Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen
Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law; Co-Director, UCI Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession, Co-Director, UCI Center in Law, Society & Culture; Affiliate Faculty, HLS Center on the Legal Profession
Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen (they/them) is a socio-legal scholar whose research examines the intersections between law, globalization and stratification from a critical feminist and global south perspective. Particularly, across a range of sites and different levels of analysis, their work interrogates how law and legal institutions create, continue, and counter different kinds of socio-economic inequalities.
Scholarship from Professor Ballakrishnen’s research projects has appeared in, among other journals, Law and Society Review, Law and Social Inquiry, Fordham Law Review, International Journal of the Legal Profession, and the Journal of Professions and Organization. Their first book, Accidental Feminism (Princeton University Press: 2021), unpacks the case of unintentional gender parity among India’s elite legal professionals; a second book Invisible Institutions (Hart Publishing: 2021, ed. with Sara Dezalay) brings together cross-subjective perspectives on legal globalization; and a third book, Gender Regimes and the Politics of Privacy (Zubaan Books, with Kalpana Kannabiran) investigates the gendered legacies of India’s privacy jurisprudence. These strains of research have received a range of honors and awards, including from the National Science Foundation, the American Sociological Association, and the Law and Society Association; and in 2022, Ballakrishnen was awarded the campus-wide UCI Distinguished Early-Career Award for Research. You can read more about their research praxis and commitments here.
Alongside this scholarly output, Professor Ballakrishnen’s research has been featured in a range of professional and popular media including Harvard Business Review, Stanford News Report, Above the Law, Bloomberg Law, Quartz, Law School Transparency Radio, The Practice, New Books Network, and WPR. They have presented research at over 100 conferences worldwide, delivered over 50 invited talks in a range of academic and professional settings, and their legal opinions on family and financial laws have been cited by the Probate and Family Court of Massachusetts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit respectively.
Professor Ballakrishnen is committed to building and serving socio-legal communities, especially ones that focus on critical questions concerning legal education and the profession. At UCI, they co-run the Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession, the Socio-Legal Studies Workshop, and the Law, Society, and Culture Emphasis. In addition, beyond UCI, they are affiliated faculty at the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession, on the board of trustees of the Law and Society Association (LSA) and the ISA Research Committee on Sociology of Law, a co-founder of the LSA Collaborative Research Network on Legal Education, and on the Executive Committee of the AALS Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession. In 2017-18, they were the AccessLex Visiting Scholar on Legal Education at the American Bar Foundation. In 2020, Professor Ballakrishnen was named a AALS Teacher of the Year.
For over a decade before entering academia full-time, Professor Ballakrishnen was a legal intern to Hon’ble Justice Arijit Pasayat of the Supreme Court of India, an international banking associate in Mumbai, and an external consultant for cross-border litigation financing in New York City.