Towards Comparative Legal Institutionalism featuring Katharina Pistor: Inaugural Irving Tragen Lecture on Comparative Law

Lecture | February 3 | 4-6:30 p.m. | Law Building, Warren Room, 295 Simon Hall

 Katharina Pistor, Columbia Law School

 Berkeley Law

Comparative law today leads only a shadow existence at law schools in the U.S. and elsewhere. This has been true especially for the last three decades when globalization and global law have gained prominence, diminishing the interest in (foreign) local law. In this talk, I will argue that comparative law is best thought of as a methodology that can and should be employed for analyzing the role of (formal) law in relation to other forms of social ordering at the national, transnational and international levels. My argument builds on the tradition of institutionalism in neighboring disciplines (economics, history, political sciences), which has recently been extended to “legal institutionalism” (Deakin et al., 2015). Legal institutionalism, however, suffers from lack of comparative insight. In my talk, I hope to show the relevance of comparative legal analysis that focuses on legal institutions, their operation and change in different contexts, for finding answers to questions about social ordering and governance that have long preoccupied social theorists and students of global governance. Comparative legal institutionalism, I will argue can help us (1) identify the relevance of law in comparison to other modes of social ordering; (2) understand the political economy of legal ordering in different local and global contexts and (3) analyze how legal change interacts with patterns of economic and social change domestically as well as globally.

Lecture from 4-5:30 p.m. followed by reception from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Warren Room, 295 Simon Hall.

Katharina Pistor is the Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law at Columbia Law School and director of the Law School’s Center on Global Legal Transformation. Her work spans comparative law and corporate governance, law and finance, and law and development. She is the co-recipient of the Max Planck Research Award (2012), a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science and a Fellow at the European Corporate Governance Institute. Her most recent book is “The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality” (Princeton UP, 2019).

Irving Tragen, a distinguished diplomat with 55 years of service in Inter-American Affairs, was the 2010 Citation Award recipient. A Foreign Service Officer for 35 years, his assignments included senior diplomatic and development posts in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1980, Tragen joined the Organization of American States’ Economic Development Program, which tackled debt and foreign trade crises, border area infrastructure projects, and manpower development initiatives. In 1985, he was selected to organize and direct the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, leading its efforts to combat drug trafficking and abuse in the Western Hemisphere until his retirement in 1994.