Today’s interview is with Daria Pistriak, a staffer at Ukraine‘s Office of the Ombudsman, currently interning at the Law Library of Congress as part of her participation in the Legislative Fellows Program, a U.S. Department of State-funded program designed to expose promising young professionals from selected European countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Turkey and Ukraine) to the workings of the United States government.
Describe your background.
I was born in Bila Tserkva (not far from Kyiv), Ukraine, a year after the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster and just several years before the collapse of the Soviet Union. My native city is ancient; built in the Kyivan Rus times, it is almost 1,000 years old. It is famous for being home to one of Ukraine’s most picturesque parks – Alexandria Dendrological Park, which was founded in the 17th century by a Polish count for his beloved wife Alexandra (niece of Prince Grigory Potemkin, a renowned Russian statesman).
What is your academic/professional history?
I earned both an LL.B and an LL.M from the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law Academy of Ukraine, one of the best and oldest law schools in the country, situated in the City of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine. After graduating law school, I moved to Kyiv and started my career at the Ministry of Justice working for the Office of the Government Agent of Ukraine before the European Court of Human Rights. Although I started as a specialist, I was promoted to Deputy Head of Division for Coordination of Execution of the European Court of Human Rights Judgments after only two years.
In 2013, I transferred to the Office of the Ombudsman where I’m currently responsible for matters related to human rights. My main responsibilities include consideration of individual applications and taking necessary measures to resolve them, whether this be administrative or legislative, as well as analytical work and work relating to international cooperation in the field of human rights.
How would you describe your job to other people?
As part of a Legislative Fellows Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. State Department and administered by the American Councils for International Education, I received an internship placement to work in the Global Legal Research Directorate at the Law Library of Congress, under the supervision of Peter Roudik, director of legal research. One of the Law Library’s primary missions is to provide members of Congress, the federal judiciary, and executive branch agencies with foreign law research and analysis. The Law Library also provides reference assistance to members of the bar and the public at large.
My typical day involves working on foreign law-related inquiries from any of the above-mentioned patrons involving my own country as well as other eastern European jurisdictions. In addition to my legal training, my proficiency in Ukrainian and Russian languages helps me find answers to the questions posed.
How did you come to work at the Law Library of Congress?
When I found out about my work placement at the Law Library of Congress, I thought it would be a perfect fit for me as a lawyer to contribute my expertise in Ukrainian law to the work of the Law Library. At the same time I knew it was going to be challenging (in a good way) given the range of issues – from family to corporate law – and the number of jurisdictions the staff of the Law Library deal with on a daily basis.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
It was an absolute surprise for me to learn that anyone, not just members of Congress and members of other government institutions, can submit inquiries to the Law Library of Congress relating to both domestic and foreign law issues and receive reference assistance. As I found out later, it’s a surprise not only for me, but for many Americans too; for example, my host family didn’t know about it.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
I’m a real fan of different handmade techniques–embroidery (cross-stitching, ribbon embroidery), decoupage, toys, candles and jewelry making, stained glass and many, many more! What I’m really good at, and proud of, are my ribbon embroidered pictures; check out some of my favorites here. I even have a kind of mini-gallery of my works at home.