Hard Work Always Pays Off in a Career in Law5 min read
Sergey Ghazinyan (LL.M. ’18), adviser to the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia (RA), believes that hard work always pays off in a career and attributes his own success as a lawyer to that. He has recently been elected as a member of the Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), an independent monitoring mechanism of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. Among other responsibilities, Ghazinyan also teaches at Yerevan State University (YSU) and the American University of Armenia (AUA) where he pursued his undergraduate and graduate studies, respectively. In the below interview, he elaborates on his multiple roles in the legal field, the incentives for becoming a lawyer, the takeaways from the AUA Master of Laws (LL.M.) program, and more.
Why did you decide to pursue an education in law?
I believe the selection of your future profession must be based on your sole decision-making upon consideration of your weaknesses and strengths. You should appraise what you could do for the community at large, what your input could be, and where you would succeed. I think it is important to make the right decision when taking the first step in your educational journey.
The choice of my education and career in law has both subjective and objective reasons. The subjective reason is related to the fact that most of my family members are lawyers. I chose this profession with great responsibility to keep the high threshold they have set and succeed in the field. The objective reason is driven by the current multifaceted challenges in the legal and human rights protection fields in Armenia. I wanted to become a qualified lawyer to bring positive change to our young republic.
Has education in AUA’s LL.M. program contributed to achieving your career goals? How?
Undoubtedly, yes! I received my bachelor’s degree in law from Yerevan State University. It gave me a strong background in legal theory. But when I started working in the practice of law, I realized that the knowledge I had gained needs to be complemented by practical skill sets for me to be able to fully use the knowledge I had gained.
At the AUA LL.M. program, I had the opportunity to not only build on my theoretical knowledge but also gain valuable practical skills that are equally important for future lawyers. I highly appreciate the professional team that works at the LL.M. program. Guided by Ms. Adelaida Baghdasaryan, I gained a thorough insight into local, regional, and international legal frameworks. The huge variety of legal topics we covered allowed me to expand my knowledge and skills. My time at AUA was, without doubt, crucial for my career path. It was immensely enriching and changed the way I envisioned my future professional career.
How important, in your opinion, is the support AUA provides to its students?
This is an important question in the sense of the accessibility of education. In this regard, the AUA tuition assistance programs and scholarships are valuable, since the students get the opportunity to study in one of the best universities in Armenia by receiving the necessary financial support.
I myself received the AUA/MOES scholarship during my education at the AUA LL.M. program.
What accomplishments have you had as an adviser to the Human Rights Defender of Armenia?
I have been working as an adviser to the Human Rights Defender of Armenia for more than five years. From the perspective of career growth, these have been the most influential years for gaining vast experience while facing many challenges, including the 2016 April War, armed intrusion into the police department, COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Artsakh War and the ensuing issues related to the POWs, civilian captives, war crimes committed by Azerbaijan, the use of the incendiary ammunition of mass destruction, continuing attacks on cultural and religious heritages, involvement of mercenaries, just to mention a few. In this regard, as an adviser to the Human Rights Defender, you need to be very versatile to be able to contribute to the process of addressing a wide array of issues. In this position, I am currently dealing with both general and individual cases, such as discussion of applications submitted to the Human Rights Defender and analysis of legislation.
I should also mention that it is both an honor and huge responsibility to work under the supervision and guidance of Mr. Arman Tatoyan. He has been invaluable to my professional growth by sharing his experience and guiding me in that process.
Tell us about your role in GRETA.
The Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, GRETA, is an independent monitoring body of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, which entered into force on February 1, 2008. Unlike other expert groups which have mandatory representatives from each of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, GRETA has 15 members from the Parties to the Convention. Actually, I am a newly elected member of GRETA. My candidacy was presented by Armenia and the election occurred in December 2020 by the Committee of Parties to the Convention. My four-year term started on January 1, 2021.
The role of GRETA is to assess the situation in the states party to the Convention with regard to the action against trafficking. It conducts visits, now remotely, draws up findings and publishes country reports evaluating the legislative and other measures taken by the respective Parties to implement the provisions of the Convention. In addition, GRETA regularly publishes general reports on its activities. I, as an expert, am engaged in the above-mentioned activities.
What does it feel like to teach at the universities you graduated from?
Undoubtedly, it is, first of all, an imposing responsibility for me to be a part of the education process of the young generation. My role as professor becomes more challenging considering the fact that I used to study at both YSU and AUA. Moreover, I consider these universities to be the best in our country, so I need to do my best to conform to the high standards of quality of education they have established.
On the other hand, I think that even without being an alumnus of a university should you decide to teach the young generation and get involved in the overall education process, you need to work very hard on yourself. I always try to have comprehensive knowledge of the subject I teach and be prepared to answer even the unanticipated questions from students.
From a professional perspective, teaching is beneficial for career growth. Being immersed in day-to-day legal practice, you tend to limit your scope with the specific legal issues that arise. However, working in academia, you need to be attuned to the latest developments on domestic, regional, and international levels. So, teaching helps me to constantly develop my knowledge.
I enjoy working with students and sharing my expertise. I believe that teaching is my small but significant contribution in shaping well-qualified future professionals much needed in our country.
How do you define success in a career in law?
For me, the only key to success in a career is hard work. As my father says, “if everybody wishes for you something positive, but you don’t, then you will fail.” The opposite also works well, “if you wish something positive for you, even if there are a lot of challenges, you will succeed.”
So, for me, hard work always pays off.