In Russia, Home Grown Pro Bono

Samara Law Firm Takes Home Russian Pro Bono Award

29 May 2012

In the five years since Russia’s Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award was launched, winners have been drawn exclusively from among large international law firms based in Moscow. That changed this April when PILnet and its partners named the Russian firm RBL of Samara as the 2011 winner.

Despite RBL’s modest size—it has only three partners—the firm worked on five pro bono matters last year, providing legal assistance that ranged from litigating a human rights matter at the Regional Court of Samara to supplying ongoing free legal advice to a Samara-based nonprofit that works with people with epilepsy.

"I am confident that our victory will only intensify how active Russian firms, including regional law firms, are in pro bono,” said Managing Partner Dmitriy Samigullin. “Through such a process, we contribute to the development of standards for the legal profession in Russia!"

The Pro Bono Award, announced this year at the Russian Legal Forum, is bestowed on a law firm that has substantially contributed to the practice and development of pro bono in Russia. “This year’s winner represents the growing commitment to pro bono in Russia at the regional level,” noted PILnet’s director for Russia, Dmitry Shabelnikov. “RBL’s substantive record of service shows clearly that pro bono is no longer solely the purview of the huge international firms in the capital.”

This year’s judges were PILnet, the editorial board of the legal journal Legal Success, and Lawyers for Civil Society. Held on 17 April, the Russian Legal Forum was organized by the legal trade journal Vedomosti.