Associate Professor of Law
Kenneth Kettering joined New York Law School as an associate professor of law in 2000 after nearly 20 years in private practice with Reed Smith in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was a partner in the firm’s business and finance group.
His law practice included a broad range of sophisticated financing and corporate matters. He served as primary counsel to a major financial institution with respect to over-the-counter derivatives and foreign exchange, and had extensive experience with all forms of finance, including syndicated lending, asset-based lending, highly leveraged transactions, structured finance and securitization, and securities offerings.
“I knew from childhood that I wanted to teach, and after my first year in law school I knew that I would come back to teach law,” he says, recalling that on the evening after he graduated he melodramatically shook his fist outside his law school, promising that he would return to teach.
“In the classroom I try to pass on what practical wisdom I gleaned from my career in practice, and to give a good sense of what is fundamental and what is secondary. At the same time it’s important to foster skepticism about the rules we are studying,” he says.
Professor Kettering studies the forces that shape commercial and financial law, particularly the continual dialectic between the legal systems built by law-crafters and the machinations of the marketplace to deal outside of those systems.
“I have seen several major financial products become successful even though they had very shaky legal underpinnings when launched. Eventually they become so widely used that, by the time their presence registers on the consciousness of judges and legislators, it becomes almost unthinkable to invalidate them,” he says.
“Another theme that interests me is historical. For instance, the telegraph probably was a bigger innovation in its day than the Internet has been in our day. Yet, so far as I know, the law-crafters of the 1800s found no need to enact legislation to nail down the role of the telegraph in commerce. By contrast, such legislation was enacted fairly soon after the Internet achieved wide acceptance.”
Professor Kettering graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1980, where he served as editor and Supreme Court coeditor, respectively, of volumes 92 and 93 of the Harvard Law Review. A Pittsburgh native, he studied Mathematics, with University Honors, at Carnegie Mellon University in 1977. Before deciding to go to law school he interned in Mathematics at Brookhaven National Laboratories in Upton, New York. After graduating from law school he served as law clerk to Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Professor Kettering is vice chair of the Secured Lending Committee of the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association and is a member of the Uniform Laws Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. For more than a decade he served on the Council of the Business Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and played a major role in revising Pennsylvania’s commercial and business laws. He has also participated in various national law reform efforts. He is a fellow of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers.
Carnegie Mellon, B.S. (Mathematics) 1977
Harvard, J.D. 1981 magna cum laude (Harvard Law Review, Supreme Court Coeditor).
Law Clerk, Hon. John Minor Wisdom, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Practicing attorney at Reed Smith for nearly 20 years focusing on sophisticated corporate financing. Outside counsel to major financial institution on derivatives and foreign exchange. Vice chair, Secured Lending Committee of American Bar Association and member, Uniform Laws Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Fellow, American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers.