Brazilian Lawyers and the Globalization of Legal Practice

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Seminarsaal 20 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Maria da Gloria BONELLI, Federal University of Sao Carlos, Brazil
Ivar HARTMANN, Law FGV Rio, Brazil
The paper focuses on the impact of  globalization in legal counseling in Brazil. The hypothesis is that the homogenization produced by global processes enables an articulated fragmentation of practices, reordering social differences without eradicating inequalities. Difference and inequalities have been observed also in legal education, with the proliferation of private Law schools, the expansion of female participation and now that of Afro-Brazilians undergraduated. In 2012, there were 1.157 law schools in Brazil  – 957 of them private, 182 public. This growth imparted change on faculty. In that year, in a total of 40.828 professors, 38,4% were women and 22,1% were non-whites.

The internationalization of legal practice has produced new forms of professional organization, which compete with family practices and those shared by few partners, as well as in-house counseling. In addition to elite large and medium-sized law firms, we see mass litigation and in-house corporate counseling by legal executives. This diversification was also accompanied by changes in the social composition of the profession. In 2012, the Brazilian National Bar Association counted 696.864 active lawyers, of which 55% female. In the state of São Paulo, the State Bar had 248.712 active lawyers, of which 54.2% male. Increase in the participation of Afro-Brazilian lawyers is more recent. Since 2013, around 1.300 non-white lawyers monthly have joined the National Bar.

In recent years the increase in internet penetration in Brazil has accelerated the creation of legal startups. In a traditional, guild-oriented job market such as Brazilian legal practice, legal professionals are concerned with the commoditization of legal counsel, unprecedented efficiency in the provision of legal practice and, as a result, the job loss. 

The paper shows the increase of stratification based in marks of difference, such as gender, new forms of legal practice and the expansion of organizational professionalism.