The Accidental Law Librarian

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To Russia, With Demands


I was sitting in the bath the other day when I realized what would really, really make this blog useful: to share with my readers (both of you) some reference questions from my past and their solutions (if I can remember them). With that in mind, let’s journey back to 2005, when I worked for a prominent mega-law firm in the Southeast. One day, I got the following email:

“XX and I have a case where we likely are going to have to serve a complaint on a Russian individual.  XX mentioned that you previously did some research for him on service in a foreign jurisdiction (I think it was Australia) and was wondering if you could send me some materials regarding what I would need to get our complaint served on a person living in Russia.”

First, note the referral: I did good work for one attorney, XX, so when another attorney had a similar issue, XX told him to start with me. Perfecto.

Anyway, this is a classic question of civil procedure: how to serve a complaint. (A complaint is the document that starts a lawsuit.) The complication, of course, is the foreign jurisdiction.

It’s important to know what your requestor is really asking for. Sometimes, attorneys want an overview or background info. In that case, something like this on the Russian court system would be good. For a more extensive analysis, you might look for a law review article like this. The ultimate write-up, of course, would be a treatise on Russian civil procedure.

This attorney, however, had a how-to question, not a theoretical one. Again, what does the attorney want? Is he looking for a company to serve the complaint? Does he simply want to know how it’s done?

If memory serves, I directed him to the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory. Published by LexisNexis, it’s the world’s most extensive listing of U.S. and foreign attorneys. Several volumes provide information–more than an overview, less than a treatise–on civil and criminal procedure in other countries. I had done this for the Australia request, too.

Bottom line: For questions involving non-U.S. jurisdictions, Martindale-Hubbell is a great place to start.

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