Sharing land borders with Turkey, Macedonia and Bulgaria, Greece lies at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and West Asia and is one of the most visited countries in the world. With its picturesque coastlines, mountainous landscape and ancient historical sites dating back to the 6th century BCE. A democratic and highly developed country belonging to the European Union and the United Nations, Greece rates high on the Human Development Index and has the largest economy in the Balkans.
Greece is led by a Prime Minister who is appointed by a Hellenic Parliament elected by Greek citizens. Greece's constitution guarantees civil liberties and other rights similar to those included in other democratic constitutions. Political processes are introduced and implemented by the prime minister, the president (who is limited to some legislative functions) and the cabinet.
Greek Legal System
Greek has three different courts: administrative, civil and penal courts. Called the “Areios Pagos”, the Council of State is the supreme court of administrative law and the Court of Cassation is the supreme court of penal and civil law. Civil cases are initially heard by the Courts of First Instance and then may proceed to the Courts of Appeal. Rulings handed down by the Court of Cassation are irrevocable.
Criminal law involves felonies, misdemeanors and infringements (heard in a magistrate's court). Misdemeanors and felonies are heard in First Instance courts and, if necessary, Courts of Appeal. Judges ruling over Greek courts are given life tenure following a two year probationary period. They do not have access to law clerks and perform all litigation work themselves. Only the most dedicated and experienced Greek lawyers are selected for judicial positions that require passing examinations created by the "Areios Pagos" (Supreme Court of Greece). New judges must also take courses at the School of Judicial Education located in Thessaloniki for one year. Afterward, they are appointed to a Greek district court where they have the option to apply to other courts after gaining several years of experience in that specific court.
Study Law in Greece
Earning a Law Degree in Greece
The Master of Law degree (LLM) is an advanced degree that can be obtained after earning a bachelor's of law degree (LLB). Although an LLM is not necessary to have in order to practice law in Greece, it is desirable by law firms when hiring students fresh out of a law program and can provide specialized knowledge for students wanting to practice a specific area of law. Most students take between five and six years to complete their LLB and LLM degrees.
After graduating from a law program, students are allowed to take the bar exam following completion of an 18-month internship with a law firm or independent lawyer. The Greek bar exam consists of oral and written sections concerning criminal, civil and commercial law. Students wanting to practice law in Greece should be aware that the bar exam is given in the Greek language.
EEA and European Union students do not have to pay tuition at attend public schools or universities in Greece. However, tuition may be charged for certain master programs. Non-European students will need to pay a fee each year, which includes textbooks, lab fees, etc.
Qualified Greek lawyers enjoy a high social and business status, especially when practicing in Thessaloniki and Athens. Currently, there is increasing demand for governmental and private company lawyers rather than law firms specializing in only one type of law.