Founded in the 1940s, Uría Menéndez is one of the most prestigious law firms in Spain, having expanded into international markets to the point that it now has over 500 lawyers operating in 17 offices located in financial centers across Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
“Sometimes you study a topic at university and you think you know it really well. Then you get out there in the real world and you see what you thought was a clear-cut legal scenario is way more complicated than you could have imagined.”
Hanna Jelezovskaia’s month-long placement at top law firm Uría Menéndez in Madrid has opened her eyes to the realities of legal practice. Jelezovskaia’s experience underlines the importance of internships, and why workplace exposure forms an integral part of what it means to study at IE University.
Jelezovskaia gives the example of a transfer of undertakings. Students like her learn this concept as an aspect of labor law, designed to protect employees’ rights when their company is taken over by another. “Then you actually practice and have a case where the transfer of a parking spot can give rise to that situation.”
Originally from Belarus, Jelezovskaia’s family moved to Mallorca, Spain, when she was 14. She speaks fluent English, Spanish, and Russian, and is busy learning French. Jelezovskaia describes herself as a passionate student of law, and is currently in her third year at IE University in Madrid. “I am going to practice, and I have always loved labor law. Now that I have done the month’s placement at Uría Menéndez, I am even more sure about that.”
Founded in the 1940s, Uría Menéndez is one of the most prestigious law firms in Spain, having expanded into international markets to the point that it now has over 500 lawyers operating in 17 offices located in financial centers across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The firm has recently sealed deals with local practices to enter new markets in Chile, Colombia, and Peru, with Mexico next up as part of a major expansion plan in Latin America.
Jelezovskaia came into contact with the firm at IE University’s placement fair at the start of the year. “I liked their attitude and of course I had heard a lot about Uría Menéndez because it is a top-level firm.” Before being selected for the placement, Jelezovskaia had to pass written tests and an interview.
As company partner Sergio Ponce explains, the firm is now reaping the rewards of getting the first look at a potential star of the future.
“We ensure that the student’s experience is as real as possible, although of course we supervise them in their tasks, as we are not talking about a qualified lawyer yet,” Ponce explains. “We ask them to study legal issues and look at precedents as we prepare a case, but we don’t want it to be too monotonous, either, so we make sure that the student attends training sessions in which lawyers talk about experiences they have learned from.”
Ponce stresses that the firm stays in touch with the student after the placement has finished. “We value the fact that we have been able to get to know a potential future lawyer. We have seen how she has got on with her work and what she likes doing, so it’s clear that Hanna has a chance of coming back here one day.”
Whatever her professional future may hold, Jelezovskaia is enthusiastic about her experience at Uría Menéndez. “If you like studying the basis of law, then building upon it is a great pleasure.”
But 21-year-old Jelezovskaia also has a life outside of fine-print legal minutiae, and she appreciates Madrid’s varied cultural offering. “For art fanatics like me, here you have vast possibilities to discover diverse collections in great museums and galleries.”
Jelezovskaia also loves the way Madrid, while bustling, never feels overcrowded. “It totally lacks the crazy metropolitan lifestyle that most people associate with capital cities.” She finds that there is an abundance of great restaurants, cinemas, shops, and a vibrant live music scene, making Madrid “highly enriching, but not excessively overwhelming.”
**Written by: The Report Company