THE MOSCOW STATE UNIVERSITY AND INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRMS HOLD A SECOND LEGAL ETHICS COURSE IN RUSSIA

04.12.2012

Moscow - The legal profession in Russia is largely unregulated and professional ethics are not widely taught in universities. To address this issue, the Law Department of the Moscow State University, together with DLA Piper, White & Case, Verizon, Microsoft and PILnet  (The Global Network for Public Interest Law), launched a pro bono initiative and developed a training course on legal ethics for Russian law students from across the country.  In order to participate in the program the students take part in an essay competition.  In November 2012 the team ran the project for the second year running. The training events took place at the Law Department of the Moscow State University and at the Moscow offices of DLA Piper and White & Case.

 
This project is helping to instill a commitment to legal ethics in the next generation of Russian lawyers and to demonstrate, by means of case studies, that the awareness of ethics and compliance is a vital part of a lawyer's professional activity.  Titled “Professional Responsibility and Ethics in the Global Market”, the four-day training event addressed a wide range of topics including: regulation of the legal profession, proper screening and engagement of clients, conflicts of interest, confidentiality and disclosure, anti-corruption, issues particular to in-house lawyers, corporate social responsibility and pro bono legal assistance, and the role of lawyers as officers of the court.  Aside from lectures, the programme featured break-out sessions with smaller groups developed by the lawyers based on their practical experience and involving interactive, practical exercises.  
 
The student feedback on the course was extremely positive.  One student commented that the training was an “exceptional experience” and said that “it helped me understand what I want to do in the future and that legal ethics is not just a theoretical concept.” Another called the experience “awesome” and stated that it was “a great opportunity both to hear wonderful presentations and to speak with practicing lawyers in an informal environment.”
 
Upon launching the programme, Mrs. Natalya Kozlova, Deputy Dean of the Law Department of the Moscow State University commented: "It is fundamentally important for legal education in Russia to now also include legal ethics and professional responsibility in its curriculum. For this reason MSU is taking the lead in organizing this seminar and is also working with other leading Russian universities to expand the teaching of this discipline".
 
Delphine Nougayrиde, Corporate Partner at DLA Piper Moscow, commented: "DLA Piper is proud to be educating the next generation of Russian lawyers on business ethics and professional standards. Promoting these topics amongst the country's future business leaders will help reduce corruption and create a more transparent court system, which in turn will improve the professional standards of Russian business and contribute to a more transparent environment for investment."
 
Maya Melnikas, Partner of White & Case's Moscow office, shared her thoughts: “Legal ethics is not merely theoretical philosophy or empty moralizing.  Practicing corporate and banking lawyers need to understand and apply principles of legal ethics in their everyday professional lives.  Also, the more senior such lawyers become, the more they need these principles, although junior lawyers must be able to recognize ethical issues and to know when to consult with more experienced colleagues.  We hope that with time, the need for a broader code of legal ethics, not just for advocates but for all practicing lawyers, will be recognized and addressed”.
 
Thomas McDonald, Partner of White & Case's Moscow office, added: “The importance of legal ethics to a practicing lawyer cannot be overstated.  In a society based on respect for the rule of law a lawyer has a special role to serve not only the interests of his own client, but the interests of justice.  These ethical principles --such as independence, confidentiality and avoidance of conflict of interests --are fundamental in this dual role.  Respecting them is incumbent on all lawyers, regardless of where they are practicing”.  
 
Dmitry Shabelnikov, Director for Russia for PILnet, noted: "With the considerable influence that the legal profession has in the modern world, it is inevitably subject to high ethical standards. PILnet believes that the profession must contribute to the good of society, for instance offering pro bono legal assistance to those who cannot afford services. We hope that this course will become a regular event and that it will be followed by Russian law schools, which do not yet pay significant attention to ethics. We are delighted and grateful to find such enthusiastic support for the project from all the parties involved - Moscow State University Law School, DLA Piper, White & Case, and all other participants."
 
For further information:
Olga Petrova, DLA Piper,  +7 495 221 4440, olga.petrova@dlapiper.com
 
Notes to editors:
1. DLA Piper is a global law firm with 4,200 lawyers across 77 offices and 31 countries.  From its offices across Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and the United States, legal and business advisers provide a comprehensive range of services to local, regional and international businesses.
For further information about our organisation and services, please visit our website: www.dlapiper.com
2. White & Case LLP is a leading global law firm with lawyers in 38 offices in 26 countries. Among the first US-based law firms to establish a truly global presence, we provide counsel and representation in virtually every area of law that affects cross-border business. Our clients value both the breadth of our global network and the depth of our US, English and local law capabilities in each of our regions and rely on us for their complex cross-border transactions, as well as their representation in arbitration and litigation proceedings. For more information, please visit our website: whitecase.com
3. PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law envisions a world where rule of law, as developed and supported within a wide variety of countries, delivers justice and protects human rights. An international NGO devoted to building a global network to activate, empower, and connect those who use legal tools in the public interest, PILnet, in collaboration with local partners around the globe, inspires lawyers to serve the public interest, strengthens the ability of civil society to help shape law and policy, and makes formal systems of justice more accessible.
 

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