Russian Federation: the legal profession requires reform to become stronger

Today, the ICJ released a report calling for reform of the legal profession in the Russian Federation.

“The legal profession in Russia presents a complex picture. It includes obvious achievements and strengths, but remains severely constrained and flawed in its ability to uphold the rule of law and human rights within the justice system,” says the ICJ report published today in English and in Russian languages.

“The wider problems in the justice system, and its routine failure to protect human rights and in particular the right to a fair trial, including the principle of equality of arms, pose grave challenges to lawyers in fulfilling their professional duties,” the report concludes.

The ICJ report Towards a Stronger Legal Profession in the Russian Federation follows a mission to the Russian Federation in May 2015.

After three reports dedicated to various aspects and issues of the judiciary in the Russian Federation, the ICJ through the mission, and this report, has turned its attention to the problem of the legal profession at a time when significant changes in the profession are under discussion.

The report analyses the legal framework governing the legal profession in the Russian Federation, and discusses practical issues raised during the mission.

It evaluates laws and practices in light of international law and standards on human rights, including the right to fair trial, as well as international standards on the independence of the legal profession.

These standards address the organization and operation of the legal profession including regulation of the profession, qualification, ethics and discipline of lawyers, guarantees against interference with the work of lawyers and protections necessary for lawyers to defend the rights of clients.

Though these standards may be broadly worded and leave room for differing approaches by national systems, they provide authoritative and widely accepted guidance which should inform national systems and practices.

The report describes the history and current landscape of the legal profession in the Russian Federation. It describes the organization, bodies and procedures of the Federal and regional chambers and analyses questions related to the entry to the profession.

The report further describes problems with ethics and disciplinary proceedings and the professional guarantees of lawyers as well as the main points of the ongoing reform of the legal profession.

Finally, based on international law and standards, the report provides recommendations which propose legal and practical measures to be taken to advance the independence of the legal profession in the Russian Federation, and its effectiveness in upholding human rights.


Róisín Pillay, Director, Europe Programme, roisin.pillay(a)

Temur Shakirov, Legal Adviser, Europe Programme, temur.shakirov(a)


Russia-Towards-a-Stronger-Legal-Profession-Press-Release-2015-RUS (Press release PDF – Russian)

Russia-Towards-a-Stronger-Legal-Profession-Publication-2015-Eng (Full publication in PDF – English)

Russia-towards-a-stronger-legal-prof-publication-2015-RUS (Full publication in PDF – Russian)

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