A key feature of British rule in India was the formation of a class of elite metropolitan lawyers who had an outsized role within the legal profession and a prominent position in Indian politics. This paper analyzes the response of these legal elites to the shifting social and political terrain of post-colonial India, arguing that the advent of the Indian nation-state shaped the discursive strategies of elite lawyers in two crucial ways. First, in response to the slipping grasp of lawyers on Indian political life and increasing competition from developmentalist economics, the elite bar turned their attention towards the consolidation of a national professional identity, imagining an ‘Indian advocate’ as such, whose loyalty would ultimately lie with the nation-state. Second, the creation of the Supreme Court of India, the enactment of the Constitution of India, and the continuous swelling of the post-colonial regulatory welfare state partially reoriented the legal elite towards public law, particularly towards the burgeoning field of administrative law.
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