UW Law School project examines the role of law in developing economies

A University of Wisconsin Law School project is examining the role of law in developing Latin American economies, where experts say a paradigm shift may be underway.

Law and the New Developmental State
takes the university’s service mission beyond Wisconsin borders—not the first time that the Wisconsin Idea, the belief that the university exists to serve the public, has gone global.

According to Professor David Trubek, who directs the LANDS project, “The Law School and this campus have a 50-year tradition of service in Latin America, so LANDS continues our commitment to promoting progressive development in the region through socio-legal studies and empirical research.”

In Phase I of the project, LANDS focused on Brazil for its innovative development strategy, in which government supports private sector growth without attempting to control it, and public-private collaborations are emphasized in many areas.

It’s a strategy that seems to be paying off for Brazilians. “In fact,” Trubek says, “Brazil is the only major country in the last decade that has seen a reduction in income inequality.“

Along with economic reforms come new policies and a demand for legal expertise. The LANDS project identified new functions for law and suggested new roles for lawyers in the developmental process. “LANDS can help Brazilian practitioners and educators adapt to the new needs for lawyering, while showing American lawyers the conditions they will encounter when they work with Brazil and similar countries,” Trubek says.

The first phase of the project enlisted Latin American scholars, who completed case studies on development in Brazil, as compared with the economies and laws of Colombia and Mexico. In its second phase, Trubek says the project will examine the relationship between law and new developmental strategies worldwide with the goal of stimulating the field of law and development in emerging economies.

A conference in Sao Paulo last month and a new book of LANDS case studies marked the completion of the project’s first phase and the launch of Phase II. The book, “Law and the New Developmental State: The Brazilian Experience in Latin American Context,” is now available through Cambridge University Press. In addition to Trubek, UW Law Professor John Ohnesorge participated in LANDS, as did project assistant Paul Borovay, a 2013 Law School graduate.

In Phase I, LANDS received support from the Law School’s Global Legal Studies Center, Madison's International Institute, and the Ford Foundation. In Phase II, it will receive support from the East Asian Legal Studies Center and Harvard’s Institute for Global Law and Policy.

Submitted by Law School News on August 13, 2013

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