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This is the page for the best essays of the students of Moscow State University.


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Napoleon's Words of Wisdom


The Modes of Punishment. A Monologue of a Young Judge.


I am a beginner in the sphere of justice. The most frequent punishment I apply when I have to decide on a convict's sentence is community service. I think it is the most lenient measure for wrongdoers, but a very useful one for the rest of the community. Since my experience is not very big, I haven't dealt with atrocious crimes which would deserve capital punishment.

When I studied at Moscow State University my English teacher suggested a very productive idea that a person who has committed a crime should be deprived of those rights, which he or she mostly appreciates. That will be the most effective mode of retribution and deterrence. I am strongly opposed to fines of any kind or scale, as I suppose that money couldn't make a restitution for moral or physical sufferings. And what's more, people nowadays are always ready to lose a small sum of money, rather than their freedom or some rights.

I also consider solitary confinement to be an effective measure. When an offender is barred from the rest of the world, deprived of normal social life, when he can't turn to anybody for help or advise, he has time to think about his life and behaviour. If he is later reformed (according to the assessment of prison board), then he should be sentenced to community service and supervision. But if he can't understand the cruelty of his behaviour, he faces life imprisonment. I don't like to use probation and suspended sentences, as there is a fear that an offender may always turn to a slippery slope.

Nevertheless, I usually turn to case study while sentencing this or that person, since I understand the importance of my duty to decide the destinies of people.

Nelly Gandzhella, law school

Is criminality inborn or acquired?

In my opinion it is a very complicated problem because criminality is a complex notion. I think the majority of criminals are shaped by environmental factors. It does not mean, however, that a person becomes a criminal because of the influence of poverty. To my mind such environmental factors as the impact of family, friends, school and social rank of a person do not matter. I know many cases when a rich man became a criminal. I agree there are some people who have criminal proclivities but these are rare cases. If children have alcoholic or drug-abusing parents and they see a lot of violence around -- there is a very big opportunity that they will become criminals.

For example, my parents think that there were much less criminals in the USSR because there was powerful ideology claiming that everyone should study, work, have a good family. People were more patriotic, teenagers had particular aims in life, they wanted to become useful members of society. Being good was a good taste.

These days, the situation is different and moral values are ‘denominated’. That is why in order to prevent crime each person should take proper care of his children and his family. If all members of our society do so, this world will become better.

Arevik Ayrapetian,  law school

However hard people try, laws are always insufficient.


The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said "Life and state are far from being perfect." Why are laws always insufficient? Why can't we make laws, which will satisfy our demands? It is a very old and interesting question. It is closely connected with the issues of the of the origins of law in general.

Long long ago our ancestors lived according to their customs and conventions, and later according to the law of God. Then, why was there a necessity for inventing some comprehensive law for society, some written law? Today we can investigate the reasons for this phenomenon.

Life is changing constantly. Laws, which were in effect, for example, in Soviet times, can't be in force these days because life has progressed greatly, our attitudes towards each other have changed and we look at things in a different way.

Of course, one can mention as an instance the USA or some other countries that have once adopted their national constitutions, which are still the supreme law in these countries. And in Russia we have changed 6 constitutional laws for the last 100 years. "Why?" - this question is quite in order. The answer is very simple. Just compare the events of American and Russian history for the last 100 years and you'll understand the difference. Besides, this is a matter of legal theory as the two countries are guided by different legal principles.

So, as long as life is changing, law will be changing too, and it will always be insufficient. And to my mind it is very good! It's better to change our life and law for the better, than to stand at one point, however good it may be.

Chilikov Egor, law school

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

The wisdom of the Bible is often misunderstood, the text is often misread. As many other statements, this one has fallen the victim of human ignorance and shallowness.

Oleg Milovidov

What does it mean? 'Judge not, or God shall Judge you?' 'Judge not, or terrible justice shall be unleashed upon you?' At first, I hesitated to accept one of the points of view that were offered to me. But later, I understood… To make it clear, let me give you an apologue.

Once upon a time, there lived a man of honor and virtue. He was a pious and righteous person, ascetic and devoted to God. But there was one flaw… He used to judge… He judged all humanity most harshly, accusing men of suffocating in their lust to please their bodies, drowning in their sins, forgetting about the salvation of their souls and development of their morale. He judged… He treated them as inferiors, he set himself above them on a pedestal of self-righteous and selfish blindness. He did not think of them as humans. He treated them as animals, or servants of the Devil. He considered himself to be Chosen by God to save this world from corruption and decay of morale…

He became an outcast. No one would speak to him; no one would offer a helping hand to him. Living in seclusion, far from civilization, he saw the light …. God granted him the wisdom and the truth became evident to him. And what he saw was unpleasant: Pointing at others' weaknesses, he failed to notice his own faults. Self-righteousness, foolish pride, diminishing others' achievements - that is what he saw. But he continued to judge… Yet, along with the others, he began to judge himself as well…

So the one who judged finally had justice meted upon him. But not from above, he took it from inside his soul…

Milovidov Oleg, law school

However hard people try, laws are always insufficient.

Julia Kuliamina

When people first began to live in groups they had few rules or laws, but they soon realized that each individual had to pay attention to the needs and the welfare of his neighbors in order to make life not only tolerable, but pleasant for the greatest number of people. It was considered necessary for each person to recognize everyone else’s rights to life and the ownership of property. Otherwise society could not function in peace. Laws were passed to establish the order in community and they also had to protect the moral values, which were developing among people for many centuries. However in ancient times for example the laws which specified the rights of slaveholder could hardly comply with the slaves’ notions of justice. Another example of unfairness of laws is the condition of Russian peasants during the period of serfdom.

In modern societies law is applied to control the behavior of their members. Law guarantees and protects the rights of all people, who ought to respect and obey the norms, adopted by the legislature.

But as many scientific investigations show, lots of people do not respect

law. They follow its norms just because of the fear of punishment. People pay for the tickets in transport just to avoid being fined. Very often motor-car drivers don’t lose any opportunity to exceed the speed on the road, when it is not allowed, if they are sure, that there is no policeman near. A lot of people don’t have any legal culture. The reason is that we have imperfect laws. This trouble can lead to the increase of offences and crimes.

One more fact which shows the insufficiency of laws is that some rights, proclaimed in important official documents, are hardly realized in practice. Many young men have lots of trouble when they try to escape the service in the army and want to choose some alternative service.

It is a matter of fact that to provide laws which will help its people to live safely and as comfortably as possible is a Homeric task. But in my opinion a legislature should revise laws, find their defects and try to work out some new perspectives for establishment more perfect and fair laws.

Kuliamina Julia, law school

BEST ESSAYS 2002-2003

Laws are not for ordinary people, they are for lawyers

Roman Sharapov

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I consider it a great honour to address you today. And I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak that you have bestowed on me.

I would like to start my speech with a story that a friend of mine told me yesterday.

An indignant lawyer reproaches the judge: "Last time you charged my client with a theft committed in broad daylight. This time you are bringing charges for the artful robbery committed at night. Can you please tell me now, when exactly my client ought to steal?!!!

The joke suggests that people like this thief should study laws just to know when they should rob other people and when they should not.

You know that there wasn't any law in the primitive society. And, of course, all of you know, that one of the first written codes of law appeared in Babylonia. Does anybody here know what laws I am talking about? Yeah, you are right. It's the Code of Hammurabi. All of us have heard a lot about it. But have you ever heard about a jurist or a lawyer in Babylonia? The answer is "No". That is why I can assert that law was addressed to every member of Babylonian community: to the rich and to the poor; to government officials, priests, and soldiers, merchants, labourers and artisans.

Laws aren't made only for lawyers. They have always been meant for all of us. If it were not so, you wouldn't know your rights - what you can and what you can t do. You would be absolutely helpless. And lawyers would be the most powerful and rich people (by the way, this is not very bad, I think). There would appear a necessity of putting at least one policeman at every street corner to prevent people from breaking the law. In fact, every man would become a potential offender.

Let's make a speculative assumption: A respectable man in a black suit with a black case comes to you and says that the government and the state need the house you live in. Then he shows you some papers, says that according to the law you must leave your house at once. And then goes to your kitchen and starts having tea while waiting for you to go away. And you just pack your things, say Goodbye to your house and leave. Then, standing in the street you begin to realize, that you haven t got a home any more and you have got no place to live in. And you'll have to go your Old Folks, and, perhaps, to live with them for another couple of years, before you earn enough money to buy yourself a new flat.

But if you were acquainted with the law, at least with the Constitution (the most important of all our laws), you would know, that according to the article #35 of the Constitution, if the state needs your house and wants you to leave it, you ought to do so, but the state must present you a new house, equal in cost to that of yours. And if you knew that, you wouldn't feel desperate and homeless for a single moment, and, of course, you wouldn't t have to live with your parents for another couple of years.

I can give you many more examples, but all of them prove the same idea. That is why I can surely say, that laws aren't made only for lawyers, they are made for ordinary people as well. And if you want to be a literate person, if you want to know your rights and duties, if you don t want such nasty things to happen to you, you should study the Law, at least you should know the Constitution. Don t let the government fool you, be smart!

Thank you for your attention!

Roman Sharapov, law school


Laws are not for ordinary people, they are for lawyers

  Judge: You've been found guilty of not stopping at the red traffic light when you should've done. What do you have to say for yourself?
The defendant: Your Honour! I alawys stop at green traffic lights when I don't have to…
Lena Gusakova

This joke shows us that people do not always know their rights and obligations. There are some widely known rules which are followed by everyone - just for self-protection. For example, what would people do, unless there are some rules of the road?

But there are other very important rules and laws, closely connected with our everyday life. Unfortunately almost none of us knows them well. The knowledge of law is very important in every society, for every human being. If you know your rights well, you could demand that others should respect and observe them. In the absence of law you could only rely upon the law of the jungle.

As for me, I don't agree with the idea that laws are not for ordinary people, but for lawyers. I know that there are some special legal terms, which are unknown to the majority of the people. But ordinary people should try to improve their general knowledge of law. They should know their rights listed in the Constitution. It goes without saying that average citizens don't have to learn and understand all kinds of rules and laws. Therefore it is the job of a lawyer to interpret complex legal theory and precedents and "translate" them into layman's terms. That is why lay people have to consult lawyers in order to get legal advice.

I hope that in the future more and more ordinary people will know their rights better. This is not an easy thing to do, but I believe that very soon familiarity with law will allow people to live safely and comfortably and enjoy their legal rights.

Helen Gousakova, law school


Laws are not for ordinary people, they are for lawyers

Michael Muradov

To my mind, this point of view is partially correct. First and foremost, law is considered to regulate the life of ordinary people. On the other hand, legal experts are employed to help their clients struggle through the jungle of legal technicalities. Their efforts are devoted to this primary aim. Still, most lawyers use their brilliant skills and knowledge not only for the benefit of their clients but for their own benefit.

Here's a joke on the subject - just to back up the theory:

A client comes to take a famous lawyer's opinion.
"Could you tell me how much you charge for your legal advice?" he says.
"Of course", the lawyer replies, "I charge $200 to answer three questions!"
"Isn't it too much?"
"It depends" the lawyer says, "And what's your third question?"

In any case, though laws are made for ordinary people, lawyers are the only people capable of making sense of all the tricky rules and regulations. In modern society lawyers are considered to be the cornerstone of the sophisticated legal system. That's one of the reasons why they demand huge payments for their work.

However it's obvious that lawyers do the job, which is essential for the society we live in.

Michael Muradov, law school


There is some eternal law. It is good for all times and places.

Kate Nazarova

I quite agree with the statement given above but I would like to interpret my idea by contraries and to back my opinion with the following example:

Let's imagine a dreadful situation: a builder accidentally drops a brick which kills the only son of his employer. What punishment should the negligent builder receive? These days it might be considered just an accident and the builder will be punished but not very strictly. And what would happen if the same accident took place long ago, for example, in ancient Babylon?

Now when we are familiar with the laws of ancient world we can find them amusing or astonishing but we don't take them too seriously. It is not always easy for us to understand the laws laid down centuries ago. In ancient Babylon law was based on the cruel principle of revenge: "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". On the one hand it seems logical if the punishment fits the crime. On the other hand this principle meant that if the builder (our luckless builder) killed the son of his employer, his own son had to be killed. Cruel? Unfair? Not for the times of Hammurabi's rule! The approach was suitable for that particular society. But is it acceptable for the contemporary society? Of course NOT! Why? Because our life has changed greatly, people have changed, everything has changed. And the law of the talion is not an eternal law. It doesn't fit the present situation. The human society is constantly developing and in the course of this development it requires new laws and regulations which sometimes totally replace the old ones.

So most laws have changed. Nevertheless there is some law that we can still call eternal. This law is derived from the moral values. It is rather a way of thinking, a mentality than a law per se.

For example, since the times immemorial there has been the law which prescribes the younger generation to respect their parents. Throughout the history different legal codes have included specific articles on the subject. Nowadays we don't have such articles either in our Constitution or in other legal documents. But still we do respect our parents, our elders. Why? Because it's in the human nature. We are guided by the moral standards. And if these don't constitute the eternal law, could you please tell me what does!!

To sum it up I'd like to say that though our life has changed a lot since ancient times we still have moral values, moral laws and most of these laws are good for all times and all places. Don't forger it and … obey these laws.

Kate Nazarova, law school



Once upon a time, the famous English philosopher and lawyer Jeremiah Bentham said, "If there weren't any laws, all the lawyers would die out from starvation". This statement surely has a grain of truth since throughout history laws have often been created in the form incomprehensible for ordinary people. The first written sets of laws were very concrete, casual, and dealt with particular cases. For example: "If a man has bitten off another man's finger, the bitten man shall bite off the first man's finger too". That's why those ancient laws were far clearer for ordinary people than modern ones. But in time, the legal language - legalese - had changed a lot, and it has become rather difficult for lay people to understand what all those laws really mean.

Ordinary people have always understood the simple biblical rules of behavior - thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not sin, and so on - but sometimes they're just unable to make sense of the meaning of the words written in a particular law. And, therefore, these poor ordinary people need lawyers because only a lawyer can understand the law created by another lawyer.

The Roman lawyers used to say, "Law is what we explain", and they weren't far from the truth. In the modern society, lots of laws and law codes are written in such a mysterious language that it's absolutely clear - these laws are not for ordinary people. And a lawyer is to explain, clarify all these frightening legal terms, "translate" them into our everyday language. That's also one of the ways a lawyer earns his money - by giving legal advice to ordinary people, and thus lawyers are sometimes believed to have made laws more complicated just in order to make more money.

However, nowadays there seems to be a trend to make laws more comprehensible, more readable, so that even a housewife could grasp the meaning of some clauses from the Civil Code. This can be seen, for example, in some European countries, and it really makes us believe that laws are going to be made for all people. And we won't have to pay for legal aid in order to mitigate the penalty for killing our rowdy neighbors.

Roland Novozhilov

Laws Haven’t Changed Since Primeval Times

Dasha Zaharova

When human beings first began to live in large and settled groups they had few rules or laws. Quite soon they realized that each individual had to pay attention to the needs and welfare of his neighbours in order to make life not only tolerable but safe for the greatest number of people. Thus, certain rules of behaviour were set up to enable people to live in any kind of satisfactory state. These regulations were ancestral to contemporary laws.

One of the earliest best known legal codes was that of Hammurabi, the king of Babylon, who lived in about 1800 BC. Of course it would be difficult to compare his laws to modern ones. Nowadays many things such as the instruments of punishment or the degree of offender's responsibility are different from those of the primeval times. What's more, throughout the history the very approaches to the concepts of crime and criminality have changed.

For example, not so long ago euthanasia (assisted suicide) was made legal in the Netherlands. Now it is the only country where "painless killing" of those people who are terminally ill or very old in order to stop them suffering is no longer a crime.

Undoubtedly legislation is in the process of permanent change. However, its function remains the same - it is designed to make people responsible for their deeds.

Dasha Zakharova, law school


Laws Haven’t Changed Since Primeval Times

In the courtroom:
Judge: Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?
Mrs. Johnson: By death.
Judge: And by whose death was it terminated?

Kate Rodych

Jokes about courts, lawyers and criminals have always existed in our society. But justice and courts appeared much earlier than jokes on the subject. Unfortunately our world is far from being perfect and since the very beginning of human society crimes and criminals have also existed. Even our remote ancestors had to administer justice. Of course early laws might be very unrefined and naive but they reflected the human values which are valued these days too and will be valued until the last man dies. Thousands of years ago when a man was at a very primitive stage, crimes against person such as murder and crimes against property, such as theft were not approved. Punishments at that time were different from those we have nowadays, but here is an admitted fact: penalties for bad deeds existed in human life even in those dark ages. And nobody can question the need for them.

Justice is a cornerstone of a civilised society and one of the greatest inventions of human mind. Without law life is impossible. I just can't imagine the situation when a hooligan has stolen a handbag from a woman and people around greet him in the following way: "Good boy! Bravo! Well done! How clever of you! We hope it will finish as good as it has begun!"

Thus laws are an integral part of our life. Of course a lot of water has gone under the bridge since primeval times but pure and simple rules of good behaviour will never expire. It has always been considered bad to kill, steal, inflict bodily harm or cause damage to property.

Maybe many centuries ago people lived by the law of the jungle but that was the very beginning of our modern legal system which is still developing day after day. Which is a good idea, as progress is always better than stagnation. I hope that at one point laws will become really perfect and they will be worthy of real civilised society.

Rodych Ekaterina, law school


by Dmitry Maltsev

Dima Maltsev

... AND A SMALL TREATISE by Anton Denisov

Anton Denisov

However hard people try, laws are always insufficient

 Once a captain asked one of his soldiers:
– Private Johns, what’s your favourite book?
– The thin book, was the answer

From my point of view this attitude towards books has some similar features with the attitude of the Russian people to the law. We want to use as few laws as possible and we obey laws only if the danger of punishment is obvious. The main reason of such behaviour is not that we have imperfect laws. Our general trouble is the absence of the good guidelines for law-making.

From the times of Jaroslav-the-Wise a lot of lawgivers and authorities have been trying to lay down different laws and codes. But however hard they tried, in modern Russia the crime rate is extremely high. I think that one of the reasons of such situation is the absence of respect to the law, or rather appreciation.

We begin with violating traffic rules, and later we might commit more serious offences or even crimes.

Last year when some friends of mine and I visited Finland, a very funny incident occurred. We were in a great hurry and so we intended to cross the road when the red traffic light was on. There were no cars on the road and we moved on. Just in the middle of the road I looked back and saw people staring at us with great astonishment if not with fear. They had probably never seen anyone crossing the road at the red light. You see, it’s a high level of “legal culture”. No wonder the level of road accidents as well as the crime rate is very low there.

To sum up, I’d like to say that only proper observance of laws would make them work to our credit.

Nicolas Khurmashev, law school


Laws Haven’t Changed Since Primeval Times

“A creaking door hangs long on its hinges” - says an old English proverb. From my point of view, we can say quite the same about laws, because they haven't ñhanged since primeval times.

Even in pre-historic time people in tribes had different norms and rules of behavior. For example, a member of a community was punished if he had done harm to another member of the same community, if he had stolen something or if he had failed to perform his duties. Nowadays the essence of such regulations of social life is absolutely the same. Today people are responsible for all their deeds according to contemporary laws.

This statement is easy to illustrate. In primeval time if a man murdered another man from his tribe he had to pay à sort of compensation, for example three sheep. And in modern law code of Chechnya we can read that if somebody kills another man, he has to pay a compensation of one hundred cows.

Therefore laws haven't changed since prehistoric times and in all ages their function has been to regulate the life of people in society.

Victoria Modina, law school


Laws Haven’t Changed Since Primeval Times

When the world was at a very primitive stage, people did not realize the importance and the necessity of law. People tried to follow some religious norms of behaviour. But soon they realised that such rules were insufficient because they did not suite all the situations and were not very fair.

There was a need to invent some new modes of regulating human relations. Many kings managed to create their own law codes and thus made it easier for themselves to rule their countries and their people. But all of them had different points of view on what was right and what was wrong, so laws were to be changed all the time.

Besides the society itself is developing bringing the need for new changes in legislation. That is why nowadays it is impossible to live under some primeval laws. For example, today individuals and whole industries can be sued and tried in courts for violating the bans on environment pollution. Certainly the laws, which are applicable to those cases, are ecological laws and statutes, that did not exist before at all.

Consequently we can see that laws have changed since primeval times, though the main idea of justice has remained.

Valery Khramovskikh, law school


Laws are not made for ordinary people, they are made for lawyers

I don't agree with this statement. In my opinion laws are made for ordinary people as well. And I will try to prove my point of view.

Here is a joke about lawyers.

- What is the difference between a lawyer and a vampire?

- A vampire? - A vampire only sucks blood at night!

Julia Aektova

This joke reflects the general attitude of ordinary people towards nasty blood-sucking lawyers. It is absolutely true, that the work lawyers do is very important and demanding of both intellect and time. The legal business is really complicated and difficult to understand. That's why some people have to consult lawyers now and then in order to get a piece of advice or just help. But the trouble is that lawyers usually demand huge payments for their work. People who are well-off can pay big lawyers' bills. But there are always poor and very poor people who cannot afford it. Therefore, the more ordinary people know about their rights, about law, the better.

Julia Aektova, law school



© J. Gumanova,
V. Koroleva,