Thanks to the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund, I was able to complete an internship with Legal Firm S.A in Quito, Ecuador for a four-week period. The purpose of this internship was to gain real life experience of the inner working of a law firm and an insight into the career journey of a lawyer to better inform my own career choices after completing my field of study. I was seeking an opportunity to apply practically the legal skills and knowledge learned from my first year of law school and previous study in a jurisdiction out with Scotland.
Before beginning this internship, I was concerned about both the cultural differences and the extent of the language barrier. Although I can understand and comprehend much of the Spanish language, I have not had much opportunity to practice, particularly in a professional setting and for this reason I was rather nervous. Furthermore, I have had only limited experience being in a court room and I was rather intimidated before attending both the Complejo Judicial Norte (Northern Judicial Complex) and the Corte Nacional de Justicia (National Court of Justice) to witness both civil and criminal proceedings.
This experience was highly informative not only of the daily responsibilities and obligations of a corporate law firm but also about the legal system itself in Ecuador. I spent a great deal of time with Dr. German Aguirre a partner at Legal Firm S.A. who shared much about what his profession entails. As a corporate lawyer, Dr. German Aguirre, focuses mostly on activities such as mergers, partnerships, liquidations and as retained legal counsel for several private organisations. Dr. German Aguirre also owns and operates Zonalegal which is a subscription website that offers immediate updates on the law and is also used as a platform for the numerous books and legal commentaries he has published. In shadowing Dr. German Aguirre I was able to witness real world situations and how legal procedures are put into practice. Such insight I feel has highly enhanced my future employability and enhanced my current and future study of the law.
I also learned much about the structure of the organisation itself and the various partnerships held. Legal Firm S.A. work closely alongside Aguirre & Asociados CIA.LTDA who are primarily a firm of Accountant’s and Auditors. This relationship was rather appealing to me as all professions worked together and coordinated with one another for their shared clients. I was therefore able to spend some time with Dr. German Aguirre’s father Nelson who is Aguirre & Asociados owner and head CPA. Here I was able to apply knowledge from my previous MBA study and witness the application of Ecuadorian tax law.
In the many hours I was able to spend in court I couldn’t help but closely analyse how different the court set up was to that in the UK. Ecuadorian courts are much more informal and modern compared to courtrooms in the United Kingdom; however, they are still quite adversarial in nature. I was exposed to many different types of cases, particularly criminal, labour, family and corporate proceedings.
This internship and this experience were an absolute privilege to take part in. My objective was to inform my own career choices, to become more confident in a practical legal setting and to enhance my own employability. Thanks to the Go Abroad Fund that has been achieved and for that I am truly appreciative. I would strongly encourage any student to apply to the Go Abroad fund as it has allowed me the professional experience of a lifetime which I would not have been able to afford on my own.