Medvedev criticizes Russia’s lawyer training system

Russian Constitutional Court file photo

MOSCOW. Dec 3 (Interfax) – Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called for raising standards in Russia’s legal education system, attacked the allegedly undeserved conferment of academic degrees in the law profession, but hailed the existence of more than 400 free legal assistance centers in Russia.

Speaking at a session of the Russian Lawyers Association, Medvedev said that, at various conferences, he had stressed the need “to bring the legal education system in the country back to its senses.”

“Education in general needs restructuring, and legal education especially,” he said. “We cannot cut through a living organism. The students who are studying must get their education, but in the future we must create a system that is a guarantee against substandard education.”

Russia has too many higher education institutions providing legal training, he argued.

Allegedly undeserved academic degrees were another issue raised by him.

“There are a lot of discussions on this subject, but we should realize, dear colleagues, that we are the people who confer those degrees. I’m sometimes agonized to open somebody’s abstract because it’s patently sloppy work, and I can remember the way I was writing my candidate’s thesis and abstract,” he said.

However, he hailed the existence of more than 400 free legal assistance centers in the country. “People work there at the dictates of their heart. It means that those who don’t have enough money can receive competent legal assistance,” he said.

He argued that the Russian Lawyers Association’s expert potential is not used to the full and suggested that the association “receive state powers of some kind as is the case in other countries.” “This will become an important element of the professional assessment of legal documents,” he said.

He also dealt with a draft new civil code that is going through the State Duma with great difficulty. “Work on this document will be finished despite the whole difficulty of the draft law going through (the Duma),” the premier said

December 3 is Lawyers’ Day in Russia. “This holiday has to do with the judiciary reform of Alexander II, and up until 1917 Russian lawyers had considered it to be their own professional holiday, and we have restored this holiday – it means good continuity,” Medvedev said.