The International Youth Legal Forum has begun its work at St Petersburg University. This year, the satellite of a major legal forum attracted more than 350 participants: graduate and post-graduate students; and young scientists from Russia, China, India, Italy, Estonia, Kazakhstan and other countries.

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The Forum opened with a plenary session ‘Law as an Art’. It was attended by: the Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods of St Petersburg University Marina Lavrikova; the Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Konovalov; the Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Aleksandr Bastrykin; the Chairman of the Board of the Association of Lawyers of Russia Vladimir Gruzdev; a member of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly Aleksei Aleksandrov; the Dean of the Faculty of Law Sergei Belov; and other key figures from the legal community, science and higher education.

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Marina Lavrikova, opening the tenth anniversary Youth Forum, noted that it has become a traditional event. An annual meeting with young lawyers gives the University a great opportunity, as young people have a unique perception of the world around them.

We realise that the future of legal practice, legal science and the way people will live depend on you, because we all understand law as a key systemic factor in our lives.

Marina Lavrikova, Senior Vice-Rector for Academic Activities and Teaching Methods of St Petersburg University

Welcoming the participants of the International Youth Legal Forum, the Minister of Justice said that the Forum has become an integral part of Legal Week. It is a channel for communicating practical messages, exchanging experience between various generations of lawyers, and establishing business and scientific contacts. The Minister reminded that law not only brings benefits, but also bears certain risks, including those arising from the development of artificial intelligence and excessive instrumentalisation. He pointed out that it is important to know the canons of law, as well as to understand why these legal norms have been formulated in a particular way and what their meaning is. Aleksandr Konovalov wished the young lawyer to pursue goals of ‘utmost value and importance, which will benefit every person and civilisation’. The Minister finished his speech with succinct advice: ‘Stay tuned’.

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Aleksandr Bastrykin is a professor of St Petersburg University and Chairman of the Investigative Committee. In his speech about main developments in modern law, he recalled an ancient Roman saying: ‘Law is the art of goodness and fairness’. He stressed that this idea of fairness must never change and must remain the key criterion of future law: ‘There must be one law for all, rights of individuals must be respected, and justice must be fair from the moral point of view.’ Aleksandr Bastrykin does not believe that the solution of legal issues shall ever be entirely shifted to technology.

Only man shall determine the fate of another human being.

Aleksandr Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigative Committee

Nicholas Allard, President, Dean and Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, attended the Forum as a guest of honour. In his welcoming speech, he also raised the issue of introducing technology into jurisprudence. He shared some good news with young lawyers. ‘The first is that technology shall change the law for the better,’ he said. ‘Some processes will become automatic and as a result simpler and cheaper. Artificial intelligence will undoubtedly relieve lawyers from some of their work. The second news is that there will always be a need for people with analytical skills, who can provide support and the right advice.’ According to the professor, young people should devote their time and efforts to developing these particular skills. They would help them become the lawyers with whom computers would not be able to compete. Machines only operate with the information they already have, while human beings always focus on the world around and look for knowledge. ‘Law, just like art, helps us understand the essence of life and find answers to questions which have not yet been answered,’ said Nicholas Allard.

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Key speakers and experts during the two days of the International Youth Legal Forum included: the Deputy Minister of Justice Mikhail Galperin; Associate Professor of Nagoya University (Japan) Fumito Sato; the Managing Partner of Grigoriev & Partners Aleksandr Grigoriev; the Director of the Legal Institute “M-Logos” Artem Karapetov; the Director of the Mediation Centre of St Petersburg University Evgeniia Vaskova; and others.

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The general work of the Forum is carried out in sections on the latest issues in law. This year young lawyers can choose from over 35 topics including: the technology of pre-trial dispute settlement; intellectual property in art; cyber security; digitisation of financial markets; improvements in free legal assistance; and legal support of pharmaceutical companies.

The Forum of 2019 is notable for providing an opportunity for the participants to learn more about the law and law enforcement practices of other countries, including China, India and Japan.

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