Agents of Change or Unchanging Agents? The Role of Lawyers within Russian Industrial Enterprises

Kathryn Hendley, Peter Murrell and Randi Ryterman , Law and Social Inquiry 26(3) , 685-715 , July 2001.

The transition from state socialism toward market capitalism has led to an almost endless supply of new laws and legal institutions. Industrial enterprises need to adapt to this new institutional regime. In-house lawyers are well placed to be agents of change in facilitating this adjustment. Using survey data from 328 Russian enterprises, the article examines the role of company lawyers, asking whether they have fulfilled this potential. Legal expertise is not in short supply, but lawyers are marginalized within the enterprise. They focus on established, routine tasks, such as handling labor relations or drafting form contracts, rather than on shaping enterprise strategies in the newer areas created by the transition, such as corporate governance or securities law. The failure of in-house lawyers to emerge as agents of change in Russia reflects a continuation of their low status during the Soviet era and the lack of professional identity among these company lawyers.

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