Vol. LIV No. 3

The Rise of the Corporate Legal Elite in the Brics: Implications for Global Governance

Abstract: Both international relations scholars interested in the future of global governance and sociologists of the legal profession studying the globalization of the legal services market are devoting increasing attention to rising powers, particularly the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). Yet very little of this rich literature addresses the intersection between these two theoretical domains. In this Article, we explore one such intersection that is likely to be increasingly important in the coming years: the role that the new corporate legal elite emerging within the BRICS countries will play in shaping global governance. We conceptualize three processes through which this new elite can exert its influence: participation in corporate legal networks, engagement in the integration of the legal industry and of the world economy generally, and facilitation of the global rule of capital. Based on the analysis of these processes in the BRICS context, this Article discusses the potential implications of this new corporate legal elite for global governance—both of the legal profession and of the world generally. We conclude by proposing a research agenda for advancing scholarship at the intersection of international relations and the sociology of the legal profession.

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