Saturday, September 13, 2014

Engelmann on International Capital and Legal Space in Brazil

Fabiano Engelmann has just circulated an important article in Portuguese on International Capital and Legal Space in Brazil "O Espaco Juridico Brasileira e as Condicoes de Uso do Capital Internacional"

Engelmann follows Dezalay and Garth in his analysis of the impact of Rule of Law reforms in Brazil and the impact of global legal ideas on Brazil's "juridical space". He describes how FGV has played a role in building up the role of "corporate lawyer" and USP has spearheaded diffusion of Law and Economics.

He charts the rise of elite corporate law firms that present themselves as representatives of foreign corporations and which, due to their "size, insertion in the world of business, and lawyering methods distance themselves from traditional lawyer's offices and operate like large corporations" (my translation). The paper includes data on the 10 largest elite firms including areas of specialization and examples of cases handled as well as data on the history of the firm, size, and international connections of principal partners.

Engelmann observes:

         "This sketch of a preliminary map of the space for legitimation of "corporate lawyers"  in the academic and professional spheres, along with the construction of legal institutions with affinity to the market, allows us to affirm that this sector grew significantly since 1995. We can point to the initiatives of FGV and the law and economic movement as evidence of the import of techniques of corporate lawyering and the embedding of legal institutions supportive of business practice." (my translation).

While the corporate law sector and the norms it favors have had significant impact on juridical space, there are counter tendencies and resistances. The paper describes a number of intellectual and advocacy movements largely based on interpretation of the 1988 Constitution that tend to affirm more state-centric approaches and resist market norms. He mentions judicial decisions and post-graduate courses in law both which have reinforced public law doctrines and collective rights.

    "The combination of judicial decisions and intellectual production in the academic field has strengthened the recognition of collective rights and buttressed public policies aimed at reducing inequality in contrast with efforts to use judicial space to guaranty individual rights, contract and property" (my translation).

The article ends by suggesting that the future will see a continued struggle between efforts to legitimate a market legal culture based on models exported by the World Bank and  favorable to international business on the one hand, and alternatives visions supported by interpreters of the Constitutions largely positioned in careers in the State.

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