My secondary school teacher told me “Alex, you will become a politician or a lawyer”. I thought she was mad as I wanted to do something related to history (which I love) just like Indiana Jones.
It appears she saw potential in my skills for arguing rather than discovering ancient artefacts and fighting smugglers with a whip and, as I am yet to prove my skills with a whip, she was right. I became a Lawyer.
Upon finishing my Spanish Law Degree, I started my first work experience as a lawyer in a small firm in La Linea (in Spain) where I gained many useful skills, including the most important one that I am sure all legal professionals have learned during the early stages of their career…… how to use a photocopier.
Whilst in Spain I realized that to succeed in my professional career I had to develop a skill set that would differentiate myself from others and become more competitive. Therefore, I decided to gain some work experience in another jurisdiction, Gibraltar, and after all, what better place to start than my neighbouring country.
During my internship in Gibraltar, I got the opportunity to learn more about Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which is still a work in progress in Spain, although some developments have been made in the last few years, particularly in Mediation.
As I had an interest in Dispute Resolution (particularly Arbitration), I decided to do an LLM at Queen Mary University. Following this, I was keen to continue improving my legal skills so I applied for a 6-month internship in Hong-Kong, which, to my mother’s relief (a 12 hour flight is much less appealing than 2 hours and 30 minutes from Gibraltar to London) I did not follow up.
Despite all my efforts, I wondered if I would get the opportunity to work in a big legal city outside Spain to continue my legal career. Then I received a phone call offering me the opportunity to work in a law firm in Malta. A Spanish Lawyer in Malta? No worries. My friends thought the same when I told them about the call.
Apart from its mild weather, friendly people and lovely beaches (although I can assure you I was working not on holiday) I thought Malta was an attractive opportunity for work. A fast-growing country with English as one of its official languages, so I took the chance and spent most of my time in the Litigation and Corporate Department.
Even though I was happy in Malta (and tanned) I still really wanted the opportunity to work in London so I decided to become a Solicitor, which is something I had considered doing before. Whilst preparing for my exams I thought it would be a great idea if I had some work experience at the same time so I could put into practice what I was learning and better understand the English legal system. It was such a good idea and if I had not thought about it I may have never had my job interview at Strain Keville.
I will never forget that day and I still remember Andrew Strain interviewing me, and, the best part… giving me the opportunity as a Spanish Lawyer to work in a law firm in London. Hurray!!
The above took place more than five years ago, and here I am now, a Partner in Strain Keville and Head of their International Desk. This is the firm who took a Spanish Lawyer as part of their team, trained him and helped him professionally and for that I will always be grateful.