Prof. Clark Teaches Russian Law Students, Makes Presentation on Whistleblowing before Russian Government Ministries

Kathleen Clark, the John S. Lehmann Research Professor for 2012–13, recently traveled to Russia, where she shared her expertise on legal ethics and whistleblowing with law students and government officials.

Clark, a leading expert on legal ethics and government corruption, was in Moscow to teach a four-day legal ethics seminar to Russian law students, Professional Responsibility & Ethics in the Global Legal Market. The seminar was sponsored by Moscow State University, the law firms White & Case and DLA Piper, and a nongovernment organization (NGO), PILNet.

Clark studied Russian in the Soviet Union in 1984, and on this visit was able to observe the enormous changes that have occurred since then. The transformation of the economy has resulted in an increased need for lawyers. “While criminal defense lawyers have their own code of conduct, the Russian legal profession is almost entirely unregulated, and Russian law schools do not generally teach legal ethics,” Clark said. 

While in Moscow, Clark also met with Transparency International-Russia (TI-R), one of Russia’s leading anticorruption groups. TI-R invited Clark to make a presentation about the law of whistleblowing and inspectors general at a roundtable sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Labor and hosted by the Higher School of Economics, an institute created after the end of the Soviet Union to assist in transforming the economy. 

For her presentation, titled “Whistleblowing Law: The U.S. Experience,” Clark drew on both her scholarship and a white paper on whistleblowing that she had written for the Government Accountability Project, a U.S.-based NGO that represents whistleblowers.

After defining “whistleblowing” as “the disclosure of alleged wrongdoing to prevent harm or hold wrongdoers accountable,” Clark laid out five components of U.S. whistleblowing law: requirements to disclose wrongdoing, prohibitions against retaliation, compensation for any retaliation that occurs, requirements that institutions facilitate whistleblowing, and the creation of financial incentives for whistleblowers.

Of these five components, Clark said that laws promising compensation for retaliation had not proven effective, but that financial incentives for revealing fraud had helped the federal government recover billions of dollars. By empowering and providing incentives for whistleblowers to hold wrongdoers accountable, the government can create a distributed system of law enforcement without relying on a single centralized authority.

“I was very pleased to have the opportunity to return to Russia, to assist in the development of a legal ethics curriculum there, and to help TI-R in its anticorruption work,” Clark said.