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From Lawyer to Law-Maker: An Interview with Kosovo Lawyer and Parliamentarian Korab Sejdiu

From Lawyer to Law-Maker: An Interview with Kosovo Lawyer and Parliamentarian Korab Sejdiu

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In summer 2017, after Sejdiu & Qerkini Partner Korab Sejdiu was elected to the Kosovo Parliament, he suspended his law license and left private practice. We checked in with Sejdiu to learn more about his new role and experience.

CEELM: What is the position you hold in the Parliament? When did you assume it?

Korab: I joined the Parliament as a Member in June of 2017, taking the office in August of 2017.  I am currently serving my mandate as one of the 120 members of the Kosovo Parliament, which is formally called the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo.  I am also a member of the Legislative Committee, which is one of the two key committees in the Parliament.  

CEELM: Were you selected or elected? Can you give us the details?

Korab: I was elected as a member of the Kosovo Parliament.  I ran for the seat as part of a pre-election coalition with the Democratic League of Kosovo, which is a center-right party, and is also the largest party in Kosovo.  Along with 24 of my other colleagues, we form the largest caucus in the Kosovo Parliament, however, we are now in opposition.  

CEELM: What does your work entail at the Parliament?

Korab: Along with representing my constituency, namely addressing matters that affect their lives the most, I am also a member of the Legislative Committee, where most of my work is concentrated.  As an attorney, I provide useful input in drafting and amending key justice sector legislation, and I am a constant member of working groups for said legislation.  However, considering that I ran during election on a four-pillared platform, I also participate in other committees’ work that impact youth, economic development, and the Kosovo diaspora rights.  Just as an example, I am chairing the working group for the amendment of the General Election Law, so to permit voting by our diaspora in our Embassies and Consulates across the globe.  Another example is my input in the Law on Business Organizations, which was passed along with my amendments in May of this year.  And on top of all that, I try to do my best to stay in touch with my electorate, through personal visits and social networks.  

CEELM: Is it for a specific term? Are you planning to return to a private practice?

Korab: Kosovo is a Parliamentary Republic, very similar to many countries you find across Europe.  In that vein, a Member of Parliament is elected for a mandate of four years.  However, should the Government fall before the four years expire, which normally causes the disbanding of the Parliament, then the mandate is cut short and extraordinary general elections are held.   

Regarding the second part of the question, it is still early for me to decide whether I am going to return to private practice.  I believe in due time, I will have the opportunity to decide whether I would like to continue with my public function, or to return to my law firm, which continues its successful work in Kosovo and beyond. 

CEELM: Why did you decide to make this (temporary) change? 

Korab: Kosovo, as a new country, has some substantial challenges, and the rule of law is probably the largest.  With that said, I believed that my experience as an attorney at law in the United States and Kosovo, would provide me with the necessary tools to contribute to addressing some of the major rule of law issues facing Kosovo today.  It was simply a call of duty to serve our country in the time of need, and I responded to that call by temporarily shifting gears and joining public service.  

CEELM: What is your impression of working in the Parliament?

Korab: Well, funny you ask.  It is very different from private practice, which is way more dynamic and more focused.  The Parliament work, but I think most public work, is much slower in the making, and the results are often not what you initially expected, because compromise is always part of the picture.  But luckily, my reputation among colleagues as an able legal professional, provides me with ample authority and support from all political parties when it comes to legal reform issues that I recommend.  Thus, the work is challenging, but when a success is reached, one gets huge satisfaction out of it because the result impacts so many people.  

CEELM: How did your colleagues react to the news? And your clients? Your family?

Korab: Well, my family and my law firm colleagues were supportive of the idea because they know my desire to help Kosovo during these foundational years of existence.  In fact, my wife is largely responsible for my success in being elected, because she was my personal campaign manager.  Thus, they did all they could to support me in this regard.  They did this because they knew that the reason why I departed my private practice and life in the United States and relocated to Kosovo was so to help Kosovo in its post-independence path.  And I have done so ever since 2007, in various capacities, and finally now, as a member of the highest institution in the country, the Parliament.   

Of course, the clients continue to be served by my law partner and firm associates, and they too are appreciative of the work I do in the public sector, because it is directed to reforming the justice sector, which helps everyone, including the clients I once used to serve. 

CEELM: Do you have specific projects/initiatives you’re promoting in your role in Parliament?

Korab: I am heavily involved in rule of law legislation that is part of Kosovo’s EU integration process.  Therefore, I take part in working groups for all laws that are required as part of this process, and provide valuable input thereto.  Moreover, this year, I am focused in amending the Law on General Elections, as noted earlier, that would permit our vast diaspora to vote in Kosovo Embassies and Consulates around the world.  I am also working on drafting legislation that would establish a Youth Informative Centre for Education Abroad, which would serve as a go-to center for our bright youth wanting to continue their bachelor, masters, or doctoral studies abroad.  Importantly, I just finished chairing the working group on the new Law on Courts, which needed substantial work and input on my part.  As part of this endeavour, we have made substantial strides in providing judiciary with the necessary tools to dispense fair and efficient justice, such as support staff, better organization, and etc.  

CEELM: In general, what are your feelings about what you’re doing?

Korab: I do enjoy the work I am doing.  Naturally, not being a career politician, I tend to get annoyed often by the political games that occur in the Parliament and the political spectrum in general, which I see as hindrance to actually implementing meaningful reforms.  But I try to navigate such murky waters with professionalism and by building trusting relationships with my colleagues, regardless of their political affiliation.  And this makes my work even more enjoyable.  I only get disappointed by the fact that we have so many limitations that prevent us from doing more, but as a new country, I have become aware that we have to also learn to be patient and understand that major reforms and development take time to occur.  

This Article was originally published in Issue 5.11 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.

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