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Perspectives of implementation of the Justice state program: possible problems and their solutions

Ekaterina Shestakova, Lawyer of the Law Firm "YUST"

The issue whether or not the legal services market should be brought to correspond to certain standards, what standards exactly, who is to regulate and control those standards, has been much debated lately in the Russian legal community. Besides, different suggestions are made concerning the integration of all legal advisors if not within a single structure, then at least on the basis of unified standards of quality of the rendered services.

In particular, the members of the advocates’ community suggest implementation of the so-called advocate’s monopoly, but not over all legal services but, for example, over representation of the clients’ interests in court.

On March 28 of 2013, the Government of the Russian Federation agreed during its session the adoption of the state program “Justice”. Said program, inter alia, stipulates regulation, control and supervision in the sphere of advocacy, notarial activity, improving the quality of enforcing court acts.

According to A.V.Konovalov, Minister of Justice of Russia, the insufficient level of professionalism of lawyers and the absence of guaranteed standards of rendering the legal services are the two main problems of the legal assistance market. Therefore, the Ministry suggests improving the regulation of the sphere of advocacy and notarial activity, including the requirements and procedures of admission to the profession, a system of retraining, standards of rendering legal assistance, providing for more accessibility of legal assistance (free legal assistance included).

In the advocacy sphere, the gradual and painless overcoming of the professional dualism - the merger of the activity of legal advisers and advocates is one of the main tasks formulated by the program. The Ministry of Justice proposes extending the unified advocate’s status to include those, who render legal consultations, and to gradually achieve the advocate’s monopoly of representation of interests in court. Another task is elimination of non-qualified services aspiring for legal status, the third objective is to create a system of incentives for professional growth of advocates, and the fourth one is to increase the demand and accessibility of legal assistance for all categories of citizens.

A.V.Konovalov also pointed out that doubling of the number of advocates should become an indicator of the implementation of the state program, and that is to happen as a result of the merger of legal advisers with the Bar.

The program is scheduled to be implemented until 2020, so the suggested changes will not be become of effect immediately. All possibilities of the transfer to the unified advocate’s status for rendering legal services and to the advocate’s monopoly over representation in courts need to be evaluated.

Suggestions to establish some kind of a qualification exam to represent interests in court for lawyers as well for advocates used to be voiced. According to the authors of those suggestions, such practice would facilitate a substantial increase in quality and possibly speed of court proceedings, since there would be no more problems involving ignorance of procedural basics.

At the same time, similar practice will increase the workload of the judicial system by obliging it to select attorneys, which is completely alien to the courts’ functions. Therefore, such exam should be done by some regulated structure.


Full version of the article is published in the special issue of the ZAKON MAGAZINE, May of 2013.

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