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Marta Sánchez Merino explains how she moved from training as a judge in Spain to working in the UK as a Cross-border, Tax Legal and Insolvency Practitioner Assistant.
Once Upon A Time In Spain
I spent my childhood between Málaga and Córdoba in Spain. I studied law at the University of Cordoba, which gave me access to a year studying in Lancaster University.
After completing my degree, I began studying for the public examination to qualify as a Judge in Spain. In order to qualify as a Judge in Spain, you must pass particularly difficult exams which cover all articles of the Spanish Constitution, the Civil Code, the Criminal Code, and the Procedural Laws.
Change of Course
In March 2020, my exams to qualify as a Judge in Spain were put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to keep learning and growing, I decided to take on two Master’s degrees. Firstly, in Economic Criminal Law, and secondly, in Access to the Legal Profession, which would allow me to apply to join the Spanish Bar Association and practice as a lawyer in Spain (known as an ‘Abogado’).
Being fluent in several languages, I wanted to become an international lawyer and qualify to practice law in both England and Wales, and Spain. I therefore decided to move to London in 2020 to further this goal.
Pandemic, Brexit and moving to the UK
Moving to the UK in the middle of a global pandemic, not to mention Brexit, was incredibly challenging. There were lots of formalities I needed to comply with, but I was successful and now live and work in London.
I initially started working as a Legal Consultant while studying completing my two Masters Degrees online. Now that I have finished my Masters Degrees, I work as a Cross-border, Tax Legal and Insolvency Assistant at Quabbala Lawyers and Economists, which has given to me the opportunity to train in UK Corporate and Insolvency Law, Tax Legal and Accounting.
Starting a new job, moving to a new country and jumping into a new jurisdiction, amongst all the Covid restrictions, has been anything but easy, but I am really proud for working through all the difficulties.
Some Differences between Spanish and UK Law.
I believe law, similarly to art, reflects a society’s values at a particular moment. In order to practise in a foreign jurisdiction, I therefore believe it is vital to first understand the society which the laws intend to regulate. It is not simply about translating the legislation, but also about understanding what is behind the laws, and what purpose they serve.
The main difference between Spanish and UK law is that, in Spain, there is a Civil Law system (unlike the UK’s Common Law system), so case law has a merely complementary role when it becomes to deciding a case. The origin of Spanish Law dates back to Roman Law (by 1250 AD), although the supreme rule of the Spanish Legal System is the Constitution of 1978, which means that any rule against it could be declared unconstitutional and set aside. The Spanish Legal System (according to article 1 of the Spanish Civil Code) relies on the laws, the customs and the general principles of law.
Another difference between English and Spanish law is way the law is practised. In the UK, there is a distinction between solicitors and barristers. In Spain however, there is only one type of lawyer (Abogado), who take the clients all the way through the case, from the very first moment they enter the office asking for advice, until the Judge makes the final decision.
The requirements to practice as a Spanish Abogado are prescribed by Law 34/2006, dated 30 October, on Access to the Professions of Lawyer and Court Representative (Ley 34/2006, de 30 de octubre, sobre el Acceso a las profesiones de Abogado y Procurador de los Tribunales (LAC)) and Royal Decree 775/2011, dated 3 June (Real Decreto 775/2011, de 3 de junio, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento de la Ley 34/2006, de 30 de octubre, sobre el acceso a las profesiones de Abogado y Procurador de los Tribunales). In summary, the requirements are that an Abogado must:
The Next Steps
What I admire most about international lawyers is their ability to understand client’s problems in different countries. They have a real understanding of human nature across multiple societies. And so, I will continue to take sound and sensible steps in this direction to become a fully-qualified international lawyer. I will keep you posted on my progress!
Marta Sánchez Merino
Cross-border, Tax Legal and Insolvency Practitioner Assistant
Quabbala Lawyers and Economists