“What all large organisations give their employees so that they can start working is, in fact, a mobile phone, a laptop and the best databases.”
27 February 2017
Leopoldo Cólogan represents the epitome of a lawyer who has made transformation one of his distinguishing characteristics. After twenty years’ professional experience, more than eight of which have been as partner of a large international firm at Garrigues, he has recently established his own offices in Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands) and has created a new law firm bearing his name.
At the age of 44, you have begun a new era, developing your own project and the ‘Leopoldo Cólogan’ brand. Surely there were several, but what was the main motivation for this change?
Being able to continue to develop myself professionally in my various guises, including being a lawyer, as well as being a teacher and writing legal articles, with the independence and autonomy that undertaking your own project allows you, after reaching a certain level of personal maturity after twenty years of practice as a lawyer, and also finding a balance between my professional life and my personal and family life.
You have experienced working in three different types of law office, from being a one-man team, through the so-called medium-sized companies, to a large firm like Garrigues. How has your career path helped to improve you?
Being surrounded by such well-qualified people has helped me to grow and improve myself both professionally and personally, as well as to know what kind of law firm I now want. My career path has allowed me to become the lawyer of choice for the largest Spanish construction companies in the Canary Islands, and to be included in several editions of the prestigious international directory Best Lawyers, in which I am featured, alongside my law firm, in this year’s 2017 edition in Spain. This has special value for me for two reasons: firstly, to be included in this directory you have to have been voted for by fellow lawyers, which is an honour; secondly, this means that my law firm has an international profile, especially when it comes to arbitration, and this directory reaches an international audience.
The legal profession has little in common with the one you knew when you were first starting out. However, there are still lawyers that are sceptical and reject the idea that one can exercise this profession with a telephone, tablet and computer as their main weapons. What would you say to them?
What all large organisations give their employees so that they can start working is, in fact, a mobile phone, a laptop and the best databases.
In any case, these tools need to have an integrated legal ecosystem that, in turn, integrates software, a database and a digital library. Are you aware of Aranzadi Fusión?
Yes, it is a good tool for managing a law firm, which improves its organisation, accessibility and security and helps to provide a quality service to clients.
Describe the model that your law firm uses in a few lines; what gives it an advantage over more traditional models?
The fact that it is not just a law firm, but a “Law Hotel”. This is a new concept and definition used to describe a company of experienced lawyers, who have been partners of leading law firms or heads of legal departments in large companies, who offer a personalised service to the client both autonomously and independently, with a focus on service and on being useful to the client, in an honest and transparent way, while being considerate of the traditional forms of respect in relationships among colleagues, and who are committed to the education of new generations of lawyers. It is not a question of volume, but one of quality and of contributing to society.
You combine your professional activity with your teaching experience in the Master’s degree in Access to the Legal Profession in the Faculty of Law at the University of La Laguna. What shortcomings does the education of our future lawyers have?
I think that it has improved compared to how it was years ago, because our education is increasingly focused from a practical point of view. We have to keep working in this direction and also include committed and experienced professionals. On the other hand, Spain is a country in which tourism is a very important industry, and in some areas tourists have multiplied the local population. As a result, legal English, at the very least, is essential in education and, furthermore, it increases the possibilities of establishing an international career.
As a lawyer specialised in several areas of law, but with a special focus on the commercial sector, what is the main legislative reform that you consider is urgently needed in this jurisdiction?
Rather than legislative reform, I believe that what we need is a change of mindset that helps us all to remember that we lawyers – as well as other players (judges, arbitrators, etc.), legal entities and institutions – are a means to an end and not an end in itself; we are mere servants in resolving commercial disputes between companies, with the ultimate aim of improving economic and social development and progress. This was my impression when, in a Congress on Arbitration in Madrid, I heard an English judge talking about the resolution of commercial disputes.