MOSCOW, December 2 - RAPSI. The legal market's future belongs to major diversified entities, experts concurred at a roundtable discussion at the "Law and Modernization: Experience, Prospects, Trends" international legal conference.

The conference is organized by the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/ and RIA Novosti.

The legal services market in Russia has been shrinking lately and signs of monopolization are on the horizon, said Yury Pilipenko, the Managing Partner of the YUST law firm. In his view, the most advanced form of providing legal services is through a group of companies.

Alexander Khrenov, the head of the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights and a partner at the Yukov, Khrenov and Partners Law Offices, thinks the market "is facing major changes" and other aspects of its development are much more important now.

Yuri Pustovit, the Managing Partner of the Yug Advocates Bureau, lamented the regional legal market's closed nature. Small legal offices find it difficult to compete with large, well-publicized law firms in the provinces, he said.

Levant and Partners Managing Partner Matvey Levant has also expressed apprehension that no one will care about local lawyers after Russia joins the WTO.

"Legal giants will follow major production corporations into the Russian market, which is not yet ready for this," he said.

The "Law and Modernization: Experience, Prospects, Trends" International Legal Conference opened in Moscow on Thursday.

Over 200 lawyers have taken part in the event. Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev and Audit Chamber Chairman Sergei Stepashin opened the conference.

The conference's primary objective is to create a forum to launch a dialogue between the many parties affected by the legal sector, such as lawyers, economists, scholars and businessmen. Among the invitees are leading legal experts from the Justice Ministry, international law firms, business associations and legal publications.