1 – Tell us a bit about your legal background, travels and experiences in the English-speaking world…
During my last year of studying law at Valencia University I decided to head to England to work and to improve my English skills. It was an incredible experience – everything was new; the people, the culture, the scenery, the weather, of course! Also, things were very different from Spain within an employment context – the way that businesses operated, how teams interacted, the fact there were so many nationalities working together. I loved it, although there were some difficult moments. I worked hard and had to deal with situations I never thought I would. Facing these challenges made me better at my job than before and gave me more confidence. It was a challenging experience, but it made me the person I am today.
2 – Describe your law firm and the areas it covers
When I returned to Spain from the UK, I wanted to make the most of my two biggest strengths; my understanding of people and my legal background. This led me to helping expats settle in Spain. One of the first things expats need to sort out is where to live. My company specialises in civil and property law, which includes conveyancing, self-building, buying off-plan, new-build properties, boundary disputes, construction and structural defects. Basically, we deal with all possible legalities associated with buying or selling property, either as a home or as an investment.
Additionally, some of our clients require assistance with setting up all kinds of businesses, whether that’s bars, restaurants or online companies. In order to provide a full service for my clients, we also assist with Family Law matters. For example, I help my clients to draft wills to present to notaries, ensuring their wishes are protected under Spanish law. We handle rental contracts, deposits, trusts, power of attorney and valuations. I am the link between my clients and the professionals they need to deal with; estate agents, relocation companies, banks, surveyors, notaries and anything else in between.
I also have two partners – one is a specialist in Criminal Law, and the other is a tax specialist. We’re a perfect team as between the three of us; we can offer all the expertise and advice our clients need.
3 – What are typical day-to-day issues regarding your clients?
The principal issue tends to be the language barrier. Many expats arrive having studied basic Spanish, but when they start facing day-to-day situations, they realise mastering the language takes more time, especially when it comes to dealing with complicated and wordy legal matters. Additionally, despite EU regulations applying across Europe, there are still a number of differences between various international laws and Spanish law, and these can be very confusing, especially when trying to comprehend them in a second language. Another significant issue our clients face is who to trust. They are in an unknown land – they need someone on their side, with expert knowledge, who they know has their best interests at heart.
4 – How does your company differ from Spanish speaking lawyers and what are the advantages of working with your firm?
There are three factors that make my firm stand apart:
Firstly, the years of experience I have helping expats to settle in all across Spain. While most of our clients are within the Valencian community (Castellón, Valencia and Alicante), I am also able to assist with certain projects in other regions upon discussion, for example the Balearics, Barcelona, Marbella, and Madrid.
Secondly, having lived, worked and studied in England for almost five years, and using the English language every day, I am bilingual. This allows me to clearly communicate with my clients, and to explain legal matters in language they can understand.
Last but by no means least, having been an expat myself, I understand first-hand the issues my clients are facing. I know what they need, what matters to them, and how they wish to be treated
.5 – What are the long-term potential problems for English speaking clients looking to move to or currently living in Spain, that your company can fix?
Obviously, the most pressing long-term issue my clients are facing right now is Brexit. This won’t just affect the British, the effects of the uncertainty and potential legal changes ahead will be felt across many countries.
Additionally, the rental market. How people live and travel is changing. While authorities are trying their best to regulate the movements of people and official ways of operating, the truth is that the world moves faster than the law. It’s a tricky area to regulate because there are so many factors involved, and so many interests related to it. This uncertainty surrounding the rental market is exacerbated by incessant changes in the law, specifically in regards to tourist rentals. My firm stays on top of it, so our clients don’t have to.
6 – Do you have other interests outside of work?
Of course! I’ve always been passionate about travel. Living in the UK, Gatwick and Heathrow were so convenient that the option to explore the world was right on my doorstep, and I certainly made the most of it! Lately, after enjoying watching MasterChef with my daughter, I’ve been getting really into cooking. I have always been happy with a simple ham baguette, and while I still am, we’re having a lot of fun trying different international recipes, such as Beef Wellington, Thai curries and Beef bourguignon.
Virginia De La Cuadra Galera / English Speaking Spanish Lawyer – Abogada
email@example.com / + (34) 680 438 775