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5.2. What They Don't Teach in Law School?

Wednesday, May 15
09:30 - 11:30

Hall #1, General Staff Building (6-8, Dvortsovaya sq.)


For all intents and purposes, every Russian university has a faculty or school of law, yet truly professional, knowledgeable lawyers continue to be few and far between in Russia. Those in the know claim that only a few Russian university law schools provide high-quality law degrees. But even in these top universities, law students are frequently found to be less than satisfied with the quality of teaching, which, they complain, falls short of what they had expected when enrolling. Many students are, literally, compelled to educate themselves with the aid of videos and sound recordings of various lectures and roundtables. But this self-training is hardly a substitute for a university, if by university we mean an institution that delivers systemic training.  

One of the consequences of students being dissatisfied with their institution’s teaching quality are the mushrooming practice-based courses of every description. These courses pick up the slack often left by the university in the field of practical training (the perennial 'Subject and Method' lectures in the chosen field of law are a good example), thus arming their students with the means to succeed in the competitive job marketplace.  

That said, it is worth bearing in mind that 'nothing is more practical than good theory.' In other words, practical training must be underpinned by robust theory. More academics well-versed in international best practice and attentive to international trends have, in recent time, stepped up to the lectern in Russian universities, offering quality guidance to assist students in grasping law as a universal system and mastering its applications in real-life circumstances. However, the number of these academics continues to be negligibly small, and this appears to be a major weakness of Russia’s education system.

Meanwhile, growing numbers of students join study abroad programmes or earn their graduate degrees in foreign universities. They get first-hand experience of the international teaching culture and realize how very different it is from what Russia has to offer. There, students spend hours studying for their classes in world-class libraries tailored to accommodate every learning style. There is a very clear understanding as to the requisite and sufficient qualifications the student has to attain to in order to become a qualified practitioner or academic. There are courses that teach research skills and research methodology to future academics (extremely few Russian institutions offer similar courses), and there are courses geared towards hands-on work (such as drafting of procedural documents and speaking in courtroom).

This broad-based discussion, to be joined by Russian and international professors and practicing lawyers, will address many topical and challenging issues associated with legal training. In the end, quality legal training today means a quality legal system tomorrow.


Vladimir Bagaev

CEO, Zakon Publishing LLC

Mikhail Galperin

Representative of the Russian Federation in the European Court of Human Rights - Deputy Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, Professor at the Department of the Judiciary in the HSE University

Opening notes

Svetlana Karelina

Professor of Business Law, Lomonosov Moscow State University

Stefan Kroell

Honorary Professor – Director of the Center for International Dispute Resolution at Bucerius Law School, Director of the Willem C. Vis Arbitration Moot

Mikhail Shvarts

Acting Head of the Department of Civil Procedure, Saint Petersburg State University


Viktor Biryukov

Executive Vice President – Legal & Corporate Affairs, VimpelCom

Zhunus Dzhakupov

Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Association of Lawyers of Russia, Chairman of the Board of the Expert Center of the Association of Lawyers of Russia on Quality and Qualifications Control

Ekaterina Tyagay

Head of Family Law Department, Kutafin Moscow State Law University (MSAL)

Alla Maslennikova

Chairman of the Board of the Rosgosstrakh Bank PJSC, Board Member of the Russian Corporate Counsel Association

Till Olbrich

Deputy General Counsel, Philip Morris International


Mr. Olbrich was appointed Deputy General Counsel in 2017.

Mr. Olbrich is Deputy General Counsel at Philip Morris International where he manages a group of 240 lawyers and legal professionals around the world. Since he joined the company in 2005, he has held a wide range of positions in the Law Department and Corporate Affairs, covering such areas as brand protection, supply chain practices, product development, tobacco product regulation, sustainability, litigation, public policy and commercial law.

Mr. Olbrich studied law in Germany and Switzerland. He holds a degree from the University of Leipzig and is admitted to the bar in Germany. Prior to Philip Morris International, Mr. Olbrich worked in private practice at the law firms of Hengeler Mueller in Germany and Wachtell Lipton in the United States.

* The Programme may be subject to change