To illustrate the role of organizations of lawyers in social changes we analyze the process of transforming legal and socio-political institutions in Russia over the past 30 years. We combine the theory of legal mobilization with the concept of violence and social orders proposed by North, Wallis and Weingast to describe the general logic of this process. Russian case shows that exogenous shocks stimulate collective action of criminal defence lawyers which, in turn, compel the government to respond. The state can promote the passivity of the legal community and stop legal mobilization by providing certain preferences for the profession. Even though in the 2000s, Russia took the path of destroying legal institutions, legal profession in certain circumstances could again act as an agent of social change. We conclude that the efficiency of collective action depends on the institutional capacity of legal association and on the position of the professional elite standing at its head.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Advocate (“advokat”) is a formal status that allows Russian lawyers to work on criminal cases; in European countries, they typically called criminal defense lawyers. There is no distinction between barristers and solicitors in Russia, but there is a clear difference between advocates and private lawyers (“chastnopraktikuyushchie yuristy”) - attorneys who did not pass the bar exam and are not allowed to work on criminal cases.
Obviously, the point at issue in this case is organisational and administrative influence by the elite rather than professional authority. Nevertheless, professional authority today generally coincides with the position of advocates in professional organisations.
Russian Federation Government Resolution of 4 July 2003 No. 400 “On the Amount of Compensation of an Advocate Participating in Criminal Proceedings as Defense Council on Assignment of Bodies of Inquiry, Preliminary Investigation or the Court.”
January 23, 2007, (No. 1-P) Ruling of the Russian Federation Constitutional Court on the case on the constitutionality of the provisions of paragraph 1 of Article 779 and paragraph 1 of Article 781 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation in connection with the complaints of the limited liability company “Agency of Corporate Security” and the citizen V.V. Makeyev.
Unless we consider the refusal of self-administration bodies of the Moscow Bar Association to disbar the advocates representing defendants in that case as taking a position.
Order of the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice and the Russian Federation Ministry of Finance of 15 October 2007 No. 199/87n for the City of Moscow “On Approval of the Order of Calculation of the Amount of Compensation of an Advocate Participating in Criminal Proceedings as Defense Council on Assignment of Bodies of Inquiry, Preliminary Investigation or the Court, Depending on the Complexity of the Criminal Case.”
For more details, see Three-Day All-Russian Strike of Advocates Scheduled for the End of April. 11 April 2012. Pravo.ru. 26 March 2012. [http://pravo.ru/story/view/70969/]
FCA compares the wages of advocates, judges and investigators of the Russian Investigative Committee, but requests a stop to protesting. Pravo.ru. 26 March 2012. [http://pravo.ru/news/view/70306]
The RF FPL Council Appeals to RF Government. 08.04.2016. Official website of the Russian Federal Chamber of Lawyers [http://www.fparf.ru/news/all_news/news/20787/].
Official website of RFCL. The payment for work on appointment of the court increased. [https://fparf.ru/news/all_news/news/55577/]
For more details, see Grivtsov А. Defending Dvoryak. Novaya Advokatskaya Gazeta. 7/2015 (192).
Advocate’s Independence Guarantees. Federal Chamber of Lawyers. 06.04.2016. [http://fparf.ru/news/all_news/news/20511]
Case №44у-46/2016. Decision of Court of Cassation of Abakan. 23 June 2016.
Suspect in Murder of Commander of Nizhny Novgorod SORB Released. RBC. 06.08.2011. [http://www.rbc.ru/society/06/08/2011/609184.shtml]
Appeal decision № 22–2931 of Rostov Regional Court. 1 June 2011.
Gorbunova E. “Saving Face” and the Advocate’s Duty. Novaya Advokatskaya Gazeta. No. 21, November 2014 (182).
Goryaev O. Victim in the “Rostov Amazons” Case Left without Defense. The Court Suspends the Advocate of the Mother of the Murdered SOBR Officer. // Kommersant, No. 10, 25.01.2016, p. 5. [http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2900300]
Udalov L. Enemy of the State: Mother of Seven Svetlana Davydova Confesses to “High Treason” // Moskovsky Komsomolets. 31.01.2015 [http://www.mk.ru/social/2015/01/31/mat-semerykh-detey-obvinyaemaya-v-gosizmene-dala-priznatelnye-pokazaniya.html]
Case 221–601, the decision of Lefortovo Court. 22 January 2015.
Decision of the Moscow state court. [see http://www.mos-gorsud.ru/news/?id=810]. 16 February 2015.
Advocate of Davydova, Accused of High Treason, Debarred. 15 April. INTERFAX.RU, 15 April 2015. [http://www.interfax.ru/russia/436498]
The shooting at the Moscow supermarket was the act of the chief of the Tsaritsino district police department [http://lenta.ru/news/2009/04/27/chief/]
Interior Ministry: “Police hunters” have been on the loose since February. 11.06.2010. [http://top.rbc.ru/incidents/11/06/2010/419778.shtml]
Policemen from the “Dalny” district police department sentenced in camera to 67 years in prison for torture of citizens [http://pravo.ru/news/view/106173/]. 16 June 2014.
Krokhmalyuk A. (2012) On the Future of the Bar — with Optimism // Novaya Advokatskaya Gazeta, No. 10 (123), May 2012. - http://www.advgazeta.ru/rubrics/5/855
RF Government Instruction of 04.04.2013 No. 517-r.
Fukuyama, F. (1992). The end of history and the last man. New York: Free Press.
Blaydes, L., & Lo, J. (2012). One man, one vote, one time? A model of democratization in the Middle East. Journal of Theoretical Politics, 24(1), 110–146. https://doi.org/10.1177/0951629811423121.
Postill, J. (2014). Freedom technologists and the new protest movements: A theory of protest formulas. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 20(4), 402–418.
Kiai, M., & Vize, J. (2014). Three years after Tunisia: Thoughts and perspectives on the rights to freedom of assembly and association from United Nations special rapporteur Maina Kiai. Journal of Global Ethics, 10(1), 114–121. https://doi.org/10.1080/17449626.2014.896578.
Smyth, R. (2018). Considering the Orange legacy: Patterns of political participation in the Euromaidan revolution. Post-Soviet Affairs, 34(5), 297–316. https://doi.org/10.1080/1060586X.2018.1505222.
Bell, D. A. (1994). Lawyers and citizens: The making of a political elite in old regime France (1st ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Gould, J. (2006). Strong bar, weak state? Lawyers, liberalism and state formation in Zambia. Development and Change, 37(4), 921–941. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7660.2006.00507.x.
Michelson, E. (2007). Lawyers, political embeddedness, and institutional continuity in China’s transition from socialism. American Journal of Sociology, 113(2), 352–414. https://doi.org/10.1086/518907.
Gobe, E. (2010). The Tunisian Bar to the test of authoritarianism: Professional and political movements in Ben Ali’s Tunisia (1990–2007). The Journal of North African Studies, 15(3), 333–347. https://doi.org/10.1080/13629380903251478.
Harding, A., & Whiting, A. (2012). Custodian of civil liberties and justice in Malaysia: the Malaysian bar and the moderate state. In T. Halliday, L. Karpiq, & M. Feeley (Eds.), Fates of political liberalism in the British post-colony the politics of the legal complex (pp. 247–304). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Epp, C. (2012). The legal complex in the struggle to control police brutality in India. In T. Halliday, L. Karpiq, & M. Feeley (Eds.), Fates of political liberalism in the British post-colony the politics of the legal complex (pp. 91–111). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ghias, S. A. (2010). Miscarriage of chief justice: Judicial power and the legal complex in Pakistan under Musharraf. Law & Social Inquiry, 35(4), 985–1022.
Ahmed, Z. S., & Stephan, M. J. (2010). Fighting for the rule of law: Civil resistance and the lawyers’ movement in Pakistan. Democratization, 17(3), 492–513. https://doi.org/10.1080/13510341003700360.
McCann, M. (2006). Law and social movements: Contemporary perspectives. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 2(1), 17–38. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.lawsocsci.2.081805.105917.
Munger, F. W., Cummings, S. L., & Trubek, L. G. (2014). Mobilizing law for justice in Asia: A comparative approach. Wisconsin International Law Journal, 31(3), 353–420.
Halliday, T. C., Karpik, L., & Feeley, M. M. (Eds.). (2007). Fighting for political freedom: Comparative studies of the legal complex and political liberalism. Oxford; Portland: Hart Publishing.
Karpik, L., & Halliday, T. C. (2011). The legal complex. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 7, 217–236. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-102510-105512.
North, D. C., Wallis, J. J., & Weingast, B. R. (2009). Violence and social orders: A conceptual framework for interpreting recorded human history. Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.
North, D. C., Wallis, J. J., Webb, S. B., & Weingast, B. R. (2013). In the shadow of violence: Politics, economics, and the problems of development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hendley, K., Murrell, P., & Ryterman, R. (2000). Law, relationships and private enforcement: Transactional strategies of Russian enterprises. Europe-Asia Studies, 52(4), 627–656. https://doi.org/10.1080/09668130050046057.
Frye, T. (2004). Credible commitment and property rights: Evidence from Russia. American Political Science Review, 98(3), 453–466.
Firestone, T. (2008). Criminal corporate raiding in Russia. The International Lawyer, 42(4), 1207–1229.
Gans-Morse, J. (2015). Violence, law, and property rights: institutional demand in post-soviet Russia. Retrieved from http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~jlg562/documents/Gans-Morse-ViolenceLawandPropertyRightsToCIntroChapter.pdf. Accessed 24 Jan 2019.
Shleifer, A., & Treisman, D. (2014). Normal countries: The east 25 years after communism. Foreign Affairs, 1–18.
Hendley, K. (2009). “Telephone law” and the “rule of law”: The Russian case. Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 1(02), 241–262. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1876404509002413.
Gustafsson, P. (2013). The emergence of the rule of law in Russia. Global Crime, 14(1), 82–109. https://doi.org/10.1080/17440572.2012.759747.
Hendley, K., & Murrell, P. (2015). Revisiting the emergence of the rule of law in Russia. Global Crime, 16(1), 19–33. https://doi.org/10.1080/17440572.2014.959328.
Kazun, A., & Yakovlev, A. (2017). Who demands collective action in an imperfect institutional environment? A case study of the profession of advocates in Russia. Journal of Eurasian Studies, 8(1), 60–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euras.2016.08.001.
Zemans, F. K. (1983). Legal mobilization: The neglected role of the law in the political system. American Political Science Review, 77(3), 690–703.
Silbey, S. S. (2005). After legal consciousness. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 1, 323–368. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.lawsocsci.1.041604.115938.
Marshall, J. (2006). Are small-town lawyers positivist about the law? In M. Freeman (Ed.), Law and sociology (pp. 279–302). New York: Oxford University Press.
Boukalas, C. (2013). Politics as legal action/lawyers as political actors towards a reconceptualisation of cause lawyering. Social & Legal Studies, 22(3), 395–420. https://doi.org/10.1177/0964663912471552.
Halliday, T. C. (1982). The idiom of legalism in bar politics: Lawyers, McCarthyism, and the civil rights era. American Bar Foundation Research Journal, 7(4), 911–988.
Halliday, T. C. (1987). Beyond monopoly: Lawyers, state crises, and professional empowerment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ledford, K. F. (2006). From general estate to special interest: German lawyers 1878–1933. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rajah, J. (2012). Authoritarian rule of law: Legislation, discourse and legitimacy in. Singapore: Cambridge University Press.
Brinks, D. M. (2007). The judicial response to police killings in Latin America: Inequality and the rule of law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kawar, L. (2011). Legal mobilization on the terrain of the state: Creating a field of immigrant rights lawyering in France and the United States. Law & Social Inquiry, 36(2), 354–387. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-4469.2011.01235.x.
Barclay, S., & Chomsky, D. (2014). How do cause lawyers decide when and where to litigate on behalf of their cause? Law & Society Review, 48(3), 595–620. https://doi.org/10.1111/lasr.12093.
Arrington, C. L. (2014). Leprosy, legal mobilization, and the public sphere in Japan and South Korea. Law & Society Review, 48(3), 563–593. https://doi.org/10.1111/lasr.12092.
Prabhat, D. (2011). After 9/11: Guantánamo and the mobilization of lawyers. In Special Issue Social Movements/Legal Possibilities (Vols. 1–0, Vol. 54, pp. 213–259). Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/S1059-4337%282011%290000054011. Accessed 24 Jan 2019.
van der Vet, F.(2018). “When they come for you”: Legal mobilization in new authoritarian Russia. Law & Society Review, 52(2), 301–336. https://doi.org/10.1111/lasr.12339
Faqir, K., Islam, F., & Rizvi, S. H. (2013). The lawyers movement for judicial Independence in Pakistan: A study of Musharraf regime. Asian Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 2(2), 345–357.
McEvoy, K., & Rebouche, R. (2007). Mobilizing the professions: Lawyers, politics, and the collective legal conscience. In J. Morison, K. McEvoy, & G. Anthony (Eds.), Judges, transition, and human rights (pp. 275–314). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199204939.001.0001/acprof-9780199204939-chapter-14. Accessed 24 Jan 2019.
Liu, S. (2011). Lawyers, state officials and significant others: Symbiotic exchange in the Chinese legal services market. The China Quarterly; Cambridge, 206, 276–293. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0305741011000269.
Liang, B., He, N. P., & Lu, H. (2014). The deep divide in China’s criminal justice system: Contrasting perceptions of lawyers and the iron triangle. Crime, Law and Social Change, 62(5), 585–601. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-014-9545-3.
Carugati, F., Ober, J., & Weingast, B. R. (2015). Is development uniquely modern? Athens on the doorstep (SSRN Scholarly Paper No. ID 2370579). Rochester: Social Science Research Network. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=2370579. Accessed 24 Jan 2019.
Reckendrees, A. (2015). Weimar Germany: The first open access order that failed? Constitutional Political Economy, 26(1), 38–60. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10602-014-9184-9.
Webb, S. B. (2015). Becoming an open democratic capitalist society: A two-century historical perspective on Germany’s evolving political economy. Constitutional Political Economy, 26(1), 19–37. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10602-014-9179-6.
Kelly, J. E. (1998). Rethinking industrial relations: Mobilization, collectivism, and long waves. London: Psychology Press.
Olson, M. (1971). The logic of collective action: Public goods and the theory of groups, second printing with new preface and appendix (revised edition.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Solomon, P. (2005). Threats of judicial Counterreform in Putin’s Russia. Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, 13(3), 325–346. https://doi.org/10.3200/DEMO.13.3.325-346.
Solomon, P. (2008). Assessing the courts in Russia: Parameters of Progress under Putin. Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, 16(1), 63–73. https://doi.org/10.3200/DEMO.16.1.63-74.
Solomon, P. H. (2015). Post-soviet criminal justice: The persistence of distorted neo-inquisitorialism. Theoretical Criminology, 19(2), 159–178. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362480614568746.
Hendley, K. (2015). Justice in Moscow? Post-Soviet Affairs, 32, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/1060586X.2015.1091564.
Volkov, V. (2016). Legal and extralegal origins of sentencing disparities: Evidence from Russia’s criminal courts. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 13(4), 637–665. https://doi.org/10.1111/jels.12128.
Mrowczynski, R. (2016). Institutional professionalization of lawyers in state-socialism and post-socialism: Poland and Russia compared. International Journal of the Legal Profession, 23(2), 157–184. https://doi.org/10.1080/09695958.2015.1133421.
Volkov, V. (2012). How judges pass decisions: Empirical law studies. Moscow: Statut.
Paneyakh, E. (2014). Faking performance together: Systems of performance evaluation in Russian enforcement agencies and production of bias and privilege. Post-Soviet Affairs, 30(2–3), 115–136. https://doi.org/10.1080/1060586X.2013.858525.
Halliday, T., Powell, M. J., & Granfors, M. W. (1993). After minimalism: Transformations of state bar associations from market dependence to state reliance, 1918 to 1950. American Sociological Review, 58(4), 515–535.
Taylor, B. D. (2014). Police reform in Russia: The policy process in a hybrid regime. Post-Soviet Affairs, 30(2–3), 226–255. https://doi.org/10.1080/1060586X.2013.860752.
Parker, C., & Evans, A. (2007). Inside lawyers’ ethics (1st ed.). Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.
Rochlitz, M. (2014). Corporate raiding and the role of the state in Russia. Post-Soviet Affairs, 30(2–3), 89–114. https://doi.org/10.1080/1060586X.2013.856573.
Kazun, A. (2015). Violent corporate raiding in Russia: Preconditions and protective factors. Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, 23(4), 459–484.
Yakovlev, A., Sobolev, A., & Kazun, A. (2014). Means of production versus means of coercion: Can Russian business limit the violence of a predatory state? Post-Soviet Affairs, 30(2–3), 171–194. https://doi.org/10.1080/1060586X.2013.859434.
Doner, R., & Schneider, B. R. (2000). Business associations and economic development: Why some associations contribute more than others. Business and Politics, 2(3), 261–288.
Gobe, E. (2013). Of lawyers and Samsars: The legal services market and the authoritarian state in Ben “Ali”s Tunisia (1987—2011). Middle East Journal, 67(1), 45–63.
Winn, J. K., & Yeh, T. (1995). Advocating democracy: The role of lawyers in Taiwan’s political transformation. Law & Social Inquiry, 20(2), 561–599.
Woodruff, D. M. (2004). Property rights in context: Privatization’s legacy for corporate legality in Poland and Russia. Studies in Comparative International Development, 38(4), 82–108. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02686329.
Gerber, T. P., & Mendelson, S. E. (2008). Public experiences of police violence and corruption in contemporary Russia: A case of predatory policing? Law & Society Review, 42(1), 1–44. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5893.2008.00333.x.
The study has been funded within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) and by the Russian Academic Excellence Project ‘5-100’. We express special gratitude to Daniil Sitkevich for assistance in the selection of cases for this article. The authors are grateful for the useful comments made by Alexander Khvoshchinsky, Ekaterina Khodzhaeva, Igor Redkin, Alexander Krokhmalyuk, and participants in the XVII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development (April, 2016) and Mercadus Conference “The Life & Legacy of Douglass North: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of North’s Nobel Prize in Economics” (March, 2018).
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Kazun, A., Yakovlev, A. Legal mobilization in Russia: how organizations of lawyers can support social changes. Crime Law Soc Change 72, 303–325 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-019-09813-0