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Article

Institutional Determinants for Representation of Indigent Defendants: Evidence from Russia

Review of Central and East European Law. 2021. Vol. 46. No. 2. P. 265-295.

Little is known about the motives of lawyers who provide free legal assistance in countries that lack both a developed professional community and developed institutions related to the rule of law. Based on a survey of 3,317 criminal defense lawyers (advokaty) in 35 regions of Russia, we analyze the provision of two types of free legal services: participation in legal proceedings “on appointment” (po naznacheniyu) and the provision of pro bono legal assistance. We show that work on appointment usually involves lawyers with low social capital and a lack of regular clients. In contrast, pro bono legal assistance is encouraged by lawyers’ organizations. It is typically provided by professionals with a high level of social capital and with values aimed at maintaining an excellent professional reputation. We conclude that the provision of free legal services might best be stimulated within the professional community rather than by the government.