“You’re a lawyer, huh? Kind of young, don’t you think?” – That is the first question and comment that I run into almost every day, every time I introduce myself in any judicial institution.
While the majority is confused with the fact that a girl like me, in such a young age works as an attorney, 79% of attorneys, 61% of prosecutors and 54% of judges are over 50 years old.
This fact was presented as a serious issue in the study conducted by National Center for State Courts (NCSC), in which other findings were discussed. The study titled “Let your voice be heard – Finding opportunities for the Youth and Women in the judiciary and Legal Profession in Kosovo”, besides the problem of the aging of the legal workforce, unveiled also the issue of women and youth partake in the legal professions. Thus, according to this study, despite improvements in the last years as a result of attracting women towards the legal workforce, women remain underrepresented in all professions in the legal sector. Less than 13% of the current members of the Kosovo Bar Association are women, most of which work in the urban areas, mostly in Prishtina. Meanwhile in the judiciary, women constitute 29% of judges, while at the Prosecution 36% of prosecutors.
The youth is similarly underrepresented in the judicial and prosecution profession with only 9% of judges and 4% of prosecutors under the age of 35, while only 2% of the members of the Bar Association are under the age of 30 – the 2% of which I am part of as well.
In my frequent question towards people who get confused by my young age as an attorney – then how does an attorney, judge or prosecutor look like – they always answer: “an older, serious man.” Then they continue, “Maybe that’s not true, but that’s what we’re used to see, because most of them are men, old, and very serious.”
Can a woman, young and always smiling, be considered worthy of being an attorney, judge or prosecutor? Or a young person, under the age of 30, of whichever gender; can he/she be considered worthy of being an attorney, judge or prosecutor?
Ever since the end of the war until today, Kosovo’s legal system faced many problems – starting from the lack of minimal working conditions, lack of security, massive number of cases and low number of judges and prosecutors. Now, the issue of aging of the existing cadres comes to the surface, cadres which must very quickly be replaced with young ones.
Momentarily, the youth constitutes 56% of the workforce in Kosovo. Every year in the Law Faculty of the Prishtina University about 1000 new students enroll, half of which are women. But these cadres are frequently considered as underprepared to enter the labor market – despite the fact they already have a degree.
Today when Kosovo needs judges, prosecutors and new attorneys more than ever, we still keep on yearning for a more qualitative educational system. That comes as a result of the fact that, in law faculties – public or private – the students encounter only theoretical studies; they are seldom faced with practical cases, which they will have to confront in their future if they exercise any one of the legal professions. Thus, such a system creates people who are not flexible at all and not ready to solve particular legal problems that very often turn out to be complicated.
If today at the Law Faculty of the University of Prishtina approximately 1000 new students enroll, on average 20 of them will be excellent ones. They should be distinguished from the other students, supported more by their mentors and be motivated to put their knowledge in service of the judicial institutions, such as courts and prosecution. That’s because our legal system, besides quantity, is mostly in need of quality.
Judges, prosecutors and future attorneys study at the public or private universities. Quality in studies and drawing quality cadres must be currently a top priority of our society. Today more than ever, Kosovo’s society and the judicial system need new people that are prepared, impartial and ready to build a different system from that of nowadays; a proper system of values where honor and justice are traits every person who exercises the legal profession.
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