Professional Organizations As Drivers of Social Changes in Developing Countries: Some Implications from Russian ‘limited Access Order’

Andrei Yakovlev (University - Higher School of Economics)
Anton Kazun (University - Higher School of Economics)
Daniil Sitkevich (Moscow State Lomonosow-University)

Abstract: This paper considers the activity of professional organizations of advocates as a factor of transfer from limited access order to open access order, in terms of the theory of North, Wallis and Weingast (2009). Using the analysis of the experience of advocates’ collective action in developing countries, the paper proposes a model explaining the process of mobilization of the legal community for countering the violations of the law by the ruling elite. It shows that collective action of advocates plays a significant role in implementing the principles of rule of law. However, the efficiency of such collective action in a particular country depends on the institutional capacity of its legal association (in terms of Doner & Schneider (2000)) and on the position of the professional elite that is heading it. We use the results of a survey of 3317 advocates in 35 regions of Russia conducted in 2014 to try to find an answer to the question: which groups inside the advocates’ community presently demonstrate demand for collective action. Analysis shows that the regional elite (heads of bar associations, the board of a regional chamber) more often includes advocates who acknowledge the existence of problems in the law enforcement system and who are prepared to confront it. In other words, we cannot say that such advocates are loyal toward the authorities. We will then show that both the leadership experience and the fact of encountering violations of defendants’ rights lead to advocates’ increased demand for active bar associations.

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