Celebrating Women in the Legal Sphere


This article is written in conjunction with the IE Law Society.

By Vanessa Chioaru

On March 19th 2024, the Law Society had the honor of hosting three remarkable female leaders within the legal field. Marlen Estévez Sanz, Raquel Florez Escobar are both partners of prestigious global law firms while Victoria Rivera Barrachina has her own practice. Given their experience as leading legal professionals, they shared engaging insights within their professional journeys as well as constructive advice for law students on how to forge their own legal path. 

The conversation began by inquiring about the different motivations that prompted our guests to pursue careers in law and whether they had always felt a vocation towards legal practice. Our guests emphasized the ambiguity that surrounded their professional trajectory at our age and that one significant way to refine their interests was by gaining practical experience from a variety of fields and legal practices. 

Firstly, all stressed the importance of not disregarding a discipline or specific practice that you did not enjoy at university, as it might be completely different in practice. Marlen further emphasized the value in changing career paths or legal sectors as it helps clarify the area of law one wants to practice, while also enhancing their general understanding of the law. Similarly, Raquel mentioned how she did not begin her path in employment law, rather she was assigned to the practice, which she ended up enjoying. She also highlighted the vitality of experiencing an international environment in order to gain new perspectives and become familiar with a new kind of practice. Victoria built upon this by stating that diversified experiences are crucial to giving one the tools and maturity to be able to open their own business or law firm in the future. Ultimately, they all stressed the importance of adaptability and navigating one’s professional career with an open mind, as it may lead to new opportunities in unexpected sectors. 

Since all aforementioned legal professionals have many years of experience working in high stress situations, it was important to gain insight from them as to how they balance their eventful work lives with their hobbies and families. A crucial lesson they highlighted is the fact that even now in our student life, balance cannot always be achieved in everything we do, however, it should be the goal that we strive for. Marlene made the analogy that life is like a game of balancing plates where it is not always possible to maintain them all in equilibrium. When our professional life overshadows our personal engagements, it is important to refocus that attention by taking some time to do something we enjoy. However, she recognized the fact that realistically the profession is very time consuming and ultimately, success will be different for everyone depending on their priorities. 

Since only about 15% of women are partners in Spanish law firms, our guests were asked what challenges they faced as they became more successful. Raquel brought the audience’s attention to the fact that because most partners are male, there is an affinity bias which leads to male lawyers being more prepared than female lawyers when it comes to being selected for partners. To combat this, Marlene stressed how important making connections and networking is for female lawyers in order to bridge this gap and get the opportunity to showcase their skills. Despite fearing failure, they all stressed the importance of pushing through one’s barriers and speaking out against the difficulties they encounter. Facing those hardships will ultimately help one navigate the competitive legal field. 

The speakers left us with some final advice: finding a mentor or multiple mentors can be incredibly helpful to help guide one through challenging stages. A mentor can offer direction as well as advice on how to better seek out certain opportunities. That said, the speakers reminded us that even without a mentor or help in general, there isn’t a specific mold one has to fit in order to be successful. Ultimately, success will come from the passion and conviction from doing what one really wants to do. 

Featured image courtesy of Adam Paska

IEU Law Society
IEU Law Society
The IEU Law Society brings the legal world closer to our university's student body.

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