Studying law... in Greece
Despite all the things happening in the world, many lockdowns and closed borders, this week we travel to the beautiful Greece!
Big shout-out to Alexandra who will tell you an insightful story on how to study and qualify in her home country of Greek heroes and the cradle of European civilization.
My name is Alexandra and I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. This is my 4th year at the University. I am glad to provide you with all the important information about the legal studies in Greece! First, though, I must thank my friend Aleksandra for inviting me to contribute to her site by sharing my story and experience. So, let’s start!
To begin with, in Greece, law studies are a very attractive and prestigious option to many students. As a result, if one wants to get into one of the country’s law schools, especially the one of Athens, they will face a lot of competition and must score excellent marks at the National Exams. But, once someone actually gets into law school (or any other Greek university), things become a lot more relaxed and less stressful. The reason for this is that students in Greece have a great amount of freedom in choosing how they want their studies to be or how long they will take.
More specifically, attending the university’s lectures is not obligatory. For example, someone can get a law degree without having attended a single lecture! Of course, they should pass the exams at the end of each semester, but passing the exam without having attended any lectures is perfectly possible, since the university provides us with all the books we need (without having to pay for them). So, there are students who combine studying with work, working either at law-related-positions or elsewhere, either because they want to gain some hands-on-experience or just because they want to earn some money… There are others who attend only the lectures they find interesting or helpful (possibly wanting to dedicate, also, some time to their hobbies or to going out with friends) and, of course, people who attend every single lecture. It is all a matter of personal choice, schedules and circumstances…
Secondly, in order to get a law degree, one should spend at least four years at the university. This is the minimum. But there is no maximum! As a result, there are people who take more years to graduate due to many reasons. For example, there are people who opt for a high average and believe that they will do better, if they have more time to study. There are others who did something else while studying (e.g. working either at law-related-positions or not, taking part in law students’ competitions that needed a lot of time for preparation), so, in the end, they need more time to finish their studies.
Personally, I attend most of the lectures and I can say that, with very few exceptions, the level of the students, professors, and generally legal studies at the Athens Law School is very high. According to the curriculum of the Law School, obtaining a degree presupposes the successful examination in forty-one courses, of which thirty-one are mandatory, and ten are optional. Students are free to choose depending on their personal interests which of the optional courses they will select. The courses are distributed according to their subject in five sections: General Theory, Philosophy and History of Law, Private Law, Public Law, Criminal Sciences and International Studies.
The University, also, offers many additional opportunities to students, like moot courts, seminars, international competitions, research teams etc., if one wants to enrich their knowledge of their favorite field of law, gain hands-on-experience, or just try something different. All of them are, of course, not obligatory.
Students who want to have an international experience of law can take part in one of the international moot court competitions our university takes part in. Another very popular option is the Erasmus program. Additionally, students can join organizations like ELSA that also offer many international opportunities like summer schools, practice abroad etc. Of course they can search for international opportunities on their own and take part in something that captures their interest without having any sort of connection to our university. In the same way, students from other countries can come to our university via either the Erasmus program or ELSA summer school. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the level of our university is very high, it is difficult for an international student to have access to it (except the aforementioned ways of course) because all subjects are taught in Greek, and ways in which someone can enter the university are very few and somehow restricted to Greek people.
After one graduates from law school and gets the degree, they have to complete an one-and-a-half-year internship either at a law firm or at a public institution, and pass the Bar Exam in order to be able to practice law autonomously.
In general, I have to say that I consider being a student at the Athens Law School an invaluable experience. What I find most exciting about the legal studies is the constant use of the language, both verbally and non-verbally. I also love the fact that you must combine the extensive use of the language with logic, reason, and creativity. To me, this combination is unique and extremely attractive! Generally I love both writing and communicating with many different people, hence I am not sure about the area in which I will specialize, but it will be an area characterized by the human element, which will also call for extensive communication with people, as well as writing and creativity.
What I find most challenging about the legal studies is definitely the memorization of too much detailed information. I am the kind of person who can grasp theoretical concepts quite easily (that’s why I love philosophy!), but when it comes to the details, I don’t have much patience or discipline. Unfortunately, in law one detail can change everything and actually be the most crucial thing!
I can’t decide what is my best memory from law school! I really liked some lectures that turned into life lessons, some books, tests and exams that helped me learn more about who I am, my strengths and weaknesses, and develop myself, the people, the parties, and definitely the strong feelings that I experienced on many different occasions…”