When looking at your CV, we are really impressed. We could sum it up by saying that both your academic training and your professional experience are 360 degrees. Let’s start at the beginning, your beginnings at Uría (more than 7 years). How was your experience in the firm where you grew up and joined the premier league of the legal profession?
Actually, Uría is a great school of lawyers. After having studied law and business in ICADE (Pontificia Comillas University, E-3), Uría was the place where I could truly start developing my professional career because it permits me not just to work as a lawyer but also to become a confident one with a solid basis and to integrate the best practices in both a technical and a formal way. Uría teaches to pursue excellence, which has become my goal since then in everything I work in and for.
After your time at UM, you took a “break” of about ten years, during which time you held leading positions in the legal departments of various prestigious financial institutions. What made you “make the leap” to the private company? Were you looking to complete your work experience or was it by chance?
When I came back from Uría’s branch in London (where I worked for Banco Santander within the takeover of ABN Amro in 2007 and specialized in M&A and Finance), I decided to expand my professional experience looking into the other side, i.e. from the angle of the companies that until then had been the clients from a law firm’s perspective. Hence, I was interested in knowing better how the companies function internally and how they think in terms of strategy.
Did you “hit the ceiling” in the private sector? We ask this because, shortly before the pandemic, you decided to return to the world of law firms, in this case to Gómez-Acebo & Pombo. You worked there for the last two years as counsel for M&A, Finance, Real Estate, Energy, Infra, Administrative, Compliance, and Corporate Governance. Actually, your change has surprised many of us who already saw a long way ahead for you at GA_P. How would you summarise this period, apart from the well-known difficulty that COVID-19 has meant for all of us?
When Gómez-Acebo & Pombo offered me the opportunity to join them, although I had reached a high and comfortable position within Banco Santander, I took on the challenge because I thought it was a good chance for me to go back to the law firms’ angle in order to restart rendering services to different companies and sectors in a more intense and active way.
Now, as a partner and head of Corporate & Commercial at Garrido Abogados, are you where you wanted to be? Does your professional career correspond in full, in part (or at all) to your evolution as a person? How do the priorities of Amelia Buergo in her time at Uría or as Legal director of Banco Santander differ from the Amelia of today?
Of course, my new leading role as head of the Corporate & Commercial department brings me the chance to improve the work of Garrido in this field in order to render high-quality services to our clients. Moreover, Garrido Abogados is a prestigious law firm, very well-known in the Tax field (Tier- 1) but that also have great professionals in other areas, such as precisely the Corporate & Commercial department.
Certainly, I do think my professional career totally reflects a consistent evolution as a lawyer and as a professional with an experienced and expanded view of different sectors and businesses, and also having worked in different contexts (i.e. both national and international or cross-border and involving different players) and situations, including not only economic boom years but also national and even the worldwide economic crisis.
In relation to my current priorities versus the previous ones I used to have within my first professional years, I try to render the best service to clients considering what they actually expect from law firms and even trying to advance solutions to the eventual needs they might face, which means a big step forward that benefits the clients (instead of just understanding the client’s aims and performing a great work).
As a leading woman in the field of law practice, what advice would you give to young women lawyers starting their careers today?
Work hard, preferably starting in a law firm, be humble and be tough. You have to make sure you understand the client’s or your company’s needs, notwithstanding how many questions you need to ask to be certain of which is the goal at every time. Also, do not forget to think by yourself with common sense before rendering any legal advice, and make sure you and your criteria are respected.
Finally, please summarise your philosophy of life in one sentence.
I have got 2: 1) Give always the best of yourself in everything around you and 2) If there is a problem, focus on the solution.