Sunday, September 02, 2007

Law School as Boot Camp (Greece)

My niece is attending law school in Greece, something which can only be described as a chaotic experience. The high point is the snakes in the library. Last year was her first year and it was bedeviled by academic's strikes against the introduction of private universities, no books, no computer or internet connections, and a complete lack of interest on the part of the law school in remedying any of this.

The snakes are still in the library! And of course the books are still in pristine condition. It's one way of keeping grubby student hands off them.

Students were supplied with their textbooks forty days before their first year final exams. It's a new form of "just-in-time" curriculum development. It worked for Toyota, so why not Greek law schools.

The upshot is that she failed some of her exams, which is no surprise. Perhaps the hardest part was obtaining the results. Did her law school put them on the internet? No. Did they mail them to students' homes? No. They posted them in the law school when everyone had gone home for the summer. Brilliant.

How do you then get your results? From either Pasok or New Democracy, the main political parties. You might think this a little strange, but this is one of the ways the parties extend their grip on the daily routines of ordinary life by making themselves essential to overcoming its obstacles. You then owe them a favour. Favour banks rule everywhere.

In a day or so my niece returns to take her resits. Given the arbitrary nature of the system so far, she doesn't know what to expect.

Why doesn't she go to law school overseas? Because as I have repeated in my work on globalization, law is the one thing which is resolutely local. If you want to practice law in Greece, you must learn Greek law and for that you need to get friendly with the snakes in the library. Be careful to carry anti-venom with you.

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