenure as clerk, Chief Justice Dickson authored the judgment R. v. Oakes, among others. Bakan then pursued a master's degree at Harvard Law School. After graduation, he returned to Canada, where he has taught law at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law. He joined the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law in 1990 as an associate professor. Bakan teaches Constitutional Law, Contracts, socio-legal courses and the graduate seminar. He has won the Faculty of Law's Teaching Excellence Award twice and a UBC Killam Research Prize.[4]

Bakan has a son from his first wife, Marlee Gayle Kline, also a scholar and Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia. Professor Kline died of leukemia in 2001. Bakan helped establish The Marlee Kline Memorial Lectures in Social Justice to commemorate her contributions to Canadian law and feminist legal theory. He is now married to Canadian actress and singer Rebecca Jenkins. His sister, Laura Naomi Bakan is a provincial court judge in British Columbia, and his brother, Michael Bakan, is an ethnomusicologist.


Bakan authored The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, a book analyzing the evolution and modern-day behavior of corporations from a critical perspective. Published in 2004, it was made into a film The Corporation the same year and won 25 international awards. His book Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Targets Children was published in August 2011.

He is also the author of a number of books on Canadian constitutional law, including Just Words: Constitutional Rights and Social Wrongs, which analyzes the historical effect that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has had in promoting social justice. Joel Bakan is distinct by criticizing the actions of civil liberties groups and their overemphasis on individual liberty at the expense of collective rights and duties.[5]

Bakan and his wife Jenkins released a jazz album, Blue Skies[6] in 2008, and an album of Jenkins' original songs, Something's Coming, in 2012.


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