Before the October Revolution 1917, a well-known defence lawyer in political trials. Social democrat. The last Minister of Justice in the Provisional Government (from 25 September 1917). Remained with his colleagues in the Winter Palace during the siege by the Bolsheviks.
Arrested (25 October 1917) and brought to the Peter and Paul Fortress at Petrograd. Soon released, campaigned for the re-opening of the Constituent Assembly. From the beginning of the 1920s, member of the Moscow City College of Lawyers.