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Working paper

The Role of Lawyers in Social Changes in Developing Countries: Evidence from Russia

Yakovlev A. A., Kazun A., Sitkevich D.A.
This paper reviews the activity of professional legal organizations as factors in the transfer from limited access order (LAO) to open access order (OAO) according to the theory of North, Wallis and Weingast. By analyzing the experience of lawyers’ collective action in developing countries, this paper proposes a decision tree explaining the process of the mobilization of the legal community to counter violations of the law by the ruling elite. It shows that this collective action plays a significant role in implementing the rule of law. However, the efficiency of such collective action in a particular country depends on the institutional capacity of its legal association and on the position of the professional elite leading it. The history of the development of Russian legal advocacy shows that exogenous shocks actually stimulate the collective action of lawyers, which in turn compels the government to respond.