The Role of Lawyers in South and East Asia


A common assumption is that factors associated with globalization, increasing economic exchange and technological improvements bring a convergence toward organizational structures and practices. The local legal profession changes in order to compete better in global markets, which require globally adept lawyers. This chapter looks at factors of convergence, but the structure of the legal profession in any given context is a product of a mix of local and global influences. The chapter points toward practices and reforms that are consistent with gradual convergence, but there is also significant divergence. Among the important factors are the degrees of investment in the law and lawyers during colonial periods, the historical prestige of lawyers, and the relationship to the US during the Cold War. A key theme is the degree to which through global and local processes social capital is embedded in legal capital in the different countries. The chapter covers India, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and the Philippines, updating research undertaken for the authors’ book on Asian Legal Revivals, published in 2010.

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