Global Legal Pluralism

A Jurisprudence of Law beyond Borders

Global Legal Pluralism

We live in a world of legal pluralism, where a single act or actor is potentially regulated by multiple legal or quasi-legal regimes imposed by state, substate, transnational, supranational, and nonstate communities. Navigating these spheres of complex overlapping legal authority is confusing, and we cannot expect territorial borders to solve all these problems because human activity and legal norms inevitably flow across such borders. At the same time, those hoping to create one universal set of legal rules are also likely to be disappointed by the sheer variety of human communities and interests. Instead, we need an alternative jurisprudence, one that seeks to create or preserve spaces for productive interaction among multiple, overlapping legal systems by developing procedural mechanisms, institutions, and practices that aim to manage, without eliminating, the legal pluralism we see around us. Such mechanisms, institutions, and practices can help mediate conflicts, and we may find that the added norms, viewpoints, and participants produce better decision making, better adherence to those decisions by participants and non-participants alike, and ultimately better real-world outcomes. Global Legal Pluralism provides a broad synthesis across a variety of legal doctrines and academic disciplines and offers a novel conceptualization of law and globalization.


"Berman shows with eloquent argument and abundant illustration why lawyers must engage with the increasingly transnational character of law. He makes a powerful case that the isolation of legal jurisdictions from each other is a thing of the past - we are fated to live in a hybrid, contested, constantly renegotiated legal world that ultimately has limited respect for national boundaries."
Roger Cotterrell, Queen Mary, University of London

"This important book offers an intriguing analysis of the layered and overlapping nature of law under globalization. Using the framework of legal pluralism, Paul Berman’s engaging case studies show the nature of contemporary legal hybridity and its roots in globalization. He argues that legal hybridity offers opportunities as well as challenges. The book is essential reading for those seeking to understand globalization and law in the current moment."
Sally Engle Merry, New York University

"Paul Berman's book is essential reading for students and scholars of law and globalization. He provides one of the most compelling accounts of a modern predicament - the inescapability of overlapping formal and informal legal regimes that compete for our obedience and our affections. Berman powerfully argues not only for measures to manage this tension. He also provocatively argues that this tension can produce significant benefits, and he presents measures to achieve those values. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Berman, he has built a formidable intellectual framework with which anyone interested in the intersection of normative regimes must now grapple."
Ryan Goodman, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law, and Co-Chair, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University School of Law

"This book offers a compelling framework for thinking about law in the wake of globalization … Global Legal Pluralism anchors a growing body of sometimes ethereal postnational thinking to the more familiar terrain of legal doctrine. This major contribution will help us process dynamic legal change in the global legal system"
Peter J. Spiro, The American Journal of International Law

"With his excellent account of the hybridity of the contemporary legal architecture, Berman delivers a significant contribution to the burgeoning field of Global Governance scholarship. Simultaneously, he demarcates the importance of a pluralist perspective, as we struggle to find the right words to describe unity and fragmentation of law (broadly conceptualized) and its multi-faceted effects on our daily interactions. Even though Berman emphasizes the pluralist perspective, he acknowledges that a form of universalism pervades his analysis."
Sujith Xavier, European Journal of International Law

"There is a great deal to admire in this impressive book … Global Legal Pluralism contains a remarkable richness of details and exposition that is balanced with a sensible recognition of the variation in perspectives on the most pressing issues of the day."
Richard A. Wilson, Journal of Law and Society