Meet Diana: Freedom in choosing law
FREEDOM IN CHOOSING LAW
-freedom is what you do with what is done to you, by Jean Paul Sartre-
At the age of 5 my mother was brutally killed. In Cyprus it was a shocking occurrence and at the criminal court (in Nicosia, the capital city of Cyprus) both perpetrators were convicted of murder. 27 years after the case received positive judicial treatment and helpful obiter dicta in ‘what are second thoughts’ for the crime of murder, and later at the stage of appeal, the court held that life imprisonment means biological life. And yes, during my legal practice in Cyprus, I cited my mother’s case in a manslaughter matter that I assisted as a junior lawyer. In 1990s Cyprus enjoyed low criminality and the island was a paradise not only because of its natural surroundings but also the security and peace that prospered amongst the Cypriots. This made my mother’s case attractive to the media but also the fact that she was gone missing for 6 months before discovering her dead body in the landfill ‘Kotsiatis’ in Nicosia.
But let us take things from the beginning and firstly, how can I practice criminal law with this sort of experience? The answer is simple. I can; and will explain how I managed. The decision to do or not to do something in life, does not lesser the pain but what it did; it embarked me on a journey to encounter mythical monsters and the ‘angry Poseidon’ that resided within me. I know for fact that I will not be of any assistance, during my lifetime, to anyone, if I did not firstly save myself. Something that I knew at the age 8 whilst visiting a child psychologist. After the third session, I stood up and said with grace and poise ‘I will leave now from here’ the psychologist puzzled and quite sensibly asked me ‘where are you going?’. My answer was firm and rhetoric ‘I am leaving now, and I am going to save myself’.
I was thirsty for knowledge and I found shelter in books. I was feeding my existence with understanding not only me but also humanity, and still today, I am discovering and searching. I was in between psychology and law. The latter one prevailed despite my doubts that travelled with me on my first year at Law School at University of Leicester. A new world was introduced and I wanted to be part of it; law society, law clinics, pro bono work, vacs schemes, volunteering in Costa Rica, accelerated courses on arbitration and management, LLM on international commercial law, language course in French and Portuguese, legal practice course at College of Law, organising events and talks, writing articles and dissertation, publishing my first poem collection and many more formed my path that led me to qualify in the Republic of Cyprus.
During my first month as a qualified lawyer I was approached to join forces with two other senior lawyers in setting up our own law firm. I accepted. I was handling the litigation department and so much more that comes with this responsibility, an utterly rewarding and exhilarating experience. I also taught introduction to law at UCLan Cyprus and created a module about ‘Civil Procedure Rules’. The 2014 elections of European Lawyers Student Association (ELSA) was another important pillar as an elected President in representing the association at the International Council Meeting but also, the realisation of greater call to help Cyprus.
That ‘call’ dictated my journey and I knew that I must be part amongst excellent advocates, challenge my legal thinking and skills. The answer to that call was me moving to London in which I worked as foreign qualified lawyer, undertook many document reviewing roles and during this time I founded Rolesa and Strattofield Chamber (the latter one now deleted). If my vision was on the top of a mountain surrounded by haze, every step of my career was casting out the ‘haze’ and the conceptualisation of what I want to be, became clear and undisputed.
Practicing international human rights law and international criminal law is what I do. I was recently listed in the ‘List of Assistant Counsels’ of the International Criminal Court and I have so far worked on cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. I also maintain an active practice working on civil and criminal cases and advising associations that work with people with disabilities. I am determined to contribute to the best of my ability in solving the Cypriot problem which led me to reinstate discussions and ways to encompass diversity in the political field.
I have prepared a 20-minute video on my YouTube Channel in which I share my journey in becoming an international human rights lawyer. You can connect with me on all social media platforms:
YouTube: Diana Constantinide
Facebook: Diana Constantinide
Thank you for your time in reading this article and I wish you all the best,