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Building on a past ABA ROLI program funded by the British Embassy, we are currently working with DRL to implement a one-year program to increase the safety and security of Russian minority groups, including sexual minorities, by building the capacity of local lawyers to advocate for and protect the rights of members and representatives of groups that experience discrimination in Russia. The program aims to increase the enforcement of Russia’s current anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws.
Since 2006 ABA ROLI, funded by INL, has worked to combat corruption in Russia through innovative, bottom-up approaches that build anti-corruption momentum among professionals and young people on the local level.
Our current program continues to increase the anti-corruption and compliance capacities of Russian legal professionals, officials, businesses, entrepreneurs, and journalists. We conduct federal and regional skills trainings, conferences, and roundtables on current analyses of applicable Russian and international laws. ABA ROLI also developed a compliance and business ethics manual, one of the first of its kind to be written in Russian. Along with a local partner, we helped create an Anti-Corruption Oversight Center (ACOC) where community members can register complaints about corruption, obtain guidance on legal methods of action and response, and connect with journalists who can investigate and publicize problems. We also created an innovative social media campaign, encouraging high-profile officials and businesses to take a public anti-bribery pledge. We also hosted a competition and training for journalists exposing corruption in their regions and collaborated with municipal governments to develop and implement research-based anti-corruption strategies. Additionally, ABA ROLI works on corporate social responsibility, organizing events and assisting in the development of relevant programs for Russian businesses.
As a result of regular cooperation with the federal Chamber of Commerce, ABA ROLI is now a member of two highly-placed working groups of experts that share best practices and advise Russian businesses: one on anti-corruption and compliance, and another on methodological anti-corruption recommendations that reports to the Russian President.
ABA ROLI also works with universities and students to discuss and design effective anti-corruption strategies and enlist their help to communicate to younger generations the importance of combating corruption. Our anti-corruption and compliance materials have been officially included in the teaching curricula of several Russian universities. We also conduct youth Discussion Clubs, which facilitate discussions on how students may encounter corruption in everyday life, why combating corruption is important, and how students can get involved in the fight against corruption.
In October 2013, ABA ROLI launched a Public Oversight and Monitoring Program funded by DRL. The program focuses on capacity-building for civil groups looking to engage in public oversight in up to eight regions throughout Russia. As part of this program, ABA ROLI is strengthening the capacity of oversight commissions and civic-minded citizens by developing comprehensive toolkits on effective investigative and advocacy strategies and conducting specialized trainings for POC members, NGOs, community activists and leaders, lawyers, and journalists. We are also creating a grassroots movement towards monitoring and oversight by bolstering civil society and creating viable networks as a vehicle to promote positive change.
Many of Russia’s clinical legal instructors have not been adequately trained in practical teaching methods, while most law students in legal clinics receive no practical skills trainings before providing free legal aid services. To address this gap, ABA ROLI supports teaching and curriculum reform efforts by conducting a Legal Skills School. We work with legal clinic instructors of leading Moscow law schools such as Moscow State University, the Moscow State Academy of Law, the Russian Legal Academy, and the All-Russian Academy of International Trade to ensure that educators are properly trained on interactive, practical, skills-focused teaching methodologies by developing educators’ knowledge and capacity to use these methods as part of effective, holistic course structures. We also work with interested law students, chosen through a rigorous application process, to improve their advocacy skills and relevant human rights law knowledge in order to develop a cadre of leaders of the next generation of lawyers. These students, and the students later trained by participating clinical instructors, establish ethical relationships with clients, effectively hold the state accountable as advocates, and incorporate international standards into their arguments, instilling a higher standard of practice in the Russian court system. About 200 law students and 30 clinical professors from throughout Russia have participated in our trainings.
ABA ROLI partners with local organizations to build the capacity of Russia’s defense bar to uphold fair criminal trial standards through targeted advocacy skills trainings. These trainings highlight best practices in specialized areas of law and provide instruction to ensure that lawyers are able to efficiently make use of new knowledge in the courtroom. ABA ROLI’s training programs are designed partly in response to our partners’ needs, and are implemented through collaboration with organizations including the Federal Bar and regional bar chambers.
Russian lawyers are required to complete 100 hours of CLE over five years to remain licensed. Yet, Russia’s federal and regional bar associations have no standardized CLE program. ABA ROLI supports continuing legal education courses for both new and experienced lawyers, in partnership with regional bar chambers and universities, to increase the professionalism and technical skills of lawyers in six regions (Krasnoyarsk, St. Petersburg, Stavropol, Vladimir, Tver, and Ulyanovsk).
ABA ROLI trained a principal group of trainers on interactive skills, created CLE curricula, designed and implemented a business plan for each Center’s sustainability, and helped each Center conduct and supervise independent CLE trainings. We have trained hundreds of young lawyers on basic lawyering skills, including written and oral advocacy and ethics, and on specialized topics like representing victims of hate crimes. To date, the Centers have trained more than 1,000 lawyers. After conducting Training of Trainers (ToT) programs to develop the interactive training skills of a core group of professional educators, ABA ROLI works with each Center’s staff to create CLE curricula, design and implement a business plan to support sustainability goals, and supervise CLE instruction. Our 2013 ToT programs included seminars on Case Strategy, Communicative Skills Training, Trial Skills Training, and Interactive Teaching Methods. This year, the staff of these Centers helped improve the professional skills of more than a hundred lawyers.