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University relations

Moscow office lawyers teach practical legal skills to more than 500 students each year.

Traditionally, legal education in Russia has strongly emphasized academics and been recognized for providing an excellent foundation in legal fundamentals. Because law practice in Russia is changing rapidly, greater training in practical legal skills has become critical for young lawyers, and legal education has begun to evolve to meet these needs. Since 2005, our Moscow office has played a central role in this evolution.

Today, we partner with Moscow's leading law schools to supplement the existing curriculum with practical legal skills training. Each year more than 40 White & Case lawyers, including ten partners, deliver more than ten courses—both mandatory and elective—to 500 students at six schools. We also support and host many events for students. The effects of our work are far-reaching: a survey of nearly 4,000 law students by a Russian recruiting firm found that 49 percent of students questioned have attended a White & Case lecture or event.

The success of the White & Case educational program can be measured both by the quality of the teaching and the response of the students. The associates whom I observed as small group facilitators were terrific at getting students to engage with each other on the issues.
Professor Philip Genty, Columbia Law School

Our courses cover three major modules: practice areas, lawyering skills and the fundamentals of English law. Many of our courses have already been integrated into the curriculum, all appear on students' official transcripts, 60 percent qualify for credit toward graduation, and some are mandatory for certain specializations.

Led by Moscow partner Andrei Dontsov, the White & Case University Relations Program has been transformed from a purely extra-curricular activity to an integral part of the curriculum. "I started giving my M&A course more than ten years ago," said Andrei. "At that time, courses by practitioners were new to the market and were perceived with a certain level of skepticism by the academic community. Now we are much more integrated with the schools in terms of planning, delivery and the curriculum itself. Our relationships with the law schools are very strong—we are not guests, but members of the team."

Our lawyers and Russian academics work together to create course outlines and assess teaching techniques and materials. This collaboration has led to new standards. For example, the latest curriculum adopted by Moscow State University Law School calls for 144 mandatory hours of lectures and seminars taught by practicing lawyers, 30 percent of which should be interactive. In Dontsov's view, "This represents a significant change in the Russian legal education standard, and we have contributed to it."

White & Case recently took the lead in establishing a legal consortium that unites a broad group of stakeholders—other firms, corporate law departments, leading academics and experts both from within and outside Russia—to share best practices and consolidate our efforts to reform legal education in Russia.

View a law review article by Professor Genty on the role of the private business sector in Russian legal education.

"Being connected with the younger generation of lawyers matters to us," said partner Igor Ostapets, Chair of the Commercial Law Practice department led by White & Case at the Higher School of Economics. "It is now our turn to pass on the knowledge that we learned from our own mentors when we were junior lawyers."

The notion of giving back to the Russian legal community is echoed by Hermann Schmitt, head of our Moscow office: "We take our commitment to the development of legal education in Russia very seriously. Through our active links with the Russian academic community and our sponsorship of the Jessup, we are proud to support so many talented Russian law students. Many participants go on to enjoy extremely successful careers both in Russia and abroad, including with us at White & Case."


The Jessup Cup goes to Moscow

On March 31 in Washington, DC, a team of law students from Moscow State University won the 2012 White & Case Jessup Cup by prevailing over Columbia University in the final round of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. This is the first time a Russian team has won the world championship.

Judges Joan Donoghue, Kenneth Keith and Hisashi Owada judged the final round, which was the first time in Jessup history that three judges from the International Court of Justice served on the Final Bench.

Through the White & Case programs, students acquire the specific practical skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the legal profession. But more importantly, they gain a feel for the professional mastery to which they should aspire.
Gennadiy P. Tolstopyatenko Dean, International Law Department, Moscow State Institute of International Relations

Grigory Vaypan and Aleksandra Ivlieva delivered the oral arguments as both applicant and respondent for the Moscow State University team throughout the competition. Grigory said, "This is the third time that Aleksandra and I have participated in the competition, which really is an ‘Olympic Games' for law students. Each year we've learned and improved our overall performance. Winning this year means so much to the team, and it is a really positive statement for law students from all over Russia."

The win by Moscow State University is only the seventh time in the 53-year history of Jessup that a non-native English speaking team has won the competition. With the pleadings in English, it is extremely unusual for non-English speaking law students to win the competition as oralists are arguing complex legal scenarios in their non-native language.

White & Case's involvement with the Jessup goes back many years and includes the founding of the first competition in Russia in 2002, now the world's largest national competition not split into regional events, with nearly 50 participating universities. In 2012, six Jessup teams advanced to represent Russia in the White & Case International Rounds.

"We take our commitment to the development of Russian legal education very seriously," said Hermann Schmitt, Executive Partner of our Moscow office. "It is a matter of great joy and pride for everyone involved that Moscow State University is this year's winner."

The 2012 case involved timely issues such as the international standing of a state immediately following a coup d'état, international responsibility for the use of force by a state while taking part in a regional military operation and the destruction of a cultural site.

"The quality of the advocacy we heard was excellent," said Ian Forrester, head of White & Case's Global Pro Bono Practice. "The winning team had so mastered the subject that they spoke without notes, showing a fluent command of both the details and the big principles. The competition was intense in the final rounds, and every team showed great talent as creative thinkers and as confident advocates. Each participant will take home valuable experience and new friendships even if only one takes the trophy."


  • Banking Finance Deals
  • Capital Markets Basics
  • International Commercial Arbitration
  • Introduction to English Law
  • Introduction to Transactions
  • Real Estate Deals
  • Regulation of Subsoil Use in Russia
  • Taxation of Business and Foreign Investments Lawyering Skills

White & Case law school partners in Russia

  • Higher School of Economics
  • Kazan State University
  • Moscow State Institute of International Relations
  • Moscow State Law Academy
  • Moscow State University
  • Russian Academy of Justice


Those who do, also teach: Highlights of our legal education work

Learn more about our Social Responsibility initiative