UCI Law Professor Swethaa Ballakrishnen Awarded Prestigious Campus-Wide Faculty Honor for Research


Swethaa Ballakrishnen

IRVINE, Calif. (Jan. 12, 2023) — The University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) is proud to announce that Professor Swethaa Ballakrishnen is being awarded the campus-wide 2022-2023 Distinguished Early-Career Faculty Award for Research by the UCI Academic Senate. They were one of two recipients of this honor. The Senate confers this award on a faculty member who has made significant contributions to scholarship through sustained, distinguished research. It is among the most prestigious awards University of California faculty members can receive from their colleagues. The award will be presented at a ceremony on March 1, 2023.

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. In March 2022 UCI Law announced that Professor Ballakrishnen is the lead Principal Investigator of a team awarded a $511,230 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to fund a project titled: “Diversity and Networking in Law School: Are Law Students from Diverse Backgrounds Disadvantaged?”  Ballakrishnen is the first full-time UCI Law faculty member to receive an NSF grant.

Scholarship from Professor Ballakrishnen’s research projects has appeared in, among other journals, Law & Society Review, Law & 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. 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.

About the University of California, Irvine School of Law

The University of California, Irvine School of Law is a top, visionary law school that provides an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, prioritizes public service, and demonstrates a commitment to diversity within the legal profession. UCI Law students have completed more than 135,000 hours of pro bono work since 2009. Forty-eight percent of UCI Law's J.D. graduates are people of color. At UCI Law, we are driven to improve our local, national, and global communities by grappling with important issues as scholars, as practitioners, and as teachers who are preparing the next generation of leaders. The collaborative and interdisciplinary community at UCI Law includes extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, dedicated staff, engaged alumni and enthusiastic supporters. More information on UCI Law is available here. Please follow us on Twitter @UCILaw, Facebook @UCIrvineLaw and Instagram @ucilaw.

Media Contact:

Colleen Taricani
Assistant Dean for Communications