MOSCOW, December 1 - RAPSI, Diana Gutsul. Free legal aid should not be a charity, RBL Managing Partner Dmitry Samigullin said at a roundtable as part of the "Law and Modernization: Experience, Prospects, Trends" international legal conference. The conference is organized by the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/ and RIA Novosti.

"Free legal aid is not a charity. This is a social service to people in need. Such an approach will be possible if every lawyer - and law firm - understands that his activity is necessary and systematic and that he is accountable," Samigullin said at a roundtable devoted to the development trends of free legal aid programs in Russia.

He added that the law stipulates governmental and nongovernmental entities providing free legal consultations to specific individuals in certain cases.

Dmitry Shabelnikov, the director of the Public Interest Law Institute's Russian branch, believes many people are convinced that legal services are too expensive.

"There is still a myth that legal consultations are expensive, but at the same time the people can't say how much such services cost," Shchebelnikov said.
Igor Redkin, the meeting's moderator and the deputy chairman of the Association of Lawyers of Russia, said free legal aid is a source helping the public achieve justice. He added that it was designed to increase the population's legal literacy and their standard of living.

The "Law and Modernization: Experience, Prospects, Trends" international legal Conference opened in Moscow on Thursday. The two-day event is organized by the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) jointly with RIA Novosti.

Over 200 lawyers are expected to take part in the event. Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev and Audit Chamber Chairman Sergei Stepashin opened the conference.

The conference's primary objective is to create a forum to launch a dialogue between the many parties affected by the legal sector, such as lawyers, economists, scholars and businessmen. Among the invitees are leading legal experts from the Justice Ministry, international law firms, business associations and legal publications.

The conference will discuss pressing legal issues in the global social, economic and political context. Priority issues of discussion will include legal business development and management, legal practice models, government policy measures to modernize the legal system and the activities of legal market players.