The Reform of the Russian Legal Profession: Three Varying Perspectives
Posted: 3 Jun 2019
Date Written: November 1, 2018
This Article was co-authored by Susan Carle (American University Washington College of Law), Gayane Davidyan (Moscow State University), Thomas McDonald and Delphine Nougayrède. In the Article the four authors debate various approaches to reforming the legal profession in Russia. They start out with a historical introduction followed by a presentation and discussion of the status at present. A large number of legal practitioners, including the international law firms, are currently unregulated and practice within what is sometimes referred to as the "free sector". The Russian government has for a number of years attempted to introduce reforms that would require these unregulated practitioners to enter into the regulated sector, called the "advokatura". The expanded advokatura profession would then function with a modernized regulatory framework. The reform is progressing very slowly, however, due to diverging interests and competing groups within the profession. Two of the authors (Davidyan and McDonald) believe the reform should move forward according to the latest (2017) proposal, inter alia because it would impose a code of ethics on all practitioners. One of the authors (Nougayrède) believes that the real priority lies elsewhere, in the reform of the judicial system and law enforcement bodies, i.e. of the state apparatus. Finally, drawing on the history of the US profession, the fourth author (Carle) emphasizes how codes of conduct can also derive from voluntary self-organization. Overall, the discussion illustrates a number of wider themes pertaining to lawyer regulation: regulation by the state versus voluntary self-governance, foreign models versus national specificity, reform of the private professions versus state apparatus, role of private legal professions when the rule of law is weak.
Keywords: Russia, lawyer regulation, rule of law
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