"A professional lawyer should know
the basics of psychology"
“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.
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.
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!