Johnnie Learns Law, Linguistics at the Ministry of Justice of Georgia
January 3, 2020 | By Tessa Wild (A23)
Over the summer, Levan Kiladze (A22) worked as an intern at the analytical department of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, his home country. His Hodson internship began with numerous research assignments, usually pertaining to anti-corruption reforms in Georgia. “I’d have to look up the practices in Western countries, as well as international policies, so that we could apply that in the Georgian context,” says Kiladze.
In addition to research, Kiladze wrote his opinions on new laws and translated press releases and research from Georgian to English. “It was kind of challenging to translate the English information into Georgian because the legal terms are very specific,” Kiladze recalls. “If there’s a specific word for some legal concept in English, you have to find the equivalent—but not the direct translation of the term—in Georgian policy.” Kiladze had to work with two dictionaries and account for both English and Western criminal codes to ensure that his translations were accurate and understandable.
During his internship, Kiladze had the opportunity to meet the Minister of Justice of Georgia, Thea Tsulukiani, who runs the anti-corruption council set up by the analytical department. The council’s purpose is to review Georgia's anti-corruption plan for the next two years. “The minister was leading the council, which was [comprised of] different ministries, nonprofits, and international organizations,” says Kiladze. “They’re all there, making sure that they agree on everything that’s in place.”
Kiladze’s experiences in the world of professional law helped him confirm his own career aspirations. “I thought I wanted to pursue international law,” Kiladze says, “and I wanted to make sure that pursuit would still allow me to work in my own country.” He also gained valuable advice on how to achieve his goals. For example: Through his internship, Kiladze was advised to learn Georgian criminal code so that he could more fully understand Georgian law—something that would help him pursue a career in a field such as international arbitration.
“[My internship] helped me to figure out more of the specific field that I would like to pursue and the type of work that I want to do,” says Kiladze. “This was my second experience working in the Ministry, and now I have a general idea of what it’s like to work there...I also learned that I might be interested in logic and linguistics, so now I have another field that I might continue studying.”
Kiladze points to his experience at St. John’s as preparation for diving into the unfamiliar. “The first thing that came to my mind when I started work, and I realized that this was something very ‘Johnnie;’ when I looked at the first legal document that I had to deal with, the sentence structure, the words—all of it seemed sort of like a foreign language, so I had the same feeling as if I were exposed to a Greek sentence for the first time,” says Kiladze. “I found the experience very similar to doing the translations we do here—finding the logic behind the text, and then being able to translate that into my own language.”
“Something that I learned in my writing was how to structure research, and how to make it as clear as possible, because the terms themselves aren’t enough,” Kiladze adds. “Another thing that helped me was [knowing how to] ask the right questions.”
In addition to learning valuable career skills, Kiladze was grateful for the opportunity his internship provided to better understand Georgia. “I spent almost all of my last year in the U.S., and I felt that I was not aware of a lot of things that were going on in my country,” Kiladze says. “This internship really gave me the opportunity to see where it stands in terms of its development, whether [the changes] are legal, or cultural, or anything else—I had to deal with the most current processes. I really appreciate the fact that I was introduced to a lot of people from international organizations, because that might be the direction I take in the future.”