Ernesto is the President of Aguilar & Astorga and has more than 40 years of professional experience as a lawyer specializing in procedural and insolvency matters. He is a legal adviser and secretary of the board of different construction, leisure and financial entities. He advises permanently to banks and securities companies and is recognized as “leading lawyer” in Spain according to the international directory “Best Lawyers”.
What do you think are the characteristics that difference Aguilar & Astorga with the competition? What advantages does an office of its size offer compared to what a large “multinational law” can offer?
Our office’s size is a great advantage, because in the case of a medium-sized office, customer follow-up is not delegated but is carried out directly by the lawyer in charge. This is very effective in the litigious activity. We are characterized mainly by the high number of procedures in which we intervene. In addition, this feature allows the billing criteria to be not very mechanical, being the relationship with the customer is greatly weighed.
What is Aguilar & Astorga’s growth strategy? Where do you place the future of the office in the medium term?
The strategy is to consolidate ourselves definitively. We do not look for a failed merger simply to grow, but what is wanted is a total integration. Thus, at the moment there are very advanced negotiations with two offices of similar or similar characteristics to ours, but that develop their work in professional and complementary branches. The negotiations are aimed at providing more volume and specialties to the office, but not by resorting to collaborative agreements, but seeking a total integration, so that in the medium term the office has tripled its volume and we can provide services of excellent quality In various branches of law. We are convinced that if we fail to achieve these goals it is not advisable to grow for growth, without a quantitative and qualitative support that supports it. It would be a fallacy and deceive ourselves.
In a personal capacity, which cases would you highlight of which you have participated?
I have been a practicing lawyer since 1968 and I have been fortunate that my professional activity has always been totally linked to the Courts. I have also had the opportunity to work in the best firms in Spain as responsible for the contentious departments in all kinds of procedures: civil, mercantile, criminal, administrative and arbitration. Therefore, my professional experience is very broad. I began as a defense lawyer in the defunct Public Order Court and today I am intervening as a defender in well-known cases that are still before the National Court. If I add that I can act as a lawyer in procedures that are developed in English and/or French, I can conclude by saying that during my 45 years of practice I’ve been very lucky with my profession, which I like so much, I think I do not do everything wrong and it has allowed me to live very worthily.
Do you think that the market model of the legal sector has changed? And the relationship with the client?
Yes, of course. The exercise of the profession is a reflection of the social reality and if this has changed, clearly it has done so much. The customer too. Today, in general, the customer is enormously prepared, he knows perfectly well what he wants, and he does not let himself be deceived. Not even in faults trials.
What competencies and skills should an attorney currently have in your opinion? And what role do new technologies have in the firm?
From my point of view, currently, every lawyer must have training, more knowledge and a lot of desire to study and work more. Regarding technologies, they are very important, as they are already in society as a whole although they can never substitute for personal advice, which is always precise for certain matters.
Let’s talk about public administrations. From the operation of justice to education, going through all regulatory areas, do you think Spain is a competitive country? In what areas should we improve? Personally I understand that there would be a lot to adapt. I believe that daily justice, the practice of the Tribunals, should make efforts to improve and make a country competitive. It doesn’t seem very likely that appeals in mercantile proceedings affecting the very survival of companies are being signaled for April 2016. The media’s preoccupation with matters in everyone’s minds to me practically declines in the daily justice in complaint procedures Quantity, evictions, ordinary criminal cases, contests, in the end Justice is not such. In short, there is much to improve.