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Article

Self-Regulation of Legal Professions in State Socialism: Poland and Russia Compared

Mrowczynski R.

The paper analyzes how the self-regulatory institutions of two legal professions – attorneys-at-law and in-house lawyers – developed in Poland and Russia from the second half of the 19th century until the collapse of state socialism at the beginning of the 1990s. These two countries constitute the most contrasting cases of socialist transformation in the region in terms of legal traditions and of the broader socio-political context. To adequately grasp the case differences it is necessary to include the formative period of the modern legal profession in the region. The comparative analysis uses the conceptual framework of the sociology of professions. It shows that (1) attorneys-at-law were able to preserve a certain degree of collective autonomy and self-regulation during most of the time; (2) institutional path dependencies reaching back into the pre-socialist past determine the degree of autonomy and self-regulation; (3) the discrepancy between both countries is particularly pronounced in the case of the occupational group of in-house lawyers; (4) the state-socialist regimes were, therefore, not as unifying and homogenizing as it is sometimes assumed.