Globalization through the Lens of Palace Wars: What Elite Lawyers' Careers Can and Cannot Tell Us about Globalization of Law


Frank Munger is Professor of Law at New York Law School. His research referred to in this article has been supported by a grant from the Law School Admissions Council, and he also thanks David Engel for helpful comments on those portions of the article. Professor Munger may be contacted at


Yves Dezalay and Bryant Garth's three studies—Dealing in Virtue (1996), The Internationalization of Palace Wars (2002), Asian Legal Revivals (2010)—trace the globalization of law through “palace wars” among elites for positions in the “fields of state power.” They conclude that globalization occurs through links among elites engaged in their domestic palace wars, which independently establish the symbolic power of law in each state. The article argues that while Dezalay and Garth provide an invaluable new starting point for further research, they do not adequately consider an emerging field of research documenting alternative pathways of legal development pursued by local activists inside and outside the new states of the Global South.