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Inspiring Women In Law - An interview with Marlen Estévez Sanz: How to strengthen leadership qualities and empower women in the legal field

Latin Counsel spoke with Marlen Estévez Sanz, partner and head of the Litigation, Arbitration and Mediation Department at RocaJunyent, about the essential steps to resolving legal conflicts and the key skills a leader should possess. In addition, the president and founder of Women in a Legal World reviewed the achievements of the organization and provided tips to enhance the careers of professional women. Marlen also holds leadership positions in the Council of European Lawyers, the Royal Academy of Ibero-American Jurisprudence and Legislation, among other institutions.

Marina Vanni

Latin Counsel: How has your evolution within RocaJunyent been?

Marlen Estévez Sanz: My evolution within RocaJunyent has been rewarding and enriching. It is a place where I have had the opportunity to learn and grow professionally, assuming progressively more responsibilities. Over time, I have advanced to roles of greater leadership and responsibility, which has allowed me to contribute to the continued growth and success of the firm.

I started in 2017 as partner in charge of the alternative dispute resolution department and within a year promoted to quota partner. I was subsequently offered to co-lead the firm’s Latin America practice and innovation area. Finally, I had the opportunity to join the firm’s board of directors, which has recently been renewed.

LC: What are the keys to ensure success in mediation and dispute resolution cases?

MES: The keys to ensuring success in mediation and dispute resolution cases include the ability to actively listen to all parties involved, foster an atmosphere of collaboration and empathy, and seek creative solutions that meet the interests of both parties. In addition, impartiality, the ability to build trust, and expertise in negotiation techniques are critical to achieving successful outcomes in conflict resolution.

LC: You currently hold several leadership positions such as the presidency of the Business Mediation Center of Madrid. What qualities should a leader have and what challenges must be overcome to get there?

MES: I believe that a leader must possess qualities such as effective communication skills, strategic vision and the ability to inspire and motivate others.

Challenges to reach leadership positions may include the need to combat our own fears and unconscious biases that we all have, the ability to manage stress and our agenda as effectively and efficiently as possible, the ability to adapt to the constant change in which our organizations move and to be very resilient as we will fall a hundred times and have to get up not only without looking back, but with our eyes set on our goal. One of my favorite mottos is "everything seems impossible until it is achieved". The reason why I am so fond of this phrase is that throughout my career I have heard many times that something was impossible and then I have seen with my own eyes how it was not so. So when someone tells you that what you are proposing is not possible, I think it is important not to take it literally, but to develop critical thinking, to believe in yourself and your instinct. 

LC: What led you to found Women in a Legal World and how has the network grown in recent years?

The founding of Women in a Legal World came from my passion for connecting people and promoting gender equality and empowering women in the legal field to reach top positions.

The network has grown significantly in recent years, attracting top-tier professionals committed to the advancement of women in the legal profession. Through reports, mentoring and professional development programs, we have created a strong, collaborative community that provides support and opportunities for the professional and personal growth of women in the legal world.

LC: What is the most valuable lesson you take away from the Women in a Legal World awards and what feedback have you received about the event?

The most valuable thing about the Women in a Legal World awards is the recognition and celebration of the talent, leadership and achievements of women in the legal industry. We have received very positive feedback about the event, highlighting its importance in inspiring and motivating other women to achieve their professional goals.
We all need to get more women in positions of responsibility, leading organizations and speaking out on strategic issues. This way we will not lose talent. Decisions will be balanced and we will all win. 

Let’s do it for those who paved the way, for those of us who are still here and for the girls who are coming up, let’s sow in them the idea that, if they want to, they can.

LC: What advice would you give to professional women who want to make their way in the legal world?

My advice to professional women who want to break into the legal world is to dream something, work hard and establish support networks. 

They need to believe in themselves a lot, focus on seeking opportunities to learn and grow, and not be afraid to face challenges or take risks. Much of our limitations are in our own minds. 

And finally, they should be aware that every right carries with it a responsibility and that we have an obligation as a civil society to give back, at least, what it has given us. That they think we have a great opportunity to work together to build a fairer, less polarized and more equitable world for all with a long-term vision in everything we do.

Learn more about Marlen Estévez Sanz

Entrevista: Marina Vanni

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