2017 is an important year for Powers Abogados. This year we celebrate a milestone. 40 years ago the head of the firm, Elizabeth Powers, began her career in the law.
40 years of experiences, personal and professional challenges, dreams, learning, entrepreneurship, success … in short, a lifetime that deserves recognition of dedicated and fruitful professional work that is the spirit of our organization and our way of understanding the law practice.
Let’s get to know Elizabeth Powers a bit more closely:
Elizabeth, tell us how a young 21-year-old American girl ends up studying law at the Complutense in Madrid at night school, working full-time as a bilingual executive secretary and with your newborn daughter Adelina, followed by Isabel and Luis.
Answer: I already had a university degree in Spanish from Trinity College, Washington D.C. (B.A. ’69), four years of humanities with specialization in Spanish and Hispanic culture and literature. It was then when I came to Spain for the first time, to study one of the academic courses of my university degree, and although it sounds somewhat cliché, I fell in love with the country, its culture, its gastronomy and, of course, a Spaniard, who would become my first husband, Luis del Alamo Enríquez, a great jurist, I must add.
When I settled in Spain I found that I had few professional opportunities with my American university studies. But it was easy to receive career guidance from in-laws who dealt in the field of the law, and with their unconditional support, especially that of my mother-in-law and with a lot of personal effort, I achieved my goal of graduating five years later, just before the birth my second daughter who is my colleague by profession and in the firm, Isabel del Alamo. I remember that time as a family and personal puzzle with which I am sure many readers will be able to identify! Today I can say that it was well worth it.
You started your professional life at the American firm Baker & McKenzie where you worked for 17 years of your career at their Madrid office, becoming a local partner. How was your professional experience at Baker & McKenzie?
Answer: My time with Baker & McKenzie has been a fundamental experience in my professional and personal life. I owe everything to the firm: knowledge, friendships, professional techniques, lifelong clients … I keep friendships and unforgettable memories of my years at Baker and McKenzie and as well as fruitful professional relationships that continue today.
In 1995 you decided to start your own professional project by founding Powers Abogados. A small office of five lawyers with an international vocation. What was the turning point in your professional career and in your personal field?
Answer: Creating your own project is always exciting and a personal and professional satisfaction. It was to be the same practice of international law in which I had been trained for 17 years, but with a clear objective of offering my clients the added values of a very personal and close and at the same time more economical treatment, which are both advantages that a smaller office can offer. At the organizational level, I managed to provide the team of lawyers with a fairly innovative system of family reconciliation, maintaining the quality and specialization in legal advice to our clients, which is not easy to achieve in this profession.
What has been your biggest challenge during all these years of profession?
Answer: Keeping ourselves updated in the constant legislative changes that affect the affairs of our clients and a great capacity to solve issues as demanded by our profession is always a great challenge.
Another challenge and important achievement is to create and maintain lasting professional relationships with our clients, based on the trust and professionalism we offer, with the great satisfaction that they become “lifelong” friends and that they know that their projects and problems are ours.
What is your experience or what have you learned about the client-lawyer relationship?
Answer: Undoubtedly, it is important that each client be an active participant in the resolution of their legal issues and that the client be informed of progress regularly. This conscientious attitude of the lawyer towards the clients, of accompanying them, could be more than 50% of the work done by a good lawyer, in addition to the professional expertise that has to be put into practice for each case.
What is your experience or what have you learned most about the relationship between colleagues?
Answer: That teamwork is undoubtedly the best way to work and always brings added value to the final result offered to the client, in addition to the satisfaction of sharing professional achievements and, of course the difficulties arising in the process.
Can you share a professional anecdote?
Answer: There are many, but one that would be unusual today due to the liberalization of foreign investments and the advancement in technology, is that we achieved the first inscription in the Ministry of Industry back in the 80s, with approval of the payment of very high royalties for a contract of transfer of technology of computer software, or as we would say today of an app., between a U.S. client and a Spanish distributor. In those days, the legislation and bureaucracy had not adapted themselves to the reality of this type of international contracts which are common nowadays.
What are the challenges facing the new generations of lawyers?
Answer: To constantly update and adapt to the continuous changes demanded by new technologies and the globalized world in which we live. These are keys for practicing the law in the future, and actually, right now.