Law Soc clinches Russian deal

TWENTY Russian lawyers will work in UK law firms for up to three months next year as part of a u250,000 deal struck between the Law Society and the European Commission.

The project, funded by the commission's Technical Assistance programme to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS), has been designed to help with the development of an independent legal profession in Russia.

The project's academic co-ordinator, Roger Ede, and the UK project co-ordinator, Harriet Smith, are currently in Moscow finalising details for the scheme's first phase.

Through its Brussels office the society has been discussing the proposal with the commission since July, and the project received approval at the start of this month.

A four-week residential course instructing approximately 40 Russian lawyers on how to run a legal practice is expected to take place in Moscow in August, and half of the participants will then be brought to the UK for placements in Scotland and with regional firms.

The lawyers are likely to be placed with small practices, and Ede says firms have already been approached.

The Law Society will work with two Russian partner bodies – the International Union of Advocates of the CIS and the Russian Academy of Jurisprudence – and the Law Society of Scotland on the project.

The society says the project will give Russian lawyers the knowledge and skills to operate in the newly-developed market economy, and it is hoped the scheme will create a lasting partnership between the two countries.

“Russian lawyers are increasingly organising themselves so that they practice more along the lines of western legal practitioners,” says Ede, secretary of the Law Society's criminal law committee.

“But they don't have the experience in how to run offices in a way which will enable them to succeed.”