Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



In the wake of the devaluation of the Russian ruble in 1998 and the resulting flight of foreign investment, which was exacerbated by allegations of massive corruption and capital flight at the highest levels of government in 1999, the question of an appropriate role for the United States in helping Russia to establish an environment able to attract and retain foreign and domestic capital, to maintain a viable globally integrated market-based economic system, and to create a stable civil society, is under discussion.

The authors believe that a viable market economy will not flourish in Russia until a more stable legal environment, based on the rule of law, is in place. No fully developed economy currently exists that is not firmly rooted in the rule of law. However, the focus of U.S. aid should support the rule of law not merely as a necessary, indeed essential, support to business, but also as a pre-condition to the development of a civil society.

In recent years, United States law-based assistance to Russia has been based principally on the training of judges and the provision of computer technology through various aid programs. The United States has also made scholarships available to Russian lawyers, enabling them to pursue Master of Laws' degrees in the United States. When and if these lawyers return home, most practice law in Western law firms or are employed in international joint ventures. An increasing number have begun to seek employment outside Russia as that country's economy spirals downward. By 2000 virtually no programs provide the opportunity for undergraduate law students those who, unlike Russian lawyers, must return in order to complete their legal education and obtain their credentials to study in the United States...

This article takes note of Russia's unmet need for well-trained lawyers who fully understand the critical importance of the rule of law to the development of Russia's economic system and civil society. The article also describes Russia's system of legal education and university governance, as well as those few U.S. programs that have brought Russian law teachers and law students to the United States for training. It then proposes development of a partnership of law schools, foundations, and corporations, together with the U.S. government, to train a meaningful number of Russian law students in the United States in preparation for their post-graduate study and academic-based careers in Russia.