A few days ago we were visited at UCLan Cyprus by Solicitor and Former Associate Lecturer of the School of Law, Ms Diana Louise Constantinidou. She spoke to us about the early stages of becoming a lawyer in Cyprus and in the United Kingdom, and gave us invaluable advice and guidance. The following is an overview of what she touched upon, as it will be quite interesting to those who unfortunately did not manage to attend, and those who would like a better insight into the subject.
Aspiring lawyers interested in qualifying in Cyprus, as well as in another country of the European Union (EU) can use Directive 77/249/EEC. This Directive facilitates lawyers to exercise their freedom to provide services and allows them to use their qualification to practice law in other EU countries. Those aiming high may wish to look into qualifying as a barrister in the UK, a qualification that would put them in a more elite group of lawyers.
Cyprus may not be a starting or ending point for those wishing to expand their practice abroad, but it surely may be a ticket to travel to different countries and jurisdictions. Globalization is a characteristic of the world global order and Cyprus is slowly but efficiently experiencing its effect. Therefore, the Cypriot Bar qualification may be a ‘stepping stone for something bigger’, as stated by Ms Constantinidou. The training for the Cyprus Bar is 12 months in total, or 6 months consecutively followed at a later stage by another 6 months. One consideration for trainee lawyers is whether they should do their practice at a private law firm or within the Government at the Attorney General’s Office. After completing their practice, trainee lawyers must pass 10 modules; a minimum of 7 must be passed and 3 can be failed and then re-examined. So, for instance, if only 6 modules are passed, all of the modules have to be re-taken. The exams are in either Greek or Turkish in accordance with the Constitution of Cyprus. Once the exams are passed, the candidate becomes a qualified lawyer. However, Ms Constantinidou mentioned that one can be a qualified lawyer, yet not have a job. And that is when the real struggle begins since Cyprus is going through a phase right now where the jobs are not readily available.
Therefore, one can obtain his or her qualification in Cyprus and work here, or use that qualification as a stepping stone to move to another EU country. In Ms Constantinidou’s opinion, the greatest fear of most trainees is that they might fail. Yet, all we need is to be confident about the area we want to practice in. Passion, moreover, is essential to a legal profession.
Some additional advice that Ms Constantinidou gave at the end, was that extra-curricular activities are important. They give potential employers a better sense who the trainee lawyer is and send the message that he or she is passionate about law and interested in his or her chosen career path.
We are very grateful for this opportunity of meeting (luckily again for someone of us) Ms Diana Constantinidou and being given the opportunity to learn from her insights and ask her questions!
Written by Anastasia Butrim