Petras Leonas: advokatas ir profesorius
During the first year of existence of an independent Lithuanian government, Petras Leonas worked successfully as the minister for justice and internal affairs, framing the structures for national justice, administration and municipality, and organising their operations. His representation of the political middle ground seemed acceptable to most political groups in key positions, ranging from the president of the republic to the rector of Lithuanian University. However, he was not appointed or elected for such positions because of internal political disagreements, as well as the inherent modesty of Leonas himself. His authority was therefore used only in orders of special significance. Since Leonas was not seeking for career, his most important achievements were his long-time leadership at the Lithuanian Bar Association while at the same time framing, reinforcing and directing the Faculty of Law. He was a practising attorney since the 1905s, and although there was an interval in this when he escaped to Russia during the First World War, he returned to practising straight after resigning from the Lithuanian government in October 1919. Leonas was invited as a professor to the newly established Faculty of Law at Lithuanian University in 1922, where he started his academic career, becoming dean of the faculty and starting to lecture in the area of theoretical philosophy. At the same time, he became chairman of the Lithuanian Bar Association and practised law alongside this. Leonas was first among his colleagues to publish academic literature in the Lithuanian language to ease the learning process for his students, producing courses on the encyclopedia of law, the history of philosophy of law and other subjects that he lectured. Because practising law and his professorial duties were time-consuming, he dedicated his free time in the evenings and at weekends providing individuals with consultations for students in his own apartment. It is important to mention that Leonas’s broad field of practice was not focused on the selfish aim of earning more money, but was instead intended to bring more benefit to his country. He never avoided contributing money for charitable donations or working without payment.
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