“It was the right decision for me since as a person I am striving always for something new, something that is developing; and law is the personification of it!” - Are you interested in what legal studies in Greece look like? Why lawyers should know about communication and human relationships? If so, I encourage you to read an interview with Stephanie G. Efstathiou, who is a law student in Greece and right now she is an Assistant for STEP Regional development at ELSA International.
Kinga Mierzyńska: At the beginning I am interested in why did you decide to study law? Was it your dream or thought out and discussed decision? In retrospect are you satisfied that you have made this choice?
Stephanie G. Efstathiou: It’s not like it was my dream since I was a little girl but I knew one thing, that I wanted a profession where you have a lot of interaction with other people and at the same time you learn something new and not similar to what was taught till then in school. So in the end of my finals, law seemed the perfect choice! In the end I would say that I am more than happy with my choice, I am in love with it. It was the right decision for me since as a person I am striving always for something new, something that is developing; and law is the personification of it!
According to your resume - you had opportunity to study at Aristoteleion Panepistimion Thessalonikis and Université de Poitiers. Could you tell us more about legal studies in Greece and briefly describe the system of your studies?
Greece doesn’t have the Bologna system, which means 4 years for an LL.B. degree and then it’s up to everyone individually to go further with a master’s program or not. Most of the students do so cause the market is very competitive. Higher education in Greece is free of charges and the Universities are mostly public ones. Studying in Greece is very demanding and it takes a lot of effort, especially these last years since a lot of procedures and laws are changing! The law faculty of Aristotle University in Thessaloniki is one of the best ones in the country and its professors are excellent academics.
It is also true that I‘ve studied in Poitiers last spring semester as an Erasmus Exchange student. The University of Poitiers is one of the oldest ones in France and the third biggest one when it comes to Erasmus students. The Law Faculty of Poitiers is the best one in France if we cross out the ones in Paris of course. Legal systems and codes between Greece and France are similar but not the same. The Greek Commercial Code is a translation of the French one for instance. All in all, I would say that this experience gave me an insight of a different legal system, which made me easily adaptable in foreign jurisdiction and professionally competitive.
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You took part in many projects, i.a.: European Youth Parliament, European Parliament Simulation, Belgrade Model European Union, Seminar on Arbitration and Mediation. What experiences did you get through it?
Like I said before, I am a restless spirit and therefore I have a lot of interests. At the same time I love law, I also love politics, debating and psychology. I‘ve been involved in a lot of projects so as to grow mentally in every possible direction. All these experiences made me wiser and even more professional. Furthermore, they were a great help to me in discovering all the possible ways I can choose for my future career!
How do you want to improve your career prospects and employability skills in nearly future? In which training, student exchanges or internships you would like to participate?
First of all , I always seek new experiences in life. I don't feel comfortable with not evolving through different procedures and opportunities. So, after attending a lot of related seminars and the Summer Law School of ELSA Vienna this summer on Alternative Dispute Resolution, I believe I have found my way. It will be for sure the field of ADR. First of all, since this will be my final year in Law School, I would like to continue with an LL.M. in ADR and possibly working in Vienna or Switzerland as an intern in related bodies.
Beyond the study of law you have time for passions. You are interested in i.a. psychology and sociology. Do you think that a professional lawyer should know the basics of psychology, especially about communication and human relationships?
Yes, it’s true that I find time for my other passions apart from ELSA! Psychology and sociology are tightly connected with our profession. Especially when someone wants to practice law actively or wants to be a mediator/arbitrator. I also believe that an integrated personality not only indulges in law-related issues but also in social motives of the persons, to which contribute politics and philosophy for example. Lawyers are perceived to be cruel and unethical sometimes but this doesn’t reflect to the true core of the profession. Lawyers have a sensitivity for humanity and even if sometimes our motto is “Not saying the whole truth, is still not lying”, it is according to due process.
Stephanie G. Efstathiou
Do you remember that moment when you joined the European Law Students’ Association ELSA Thessaloniki? Could you tell us about the most interesting and noteworthy projects of your Local Group?
I remember it as it was yesterday. I was in the very begging of my second year in Law School and I wanted to find something extraordinary, out of my routine in class. And then I met ELSA. Back then ELSA was not that popular or famous in my university but I still decided to join since I saw tempting opportunities awaiting me, like STEP or summer schools. Since 2012 when I first entered the Association a lot has changed. The network developed and ELSA Thessaloniki made impressive progress! There are so many worth-noting activities that took place for the first time in the history of the local group last year that I want to mention every single one, but if I had to choose I would definitely distinguish our Study Visit with ELSA Leicester in March 2014, the opening of the very first STEP positions in the Greek Network and the National Council Meeting with International Guests in May 2014, also for the very first time!
You were a Vice President for STEP at ELSA Greece and President at ELSA Thessaloniki. Now you became an Assistant for STEP Regional development at ELSA International. In your opinion does ELSA give law students many new possibilities to become professional lawyer and find valuable job in future?
I see ELSA as an extraordinary organization which connects people and improves a person’s soft skills. Every law student should join the Association and evolve through it. ELSA challenges its members to think and see the broader picture, to develop new interpersonal skills, to take responsibility as well as to improve legal knowledge through the STEP internships or the Legal Research Groups. ELSA had a very positive impact in my professional life, also in regards of employment and connections. So, I can only recommend the involvement with the Association.
At the end of the interview I have one task. Encourage students from Poznan to take part in Erasmus in Greece and tell us please about the places that we compulsory must-see.
Well, wouldn’t be that difficult. Greece is an enchanted country where everyone can find something to be passionate about. Is it the good weather all year long, the diversity of the islands, the history or even the political situation nowadays which is worth-researching.
When being in Greece you should definitely visit Athens, in particular the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum and the city where I study, Thessaloniki with its history of the old roman-byzantine empire being still alive in every architectural choice. For the ones who love the mountains, Olympus is the right choice for hitch-hiking and for the sea-lovers Crete would be a hell of experience!
Wywiad przeprowadziła Kinga Mierzyńska – Ambasadorka portalu na Uniwersytecie im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
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