Legal Elites and the Shaping of Corporate Law Practice in Brazil: A Historical Study
59 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2014 Last revised: 8 Feb 2015
Date Written: December 5, 2014
While Brazil today has a legal market that allows for foreign lawyers and foreign firms, existing regulations are restrictive. Foreign lawyers are barred from practicing domestic law or litigation, and Brazilian-licensed lawyers working for foreign firms or partnering with foreign lawyers cannot do either as well. This was not always the case, however. Until 1963, there was little regulation on the legal profession. Beginning in 1913, elite American lawyers traveled to Brazil, with some even becoming prominent domestic practitioners. They partnered with local elite lawyers (who maintained their domestic privileges) and served as key brokers for U.S. businesses seeking market-entry. Drawing upon the elite theory literature, and on ethnographies, interview data, and over 1,000 pages of rare Portuguese and English archival sources, this study’s thesis is that sophisticated American and Brazilian legal elites capitalized on the lack of regulation to advance their financial interests, and in the process transformed Brazil’s corporate legal sector.
Keywords: Brazil, globalization, corporate law, legal profession
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