Beyond translation | White & Case LLP International Law Firm, Global Law Practice
Beyond translation

Beyond translation

A new series of publications on legal writing debuts for Russian lawyers.

In 2006, to mark its 15th anniversary in Russia, White & Case published a book about the life and work of one of Russia's most distinguished international lawyers. This biography set the stage for a second project, which shares the goal of connecting Russia's future lawyers with the best traditions of their profession.

In 2010, legal scholar Olga Khazova, who  had written the 2006 biography, found  herself talking to White & Case Chairman Hugh Verrier about the critical shortage in Russia of books on legal writing—both a cause and consequence, Hugh and Olga believed, of a tendency across Russia to downplay this essential legal art. Olga describes this attitude as a legacy of the Soviet era, when, as she notes, "to write wordily and to actually say nothing were things rooted in a sense of security: A word said inadvertently could literally cost the author his or her life."

Hugh, who had served as head of our Moscow office for nine years, in turn, proposed a whole series: not only the volume on legal writing but five additional works addressing contract drafting; legislative drafting; the crafting of legal judgments; strategies for legal research; and drafting litigation.

Our work on legal education in Russia has witnessed dynamic growth in recent years. It is a powerful example of the unique impact we can achieve by putting our global expertise into practice—in a way that meets societies where they are, and helps bring them where they would like to be.
Andrei Dontsov,
Partner, Moscow

Hugh saw the series as an opportunity to respond, on the basis of the Firm's experience in Russia, to a demonstrated need. "There is an unbelievable appetite for this practical knowledge," he says, "and it is born of a respect for how important the written word is, as a fundamental ingredient of the rule of law." Both Hugh and Olga thought it paramount that the series respect the distinctness of Russian legal culture. "Translation of books on legal writing in other languages," Olga says of earlier efforts, "had failed." Hugh adds, "The only books that could really nurture writing and thinking so as to transform the prevailing culture would be books by Russians, for Russians."

Olga's opening chapter makes clear that the present situation has at its root broader historical causes. Attention to legal writing "was lost to a large extent after October 1917," with the Bolshevik Revolution and the dawn of the Soviet era. Rather than promote clarity and accountability in legal and other contexts, the Soviets pointedly deployed "bureaucratese" as a strategy of power.

Bureaucratese is not simply a thing of the past. Olga points to recent legal theses presented in Russia as evidence of its continuing hold on the culture. Such language goes hand in hand with the highly theoretical education so many Russian law students still receive today.

"When it came to legal writing," she says, "at most you could find one or two pages in a book focused on legal theory." Olga, whose own practice focused on family law, says she wishes she'd had at her disposal the very resources on legal writing the Firm has made available.

"These volumes are part of our effort to be good citizens," Hugh says. "They are right at the essence of a lawyer's obligation to put professional experience in the service of society." The books, which recently went into their second printing, have been adopted for use at many of the foremost Russian law schools.

University lecturing program in Moscow marks its first decade

White & Case's publications on legal research and legal writing are being used in its University Lecturing Program—a supplementary legal curriculum offering practical skills training for law students—which is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Lawyers from the Moscow office deliver lectures and master classes, create case studies and exercises, and conduct final exams for almost 1,000 students annually at four leading Russian universities. The courses—which cover major practice areas, legal skills and English law fundamentals—have been integrated into the curriculum officially, with some even mandatory for certain specializations. "Our work on legal education in Russia has witnessed dynamic growth in recent years," Moscow partner Andrei Dontsov observes. "It is a powerful example of the unique impact we can achieve by putting our global expertise into practice—in a way that meets societies where they are, and helps bring them where they would like to be."

Titles in the series

  • Art of Legal Writing
  • Contract Drafting
  • Legal Writing in the Work of a Litigation Lawyer
  • Legislative Drafting
  • Judgment: Logic and Reasoning
  • Strategy and Tactics of Legal Research
      

UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
GOALS ADVANCED BY THIS WORK

04 | Quality Education

16 | Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

 
 

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