William & Mary Law Review Online


Malka Herman


This Article analyzes Derrick Bell's interest-convergence theory and its utility for lawyers when litigating for the rights of nondominant groups. The first part of this Article studies four different cases in which plaintiffs or amicus curiae chose arguments that highlighted the ways their interests converged with potential allies. The Article uses these cases as examples of four different ways that a lawyer can engage in interest-convergence litigation. The strategies examined in this Article rest on two axes: dominant/nondominant narrative convergence and natural/unnatural ally convergence. An analysis of the effects of each of these techniques makes it clear that dominant narrative convergence is the most likely to harm nondominant groups in the long run (winning the battle, losing the war). Unnatural ally convergence is less likely to harm non-dominant groups in the long run, but this technique is less likely to win the case at hand (losing the battle, winning the war). Unnatural ally convergence can be an effective strategy, so long as the litigant does not have to compromise on the reasoning in a case to appeal to allies. Compromising on reasoning can make similar cases more difficult to win in the future. Therefore, non-dominant narrative convergence emerges as the best tool for both short-term wins and long-term successes (winning the battle, winning the war).