This week’s interview is with Irakli Kotetishvili. From Georgia (country), Irakli is doing his internship at the Law Library of Congress as part of the State Department sponsored Legislative Fellows Program.
Describe your background?
I was born and raised in Georgia (country) when it was still a part of the Soviet Union. I remember life in a country that ceased to exist and the struggle for securing Georgian independence back in the 1990s. I always dreamed about helping Georgia to transform from “post-Soviet Union country” into a modern state governed by the rule of law and a free market economy.
I have done a range of jobs since finishing my education. I practiced law and defended journalists in the courts in freedom of expression and libel cases. I worked as assistant to a member of Parliament. I have also worked at the Ministry of Justice where I was a part of a group that drafted Georgia’s new Criminal Procedure Code. Currently, I work as a Director at the Civil Service Bureau of Georgia (CSB) and I feel very privileged to lead this executive branch agency in implementing the Georgian President’s anti-corruption and transparency projects within the government.
How would you describe your job to other people?
At the CSB we develop and implement projects aimed at increasing transparency and efficiency of the government. We help the public to get more information about senior officials’ incomes and expenditures with the purpose of having more civic control over the government. We make sure that access to career opportunities in the civil service is simple and easy for everyone in Georgia. The systems of Public Financial Disclosure and Online Recruitment System are two most recent examples of our efforts to bring the government closer to the people. In all our projects we rely heavily on e-governance tools because we believe the web and social media are the future of communication between the citizen and the government.
Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?
I came to the Library as a participant of the Legislative Fellows Program. This program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the American Councils for International Education. This program brings young professionals from the countries of Eastern and Southern Europe to the United States so that they get practical experience and exposure to the United States government. My fellow co-participants are having their fellowships in state legislatures and city halls across the United States. I feel lucky to be placed at the Law Library of Congress
Here at the Law Library, I am with the Global Legal Research Center. I was asked to prepare legislative updates on Georgia and answer inquires on Georgian laws. I also drafted an article for the Global Legal Monitor, an online Law Library publication, about public financial disclosures in my country. To me, the Library of Congress looks like a place where traditions meet dynamism, lively discussions and progress. This is one of the oldest institutions and it is full of history and has strong record of successful projects. I believe Georgia has a lot to learn from the history, knowledge, and experiences of the Library. When I go back, I plan to brief my colleagues on the issues that are relevant to their work.
What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library of Congress?
It is absolutely fascinating for me to work in the building that holds the largest collection of legal texts in the world and places its materials on 838 miles of bookshelves! It was also a discovery for me to learn that the Law Library of Congress does legal research for the United States Congress and other federal agencies and responds to requests from people living all over the world.
What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?
When I was a kid I wanted to be a doctor. However, at the very last moment I made another career choice and became a lawyer. Looking back, I can say without hesitation that I am very happy with my early life decision.
I am also a very big fan of tennis and I have played since my school years. I even won several championships in my home city tennis club!