The Madrid Bar Association (ICAM) will elect next December the new representative of Madrid’s lawyers for the next five-year term. Diego Cabezuela, an important reference in the legal sector, stands out as one of the candidates that are beginning to emerge – although it has not yet been officially confirmed -, whose proposal for change is based on a message that, far from being a truism, is a pressing need: bringing the Bar Association back to its members and to give more strength to the legal profession. Legal Dealmaker spoke with him to see how this project is going ahead.
LD: The first challenge: building the team. How are you coping with it?
Diego Cabezuela: That is indeed the main challenge and the key to success. Gathering a team of committed lawyers around a clear idea of how to transform the legal profession and the role it should play in the Justice Administration system. We have to convince and transmit, it is a long and hard task, we have to count on the best.
LD: To bring the Bar to the members. This is something that others have already advocated but which apparently has not been achieved. Why is this happening, according to you, and how do you intend to ensure that this time it is achieved?
DC: It is not only that, we have to give more strength to the legal profession. We need to strengthen the presence of the Bar Association in the General Council of Lawyers and achieve a real and effective dialogue with the public authorities. We are the first Bar Association in Europe. The Draft Bill of the Organic Law of Defense, which raised so many hopes two years ago, is sleeping forgotten in some drawer of the Ministry of Justice, this cannot go on like this.
LD: Besides the rumours, who do you think your final competitors will be? Do you think there will be any female candidates at the last minute?
DC: Well, for the moment, I don’t think any of them have confirmed their candidacy and neither have we. By now, we are focused on team building. The elections will be called in September and it is likely that, apart from the names that are being bandied about, there will be other colleagues running in the coming weeks. Of course, there may be one or more women among them. We already had a female Dean in 2012 and a very good one.
“I have always thought that we have to fight for a better legal profession, one that makes itself heard by the public authorities and respected by the Justice Administration. In fact, both things are a clamour among lawyers, but we have never done anything effective about it, I think the time has come for the lawyers to stand up.”
LD: This seems like a personal project: Why now?
DC: I have always thought that we have to fight for a better legal profession, one that makes itself heard by the public authorities and respected by the Justice Administration. In fact, both things are a clamour among lawyers, but we have never done anything effective about it, I think the time has come for the lawyers to stand up.
LD: You are a cautious man who never gives too many clues… but you must have good supporters to go ahead with this candidacy.
DC: There is no better way to get support than to transmit a clear project and a will for real change. That is what we are working on.
LD: In addition to the main mission that we have already mentioned, what other are the main goals that would guide your mandate if you were elected?
DC: The most elementary act of bringing the Bar closer to its members that can be done is the establishment, once and for all, of electronic voting to achieve a real representation. We are more than 70,000 lawyers in the Bar and nevertheless, our elections are traditionally decided with a voting quorum of between 6 and 7%, which means a representation absolutely fictitious. In the age of blockchain and crypto-assets, we are still without electronic voting, anchored in an anachronistic system that leads to widespread and practically forced abstention. When elections day arrives, most lawyers are at their trials, meetings, etc., and hardly anyone may spend two hours going and voting. Not to mention colleagues who live or work outside Madrid. A few days ago a colleague of mine, a Spanish lawyer, who belongs to the Madrid Bar and also the Paris Bar, told me that he votes electronically in Paris, but that in Madrid he often does not have time and does not vote.
It is true that some candidates have included the topic of electronic voting in their programs, but they’re always seem to be good reasons for dragging their feet. I wish these will be the last elections in which the true winner is abstention.