NEWS & EVENTS
October 10, 13Sonnett Lecture Archives
Globalization and the Legal Profession
This Article draws on an empirical study of the careers of international law graduates who earned an LL.M. in the United States, and considers the role of a U.S. LL.M. as a path for building a legal career in the United States. It identifies the institutional, political, and economic forces that present challenges to graduates who attempt to stay in the United States. While U.S. law schools prize the international diversity of their graduate students, this study reveals that the U.S. legal profession is most accessible to international students from English-speaking common law countries, whose language and background allow them to blend into the U.S. legal profession because their "foreignness" is less evident than students without these characteristics. International law students also are the topic of the companion article by Swethaa Ballakrishnen that follows, in which the experience of international law students who return to their home country of India is presented as a contrast. Together, these articles offer insight into the different barriers that shape entry and access into legal markets, and suggest implications for the way we understand international credentialism and the global legal profession.
This Article studies the effects of an international credential for migrants who return to their home country—in this case, students who return to India with a U.S. LL.M degree. Borrowing a framework from social psychology and organizational theory, it argues that international students with American law degrees who return to their countries of origin do not always benefit from the credential. Instead, trends from qualitative interview data suggest that repatriating an international credential—however prestigious—is a fluid process that requires emphasizing or obscuring the credential depending on the interactional context. As a result, this Article presents a contrast to the preceding article by Carole Silver, which traces the experience of similar LL.M. graduates who stay in the United States to pursue a legal career. Together, these findings on the different barriers that shape entry and access into legal markets have important implications for the way we understand international credentialism and the global legal profession.
The focus of this Article is the effect that globalization has had on social inequalities within large corporate professional firms, in both the United Kingdom and the United States. While globalization is an imprecise term, there is general agreement about its destructive impact on traditional society. Some see this as producing a range of negative effects (such as psycho-social fragmentation and insecure employment). Others, however, have viewed it as opening up the possibility for individuals to create their own biography. This is due in part to globalization’s “capitalization of everything” which, in the case of the legal profession, has transformed the large law firm from a relatively parochial organization, in which personal relations remained highly significant, into a multinational organization governed by Human Resource Management (HRM), commonly employing Diversity Management (DM) techniques and dominated by discourses of entrepreneurialism. These developments could be expected to have resulted in significant progress toward a more socially representative profession. Yet statistical surveys and qualitative research suggest that gender, race, and class remain strongly determinant of career progress in both the U.S. and U.K. legal professions, including in the globalized corporate sector. This Article considers some of the theoretical models which might explain the persistent salience of social categories for legal careers. It then draws on these models in a discussion of recent qualitative research conducted for the U.K. Legal Services Board (LSB).
In 2007, the United Kingdom adopted a new law called the Legal Services Act. This Act radically changed certain aspects of U.K. lawyer regulation. Section 1 of that Act identified eight “regulatory objectives” that provide the basis for the regulation of the legal profession. The United Kingdom is not the only jurisdiction that has identified regulatory objectives. A number of Canadian provinces, for example, have provisions that are tantamount to regulatory objectives. Australia is also in the process of developing such objectives and routinely uses “purpose statements” when enacting legal profession regulation. However, many countries—including the United States—have not explicitly identified regulatory objectives and do not use purpose statements.
This Article analyzes various regulatory objectives that have been adopted or proposed. It places the use of regulatory objectives and purpose statements in lawyer regulation in a broader context by describing some of the recent profession-specific and non-profession-specific regulatory reform initiatives. The Article recommends that jurisdictions that have not yet adopted regulatory objectives for the legal profession do so. Finally, the Article concludes by offering recommended regulatory objective concepts for jurisdictions to consider.
Regulation shapes every area of modern economic life. Getting regulation right—knowing when it is necessary, what it should accomplish, and what form it should take—is a critical part of policymaking in every society. Developing an effective oversight structure requires a complex analysis of each society’s particular historical, cultural, and legal foundations. Regulation of the practice of law is no different, although it has received surprisingly little public attention in the United States and Canada. That is not for lack of problems, and other countries with similar legal systems, such as Australia and England and Wales, have begun to do better at addressing common oversight failures. This Article explores why problems in American and Canadian legal regulation persist, and identifies reform strategies that build on recent innovations from abroad.