Meet Maria Gracia Pujadas, a spanish law student, who won the White & Case Award in 2018

@IE University

White & Case is one of the most highly-respected and leading law firms in the world and offers an award to the Law student with the most exceptional Research thesis

Each year, White & Case recognizes one IE University Law student for their exceptional work in their final Research thesis. The financial support and recognition of excellence from White & Case – one of the most highly-respected and leading law firms in the world – is incomparable; offering IE University students the chance to further their knowledge of the Law and to propel their professional career.

Maria Gracia Pujadas Morales from Spain was the most recent winner for her thesis, ‘Towards a common European law on illegal contracts’.

What degree did you study?

My name is Gracia Pujadas Morales. I am a Spanish 23-year-old and I recently graduated from IE University. I started the dual degree in Business Administration and Laws at the Segovia campus and then moved to Madrid, after my exchange at McGill University (Canada). During my time at IE University, I also had the opportunity to participate in the Law Schools Global League (LSGL) 2015 Summer School, which took place at the University of Cape Town (South Africa), for which I was granted a scholarship by IE University.

What was your final project about?

My LL.B. final project dealt with contract law; specifically, illegal contracts. The aim of my paper was to analyze the possibility of harmonizing illegality across Europe. In order to do so, I first analyzed recent case law in England & Wales and Spain, which served as proxies for the common and the civil law systems, respectively. This allowed me to clarify the current status of illegality at a national level in both the common and civil law systems in Europe. I found out that the traditional rules on illegality are being abandoned and, most importantly, that there is a tendency towards flexibility in both systems. This incipient flexibility is making both systems converge, which can potentially facilitate the harmonization process. Additionally, I assessed the current alternatives that exist for the harmonization of illegality at a European level and, deeming them insufficient in the light of recent case law, I suggested (and explained) a new proposal, intended as model rules for the harmonization of illegal contracts.

What is unique about your project?

I would say that one of the strengths of my project was that it combined all aspects of analysis: thorough, critical, creative and originality. My project analyzed the status quo but also offered a solution for a topic of actual interest and relevance: harmonization of private law.

What were the project requirements in order to win the award?

In order to participate, the project had to meet the requirements set out by the LLB program in terms of content and format and had to be sent to the relevant person within the established deadline. In order to win the award, there were no additional requirements as such, but obviously, the more original, the better-written, the more insightful the project was, etc., the better, and the higher the chances of winning the award.

What did the award consist of?

The award typically consists of a €5,000 contribution towards the tuition fees to study the «Máster de Acceso» at IE Law School. Alternatively, if the winner does not have his/her heart set on joining the legal sector after all, the prize is awarded in cash.

What advice would you give to future students interested in winning the White & Case award for the best LLB final project?

In my opinion, the most important piece of advice that can be given is what my supervisor, Francisco de Elizalde (to whom I will always be very, very grateful), told me on the very first day: it is crucial to work hard from the beginning, so as to have enough time to read, read and read (and read again!) and understand the topic as much as possible before you begin writing.

Additionally, I would recommend that they choose their topic wisely. It must be original, with a practical application and something that interests stakeholders… The project can be extremely well-researched, beautifully written and perfectly structured, but if it is not original and relevant to stakeholders, the award may be given to someone else.