U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program

Applicant Organization: Justice Resource Center, Inc.

Partner Organization: Non-Governmental Education Institution of Vocational and Continuing Professional Education “St. Petersburg Institute of Law named after Prince P.G. Oldenburgsky”


Summary: The U.S.-Russia MENTOR Program brings American and Russian attorneys together for a dialogue on international civics and involvement in joint pro bono activities. The MENTOR Program connects legal professionals through pro bono activities that benefit communities in need, specifically in New York City, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. By engaging attorneys in activities that will help both nations, Russian and American lawyers will be able to partake in a pro bono education on civics and law, a relatively unexplored area for some large law firms, particularly in Russia, and work towards engaging disenfranchised American and Russian youth.

Attorney participants meet with each other to discuss pro bono with attorneys, judges, and law-related organizations involved in the MENTOR program, observe court proceedings and meet with federal judges, take part in MENTOR activities, such as judging high school students’ Moot Court and Mock Trial competitions, coaching student teams for regional moot courts and the 2018 International Moot Court at The Hague for high school students, and discuss U.S. law, Russian law and International Criminal Court (ICC) law with legal experts. These key activities will be carried out through JRC and the Institute’s implementation of the current MENTOR program and involvement of partner organizations, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, New York State Bar Association, New York County Lawyers’ Association, St. Petersburg Regional Bar, Leningradskaya Oblast Regional Bar, and Institute of Legal Research, Mediation and Advocacy (St. Petersburg).

The direct beneficiaries of the U.S.-Russia MENTOR Program are the U.S. and Russian attorney participants and the approximately 1,000 American and Russian high school students who the attorney participants interact with through the MENTOR activities. Fostering U.S.-Russia dialogue through the MENTOR Program will indirectly benefit both nations’ general relations, the schools and communities where students reside, and the overall societal views of attorneys and the legal field in both countries. The U.S.-Russia MENTOR Program is original and innovative in attempting to apply the MENTOR program that has proven successful in disparate countries for connecting attorneys across international borders.

The anticipated outcomes of the project are for 10 U.S. attorneys and 10 Russian attorneys to become immersed in the MENTOR Program and work with 1,000 high school students in the high-needs areas of New York City, St. Petersburg and Moscow. By developing strong relationships throughout the grant year, and gathering resources and contacts through legal organizations that partner in the MENTOR Program, the expected result is that attorney participants will continue their pro bono work and bring the MENTOR Program activities to their law firms for future expansion of the program.