Globalization and Lawyering in Emerging Economies (GLEE)

A Joint project of the Global Legal Studies Center and the East Asian Legal Studies Center with Harvard Law School and institutions in Brazil, India, and China


In an age of rapid globalization, few lines of inquiry in social and legal studies seem more pressing than the development of the legal profession in emerging economies. The legal profession has traditionally operated primarily within national borders. As globalization intensifies economic, political, social and cultural relations across borders, an increasing number of transactions are affected by multiple legal orders. At the same time, as economic power shifts, emerging economies are becoming central players in the global legal industry, creating new economic relationships and bringing new perspectives to law and global governance. As a result of these developments, the legal profession stands on the brink of a fundamental transformation.

Emerging economies like India, China and Brazil are at the frontiers of these changes. Their impressive growth creates new demands for legal services. Both indigenous and foreign law firms are trying to seize these market opportunities. Governments strive to harness globalization to promote national development by engaging in legal reforms. A new generation of lawyers challenges traditional notions of legal practice and legal expertise. Legal education is modernizing. These efforts occur within a matrix of international and regional norms which help shape the contours of national law. Since globalization may produce vast inequalities, it also raises questions of corporate lawyers’ social responsibility. 

The GLEE project investigates the impact of globalization on the corporate legal sector in major emerging economies and the effect of changes in this sector on other parts of the legal order, including legal education and the provision of legal services to underrepresented populations. It is the first comprehensive attempt to analyze the transformation of corporate legal sectors in major emerging economies and how these developments may in turn reshape legal practice in established markets such as North America and Europe.

The project focuses on developments in India, China and Brazil but may expand to other jurisdictions in the future. GLEE researchers collaborate on the design and implementation of empirical scholarship to assess the significance of the changing nature of the corporate sector for domestic legal orders, economic, social and political development, and global governance. The project will contribute to theoretical debates in globalization, sociology of the legal profession and law and development literatures, and it will produce knowledge that helps legal practitioners address globalization challenges they face in their day-to-day work.

Areas of Study

Four primary areas of study fall under the umbrella of the GLEE project:

1. Investigating the impact of globalization on the major corporate legal service providers like elite law firms, in-house counsel, and legal process outsourcing companies;

2. Analyzing the effect of globalization on the regulation of law practice, cross-border transactional lawyering and legal capacity building in international dispute settlement;

3. Examining the interplay between the corporate legal sector and traditional sectors of the legal profession including the courts, legal education, and public interest; and

4. Exploring how the transformation of the corporate legal sector affects national development goals and trajectories and global governance.

Project Team

The founding institutional members of GLEE are Harvard Law School and the University of Wisconsin Law School. The project director is Prof. David Wilkins, the Lester Kissel Professor of Law, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession, and Faculty Director of the Program on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. Project co-director is Prof. David M. Trubek, Senior Research Fellow, Program on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School and Dean of International Studies Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The GLEE project operates as a consortium of individuals and institutions. GLEE partners with researchers from various universities as well as institutions in emerging economies includingDireito GV, the Law School of FGV in São Paulo Brazil and KoGuan Law School at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

GLEE researchers include:

  • John C. Coates, John F. Cogan, Jr., Professor of Law and Economics, Harvard Law School
  • Scott L. Cummings, Professor of Law, University of California Los Angeles School of Law
  • Marc Galanter, John and Rylla Bosshard Professor of Law and South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin and LSE Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Luciana Gross Cunha, Professor at Escola de Direito de São Paulo, Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School
  • Vikramaditya Khanna, Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School and Co-Director, University of Michigan Law School & Jindal Global Law School Center on Global Corporate and Financial Law & Policy
  • Jayanth Krishnan, Professor of Law and Director of India Initiative Center on the Global Legal Profession, Maurer School of Law, Indiana University Bloomington  
  • Xueyao Li, Associate Professor of Law, KoGuan Law School, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • Sida Liu, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Law, Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin
  • Ashish Nanda, Robert Braucher Professor of Law from Practice, Harvard Law School
  • Fabiana Luci de Oliveira, Professor of Research Methods and Coordinator of the Research Group of the Center on Justice and Society, Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School in Rio de Janeiro
  • Mihaela Papa, Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Assistant Director for GLEE research, Harvard Law School
  • Fabio de Sá e Silva, Researcher at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), Brasilia and a PhD candidate in Law, Policy and Society at the Northeastern University  
  • Louise Trubek, Clinical Professor of Law Emerita at the University of Wisconsin Law School

Events and Presentations


"The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization: The Rise of the Corporate Legal Sector and its Impact on Lawyers and Society" Edited by David B. Wilkins, Vikramaditya Khanna and David M. Trubeck.

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