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The Federal Chamber of Lawyers views its activity in connection with the history of the Russian Bar, founded in 1864 as a result of the judicial reform of Alexander II

In November 1864 the Judicial Statutes were adopted, establishing the Bar as a required element of open adversary legal proceedings. According to the Statutes the Bar existed under judicial chambers and district courts. Councils of barristers, the self-government bodies of the Bar, were formed under judicial chambers. Barristers took part in proceedings either upon agreement with the client or on appointment of the court chairman or the jury in case the client used the “poor law”.

According to Alexander II, the result of the judicial reform would be “establishment of a prompt, just, and gracious court equal for all citizens.” After 50 years from the judicial reform of 1864, Councils of barristers (self-government bodies of the Bar) had been formed under nine judicial chambers. They included 5,5 thousand barristers and 2 thousand non-registered advocates.On November 24th, 1917 the Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars “On the Court” abolished the former judicial system. 


When the Criminal Proceedings Code of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic was adopted in 1922, advocates to some extent got their role in court proceedings and the right to professional associations back. Advocate’s activity was supervised by courts and prosecution office, as well as local executive authorities –provincial executive committees.

The Statute on the Bar adopted in 1939 maintained the dependence of advocates from governmental and party authorities. The latter had the right to disbar advocates.
In 1969 a new Statute on the Bar was adopted: regardless that bar associations were still under control of departments of justice under regional executive committees and city Councils of workers’ deputies, self-government of the advocate community was already similar to its pre-revolutionary state.

Only after 10 years the first law in Russian history specifically governing advocate’s activity, the Law “On the Bar in the USSR”, was adopted. In 1980 the law of the RSFSR “On the Bar in the RSFSR” and the Statute on the Bar of the RSFSR were adopted. These acts did not introduce fundamental changes to the structure of the advocate community, but they extended the list of advocates’ rights. They provided an opportunity to form bar associations upon the initiative of the lawyers themselves, аnd administrative control was replaced by party control which was executed by advocates – party members. Bar associations undertook educational activities, science research institutes on judicial defense were established under bar associations, representatives of the corporation exchanged experience on all-Union and regional conferences and seminars. The Bar made its first steps towards new associations.

In 1989 the first nationwide bar association, the Union of Lawyers of the USSR, was established by the Congress of Advocates. G. Voskresensky was elected as President of the Council, M. Hofstein, G. Padva and V. Kalitvin as his deputies.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union corporate connections of the Bar significantly weakened. The advocate community had an important task in this transition period – adoption of a new law on the Bar. The State Duma of the Russian Federation had been working on its draft for almost seven years.

On April 26th, 2002 the President of the Russian Federation signed the Federal Law “On Advocate’s Activity and the Bar in the Russian Federation”. The advocate community became a united independent nationwide professional corporation based on self-government and being an important element of civil society.

In 2003 the 1st All-Russian Congress of Advocates took place, the Russian Federal Chamber of Lawyers was established, its governing bodies were elected, its Charter and Professional Code of Ethics were adopted. This was the start of a new era in the development of the Russian Bar as an essential part of civil society. 

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