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Russian Lawyers Conduct a Continuing Legal Education Study Tour to Chicago

September 2012

From August 20–23, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) brought 15 Russian lawyers on a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded study tour to Chicago. The lawyers, who lead continuing legal education (CLE) trainings in Russia, met with their American counterparts and discussed strategies for improving CLE regulatory frameworks, emerging trends in continuing education, accreditation, the use of technology, marketing strategies and the differing needs of new and experienced attorneys.

Study tour participants observe a model CLE course on advocacy skills. 

The Russian team met with more than 20 representatives from several CLE providers, including the ABA Center for Professional Development, the ABA Young Lawyers’ Division, the ABA Section of Litigation, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Federal Defenders’ Program, the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education. The participants said that the different perspectives they have gotten on targeting trainings to specific audiences, developing training topics and making the best use of evolving technology will help them as they design and implement new CLE courses in Russia.

Recently passed regulations require Russian lawyers to complete 100 hours of CLE over a five-year period to remain licensed. However, there are limited training opportunities as there is no institutionalized CLE system country-wide. This, coupled with resource-poor and unaccredited CLE centers, compromises the quality of legal training. Moreover, most law schools do not teach practical lawyering skills, resulting in many young lawyers who desire further training.

To alleviate the situation, ABA ROLI partnered with the Russian bar and launched a pilot CLE program in August 2009, helping increase advocates’ professionalism. ABA ROLI and the Krasnoyarsk Chamber of Advocates designed a three-phase training-of-trainers program to develop a core group of professional trainers. Continuing its efforts, in September 2010, ABA ROLI launched two CLE centers serving the regions of St. Petersburg-Leningrad and Ulyanovsk.

The study tour builds on previous efforts to strengthen the trainers’ capacity. Participants were introduced to a model advocacy skills CLE course by professor Barry Sullivan of Loyola University Law School. They also took a tour of Cook County Court, during which they had an hour-long question-and-answer session with a judge in his courtroom.

To learn more about our work in Russia, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at