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Nature versus Nurture: A Comparison of Russian Law Graduates Destined for State Service and for Private Practice
Law & Policy  (IF1.432),  Pub Date : 2019-04-01, DOI: 10.1111/lapo.12122
Kathryn Hendley

This article explores the mind-set of Russian law students on the cusp of graduation. Drawing on a 2016 survey, the analysis finds that, despite having taken different paths to their degrees, the respondents share a confidence in the Russian courts that distinguishes them from Russians without legal education. Within the sample, a natural division is evident between those who plan to go into state service and those who plan to go into private practice. Aspiring state lawyers are more likely to support the policies of the Putin regime, even when they preference politics over the letter of the law. This strongly suggests that the tendency of judges and state lawyers within the criminal justice system to work as a team to ensure convictions is not solely the result of workplace incentives, as had previously been assumed, but is an element of a worldview that these lawyers share that predates their legal education. Aspiring private lawyers, by contrast, are consistently more skeptical of the state. To the extent that they are later coopted by the state, as studies of criminal defense lawyers suggest, such behavior would likely be the result of a desire to endear themselves to investigators and prosecutors in order to ensure further appointments to represent indigent clients.