Fatima Nieto-IEU Evolution Track Participant, in association with Ontier

@IE University

The Evolution track allows participants to complete all this, not as two independent objectives, but as one that comprises both legislations’ requirements in one go and hence, reduces the time needed if compared to pursuing both independently.

Fatima Nieto is an IE University Dual Bachelor of Laws–Legal Practice Course graduate, who is currently participating in the one-of-a-kind IEU Evolution track in association with law firm Ontier. This track enables her to simultaneously qualify as a lawyer in Spain and a solicitor in the UK by meeting the complicated requirements and mandatory trainings set by both the Spanish and the UK governments, and by doing all this in association to one firm, instead of two independent ones.

In order to qualify as a Lawyer in Spain, one must study an official Master (Master de Acceso a la Abogacía), followed by a 6-month mandatory internship (Prácticas de Acceso). In order to qualify as a solicitor in the UK, after finalizing the mandatory Legal Practice Course, one must carry out a two-year Training Contract (TC) at a law firm, and apply for it, two years in advance.

The Evolution track allows participants to complete all this, not as two independent objectives, but as one that comprises both legislations’ requirements in one go and hence, reduces the time needed if compared to pursuing both independently.

Below please find Fatima’s comments on this experience.

 

Can you please tell us briefly about IE’s Evolution program?

It is a unique opportunity offered by IEU Talent and Careers, in agreement with international law firms, to allow those IEU Bachelor of Law – LPC graduates to qualify both as lawyers in Spain and as solicitors in the UK.

Due to the high level of competition in this field, IE has assisted its students by launching a program that offers two opportunities (Prácticas de acceso at the Spanish office + TC at the UK office) within the same company/ law firm, .

 

Could you please tell us how IE´s Evolution program helped you in your career development?

Only those who have applied to UK Training Contracts in the past know how hard it is to get one:  The amount of hours spent on each online application, multiplied by the number of applications one must complete; the difficulty of the tests that come after successful applications, if you are ever successful; the endless rounds of interviews that follow; and the strange requirement of applying two years in advance of the offer, when you still haven’t completed your studies.

So, we could definitively say that no matter who the applicant is targeting: in house, small/medium, silver/magic circle law firms, frustration is always within the process and after a hundred “noes” one starts to feel discouraged, misunderstood and lonely.

IE and Ontier, the Spanish international firm, agreed that the value of double qualified lawyers was enormous in today’s global law firms. Thanks to IE, they committed to investing their resources in these profiles by offering continuous training in their UK and Spanish offices, to make the double qualification finally possible. IE’s Evolution program definitely brought more clarity and certainty to my career concerns, allowing me see the two qualifications as one goal rather than two separate objectives.

 

How and when did you find about this opportunity?

After graduating, I started a paralegal job at Watford,  a British medium-sized law firm in north-London. Although many people find this kind of position “a waste of time”, I personally think it was good training for the future.

For those who are not familiar with the concept, a paralegal is a job title that only exists in Common Law jurisdictions. It is designed for graduates who are seeking a TC or for those with a TC already secured in some months’ time. Let’s make it clear! A paralegal is not someone that only does the photocopying, although photocopying can be one of his/her day-to-day functions, but just like everyone else’s. A paralegal is someone who is receiving constant training, who learns from appearing as CC in the chains of emails of associates and partners,  from the research undertaken or from his/ her notes at important meetings. Someone who plays the role of translator between the internal team and the clients. An essential asset within the department, someone with organization skills, whose work is valuable and whose time is chargeable. As my Watford paralegal contract was ending, I was at the time seeking for other opportunities.

One day, my classmates and I received an email from IEU Talent and Careers to meet at Ontier’s London office. There they told us about the program, the steps we had to follow, the recruiting process…and, it was there when I found out about another paralegal vacancy at Ontier’s London office. Three days after that meeting, I decided to send Ontier an email attaching my CV and asking the partners to meet me. I am quite conscious that sending an email out of the blue to a partner is not the usual way to apply for legal Jobs in England, but to be honest, I was quite tired of recruiting agencies, complicated tests and formal processes.

I was then offered a six-month contract at Ontier, and my day to day changed completely, for good. I did not have to commute, the office was in the city, I belonged in a small team and I had international co-workers. Almost all of the transactions and cases were international, as well as the clients. Here I finally made my language skills useful, I learnt from other departments (Litigation, Tax and Employment). After a few months at Ontier UK as a paralegal, I underwent the selection process for both the Prácticas de Acceso (Madrid office) and the Training Contract (London office), in order to be part of the official Evolution track.   This included passing case studies, which could touch any area of the law, and interviews.

 

Would you want to share any tips or advice with IE students’ interested in applying to the London legal market?

Keep thinking out of the box and always feel proud of your profile. IE will continue to help you find the right place. It is true that at first sight, the legal London market could be seen as impossible to access but with time and effort opportunities come along the way. Trust IE in innovation and most importantly, trust yourself.