New Book on 'Rights and Legal Empowerment in Eradicating Poverty'

Edited by Dan Banik of the University of Oslo, these essays give good arguments for the link between empowerment and poverty, and provide some useful case studies. At more the $100, it is a bit of of reach for most, but you can read excepts of the book online. Official description and links follows: 

berkman Webast on 4/22; "The End of Lawyers?"

Announcement of Webcast at Berkman:

Beth Kolko, a friend of mine who is at Berkman as a visiting scholar this year informed me about this interesting upcoming event. I've read some of Richard Susskind's writings and find him to be forward thinking and visionary, basing his thoughts on technological trends. I can absolutely relate to his sometimes frustrations about trying to sell new revolutionary ideas to the legal industry, one of the most traditional and inflexible professional groups. His Harvard lunch presentation should be interesting. Stay tuned for my summary of it after the event.

The End of Lawyers? The End of Law Schools?
Professor Richard Susskind, Author of "The End of Lawyers?" and IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England
Wednesday, April 22, 12:15 pm
Griswold Hall 110, Harvard Law School
RSVP required for those attending in person (
This event will be webcast live at 12:15 pm ET.

Will lawyers be casualties in the digital revolution?  This is the controversial prediction of Richard Susskind, author of The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services.  He believes that lawyers will have to ask themselves what elements of their current workload could be undertaken more quickly, more cheaply, more efficiently, or to a higher quality using different and new methods of working – because if they don’t, their competitors will. The market is unlikely to tolerate expensive lawyers for tasks that can be better discharged with support of modern systems and techniques.
Prof. Susskind predicts that the legal profession will be driven by two forces in the coming decade: by a market pull towards the commoditization of legal services, and by the pervasive development and uptake of new and disruptive legal technologies. The threat here for lawyers is clear - their jobs may well be eroded or even displaced. At the same time, for entrepreneurial lawyers, Susskind foresees quite different law jobs emerging which may be highly rewarding, even if very different from those of today.
Is the same true of law schools?  Is the current model of legal education facing radical change?  Prof. Susskind will explore these and other challenging questions in a lecture open to the entire Law School community.
About Richard Susskind
Richard Susskind has specialized in legal technology for 25 years, advising firms and governments. Since 1998, he has been IT Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England. In 2003, he was appointed by the Cabinet Office as Chair of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information. He holds law professorships at Gresham College in London and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.  Susskind is a graduate of the University of Glasgow and earned a doctorate in law and computers from Balliol College, Oxford. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the British Computer Society.

Paradigms and Theories of Law and Development

(Updated from 4/7/2006)
Currently the 'flavor of the month', "Rule of Law" (ROL) has been the dominant theory in the development industry with regards to the role of law in development since the 1990s. However, like with general or sectoral development theories, the current thinking was not always the case, and even today, there is disagreement about what ROL really is, as well as suggestions of alternatives to thinking about this relationship between law and development.


1. I am attempting to summarize some of the thinking about this relationship. The problem with available literature is there isn't an established framework for Law and Development theories because:

  • This topic, like its mother theory of ‘Development’, is relatively new, and compounded by the fact that it is not a mainstream in development practice
  • There are inconsistencies about what 'law' means, and what 'development' means
  • Consequently, there is a lack of consensus about the role of law in development, ranging in a spectrum from legal determinism (law is a main cause of development) to law has no causal effect with development. Most current literature lie somewhere in the spectrum.
  • Because of the contested nature of the research and practice in this field, it is hard to design a definite framework to discuss the theories of law in development.
    • Firstly inconsistent and obscure terminology by authors result in readers not really knowing for sure if they are talking about the same or different issues
    • Secondly, vocabulary is inconsistent because development experts from across disciplines, as well as across time.
  • Each theory expounded, even if it has a discrete name, overlaps with elements of others
  • Even within each theory, there is often disagreement about definition and application.
  • Law and Development as a field, so far, can best be described as reactive and learning

2. I use the word 'theory' loosely - it simply refers to the ways that people think about the role of law in development. Some authors claim that there are ‘3 Movements’, some use ‘4 Phases’, most use their own frameworks, and others do not use any at all.

3. I also start where 'development' as an industry started, around 1950. However, the study of this relationship started way earlier in the 18th century with Western scholars like Weber. I hope to write more about the history of law (as applied to development) in future, but for our current purpose, let's start with 'contemporary' development.

This table summarizes the rest of this post.

Dominant Development Theory
Law and Development
Program and Policies
Modernization and Growth Theory
Law and Development Movement
Transfer of US model of law to foster development via the state (judiciary and legal profession)
Washington Consensus
Law as tool for markets
Creation of pro-market laws and pro-market institutions
New Development Economics
Rule of Law
Rule of law as an intrinsic goal in context

Each theory description follows: